As she writes in her raw, often visceral but entirely immersive and poignant book "The Gold Diggers," many Zimbabweans leave their home country in search of a better life, to be rudely awakened to even harsher realities when they get here.
They're conned, robbed, sold for sex, raped, bullied and fall foul of both ruthless criminals, drug lords and also employers who fail to understand their predicament. But her book also shows that for every bad person there exists a humanity in people that saves the day and offers optimism.
Nyathi delves deeply into what she refers to as transitional identities in her novel. She herself came here in 2008 but unlike the group of immigrants she tracks in her book she arrived here legally and has done well as an investment analyst, taking up writing to escape another reality - that of the financial markets.
Nyathi is just one of a host of authors that will engage with the public at the Open Book Festival that starts today, Wednesday, September 5 and runs until Sunday, September 9.
Offering world book launches, panel discussions, workshops, masterclasses, readings and performances it's a veritable feast of the written word brought to the Mother City by the Book Lounge and the Fugard Theatre.
The festival also hosts the popular Comics Fest, #cocreatePoetica and various children’s and outreach programmes. Venues take place at the Fugard Theatre, the District Six Homecoming Centre, the A4 Arts Foundation, and The Book Lounge in Cape Town; all within walking distance of one another. Some events will also take further afield at places like Elsies River Library and MoloMhlaba School.
“We have put together a programme that we hope will appeal to book lovers of all interests and ages,” says festival director Mervyn Sloman. “The stimulating conversations that arise from the panel discussions, both during and after the event, are what make the festival unique."
Sloman says partners include the Canada Council of the Arts, the French Institute of South Africa, the Swedish Embassy, the University of Stellenbosch and the Embassy of Argentina and through them they're able to bring to the country leading international authors such as Guy Delisle (Hostage),graphic artist duo Icinori, Jonas Bonnier (The Helicopter Heist), Nicole Dennis Benn (Here Comes the Sun) and Mariana Enriquez (Things We Lost in the Fire).
Other international guests will include authors such as Aminatta Forna, Lesley Arimah, graphic novelist Mariko Tamaki and Adam Smyer, whose debut novel Knucklehead is a refreshingly honest, fierce and intelligent read. "All this, in addition to the more than 100 incredible South African authors that are joining our programme,” says Sloman.
The festival will again team up with the African Centre for Cities to explore urban issues. And inspired by the collection, Feminism Is, South Africans Speak Their Truth, a series of Feminism Is talks will interrogate ideas of feminism, gender, patriarchy, sexual health and ownership of the body.
The popular Comics Fest takes place on 8 and 9 September, and younger visitors can partake in activities such as storytime at Central Library, Origami Demo Sessions and a workshop for teens to Create Your Own Character.
One of the highlights is that Leopard’s Leap Wines will be hosting their #WordsforWine. If you bring a pre-loved or new book, you'll be given a glass of Leopard’s Leap wine in exchange. Books will be donated the Open Book Library Project and other charities. They’ll also be announcing the winner of their innovative #MessageonaBottle competition.
The eighth Open Book Festival will take place from 5 to 9 September at the Fugard Theatre, D6 Homecoming Centre, The A4 Arts Foundation and The Book Lounge from 10am to 9pm each day. The 2018 programme can be viewed at www.openbookfestival.co.za
Tickets range from R45 to R180. There are also a number of free events but tickets must still be booked for these events to secure a place. Day passes (which provide one access ticket to six events per day) are R150 and festival passes (5 Day Passes with one ticket access to six events per day) cost R600.
Bookings can be made at www.webtickets.co.za