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Franschhoek Literary Festival

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Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

Commentators’ Footnotes

Jenny Crwy-Williams and Victor DlaminiIn a scintillating panel hosted by FLF organiser Jenny Hobbs, two popular book commentators, Victor Dlamini and Jenny Crwys-Williams, shared their experiences of interviewing their own favourite authors.

Victor sees the literary interview as tremendously important to writers. “Without it, the literary cycle is incomplete. Even though we don’t do their publicity, we coax insights out of them, seeing things the writer hasn’t seen in his or her own book.” He said he loved that “light bulb” moment when the writer sees that one has read his book attentively. Dlamini also liked to see the author freeing the book up to interviewer. “Some will insist on a certain interpretation and others can release the book to the reader.”

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The State of the Review

Zukiswa WannerGabeba BaderoonEtienne van HeerdenMike van Graan

“Reviewers are often considered parasites, the pigs at the pastry cart, or the tick birds of the literary rhinoceros,” said Jenny Hobbs, an organiser of the Franschhoek Literary Panel, chairing a panel that included Gabeba Baderoon, Etienne van Heerden, Mike van Graan and Zukiswa Wanner. This illustrious gathering explored the state of the literary review in South Africa in a lively debate.

Hobbs reflected that books are often labelled by the majority of folks as “highbrow, popular, or trash, before they’ve been picked up, and going to plays is a thing for lanies.” She quoted Wally Serote, who said that something is wrong in our country when so few people read. “And yet,” said Hobbs, “too often, critics either neglect books, or seem to want to put people off reading,” she said.

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