Monthly Archives: January 2023

Books on the Bay: The literary riches of Simon’s Town

As the poet with “no money in the bank” is driving home, she imagines all the people she cares about living in the “blue clefts ahead”. With the sun and the sea as her companions on one of the most picturesque roads around, she is “embarrassed to be so rich”. Every time I travel towards the Cape Peninsula, I am reminded of Finuala Dowling’s poem “Riches” (Notes from the dementia ward, 2008) and that feeling of wonder and generosity which the mixture of urban and wild landscapes here evokes. It is no surprise that Dowling’s name features on the inaugural programme of the Books on the Bay Festival, a new brainchild of festival impresario extraordinaire Darryl David. After settling in Simon’s Town a few years ago, David realised how many writers lived in the town and its proximity, and when he reconnected with David Attwell, another recent addition to the growing number of local literary residents, the idea for another festival was born …

Continue reading: LitNet

Fay Weldon (1931 – 2023)

Fay Weldon passed away on 4 January. She was 91. I can’t say that I knew her, but I did meet her in 2009 and spent some time in her delightful company in Oslo while we were staying at the magical Aschehoug villa. Fay and André shared the same Norwegian publisher and were participating in a few literary events to promote their latest books at the time. It was just after Fay’s 78th birthday and engaging with her I remember thinking, ‘I want to be always as full of life and wonder as you are, but especially when I am older.’

Living and travelling with André, I’d had the opportunity of meeting many of my literary heroes. In most cases, these encounters had been sheer pleasure. And meeting Fay Weldon definitely belongs to these memories. She was kind and funny and generous. She made me feel like one of ‘us’, a writer, even though I was a complete nobody, making only my first steps in writing and publishing fiction back then. Not all established authors show this kind of generosity of spirit when it comes to emerging writers, but it can be such a gift. I remember and treasure it. And I am grateful for all the hours I spent in Fay Weldon’s literary company, reading her books which, even now when their author has joined the Great Library in the Sky, will always remind me of the inspiring woman who wrote them.

Thank you.

Fay with André and William Nygaard, Oslo, 2009