New format for Fish Hoek book festival

Last year’s festival saw Mike Nicol Hammerman, Ashraf Kagee and Alistair Mackay participate in a panel discussion moderated by Diane Awerbuck.

The Blown Away by Books festival is to be replaced this year by a series of literary events, according to the Friends of Fish Hoek Library.

Blown Away by Books events will include monthly author panels, book launches and workshops at the library.

Last year’s event was a success, but the new format would give more options to those who could not attend on a specific weekend, said Debi Thomas Hawkins, the interim chair of Friends of the Fish Hoek Library.

“We also hope that by hosting once-monthly events, more people will use the library, read more and be inspired by the writers and publishers they listen to,” she said.

The first event, at the library on Saturday February 18, at 9.30am, will see author Barbara Townsend launch her self-published book Out of Mind.

“I was busy planning a launch at Fish Hoek in February when publisher liaison Maire Fisher invited me to be the first guest. It is a huge honour,” Ms Townsend told the Echo.

This is Ms Townsend’s second novel, after Ida’s Line, which was published in 2020.

Out of Mind is set on Robben Island from 1908 to 1909, at a time when the colonial government used it as a leper colony and insane asylum.

Ms Townsend’s grandmother was the theatre sister in the general infirmary and her grandfather was a clerk in the office of the commissioner at Robben Island

“Initially, the book started out as a family history but during my research in the Cape Archives, I came across so much that interested me that I wanted to write about it. In particular, through my characters, I wanted to give a voice to the people who were out of mind on Robben Island so that they would not be forgotten,” she said.

Blown Away by Books events are free unless otherwise stated, and booking is not required. Visitors are asked to take cash for book sales, raffles and refreshments.

Details of each monthly event can be found on the Fish Hoek library and BlownAwayByBooks Facebook pages or call Debi Thomas Hawkins at 082 507 3370.