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Feeste | Festivals > Artikels | Features > ''The Karoo is not for sissies'': Letter from Richmond about the JM Coetzee Festival

''The Karoo is not for sissies'': Letter from Richmond about the JM Coetzee Festival


Darryl David - 2011-06-14
Untitled Document

The JM Coetzee Literary Festival, celebrating Booktown Richmond's fifth anniversary, was held over the last weekend in May. Speakers included John Kannemeyer, Mike Marais, Gareth Cornwell, Michiel Heyns, Mike Nicol, Beverley Roos Muller, Ampie Muller, Peet Venter, Ian Perrin, Ronald Suresh Roberts, James Clelland and Darrel Conolly.

Darryl David and Peter Baker report.


June 10, 2011

Good Morning Karoosters

Was it not Shakespeare who spoke of the darling buds of May? Well, I think it is an apt metaphor for our inaugural JM Coetzee Festival held in Booktown Richmond over the last weekend in May. We certainly were not in full bloom, with it being in the dead of winter; but the gathering of kindred souls with high spirits ... some with high spirits thanks to a few stiff Bells on ice at 11am ... were all the same – as wonderful and an eclectic bunch of people as had ever assembled in the wee Karoo dorp.

Of course, some of those "shrinking violets" from the Cape just could not stand the Karoo winter, but as Peter Baker likes to say, "The Karoo is not for sissies." Next year we'll provide mohair rugs for all!

We would like to thank all the speakers for braving the cold and making their way to Richmond. By all accounts the talks were of the highest order, and I think that it can be safely said that everyone learned something about Coetzee and the other Laureates on offer. Many of you were so impressed that you have already booked for

BookBedonnerd! Maybe in time, the world will see that we are JM Coetzee-Bedonnerd! We started Booktown Richmond with a similar-sized festival, and look at how it has grown in five short years.

As you saw for yourself, there is nothing quite like Booktown Richmond. We are the only festival that allows a Doberman to attend all the talks! We are one of the few towns where dogs can eat with their masters in restaurants. And we are probably the only festival where the organisers can play one-armed bandit with the programme and get away with it.

So to John Kannemeyer, Mike Marais, Gareth Cornwell, Michiel Heyns, Mike Nicol, Beverley Roos Muller, Ampie Muller, MJ from "die sentrale" in Richmond, Peet Venter, Ian Perrin, Ronald Suresh Roberts, James Clelland, Darrel Conolly – we thank you. You will go down as pioneers of the JM Coetzee and SA Nobel Laureates Literary Festival.

And we have not forgotten – as soon as John Kannemeyer's biography of John Maxwell Coetzee comes off the printing line, we will have it off to you.

Enjoy the trip down memory lane!

John Kannemeyer

Darrel Conolly, Richmond’s resident historian and writer

James Clelland ... new boy on the block

RS Roberts always provocative

MJ Swart, the Operator

Michiel Heyns: clearly his master’s voice

Wonderful Disgrace insights by Mike Marais

Ampie Muller: lovely tales of the Arch

Beverley Roos Muller on the young Mandela

Mike Nicol, one of South Africa’s most versatile writers, filled in a blank spot and gave an entertaining talk on Mandela’s keepers – with little notice.

We thank Gareth Cornwell for “Disgraceland”.
No, we did not peg every one down with cerebral matters the whole weekend.

And to those who didn’t make the trek to Richmond Town this May, we have a spot reserved for you in ’12.

Until next time ... and remember to look after your Karoo!

Darryl David and Peter Baker