Writers A-C

Agnello, Elena

I am Alex

Elena Agnello was born in Cape Town. She grew up in a single parent household and remembers not being represented in the books she read as a little girl. She believes this need for diversity and representation of all cultures, religions, family dynamics and race in children’s books is even much greater today. Elena has a 6-year-old daughter, is a collector of antiques, works freelance as a stylist and has a passion to fight discrimination.
JLF Session: Reading of I Am Alex and discussion with the children to name the things that makes their family special/different 


Jonathan AncerJonathan Ancer

Amabookabooka blog – live Podcast

Journalist Jonathan Ancer has worked as a reporter at The Star, crossword columnist for the Cape Times, deputy editor of Bicycling Magazine and was the youngest editor of the country’s oldest newspaper, Grocott’s Mail.  He has won awards for hard news journalism, feature writing and creative writing. Jonathan was appointed training editor at Independent Newspapers in 2010 and relaunched its Cadet School. He left in 2014 to freelance, solve crossword puzzles and build a
podcast empire.
JLF Session: “Angry utterances (10): The power of a cross word
Amabookabooka: Live podcast recording with Greg Lazarus”


Diane AwerbuckDiane Awerbuck 

“Gardening at night;  Cabin fever; Home remedies”

Diane Awerbuck’s Gardening at Night won the Commonwealth Best First Book Award (Africa and the Caribbean). Her work is translated into Mandarin, German, Russian and Swedish. Awerbuck’s short stories are collected in Cabin Fever: one was shortlisted for the 2014 Caine Prize. Leatherman won the 2015 Short Story Day Africa award. Awerbuck’s latest highbrow-horror novel is Home Remedies. She is co-writing a frontier-fiction series with Alex Latimer under the pen name
Frank Owen.
JLF Sessions: “What goes into making a long story short?”
(Helen Moffett talks to Diane Awerbuck and Rachel Zadok)


Ken BarrisKen Barris

Ken Barris is a writer, researcher, and critic. His work has been translated into Turkish, Danish, French, German and Slovenian, and has appeared in about thirty anthologies. He has won various literary awards, including the AA Life/Ad Donker Award the Ingrid Jonker Prize, the M-Net Book Prize, the Thomas Pringle Award and the 2013 University of Johannesburg Prize for his novel Life Underwater. His research interests are post-apartheid fiction, and
academic literacy.
JLF Sessions: “Poetry as Catharsis” Sharon Geffen talks to Ken Barris, Charlotte Cohen, Ralph Goodman and Gloria Sandak-Lewin


Mavis PhotoMavis Becker

“Recollections of a life in dance”

Mavis Becker is the doyenne of Spanish dancers in South Africa. She has been a member of internationally renowned Spanish Dance Companies and toured the world. She is a founding member of the Spanish Dance Society for which she is a senior examiner, and teaches Spanish Dance at the UCT Dance Department. In November 2000 she was made a Dame of the Spanish Court. Her book My Life In Dance, is out now.
JLF Sessions: My life in dance


Veronica Belling

Yiddish theatre in Doornfontein

Veronica Belling was the Jewish Studies Librarian at the UCT Libraries and the Isaac & Jessie Kaplan Centre for Jewish Studies & Research for 31 years.  Currently an Honorary Research Associate, all her research (Masters and Ph.D.) incorporated Yiddish sources, her passion. Her publications have included South African Jewish bibliography, Yiddish theatre, South African Jewish women, and most recently memories of the Lithuanian shtetls published in the Afrikaner Idishe Tsaytung in 1952. JLF Session: Storytelling through Yiddish theatre (panel with Zola Piatka, Veronica Belling, moderated by Joy Wilkin)


Jack Bloom

30 Nights in a Shack

Jack Bloom was born in Johannesburg, and graduated from Wits University with BA Honours (Psychology) and MBA degrees. He has been an elected member of the Gauteng Provincial Legislature for the Democratic Party/Democratic Alliance since 1994, and was Leader of the Opposition in the Legislature from 2011 to May 2014. He is currently the DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health and has a reputation as an activist politician exposing corruption, inefficiency and injustice.
JLF Session: 30 Nights in a Shack — A Politician’s Journey


Kevin Bloom

Ways of staying; Continental shift

Kevin Bloom is an award-winning author, editor and investigative journalist. He is the co-author of Continental Shift: A Journey into Africa’s Changing Fortunes, published in SA and the UK in 2016. His first book, Ways of Staying, was named amongst the best overall titles of the year by South African broadsheets Sunday Times, Sunday Independent and The Witness, and was shortlisted for the Alan Paton Award, Africa’s most prestigious non-fiction prize.
JLF Sessions: (1) ‘Continental shift’: Navigating contemporary Africa (Kevin Bloom and Richard Poplar ; (2)  Mandela’s secret friend: The impact of South Africa’s Jewish journalists (Kevin Bloom talks to John Matisonn)


Batya Bricker

(SA Book Fair, The Academy)

Batya Bricker makes book projects happen. A degree in architecture, over fifteen years in the SA Book industry, Programme Director for the SA Book Fair 2015 and 2016, and now a freelance publisher, she is passionate about making stories jump off the page, and exploring new and interactive ways to make words come to life. The Academy has provided fertile ground for combined exploration of two passions – Jewish heritage and Torah, and books and narratives.  JLF Session: Esther: The queen you thought you knew


Nechama BrodieNechama Brodie

The Jozi book; Inside Joburg; The Cape Town book; I ran for my life

Nechama Brodie is a veteran South African journalist with a multi-media career spanning nearly two decades. She has worked as a reporter, radio talk-show host, television director and magazine editor, and is the head of training and research at independent fact-checking organization Africa Check. Nechama has five best-selling non-fiction titles to her name, including the critically acclaimed social histories The Joburg Book (2008) and The Cape Town Book (2015). JLF Session: Now we are slaves; next year may be we be free: Re-telling the story of slavery in the Cape


Ruth CarnesonRuth Carneson

Girl on the edge

Ruth Carneson’s memoir Girl on the Edge tells the story of a child born to parents who were involved in the struggle. She writes of the impossibility of ever having a normal upbringing. Ruth was 14 years old when she went alone to England, clutching her teddy in one hand and her drawings in the other. With an artist’s eye for detail and colour, Ruth recalls her life with unflinching honesty.
JLF Session: Writing about pain (Ruth Carneson talks to Albie Sachs)


Lisa Chait (at work)Lisa Chait

Lisa Chait is the producer of the award winning South African TV series ‘I Am Woman Leap of Faith’ and founder of the Life Stories Project, a unique heritage initiative that sees interviewees recording their life stories to share with future generations. For the past two years Lisa has travelled to 17 African countries producing a TV series for Bloomberg Business Television exploring inclusive partnerships between big business and the communities in which they work.
JLF Sessions: (1) Preserving memory: documenting Jewish life in the country communities of South Africa (panel with Adrienne Kollenberg and Evan Kaplan, moderated by Lisa Chait); (2) Community papers — keeping it parev while maintaining the juice (panel with Janna Joseph, Lindy Diamond and Vanessa Valkin, moderated by Lisa Chait)


Irma ChaitIrma Chait 

Irma grew up in Port  Elizabeth, went to UCT and taught Latin in Cape Town. She was editor of the Cape Jewish Chronicle for 26 years, from 1984 to 2010. When her children were small she began to write the ‘Rodney’ books, all in rhyme, related to Jewish festivals. The first was Rodney the Latke Eater. Her later books have been about ‘mixed up’ animals. She is married to Noah and they have four children and seven grandchildren.
JLF Session: ‘Amber Vulturecrocs and other weird and wonderful African animals; Poetry writing activity for children 9-12


Phillippa Cheifitz 1Phillipa Cheifitz

Lazy days; Easy, fast and delicious; South Africa eats

Phillippa Cheifitz is a Cape Town-based author, who contributes to Woolworths TASTE magazine. She has published more than 15 cookbooks. She has won many awards but says that the best reward is the feedback from enthusiastic readers. She loves spending time with her husband at their beach house in Paternoster, and in New York with their family. Phillippa is addicted to reading and scrabble, enjoys movies and long walks – especially to a destination restaurant!
JLF Session: Food: The contemporary Jewish table (panel with Phillipa Cheifitz, Pamela Shippel and Tal Smith, moderated by Beryl Eichenberger)


Lisa CohenLisa Cohen 

Lisa Cohen has an Honours in Clinical Psychology and co-founded the Earthchild Project and storytelling company, Grow A Tale. She trained with the International School of Storytelling and is a Portfolio Manager of Parenting Programmes at Ilifa Labantwana and with Clowns Without Borders South Africa as the Programme Manager for the Our Story Your Story project. Through storytelling she builds bridges in divided communities, and encourages meaningful creative self-expression with young and old.
JLF Session: The prince who thought he was a rooster: storytelling performance of a Jewish fable


Marilyn Cohen De Villiers (32b)Marilyn Cohen de Villiers

A beautiful family; When time fails

Marilyn’s a Jo’burg girl. The youngest of three daughters in a traditional, non-observant family, she’s had a remarkably unremarkable life. She matriculated at Northview High, graduated from Rhodes University, back-packed through Israel and Europe, worked as a reporter on a daily newspaper – and married her news editor. In their 32 (happy) years together, they raised two wonderful daughters, she “crossed over” into public relations and, aged 56, wrote and published her first novel.
JLF Sessions: (1)  Faribels & foibles in fiction (panel with Rahla Xenopoulos, Rachel Zadok, moderated by Helen Moffatt);  (2) ‘A beautiful family’: Can a novel ever be pure fiction?


Charlotte Cohen

Charlotte Cohen writes in diverse genres including humour, inspirational articles, short stories, poetry, verse, children’s stories, and political commentary. She was first published in Fair Lady in 1973. Poetry particularly gives expression to her personal emotion. She has won numerous literary and poetry awards, having won Gitlin Library’s 25th anniversary short-story writing competition and most recently winning the West Coast Writers Poetry competition.
JLF Sessions:  Poetry as Catharsis (panel with Charlotte Cohen, Ken Barris, Ralph Goodman, Gloria Sandak-Lewin, moderated by Sharon Geffen)


Johnny CopelynJohnny Copelyn

The maverick insider: A struggle for union independence in a time of national liberation

Johnny is the CEO of HCI, the JSE listed investment holding company of the clothing and textile union, SACTWU. He was a Member of Parliament (1994-97) and was General Secretary of Sactwu and some of its predecessors. Johnny is a lawyer and lives in Cape Town with his partner Corinne. They have six children between them. Maverick Insider – A struggle for union independence in a time of national liberation is his first book.
JLF Session: Did unions really influence the character of SA’s democracy? (Dennis Davis talks to Johnny Copelyn)