Several South African writers, including JM Coetzee and Menan du Plessis, will be taking advantage of a newly-discovered legal loophole to read to the public extracts from books that are otherwise unavailable. The readings, under the title "Quoting the unquotable", will take place on Wednesday evening from 6pm. Lawyers have pointed out that the Publications Control Act, which prevents the possession and distribution of banned literature, does not deal with public readings.
The special readings, which will take place on Wednesday evening from 6pm, will include a selection of extracts from South African fiction and non-fiction. This addition to the Book Week programme has been organised by the Anti-Censorship Action Group (Acag). The Book Week opens on Monday night with a session entitled "The Novel Today".
Forthcoming attractions at the Mail book week
Several new South African writers and poets will be taking part in the Weekly Mail Book Week in Cape Town next week alongside the better-known writers, such as JM Coetzee, Es'kia Mphahlele and Luli Callinicos. More than a thousand people are expected to attend the Book Week which opens on Monday November 9 in the Baxter Theatre.
In the session "New Writers Speak", which takes place at 6pm on Thursday, the public will be introduced to Lesley Beake whose award-winning novel, The Strollers, was published by Maskew-Miller Longman earlier this year. The novel is aimed at young adults and concerns the glue-sniffing street children of Cape Town. But the idea and compassion the novel engenders was in fact built up from the Scottish-born writer's contact with the Glasgow street children during the 1950s. Beake currently runs a research agency in Cape Town.
In the same session, Mike Cope, a computer systems analyst cum-poet and writer (his first novel, Spiral of Fire, is to be published by David Philip before the end of the year), will be joined by Godfrey Moloi (whose autobiography My Life Volume 1 has just been released by Ravan) and Gladys Thomas.
Thomas was born in Salt River in 1935 and worked in a clothing factory until she married in the Fifties and moved to Simon's Town. When Simon's Town was declared a white area in 1971, Thomas was so enraged she began to write poetry. The poetry inspired by that fury and published with James Matthews' Cry Rage was the first volume of poetry to be banned in South Africa. The session will be chaired by Douglas Reid Skinner whose first work of poetry, Reassembling World, was published by David Philip in 1981.
David Attwell, a lecturer in the English Department at the University of the Western Cape and contributor to many literature journals, will coordinate a session on Wednesday night entitled "The Poets Speak". Among those taking part in the session is the young Afrikaans poet, Pieter van der Lust, whose latest work Op vrye voete was published by Human & Rousseau this year. Van der Lust received the Old Mutual Award for belles-lettres in 1984 for his work Vuurwerke. He is currently a journalist for Die Burger.
Kelwyn Sole, who is presently working on a PhD on South African black literature of the 1970s at UCT, and Cape Town poet and lecturer in Architecture at the Peninsula Technikon in Belleville, Donald Parenzee, will also be taking part in this session. "We felt the best way to promote and inject interest in books was to introduce people to the writers," said one of the organisers of the week Andrew Marjorie-Banks. "Getting people enthusiastic and interested is very rewarding.
Marjorie-Banks, representing Pilgrim Books, will be selling discounted books at the Baxter for the duration of the week. The first three sessions of the Book Week: "The Novel Today", "Writing Under Seige" and "Re-Writing History" have been sold out. Booking for the remaining sessions, at Computicket is essential and should be done as soon as possible to avoid disappointment. Writers and panelists will be available after the sessions for autographing books or just to chat.
This article appeared in the Weekly Mail.