The fifth Franschhoek Literary Festival takes place from 13 - 15 May, and top writers have been invited to address book lovers.   The Festival has established itself as a must-attend event, and the Franschhoek accommodation establishments and restaurants tend to be fully booked over this weekend.

The Franschhoek Literary Festival is organised by Jenny Hobbs and Sheenagh Taylor, Hobbs herself being an author who has just launched another book entitled ‘Kitchen Boy’.  Ticket prices have been held at R60, and the proceeds go to the Franschhoek Literary Festival Library Fund.  A variety of 70 sessions on books, writing, and even the new social media is offered. 

Kicking off on Friday morning 13 May, the day’s multi-theme highlights include a session on Tweeting, chaired by Sam Wilson, Editor-in-Chief of Women’s Lifestyle at 24.com, discussing cellphone fiction; a session on editing and being edited; on drug taking with Melinda Ferguson, who wrote ‘Smacked, Hooked’ about her drug addiction; on the value of literary prizes, discussed by past winners Justin Cartwright, Henrietta Rose-Innes and Imraan Coovadia; ‘A jug of wine, a loaf of bread’ is the theme of a session chaired by Hilary Biller, Sunday Times Food Editor with panelists Michael Olivier (editor of Crush!),  JP Rossouw (‘Rossouw’s Restaurants’ Restaurant Reviewer), and Anna Trapido (an Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant judge); on crime writing with a panel which includes Mike Nichol and Sarah Lotz; on moving from journalism into book writing, including speakers Jenny Hobbs, Jacques Pauw, and Hamilton Wende; on the behind-the-scenes stories about the country’s first democratic election in 1994, chaired by Cape Talk presenter John Maytham; and on following up a successful novel.

On Saturday 14 May the sessions include “How to fix our schools”; on writing a book, each of the three panelists being a medical doctor; on writing about history; on writing for teenagers; on how it was and what could have been in Zimbabwe; writing about Nelson Mandela, with Mandela writers Anna Trapido, Mike Nicol and Tim Couzens in discussion with Max du Preez; Shaun Johnson, a past Festival speaker, past head of Independent Newspapers, CEO of the Mandela Rhodes Foundation, and who will be staying at Whale Cottage Franschhoek, will talk about “Other People’s Money”; on press freedom; on writing love stories; a discussion with Barbara Trapido, author of ‘Sex & Stravinsky’; and on the increasing popularity of short stories.

On Sunday 15 May the day kicks off with a discussion on “Mzansi” and what it means; on life challenges; on ‘Skop, Skiet en Donder’, on writing about Cape Town, with panelists Rayda Jacobs, Henrietta Rose-Innes and Gus Ferguson; on being a full-time writer; on writing from exile; on the South African wine industry, with the co-author Wilmot James discussing the new book ‘Grape – Vineyard Stories’; and about travel writing, with Justin Cartwright, Hamilton Wende and Douglas Rogers.

Alongside the debates and discussions about all things literary, a number of other related events have been organised: a Sunday Times Storybook Campaign fundraising dinner at Reuben’s, to be addressed by Barry Ronge, Jonathan Jansen and Jonny Steinberg, on Friday 13 May, and another on 14 May, to be addressed by Barbara Trapido, Zakes Mda and Peter Godwin; a performance of Montiverdi’s Vespro da concerto on Saturday 14 May; a poetry reading by Kobus Moolman and piano performance by Christopher Duigan on 14 May; followed by a dinner concert, organised by Christopher Duigan, at Café Bon Bon; a Liszt vs Liszt performance by Christopher Duigan on Sunday 15 May, as well as a Sunday afternoon concert at Café Bon Bon, also with Christopher Duigan,

Franschhoek Literary Festival: www.flf.co.za  Tickets can be bought from www.webtickets.co.za.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com  Twitter: @WhaleCottage