Flemish authors come to write in South Africa

The Jakes Gerwel Foundation welcomes, for the first time, authors hailing from outside South Africa’s borders at Paulet House in Somerset East. These award-winning international authors, Miriam van Hee and Rachida Lamrabet, will share the house with two South Africans, the upcoming author Chase Rhys and the playwright and language activist Denver Breda.

Jakes Gerwel obtained his doctoral degree in literature and philosophy at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel in Belgium. It’s within this context that the Jakes Gerwel Foundation teams up with Passa Porta, an international house of literature in Brussels. This partnership entails extending an annual invitation to Flemish authors to apply for a writer’s residency for a period of three weeks in South Africa. Moreover, the Foundation then invites South African authors to join up with the Flemish writers in Paulet House during the same period. In this way the Foundation wants to bring authors from different backgrounds together and facilitate the cross-pollination of ideas and the enhancement of literature – here and elsewhere. It’s the first time that a house of literature in Belgium and a South African organisation enter into such a partnership.

Miriam Van Hee made her debut in 1978 with her collection of poems Het karige maal for which she also received the Literature Prize of the Province East-Flanders. Her poetry has already been translated into ten other languages and her tenth collection was awarded the Ultima Award for Literature.

Rachida Lamrabet is a Flemish writer of Moroccan origin. Until recently she worked at the Centre for Equal Opportunities and Opposition to Racism, but now writes full time. Her first novel Vrouwland was published in 2007 and received the Flemish Debut Prize.

Chase Rhys won the inaugural Adam and Rosalie Small Prize with his play Kinnes. This piece portrays the lives of a group of young people on the Cape Flats. Rhys has been nominated for various literary prizes for his adaptation of this piece into a short novel.

Denver Breda is an unwavering language and cultural activist as well as writer. He lobbies for the rebirth of the Khoesan languages and the continuation of Afrikaans in its various dialects. Breda has already published several works, such as Stories wat kort is and his play Rokkie.

Click on www.jgf.org.za to find out more about the projects of the Jakes Gerwel Foundation or write an email to Theo Kemp, the executive director, at theo@jgf.org.za.