LITERARY CROSSROADS: From Faction to Fiction? How does reality inform the art of writing?

Goethe-Institut South Africa, Johannesburg, South Africa
07 May 2015

LITERARY CROSSROADS: From Faction to Fiction? How does reality inform the art of writing?

Helon Habila (Nigeria) and Nthikeng Mohlele (South Africa), two writers in different stages of their carreers share their texts and let us take part in their routines of writing.

Literature does not come out of the void and writers are very much part of the world they live and write in. It will be interesting to investigate what role reality plays in the conception of the work, how it is alienated and transcended to something new, that opens new worlds and perceptions, opens new realities beyond the obvious. What is the starting point of a book or a story? Where does the inspiration come from? What role does research play and how does a writer succeed to transcend into something new? How important are the conditions of production? The social and political parameters of the place of living? Does a perception changes by changing places and worlds?

Helon Habila is an Associate Professor of Creative Writing at George Mason University, USA. He worked in Lagos as a journalist before moving to England in 2002, and in 2005-2006 was the first Chinua Achebe Fellow at Bard College, New York. His novels, poems and short stories have won many awards. They include Waiting for an Angel (Commonwealth Prize for Best First Novel: Africa Section, 2003) and Measuring Time (Virginia Library Foundation’s fiction award in 2008). Oil on Water was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers Prize (2011) and the Orion Book Award (2012), and a runner up for the PEN/Open Book Award (2012). Helon has been a contributing editor for the Virginia Quarterly Review since 2004, and is a regular reviewer for the Guardian. He co-edited the British Council’s anthology, New Writing 14 (2006), edited The Granta Book of African Short Story (2011) and was a DAAD fellow in Berlin (2013-2014). In 2015 he won the prestigious Windham-Campbell-Award.

Nthikeng Mohlele was born in 1977 and grew up in Limpopo and Tembisa township, South Africa. He attended the University of the Witwatersrand, where he studied BA Dramatic Art and African Literature. He enjoys things that appeal to the senses, and holds some permanent opinions. He published two novels: „The Sense of Bliss“ (2008)  and „Small Things“ (2014).


Thursday 7 May 2015, 19.00

Goethe-Institut, 119 Jan Smuts Avenue
Parkwood, Johannesburg

Admission: Free