Last week’s Knysna Literary Festival, presented by Pam Golding Properties Knysna, was the most successful event to date, says founder Ling Dobson.

“In terms of numbers, we had the highest attendances on record, with most events sold out before the date, and some selling out within hours of tickets going on sale.”

The festival opened with the Qhawe Children’s Theatre followed by the Young Writer’s Awards Ceremony and a poetry workshop for local schools with Finuala Dowling.

“I must congratulate all the winners of the Young Writers Competition,” said Dobson. “As usual, the standard of entries was very high and we had …. schools participating this year. Thank you also to our judges Nadia Ballan, Elmarie Bekker and Phillipina Njozela who ensured that every single entry was read and appraised.

“I was so proud to look around the room at all the potential young writers attending Finuala Dowling’s workshop. My dream is that one day some of those young people will be back to participate as authors in our festival.”

Pete Goffe-Wood’s Look n Cook at Kilzers Kitchen was a sold-out event. “Judging by the feedback we had from guests, it was a fabulous evening enjoyed by all,” said Dobson.

Hugh Masekela delighted his audience with stories of his youth and revealed his wonderful sense of humour as he bantered with host Shaka Sizulu. Inveterate story-teller Rob Caskie captivated his audience with the dramatic and tragic adventure, Race to the Poles.

Says Dobson: “I was thrilled to see so many young children at Rob Caskie’s event, sitting spellbound for a full hour, and I hope that we can include more events in the future that will appeal to children and make this an exciting educational journey for them.

“Part of our mission is to instil a love of reading in local youth and we’ve been working with students from TSiBA Eden Campus for the last seven years, ensuring that they are able to attend our events. It is gratifying to see how much they enjoyed the festival this year.”

The unique Delicious Word Journey, in which guests are transported by local taxis to three spectacular private homes on Pezula Private Estate to wine, dine and chat to best-selling authors, proved a resounding success once more, with authors Gareth Crocker, Emma Sadleir, Shaka Sizulu, Lauren Beukes and David Grier participating.

Two panel discussions with some of South Africa’s top editors and journalists, Fate of the Nation, and Criminalising Investigative Journalism, were hosted by local author Ivor Vegter and provided insight into a number of current topical issues including media ownership and media freedom.

“We were delighted to be able to attract prestigious authors like Adriaan Basson, Songezo Zibi, Mzilikazi wa Africa and RW Johnson,” said Dobson. “We are deeply indebted to our sponsors for helping us grow the festival especially our new associate sponsor Sasfin, who came on board this year, and supporting sponsor BASA (Business and Arts South Africa). We would not be able to host the festival without the wonderful support we receive from Jonathan Ball Publishers, Bargain Books, Conrad Pezula Resort & Spa, Jane Simon Wine Ambassador, Knysna Plett Herald, Knysna Primary School, Action Ads, Penguin Random House, Pan Macmillan South Africa, Jacana, The Turbine Hotel & Spa, Rex Hotel, Leisure Isle Lodge, Guadeloupe Apartments, Kilzer’s Kitchen and Luka Wines.

“I must also thank my wonderful team from Pam Golding Knysna who volunteer every year to assist at events and ensure that the festival is a success.”

Books by the authors who participated in this year’s Knysna Literary Festival are available from Bargain Books in Knysna.