Zimbabwean author to make UK debut at South London literary festival

James Perrett ventures southwards to discover literary riches in Balham

Craig and Shaun McAnuff
Caribbean Cook Up with Original Flava –  Craig and Shaun McAnuff

A rising Zimbabwean author will make her first public appearance in the UK at Balham Literary Festival this month.

Panashe Chigumadzi Photograph Tarryn Hatchet
Panashe Chigumadzi
Photograph Tarryn Hatchet

Panashe Chigumadzi, a leading writer of South Africa’s “born free” generation and author of These Bones Will Rise Again, will speak at Introducing Panashe Chigumadzi in The Ballroom, Balham Bowls Club on Thursday 14 June, focusing on the November 2017 ousting of Robert Mugabe.

Now in its third year, the festival – which takes place across different venues in and around Balham including Dulwich Book store and Oxfam Balham – has evolved from a landscape and nature-focused program in 2016 to one more eclectic this year, with the organisers hoping Ms Chigumadzi’s talk will bring in a lot of the Zimbabwean community.

“Something that was very much in our mind when we were programming the event was to include something for every community in Balham, something for everyone who counts this at their home,” said festival communications and events manager Harry Coath. “We’ve got different kinds of fiction events; some at the more commercial end of the spectrum, some the more literary.”

Harry spoke of two particular highlights for this year’s line-up: first, London Streets at Oxfam Balham on Thursday 7 June which is a talk by authors Diana Evans and Guy Gunaratne, both authors of novels about contemporary London.

Second, Caribbean Cook Up, the Caribbean food-themed lunch party with recipe book authors Original Flava – South London brothers Shaun and Craig McAnuff –  at The Hall, Balham Library on Saturday 10 June.

Previous esteemed speakers have included Helen Macdonald, Robert Macfarlane, Laura Barnett and China Miéville as well as brain surgeon Henry Marsh and Wahaca founder Thomasina Miers.

Harry said: “I think literary festivals are a crucial way in which the publishing industry is reinventing itself and engaging people in a time when it can’t just all be about the book sales.

“We find that people absolutely love to hear from and meet the authors of the books they’re reading and are more engaged and encouraged to read.”

The festival showcases a wealth of south London authors and promises to offer a broad scope of events for all ages.

Balham Literary Festival is on now.

For events listings and tickets, visit www.balhamliteraryfestival.co.uk or buy tickets at Dulwich Books, SE21 8SW