Karavan Press at the JLF 2023

The bi-annual Jewish Literary Festival (JLF) is back and taking place on Human Rights Day, 21 March 2023. Karavan Press will be represented by James Leatt, who will be speaking about his Conjectures: Living With Questions.

The JLF showcases writers who are either Jewish themselves, have a strong connection to the Jewish community, or have chosen to write about Jews or Judaism. The event takes place in the heart of Cape Town at the Gardens Community Centre, home to the acclaimed Jacob Gitlin Library which partners with the festival.

Click here for the full programme: JLF 2023

Scenes from the second Karavan Press Literary Festival

The inaugural Karavan Press Literary Festival last year was a prayer. We were still in lockdown, still scared, and in-person literary events were scarce, but the longing for them after all the loss and depravation was overwhelming, and so the idea for a small, socially distanced, as safe as possible (under the circumstances) festival was born. Together, we made it happen, and it was a resounding success.

Much has changed since last year, but the longing has remained, and it seems that the Karavan Press Literary Festival is here to stay. The 2022 edition was another day of literary joy, and I want to thank everyone who made it happen!

EVENT 1 10:30-11:30  LOVE STORY

Love is in the air: Sally Partridge and Melissa A. Volker speak to Karina M. Szczurek about writing romance and love (feline guest appearance: Antonia Salieri)

EVENT 2 12:00-13:00  SHORT STORY

Rachel Zadok, founder of SHORT STORY DAY AFRICA, Joanne Hichens, founder of SHORT.SHARP.STORIES, and Lester Walbrugh, talk to Helen Moffett about the projects that define and nurture the short fiction landscape in South Africa and beyond

LUNCH   13:00-14:00  WOMEN OF SOIL

Lunch hour inspired by stories and recipes from Women of Soil: Changing Lives, snacks and drinks were served

EVENT 3 14:00-15:00  MEMOIR

Tracy Going, Erika Bornman, Joanne Hichens and Leslie Swartz discuss the memoir’s potential to change lives


Joy Watson and Mary Watson (via Skype) in conversation


Penny Haw, Helen Moffett and Justin Fox talk to Gail Gilbride about the histories that shaped their latest novels


Melissa Sussens, Kerry Hammerton, Stephen Symons and Justin Fox read from their collections

In the audience:

Apart from the gigantic gift of this day of shared literary wonder, I received three physical gifts: smiling sunflowers from Brenda, a lovely Christmas parcel from Sally and an inspiring book from Christy. Thank you, Everyone!

The day ended with a rabbit rescue mission that felt like something out of Alice in Wonderland – thank you, Joanne, for not abandoning my neighbours’ beautiful Sparkles (The Escape Artist) to her uncertain fate. We not only managed to catch her, but made sure that she returned safely home the next day.

The Karavan Press Team at the end of the day (after the successful rabbit rescue)!

Thank you to everyone who participated, attended, shared stories and food and wine, and bought and swapped books, and in general made us believe in miracles again!

See you next year! 🙂

Karavan Press Poetry in McGregor

Book your tickets here:


Melissa Sussens is a queer veterinarian and poet. Her work has appeared in many publications, both locally and internationally, and has been recognised with several accolades. Melissa has performed at the Poetry in McGregor festival, Off The Wall, The Commons and The Red Wheelbarrow, where she also hosts poetry readings. She lives in Cape Town with her wife and their two dogs. Slaughterhouse is her first book.

Sipho Banda was born in Himeville and grew up in Impendle, KwaZulu Natal. He is the author of Vusi’s Visit to Drakensberg Mountain, a children’s book published by Msinsi Press. His first collection of poetry, Ngigabe Ngezakithi, and a drama book, Umoya Wamagagasi, were published in isiZulu by Pelmo Publishers. Most of his poems in A Lonely Crowded Walk, his debut collection in English, reflect his own lonely and crowded walk.

Stephen Symons has published poetry and short-fiction, locally and abroad. His debut collection, Questions for the Sea, received an honourable mention for the 2017 Glenna Luschei Prize for African Poetry, and was also shortlisted for the 2017 Ingrid Jonker Prize. He is also the author of Spioenkop, Landscapes of Light and Loss and FOR EVERYTHING THAT IS POINTLESS AND PERFECTSmall Souls is a collection of new and collected poems.

Klara du Plessis is an award-winning Canadian South African writer, scholar, and literary curator. Her debut multilingual poetry collection Ekke, recipient of the 2019 Pat Lowther Memorial Award, was published by Palimpsest Press. She is also the author of poetry and essay collections, Hell Light FleshUnfurl, and most recently, Skin and Meat Sky. She is a PhD candidate in English Literature at Concordia University and lives in Montreal, Canada.

Cape Flats Book Festival is back with a bang!

Taryn Lock, Nancy Richards, Lester Walbrugh, Rešoketšwe Manenzhe, Qarnita Loxton and Karina Szczurek at the Cape Flats Book Festival 2022

“When you live a life of reading, you live like a cat, you experience nine lives,” Premier Alan Winde said at the opening ceremony of the second Cape Flats Book Festival, and added: “There’s nothing like a good book, nothing.” Totally agreed!

And when you live a life of reading, you get to hang out with the coolest of people – readers and writers!

This weekend, readers and writers gathered at the West End Primary School in Mitchells Plain to celebrate the wealth and wonder of literature, and it was an honour to participate. According to the organisers, the festival is “an act of hope, an opportunity to dream beyond our circumstances.” Indeed. And every minute of it was literary delight.

Great vibes, great sessions, laughter and wisdom, lots of connecting and reconnecting and simple sharing – of experience, ideas and the love of books.

Karavan Press authors participating: Joy Watson, Nancy Richards, Lester Walbrugh, Cathy Park Kelly and Joanne Hichens.

Joy Watson, Sara-Jayne Makwala King and Karina Szczurek

The second day of the festival was a little bit quieter, but smaller audience create more intimate interactions and often strong bonds are forged not only between authors and their fans, but also between the authors themselves. Writing is mostly a solitary and often lonely occupation, and it is simply wonderful to encounter others in the same boat and feel slightly less alone in the world.

And when you are lucky, you get to hug Oaky 🙂

Thank you to everyone who made this fantastic event possible!

Karavan Press family – Lester Walbrugh, Thobeka Yose (to be published next year), Karina Szczurek (holding a freshly baked bread, a gift from Lester) and Cathy Park Kelly

Hope to see everyone at the next Cape Flats Book Festival!

Cape Flats Book Festival 2022

Please join us for the Cape Flats Book Festival 2022!

Karavan Press authors on the 2022 CFBF programme:

Saturday, 15 October

12:35-13:15 In Conversation (Adults): Sara-JayneMakwala King (Mad Bad Love) & JOY WATSON (The Other Me)

15:20-16:00 In Conversation (Adults): Colleen Higgs (my mother, my madness) & NANCY RICHARDS (The Skipper’s Daughter) moderated by Leslie Swartz (How I Lost My Mother)

Sunday, 16 October

10:55-11:35 In Conversation (Adults): Karina Szczurek (Disruption) & LESTER WALBRUGH (Elton Baaitjies)

11:50-12:30 Against the Odds (Adults): JOANNE HICHENS (Death & the After Parties) & CATHY PARK KELLY (Boiling a Frog Slowly)

We look forward to seeing you there!

15 – 17 September: Karavan Press authors at Blown Away by Books


14.00 – 15.00 
So you want to write? How to start – how to continue: three writers give insight into their writing journeys and the genres they have explored

Lester Walbrugh – Elton Baatjies & Let It Fall Where It Will
Shameez Patel – The Last Feather 
Penny Haw – The Wilderness Between Us

Moderator: SarahBelle Selig


9.30 – 11.30 
Writing workshop with Cathy Park Kelly and Máire Fisher (Library Hall)

14.00 – 15.00 
What we know and what we learn – about ourselves, our families, our history

Sara-Jayne Makwala King – Mad Bad Love
Erika Bornman – Mission of Malice
Cathy Park Kelly – Boiling a Frog Slowly

Moderator: Karina Szczurek

16.00 – 17.00 
The stories we choose to tell – memoir, biography and the fictions between

Colleen Higgs – My Mother My Madness
Nancy Richards – The Skipper’s Daughter
Hedi Lampert – The Trouble With My Aunt

Moderator: Cathy Park Kelly


16.00 – 17.00 
Personal, social, political – stories that create the fabric of our country

Sindiwe Magona – Theatre Road
In Our Own Words: Nurses on the Front Line
Nick Dall and Matthew Blackman – Spoilt Ballots

Moderator: Tracey Farren

For the full programme, click here:


Open Book Festival Workshop Week: Two Workshops with Life Righting Collective’s Dawn Garisch

The Life Righting Collective has been running powerful workshops for a number of years and those who have attended any of them can attest to their ability to transform how one understands one’s own story. Dawn Garisch will facilitate two full day workshops on the 26th and 27th of July. Please note that these two workshops are not connected. If you would like to attend both, you will need to complete two bookings.

Have a look at other Open Book Festival workshops here: Open Book Workshop Programme