Literary Festival 2013: The authors

Meet the authors and the sessions they will be featured in. Click here to book and for session times

Session 1: South Africa’s suspended revolution

Adam Habib
Adam Habib studied at several South African universities and at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. He has been vice-chancellor and principal of the University of Witwatersrand since 2013. He has held academic appointments at the University of Durban-Westville, the University of KwaZulu-Natal (where he was founding director of the Centre for Civil Society), the University of Johannesburg and at the Human Sciences Research Council.

Session 2: Hopes and Impediments

Hlumelo Biko
Biko,the son of two great South Africans, Steve Biko and Mamphela Ramphele, is businessman who wrote the book The Great African Society. Generous in acknowledging achievements to date, the book is also unsparing in judging the flaws and failures of the ANC-led government, of business, unions and civil society. Biko holds a BA in History and Politics from the University of Cape Town, and a Masters of Science in International Business Government Relationships from Georgetown University.

Shaun de Waal 
Shaun de Waal has worked at the Mail & Guardian since 1989. He was literary editor from 1991 to 2006 and has been chief film critic for 15 years. He is now the editor of the paper’s comment and analysis section. Recent publications include Exposure: Queer Fiction25 Years of the Mail & Guardian; and Not the Movie of the Week.

Adriaan Basson
Adriaan Basson is the assistant editor of City Press and author of Finish & Klaar: Selebi’s fall from Interpol to the Underworld. He is an award-winning investigative journalist who has received numerous prizes for journalistic excellence, including the Taco Kuiper and Mondi awards. In 2012 he won the CNN African Journalist of the Year print award for City Press‘ expose of Julius Malema’s financial affairs. Finish & Klaar was shortlisted for the Alan Paton non-fiction award in 2011. His recent book is titled Zuma Exposed.

Session 3: A Man of the People: Reflecting on Chinua Achebe’s Legacy

Nadine Gordimer
Gordimer is one of South Africa’s most renowned novelist and one of the world’s most accomplished short-story writers.  Gordimer won the 1991 Nobel Prize in Literature.

Aghogho Akpome
Aghogho Akpome is a Research Associate with the Centre for Africa Studies at the University of the Free State, a doctoral candidate at the University of Johannesburg, and a member of the English Academy of Southern Africa, the Southern African Freelancers Association, the Postcolonial Studies Association and the African Studies Association.

Imraan Coovadia
Imraan Coovadia is a writer and director of the creative writing programme at the University of the Cape Town.  His most recent novel is titled The Institute for Taxi Poetry (2012) and he has also written a collection of essays called Transformations (2012). In 2010 his novel High Low In-between won the Sunday Times Fiction Prize and the University of Johannesburg prize. 

Session 4: “It is only the story [that] can continue beyond the war and the warrior.”

Imraan Coovadia
Imraan Coovadia is a writer and director of the creative writing programme at the University of the Cape Town.  His most recent novel is titled The Institute for Taxi Poetry (2012) and he has also written a collection of essays called Transformations (2012). In 2010 his novel High Low In-between won the Sunday Times Fiction Prize and the University of Johannesburg prize. 

Niq Mhlongo
Niq Mhlongo was born in 1973 in Soweto. He has a BA from the University of the Witwatersrand, with majors in African Literature and Political Studies. His first novel, Dog Eat Dog, was published by Kwela in 2004 and was translated into Spanish under the title Perro Come Perro in 2006. This Spanish edition was awarded the Mar des Lettras prize. In his third novel, Way Back Home, Mhlongo effortlessly captures the very essence of the political moment and the zeitgeist of the Zuma years.  

Nthikeng Mohlele
Nthikeng Mohlele is a Johannesburg based author. His debut work, The Scent of Bliss (Kwela, 2008) was warmly received by reviewers. Small Things (UKZN Press) is his second published novel.

Mtutuzeli Nyoka
Mtutuzeli Nyoka served as president of Cricket South Africa from 2008 to 2011. He currently lives in Johannesburg, where he practises as an ear, nose and throat surgeon. His first novel, I Speak to the Silent, was published in 2004 to widespread critical acclaim.

Mongane Wally Serote
Born in Sophiatown, Johannesburg, Mongane Wally Serote was drawn to poetry and writing towards the end of his high-school career and went on to obtain a fine arts degree in New York at Columbia University in 1979. In 2012, Serote won the Golden Wreath Award. He joins Léopold Sédar Sengor of Senegal as one of only two recipients to come from the African continent. The Golden Wreath Award is bestowed each year as a lifetime achievement in the field of poetry.

Session 5: No longer at ease – books as agents of insurrection

Corina van der Spoel
Corina van der Spoel is the co-director of the Mail & Guardian Literary Festival. 

Archie L. Dick
Archie L. Dick is a professor in the Department of Information Science at the University of Pretoria. He holds a BBibl (Hons) from the University of the Western Cape, an MLS from the University of Washington and a PhD from the University of the Cape Town. 

Isabel Hofmeyr
Isabel Hofmeyr is a prize-winning writer and academic.  She has published three books and edited six volumes of essays.  Her most recent book, Gandhi’s Printing Press: Experiments in Slow Reading appeared with Harvard University Press earlier this year.  She is happiest thinking about books and the sea:  the former arises out of her long-standing interest in print culture and book history; the latter from a decade’s worth of research on the Indian Ocean world.  She is currently writing a book on Boer prisoners of war of India, one aspect of South Africa’s many histories in the Indian Ocean world.   She is currently Professor of African Literature at the University of the Witwatersrand.

Bronwyn Law-Viljoen
Bronwyn Law-Viljoen is the founder and publisher of Fourthwall Books. She heads the creative writing programme in the English department at the University of the Witwatersrand.

Session 6: Memoir/biography/autobiography The bravery of the lion: “Until the lions have their ownhistorians, the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.”

Craig MacKenzie
Craig MacKenzie is a professor of English at the University of Johannesburg, where he has lectured since 1991. He has published widely in the field of South African literature. Among his most recent publications are The Columbia Guide to South African Literature since 1945 (2010), co-written with Gareth Cornwell and Dirk Klopper, and A Bosman Companion (2011), co-written with Tim Sandham.

Ronnie Kasrils
Ronnie Kasrils started off as a script writer for a Johannesburg film studio and then for Lever Brothers, as television and film director for their advertising division in Durban, until 1962. In 1960 he was prompted by the Sharpeville Massacre to join the ANC, where he served as the secretary of the ANC-aligned Congress of Democrats in Natal until it was banned in 1962. He became a member of Umkhonto weSizwe at its inception in 1961 and participated in many sabotage operations. Exiled for 27 years, he was based in London, Luanda, Maputo, Swaziland, Botswana and Lusaka. He worked underground for the ANC in South Africa during Operation Vula. After the first democratic elections in South Africa, Kasrils was appointed Deputy Minister of Defence from 1994 to 1999. He then became Minister of Water Affairs and Forestry from 1999 to 2004 and was appointed Minister of Intelligence Services until he submitted his resignation on 23 September 2008 following former President Thabo Mbeki’s resignation in the same month.

Jacques Pauw
Jacques Pauw is one of South Africa’s most decorated journalists and television documentary filmmakers. He was a founder member of the anti-apartheid Afrikaans newspaper Vrye Weekblad, where he exposed the existence of police death squads. Thereafter he worked for some of the country’s most esteemed publications before becoming a filmmaker. He has travelled throughout Africa and has produced documentaries on wars and conflicts in Rwanda, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sierra Leone, Algeria, Sudan and Liberia. He has won awards in South Africa, the United States, Africa and Europe, including the CNN African Journalist of the Year Award, the Award for Outstanding International Investigative Reporting, the Young African Leadership Award and the Nat Nakasa award for bravery and integrity in journalism. He is the author of four books: three of non-fiction and one of fiction. He is a journalist at Media24’s investigative unit and lives in Cape Town.

Toni Strasburg
Toni Strasburg grew up in South Africa and followed her parents into exile in London in 1965. Her parents were notorious and later celebrated; her father, Rusty Bernstein, was one of the Rivonia trialists and her mother, Hilda Bernstein, was a political figure as well as being a writer and artist. Although Strasburg is primarily a documentary director and producer, she is also a writer and has worked as an international peace monitor and election observer for the United Nations and as a consultant and trainer for Unicef and Unesco. Memories of Dreams was a personal film about her family. Her memoir, Fractured Lives, was published in April 2013.

Session 7: Cavafy, Seferis and South African poets

Celebrating the 150th anniversary of poet Constantin Kavafy’s birth and the 50th anniversary of poet George Seferis’s Nobel prize

Stephen Gray
Stephen Gray is a renowned literary scholar, novelist, poet and translator. He studied at the University of Cape Town, Cambridge University and the University of Iowa, USA. Until 1992 he was Professor of English at the Rand Afrikaans University in Johannesburg. Gray is a prolific poet and has published eight novels. He has also written for the theatre and edited collections of work by Athol Fugard and Herman Charles Bosman.

George Bizos
George Bizos is one of South Africa’s most celebrated human rights lawyers. Born in 1928 in Kirani, Greece, he came to South Africa in 1941, as a World War II refugee with his father. During his distinguished legal career he represented Walter Sisulu and Nelson Mandela in both the Treason and Rivonia trials, the families of Steve Bantu Biko, Chris Hani and the Cradock Four. His books are Odyssey to Freedom (2007), an autobiography, and No One to Blame? In Pursuit of Justice in South Africa (1998). At present he is representing some of the families of those killed in Marikana at the Farlam Commission.

Keorapetse Kgositsile 
Keorapetse Kgositsile is South Africa’s Poet Laureate (our National Poet).

Renos Spanoudes
Renos Spanoudes is an award-winning playwright, short-story writer and poet.

Session 8: Fact & fiction: “The story is our escort, without it we are blind.”

Maren Bodenstein
Maren Bodenstein grew up in the tiny village of Hermannsburg in Natal which had its origin as a place where German Lutheran missionaries came to learn isiZulu. She started writing from a young age and her first published work of fiction – under the pseudonym Max Sed – was a children’s book called Mafia and the Aeroplane. In 2004 she wrote a short story for a Scottish anthology commemorating ten years of democracy in South Africa titles Lifting the Stone. In 2007 she was commissioned by BBC Radio 3 to write a story for the Twenty Minute slot; the result was Love Song to the Rocks – an ode to finding love later in life. Shooting Snakes is Maren’s debut novel and draws on her missionary ancestry.

Dominique Botha
Dominique Botha earned her MA in Creative Writing at Wits University with the Manuscript for False River. Her supervisor was Leon de Kock, who praises the manuscript highly. She serves on the board of the Africa Centre and Yellowwoods Arts Trust, both NGOs that promote and support artistic endeavours in a broad range of fields.

C.A. Davids
C.A. Davids works as a writer and divides her time between Johannesburg and Cape Town. Her first novel, The Blacks of Cape Town, was recently published by Modjaji Books. Her fictional writing has appeared in Twist an Anthology of short stories by South African women (Struik, October 2006) and in African Pens: New Writing from Southern Africa (New Africa Books, April 2007). She has lived in Switzerland, the United States of America and Shanghai, China.  

Claire Robertson
Claire Robertson lives in Simon’s Town. She has spent the past 30 years as a journalist. She has worked in newspapers, magazines, radio and television as a writer, producer, editor and executive, and now works as a senior copy editor at the Sunday Times. She edited a social history of Johannesburg, Remembering Old Johannesburg. The Spiral House is her first work of fiction.

Session 9: Migration: There Was a Country

Matthew Wilhelm-Solomon
Matthew Wilhelm-Solomon is a researcher in the Religion and Migration Initiative (RMI), based at the African Centre for Migration & Society at the University of the Witwatersrand.

NoViolet Bulawayo
NoViolet Bulawayo won the Caine Prize for African Writing in 2011. She was born Elizabeth Tshele, in 1981, in Tsholotsho, Zimbabwe, and moved to the United States when she was 18. We Need New Names, her debut novel, is longlisted for the Man Booker Prize.

Christa Kuljian
Christa Kuljian is a freelance writer, who holds a BA from Harvard (1984), a Master in Public Affairs from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton (1989), and an MA in Creative Writing from the University of the Witwatersrand (2007), focusing on narrative non-fiction. In 2010, she was awarded the Ruth First Fellowship at Wits Journalism and gave the Ruth First Memorial Lecture on the refugee crisis at the Central Methodist Church in Johannesburg, which led to Sanctuary, her first book.

Doctor Caroline Wanjiku Kihato
Doctor Caroline Wanjiku Kihato is an independent researcher and writer. In 2011, she received a MacArthur award on Migration and Development and spent a year as a Visiting Fellow at the Institute for the Study of International Migration, Georgetown University, in Washington DC. She was previously a Policy Analyst at the Development Bank of Southern Africa and a Senior Lecturer in the School of Architecture and Planning at the University of the Witwatersrand. She is the co-editor of Urban Diversity: Space, Culture and Inclusive Pluralism in Cities Worldwide published by Johns Hopkins. Her forthcoming book, Migrant women of Johannesburg: Everyday life in an in between city (Palgrave Macmillan) will be out in September 2013.

Kwanele Sosibo
Kwanele Sosibo is a senior writer at the Mail & Guardian. His piece in the Writing Invisibility project looks at security of tenure as it relates to mineworkers. He asks what will happen to the widows and the families of the eight miners from Kwaaiman killed in the Marikana massacre. Sosibo’s story further examines nuances related to settlement on and off the mines, and the evolution of that settlement.

Achmat Dangor
Achmat Dangor is an award-winning poet and novelist whose titles include Kafka’s Curse (1997) and the 2004 Booker shortlisted title Bitter Fruit. Until recently Dangor was the chief executive of the Nelson Mandela Foundation. He lives and works in Johannesburg.

Wandile Zwane
Wandile Zwane works at the City of Johannesburg’s Migrant Desk.

We make it make sense

If this story helped you navigate your world, subscribe to the M&G today for just R30 for the first three months

Subscribers get access to all our best journalism, subscriber-only newsletters, events and a weekly cryptic crossword.”

Related stories


Already a subscriber? Sign in here


Latest stories

Ubank placed under curatorship effective immediately

Reserve Bank says depositors will still have access to money and the bank will be operational during the process

Academic bullying in the sciences, an international perspective

It is important to support victims of bullying in academic life and help them become less dependent on potential bullies

South Africa’s 1-Minute Film Festival is reshaping the art of...

With the invention of the cell phone, anyone can make a movie. With the creation of the 1-Minute Film Festival, anyone's movie can be seen.

Shireen Abu Akleh’s murder hurts oppressed people

The journalist is among more than 50 reporters who have died at the hands of the Israeli regime and is remembered for bravely giving a voice to Palestinians

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…