16th TIME OF THE WRITER Durban: 18 - 23 March 2013
The written word will envelop Durban as nineteen writers from South Africa, Africa and abroad, gather for a thought-provoking week of literary dialogue, exchange of ideas and stimulating discussion at the 16th Time of the Writer International Writers Festival (18 - 23 March). The festival, hosted by the Centre for Creative Arts (University of KwaZulu-Natal), with principal support by National Lottery Distribution Fund, will feature a diverse gathering of leading novelists, social commentators, activists, playwrights and short story writers.
Opening night will feature all participating writers as they make brief presentations at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre, while the newly appointed Deputy Vice Chancellor of the School of Humanities, Prof Cheryl Potgieter will make a keynote address and a tribute to the late Phyllis Naidoo will be read. The rest of the week’s evening presentations will be panel discussions with writers talking about their writing and the issues dealt with in their work. The musical act opening the festival is Zimbabwean band Tanga Pasi.
The panel discussion titled Perspectives in South African Writing on Tuesday 19th March will feature South African writers Kabelo Duncan Kgatea and Jo-Anne Richards. Trained as a journalist and working as a miner, it was after Kgatea’s first book Njeng manong fa ke sule! (Devour me, vultures, when I’m dead!) was published and won the Sanlam Prize Youth Literature (silver) in the Sotho category, that he got promoted to communications officer and no longer worked below ground. When The Innocence of Roast Chicken, the debut novel of internationally published author and journalist Richards first appeared, it topped the South African best seller list in its first week and remained there for 15 weeks. This discussion will be facilitated by Zukiswa Wanner.
Controversial human rights issues are brought to the fore in the evening’s second panel titled Africa Writing Queer Identity, featuring leading Nigerian writer Jude Dibia and Graeme Reid of South Africa, and will be facilitated by Sarojini Nadar. Dibia’s books address issues which range from sexuality, gender roles, race to the stigma of HIV/AIDS in modern day Africa. Reid, the director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights Programme and founding director of the Gay and Lesbian Archives of South Africa, explores gay identities in South Africa in his book How to be a Real Gay. Music by Durban duo Njeza and Siphelele Dlamini will commence the evening proceedings at 19h30.
Book launches take place at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre’s Wellington Tavern deck prior to the evening shows, from 18h45. The first book launch of the festival is the UKZN English/IsiZulu Book (UKZN Press)– a collaborative venture of stories by various authors.
On Wednesday 20th March, the first panel, titled Reflections on the Palestinian State, features Palestinian-born American-based novelist and essayist, Susan Abulhawa, in an interview discussion with Lubna Nadvi. Abulhawa’s Mornings in Jenin was translated into 24 languages worldwide and hailed by The Times as the “first English-language novel to express fully the human dimension of the Palestinian tragedy”. Exploring Genre in African Literature is the topic of the second panel, featuring South African author, photographer and filmmaker, Zinaid Meeran, alongside Nnedi Okorafor, award-winning author born in the United States and of Nigerian descent. Meeran was awarded the European Union Literary award for his debut Saracen at the Gates in 2009. About a curious exploration of living raceless in a country where just about everybody seems to have one, this debut was also shortlisted for the Sunday Times fiction prize in 2010. A professor of creative writing, Okorafor has received numerous accolades for her books, which are often characterized by African culture infused with reminiscent settings and memorable characters. This panel will be facilitated by True Love books editor and publisher Melinda Ferguson. Music by Durban duo Nhlanhla Zondi and Zulublue will kick start the evening presentation, while Molope’s book, This Book Betrays my Brother launches prior to the show.