The Gordon Institute for Performing and Creative Arts will present the next Great Texts / Big Questions public lecture in association with the University of Cape Town’s Creative Writing Programme as part of the Open Book Festival.

Fiona Leonard, Australian writer and former diplomat now based in Ghana, will do readings from her acclaimed debut novel, The Chicken Thief, followed by a discussion with writers from UCT’s Creative Writing Masters Programme. This promises a lively and probing conversation about her writing career as well as the writing process behind her enchanting debut novel.

The Chicken Thief, a highly engaging novel with a gripping plot, was hailed by Bojan Tunguz, Amazon Top 100 reviewer, as a “fascinating story of political intrigue, struggle for power, and family and friendship ties that extend over a quarter of a century”.

The novel’s main character, Alois, is the Chicken Thief – an intelligent young man struggling to find his way in a southern African country wracked by political unrest and a crumbling economy. A chance encounter gives him the opportunity to make some fast money, and hopefully improve his future. However, his assignment goes horribly wrong and he unexpectedly finds himself in the midst of a complicated and perilous struggle to rescue a war hero and transform the political landscape. Though something of an unlikely hero, Alois ultimately learns that both dreams and justice are within his grasp. 

Fiona Leonard has had a diverse career and traveled across twenty-five countries on five continents as an Australian diplomat, foreign and trade policy consultant, freelance writer, theatre producer, blogger and author. A twelve-month road trip across the United States and Canada in 2009 provided Leonard the opportunity to break away from writing about international politics. Twenty-one states and fifteen thousand miles later, she had finished her first novel, started work on the second and had begun to build a freelance portfolio. She also posted over 200 blogs during this period, detailing a journey that author Daniel Pink described as “terrific and inspiring”.  During a three-year posting to Zimbabwe, she developed an affinity for various countries on the continent. She now lives in Ghana, West Africa.

This event will take place at Hiddingh Hall, University of Cape Town (UCT) Hiddingh Campus, Orange Street, Cape Town on Thursday 18 September 2014 at 17:30 and is free. Refreshments will be served from 17:00. No Booking is necessary. For more information contact the GIPCA office on +27 21 480 7156 or

Fiona Leonard audio recording available for download.

Venue: Hiddingh Hall

Address: Google Map UCT Hiddingh Campus, 31-37 Orange Street, Cape Town, 8001, Cape Town, Western Cape, 8001, South Africa