Sunday, 11 August 2013

The Housemaid's Daughter in Port Elizabeth

This week I am back in South Africa, promoting The Housemaid's Daughter in the Eastern Cape province.

First stop was the coastal city of Port Elizabeth - where I grew up and went to school. Fogarty's Bookshop arranged an event in the Ron Belling Art Gallery on Park Drive, and to my delight we had an enthusiastic turnout, despite the chilly and wet weather.
There were even some of my fellow pupils from my days at Collegiate High School. I don't intend to reveal when I last saw them, let's just say it was decades ago!

Outwardly, Port Elizabeth has changed a great deal since I was last there - many more suburbs and shopping malls - but the "friendly city" still lives up to its name. I was touched by the interest of the folk who came along to my talk, and their enjoyment of my book. PE also served up another reminder of its character: the wind blew! Ah well, it wasn't going to let me leave without a reminder...

Next up was a 3-4 hour drive inland over the Olifantskop Pass and through dramatic aloe country to the town of Cradock, the Karoo town where my book is set, and where my grandparents settled after their migration from Ireland. The Schreiner Karoo Writers Festival takes place here each year. It's a festival honouring the memory of Olive Schreiner, whose "Story of an Africa Farm", published in the 1800s, became a bestseller in its time, and put the spectacular Karoo landscape on the global map. I will be speaking alongside authors Margie Orford, Etienne Van Heerden...

But it will not be all about adult readers/literature enthusiasts: alongside the main festival, there will be a workshop for students from the Upstart Youth Development Project in Grahamstown, local Cradock youngsters, and a group travelling across the Karoo for the day from Queenstown. I will be joining them to talk about my book, and how they can develop their own creativity in whatever sphere they choose. They are the future!
More about this next time.

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