Fabulous feminine energy infuses JLF 2020

Joanne Felder
Joanne Felder, speaker at this year's Jewish Literary Festival, Cape Town

There are so many wonderful authors attending the next Jewish Literary Festival on 15 March, 2020 that with more than 40 sessions you will be spoilt for choice. 

To whet your appetite here’s a taste of just two of the extraordinary women who will grace our session rooms.

Joanne Fedler, born and raised in South Africa and now based in Sydney, Australia, is the internationally bestselling author of 11 books which have sold over 750 000 copies worldwide. She is a writing mentor and founder of Joanne Fedler Media, and is about to publish The Sabbatical, the third in the internationally bestselling series that includes Secret Mothers’ Business and The Reunion.  

Joanne’s session, The Midlife Breakthrough, addresses what ‘breaks’ when a woman is no longer needed as a mother to her young adult children. She will talk about the experiences that animate The Sabbatical, in which women share the liberating and sometimes dark truths about their lives. This book traverses menopause, empty nests and marriage breakdowns against the bleak backdrop of climate change and our children’s uncertain future.

Joanne will also participate in a panel on “Writing intergenerational trauma”, with a contribution that may surprise fans of her first novel, The Dreamcloth (2005). Says Joanne: “I wrote my first novel many years before I knew about intergenerational trauma or epigenetics. It’s the story of a ghost who haunts Mia — her maternal grandmother — who pushes her towards human suffering, as if to ensure she will continue to bear witness to the pain of the past. With the rise of our understanding in epigenetics and the insights from family constellation work, I’ve come to understand that book as a love-song to my predecessors, those I never knew, whose spirit lives on in the deep recesses of the characters I create on the page; what Susan Sontag calls, ‘the conscience of words.’ I will look at how fictional characters can become the holders of our past and give voice to the lost voices of our ancestors.”

Johannesburg author Terry Kurgan’s discovery of her Polish grandfather’s war diaries and photographs signals the beginning of a quest to understand her family’s encounter with Europe’s dark history. In the process, she also uncovers her grandmother’s secrets and traces the consequences of these across three generations.

Her award-winning book Everyone is Present (2019 Sunday Times Alan Paton Award) is a 21st century account of a refugee journey that is deeply relevant today. It is also a striking and original work of creative non-fiction.

It begins with a snapshot taken by Kurgan’s grandfather in 1939 on the eve of the war. 

Presenting this evocative image as a repository of multiple histories — public, private, domestic and familial — she sets off on a series of meditations on photography that give us startling insights into how photographs work: what they conceal, how they mislead, what provocations they contain. Each essay takes up the thread of the story of her family’s epic journey across Europe as they flee Nazi occupation, country by country, and then follows them through the Middle East to India, until they finally reach Cape Town, South Africa.

Kurgan will talk about what has been described as her “richly satisfying essays that are part memoir, part detective story, part investigative reportage, and which demonstrate her sophisticated understanding of a medium that has long engaged her as an artist.


Date: Sunday 15 March

Venue; Gardens Community Centre, Hatfield Road, Cape Town

Time: 09h00 to 17h00

Day Ticket prices: Early Bird Special (from January 20 to February 14) R340

From February 15 to March 15: R380. 

Under 12 years: R100 and Teens R115

Ticket price includes access to all sessions during the day, a delicious lunch from Café Riteve and coffee vouchers. Visit www.jewishliteraryfestival.co.za for the full programme.

Booking is open: https://qkt.io/XgrEbb

For more information or to subscribe to the Jewish Literary Festival mailing list contact: info@jewishliteraryfestival.co.za 

To read the Editor’s column for February click here

To read or download the February issue of the Chronicle in PDF click here

To read the most read article of the December/January issue, click here

Portal to the Jewish Community: to see a list of all the Jewish organisations in Cape Town with links to their websites, click here


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