Talking points and debut titles at book fest

ENGAGED: An audience at the Open Book Festival at the Book Lounge.

ENGAGED: An audience at the Open Book Festival at the Book Lounge.

Published Sep 5, 2017


Coloured identity is one of many issues that will come under the spotlight at this year’s Open Book Festival. Hosted by the Book Lounge and the Fugard Theatre, the festival opens tomorrow and runs until Sunday, with events also being held at the A4 Arts Foundation, District Six Homecoming Centre and Central Library Cape Town.

Zimitri Erasmus is one of the authors on the agenda and will be joining the conversation with a talk, “Race Otherwise: Forging a New Humanism for South Africa”.

Also to be be featured are journalist, radio presenter and author Sara-Jayne King; community leader Kelly-Eve Koopman, the co-creator of the web series, Coloured Mentality; and Sarah Summers, whose latest film, Gatvol, premiered at the Durban Film Festival, and who will be talking with author and playwright Malika Ndlovu.

Putting mothers into writing can be a difficult task and will be discussed by former vice-chancellor Jonathan Jansen, whose books include a memoir in honour of his mother, Song for Sarah; Letters to My Children and As by Fire: The End of the South African University; culture writer Scaachi Koul, whose debut collection of essays is One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter; and Ashley Makue, whose book, I Know How to Fix Myself, was published earlier this year.

The processes of writing and publishing will be discussed by Lindiwe Hani and Melinda Ferguson, who co-wrote this year’s bestseller, Being Chris Hani’s Daughter.

Chwayita Ngamlana, whose first novel is If I Stay Right Here, will be talking about manipulation and characters who always get their own way with Ali Land, the author of Good Me Bad Me, award-winning Norwegian writer Carl Frode Tiller and Rachel Zadok, author of Gem Squash Tokoloshe, whose latest novel is Sister-Sister.

ENGAGED: An audience at the Open Book Festival at the Book Lounge.

The festival will feature more than 100 local and international authors, and festival director Mervyn Sloman, of The Book Lounge, says: “The nature of the open discussions and debates between authors and audiences and the conversations that continue beyond the event, are what make the festival unique.”

A series of four events focusing on access to land is curated by the Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies, and audiences can look forward to a similar segment of programming, themed around cities curated by the African Centre for Cities.

There are several books that will be launched at the festival, including Bonang Matheba’s From A to B, Pumla Gqola’s Reflecting Rogue, Glynnis Breytenbach’s Rule of Law, Sizwe Mpofu-Walsh’s Democracy and Delusions, Mark Shaw’s Hitmen for Hire and Prince Mashele’s Fall of the ANC Continues.

Chibundu Onuzo, 26, whose prize-winning first novel was The Spider King’s Daughter and most recent fiction is Welcome to Lagos, grew up in Lagos and calls it the megacity. She will be talking with Fiston Mwanza Mujila, the author of the highly acclaimed Tram 83, who was born and raised in the DRC and now lives in Graz, Austria, where he teaches African literature. While his novel takes place in a fictional city that often evokes Kinshasa, he did not specify a particular city setting because he wanted the book to represent a form of exploitation and neocolonialism that happens throughout Africa.

For younger visitors, the Central Library will be home to a range of events for children on Saturday.

Storytime in the Gardens on Friday will feature a host of local storytellers.

Comics Fest takes place on Saturday and Sunday for illustrators, designers and comic book lovers.

This year, seasoned illustrator Andy Mason will be hosting the Monster Battle Draw Off.

* The programme is available at

Visit the individual author pages on the website for a list of the events in which they are participating. Tickets to events range from R45 to R100. Day passes (which provide one access ticket to six events a day) are R150 and festival passes (five-day passes with one ticket access to six events a day) cost R600.

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