International Writers Festival


Durban is the venue for the week-long 13th Time of the Writer International Writers Festival (9 to 13 March), which will feature a diverse gathering of novelists, short story writers, humour writers and political commentators. 

Time of the Writer will also host a tribute evening to the life, creativity and activism of the late Dennis Brutus as the culmination of a full-day colloquium organised by the Centre for Civil Society (University KwaZulu-Natal).

Readings, discussions and book launches will take place nightly at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. A broad range of day activities in the form of seminars, workshops, school visits, and a prison writing programme, are formulated to promote a culture of reading, writing and creative expression.

The Honorable Lulu Xingwana, the Minister of Arts and Culture will attend the festival and handover the prizes for the Schools Writing Competition. The competition, which accepts entries in English, Zulu, and Afrikaans, has, over the years, proved to be one of the central development components of the festival.   

Time of the Writer is hosted by the Centre for Creative Arts (University of KwaZulu- Natal). Within a precarious funding climate the Department of Arts and Culture has provided valued core support to make the production of this year’s Time of the Writer possible and thereby help sustain this important platform which brings literature into the public domain. 

The writers at the festival include Nigerian Uwem Akpan, whose brilliantly-crafted and nuanced debut collection of stories, Say Youre One of Them, won last year’s Commonwealth Prize for Literature Best First Book Award. Akpan’s collection was also selected late last year by Oprah Winfreys Book Club, a prized honour in the publishing world.

Joining him in the panel discussion, Why I Write What I Write, will be the Durban-born Imraan Coovadia, who has established himself over three provoking and intelligent novels, as one of the leading contemporary South African writers.
Zakes Mda, a true giant of the South African literary landscape, makes a welcome return to the festival, having just published Black Diamond, which The Weekender called: a defiantly revealing novel about contemporary South Africa…sane and insane, evocative and hilarious… The prolific Mda is the author of South African classics such as The Whale Caller, The Madonna of Excelsior, The Heart of Redness and Ways of Dying amongst others.

The award-winning playwright, journalist and acts activist Mike van Graan, author of plays uch Bafana Republic amongst numerous others, will deliver the festival’s Opening Night Keynote Address, entitled The State of the Arts.
Durban is represented by Sally-Ann Murray, a well-established and prize-winning poet, whose debut novel Small Moving Parts was published last year. Constructed with an astonishing sense of place and detail it is a powerful book that adds a new texture to Durbans ever-expanding literary narrative. Fellow Durbanite Elana Bregin is a versatile author whose work spans youth fiction to genre-bending biography. Her latest novel Shivas Dance has been excellently received.

Thando Mgqolozana hails from the Eastern Cape and his sensitive debut novel
A Man Who is Not a Man tells of the trauma a young Xhosa man experiences after his initiation circumcision goes wrong.
William Gumede is one of South Africa’s most prominent public intellectuals and was the author of the best-selling Thabo Mbeki and the Battle for the Soul of the ANC and more recently The Poverty of Ideas (with Leslie Dikeni). Gumede will be in conversation with Andile Mngxitama, a Black Consciousness thinker, organizer and columnist. Mngxitama co-edited Biko Lives! Contesting the Legacies of Steve Biko and is the publisher of New Frank Talk, a journal of critical essays on the black condition. The latest issue of the journal will be launched at the festival. Other launches include Anton Krueger’s debut novel Sunnyside Sal (Deep South) on Friday 12 March and Andy Mason and John Curtis Dont Joke! The Year in Cartoons (Jacana Media) on Saturday 13 March. Mason and Curtis, along with several other Durban cartoonists will also conduct the workshop Dont Joke! The Changing Face of South African Political Cartooning at the BAT Centres Mission Control on Saturday 13 March at 13h30. The workshop forms part of a trio organised by the fest at the BAT on the day, the other two encompassing creative writing and childrens writing.  

 Whats So Funny About Africa? is the title of the enticing panel that will see Sihle Khumaloand Ndumiso Ngcobo, two of South Africas top humourists in discussion. Khumalo humourous travelogues Dark Continent, My Black Arse and Heart of Africa have marked him as a witty and astute observer. Ngcobo is a writer and satirist of razor-sharp wit, whose books Some of My Best Friends Are White and Is It Coz I’m Black? contain some of the most irreverent writing currently in South African bookstores.
Visit ( ) for the full programme of activities, biographies, and photos of participants or contact the University of KwaZulu-Natals Centre for Creative Arts for more information on 031 260 2506/1816 or e-mail


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