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Open Book Festival a proudly South African affair

Festival director Mervyn Sloman said that in 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic had prevented the celebration of its 10th festival. Changes to this year’s festival would include three days instead of five, and only SA writers will be featured. Picture: Supplied

Festival director Mervyn Sloman said that in 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic had prevented the celebration of its 10th festival. Changes to this year’s festival would include three days instead of five, and only SA writers will be featured. Picture: Supplied

Published Aug 5, 2022

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Cape Town - The 2022 Open Book Festival is considered an authentically South African literary festival as it boasts more than 80 South African authors, poets and performers converging for 41 events over the course of three days.

A media briefing was held at the Homecoming Centre, District Six on Thursday, where most of the events are scheduled to take place across three venues, from September 2 to 4.

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Festival director Mervyn Sloman said that in 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic had prevented the celebration of its 10th festival.

Changes to this year’s festival would include three days instead of five, a smaller number of events, and only South African writers will be featured.

“A huge part of the festival is about promoting South African writers to a South African audience and an international audience. South African writers, like other artists, had an incredibly difficult time over the past couple of years.

“Since Covid-19 started, all sorts of opportunities for writers to launch their books disappeared, opportunities to engage and market their books,” he said.

With the festival partially funded by public funds, it would be somewhat unethical to spend it flying in authors from across the world to join in, instead of providing a platform for South African writers.

“Open Book is a space where difficult conversations are held – it’s really important for us that the festival is a safe space for those difficult conversations,” Sloman said.

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Festival co-ordinator Frankie Murrey said: “As humans, we understand ourselves in this world as storytellers and as parts of stories, and so examining what is going on in the world and our space in it, it’s an amazing opportunity to be able to do that through the lens of books, through stories.”

Murrey said the festival was not just of interest to readers, but any engaged citizens and those interested in meeting like-minded people would gain something from the festival.

“It’s about ideas. Even if you haven’t been into a library for years, that’s not the point, come for the ideas,” Murrey said.

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“Part of our focus is to try to highlight debut writers, those who are new to the sector. Voices that we’ve been missing because one of the things that we think is part of the role that we can play is in filling in the gaps in our literary landscape. There are a lot of stories that are missing.”

Some of the Open Book Festival events are free to attend. For more information, visit: https://openbookfestival.co.za/

Cape Argus

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