Since its first year in 2007, the Franschhoek Literary Festival has grown in size and stature into one of South Africa’s most popular celebrations or writers, writing, and reading.
Up to 120 local and international authors will gather at this year’s festival, joined by hundreds of visitors. As the festival has grown in popularity, early booking for accommodation is recommended, and would‐be attendees are advised to reserve their tickets soon after the programme is released.
The festival offers a range of literary conversations, debates, and panel discussions, focusing on books published in the year since the previous festival, and others of current literary, social, and political relevance. Key events held in addition to the main programme include the announcement of the shortlists for the annual Sunday Times Fiction Prize and Alan Paton Award, the presentation of the FLF Wine Writers’ Prizes, readers’ dinners and a Poetry Slam for young poets.
The informal nature of the main events complements the laid‐back ambiance of the Franschhoek village, where festival‐goers mingle with authors in the local restaurants and coffee shops between events, or browse through the second‐hand bookshops in the village.‘Pop-‐up’ bookshops in the Town Hall and outside each event venue ensure the titles of all the participating authors are available.
The festival was the brainchild of South African author and Franschhoek resident, Jenny Hobbs, and locally born, UK‐based author Christopher Hope. It has been nurtured with the passion and commitment of a small committee, adding great value to the South African literary landscape, with ticket sales contributing substantially to the FLF Library Fund.
The aim of the FLF is to make books more accessible, and to promote a reading culture in the Franschhoek community and to this end, the Fund has appointed a full-time librarian serving four primary schools and purchased hundreds of new books for these and other local libraries.
In 2012, the first Franschhoek Literary Festival Book Week for Young Readers was launched in the week leading up to the main festival. This initiative brings participating children’s authors to every school in the Franschhoek valley, reaching up to 4,300 learners with readings, talks and performances that expose the children to the wonder of books.
The full programme for FLF 2014 can be found on www.flf.co.za.
Tickets can be booked on webtickets.co.za.
In July 1914, the world went to war, ending 85 years of peace between the great powers in Europe. Writing in the Washington Post, Gerard de Groot noted: ‘A century after its outbreak, Europeans remain obsessed with the 1914‐18 war; they still find it difficult to shoulder its heavy burden. The deluge of books that will mark the war’s centenary is proof of this obsession. A market for these books exists because the war bewilders, frustrates and angers those who seek understanding.’
We are delighted to announce that two eminent historians – Margaret MacMillan and Norman Stone – will join us at the 2014 Franschhoek Literary Festival, where the centenary of World War One will be commemorated in a number of events.
Was the ‘war to end all wars’ caused by weak leaders and poor decisions, and could it have been avoided if even one of them had been strong enough to say no? One of the most highly‐respected historians in this field and winner of the Samuel Johnson Prize for a previous book, Margaret MacMillan’s latest work, The War that Ended Peace, considers the socio‐economic conditions that existed in Europe in the first decade of the 20th century, and examines the role played by Europe’s leaders in the build‐up to war. Her critical analysis of the period and its leaders not only lends insights into the past but also offers much to consider today. A Canadian by birth, Professor MacMillan is the Warden of St Antony’s College and a Professor of International History at the University of Oxford.
Norman Stone breaks the mold of traditional historians, being described variously as ‘notorious’, someone who ‘always avoids the obvious’, and a ‘fearsome foe of drippy‐liberal state culture’. Once an adviser to Margaret Thatcher, Stone is a provocative historian and an engaging writer and speaker. He knocks on its head the notion that history is boring; he’s witty opinionated and, as a fellow historian puts it, ‘relishes in giving it a tonk’. Professor Stone brings with him to Franschhoek his extensive knowledge of European history represented in numerous books, including World War One: A Short History (which ‘remains the best since AJP Taylor’, says local historian Bill Nasson, who will chair a number of the history events at the festival), and his latest, World War Two: A Short History.
A number of local historians who have published new books in the past year will also be present at the FLF this year, including Elizabeth van Heyningen (The Concentration Camps of the Anglo‐Boer War), Albert Grundlingh and Bill Nasson (The War at Home: Women and Families in the Anglo-‐Boer War), and Tim Couzens (South African Battles).