Etienne van Heerden at the Time of the Writer Festival


Etienne van Heerden, whose latest novel 30 NIGHTS IN AMSTERDAM was launched in English by Penguin South Africa this month, is attending the 14th Time of the Writer International Writer's Festival in Durban, along with writers like Caryl Phillips, Njabulo Ndebele, Marie Darrieussecq, Sahar El Mougy, Lauren Beukes and Petina Gappah.

Twenty-one prominent writers from a dozen different countries, will converge on Durban for a thought-provoking week of literary dialogue and exchange of ideas at the Time of the Writer international writers festival from 14 to 19 March. Hosted by the Centre for Creative Arts (University of Kwa-Zulu Natal) and with principal funding from the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund, this 14th edition of the festival, presents a packed programme of both day and evening activities. 'Freedom of Expression' will feature as an underlying thread within the festival and audiences can expect to hear the opinions of leading writers on creative processes which inform their writing as well as on the enabling or constraining forces of political, social and environmental contexts within which they write.

The festival's Opening Night Keynote Address will be delivered by the recently retired Constitutional Court judge, esteemed writer and cultural activist, Justice Albie Sachs. The award-winning author of a number of books, including Soft Vengeance of a Freedom Fighter and Justice in South Africa, Sachs was instrumental in the process of writing the constitution of South Africa and is therefore eminently qualified to speak on the festival theme of Freedom of Expression.

Etienne van Heerden's 30 NIGHTS IN AMSTERDAM, which won the University of Johannesburg Award, 2008, the WA Hofmeyr Award for Afrikaans literature 2009 and the M-Net Literary Awards 2009, was first published in Afrikaans by Tafelberg in 2008. Translation rights have been sold to Podium in Holland and to Jumava in Latvia.

Dutch publisher Joost Nijsen of Podium says:
'30 NIGHTS IN AMSTERDAM combines all qualities one might demand of contemporary literature of international importance. The writing is amazing and Zan is a classic character, one to fall in love with. It's a wonderful, moving, poignant story and thanks to the ingenious plot, gradually revealing many striking family secrets, it's also a real page-turner. Finally, this novel succeeds in showing the big picture through a specific human story. 30 NIGHTS IN AMSTERDAM is not only a story about family disintegration, but also a mirror of the cultural and political developments in recent South African history, interwoven with the scenes set in Amsterdam.'

Fiona Snyckers has featured the book and discussed the process of translation with Etienne van Heerden in The Times in South Africa, calling it already 'a modern classic.'

PRAISE for Etienne van Heerden

'As writers like Marquez gave a rich artistic depth to South America - and Alasdair Gray defined the imaginative landscape of Scotland in Lanark - so van Heerden has created an 'artistic map' of South Africa.' -- Mark Stanton, The Scotsman

'His exploration of personal relations and private lives under the pressure of historical and political forces makes him an eloquent witness of profound social change.' -- Andre Brink

'He combines popular readability with literary excellence and profound issues in a manner accomplished by few writers of any nationality.' -- Shaun de Waal, Mail and Guardian