Open Book Festival 2019 programme announced


Join The Book Lounge and The Fugard Theatre for the ninth Open Book Festival which takes place from 4 to 8 September this year.

Open Book Festival Cape TownWith a record number of more than 150 events, this promises to be the best Festival yet. Enjoy book launches, workshops, readings, performances, panel discussions and more, with topics ranging from poetry to politics, to comics, food and fun. The engaging and entertaining discussions are designed to keep the conversations going long after the event.

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The Festival also hosts the popular Comics Fest, #cocreatePOETICA and various children’s and outreach programmes. Venues for the event include hosts The Book Lounge and The Fugard Theatre as well as the District Six Homecoming Centre and the A4 Arts Foundation. Selected events will also take place outside the city centre including Elsies River Library and Ottery Library.

Open Book Festival 2019“We’re ready for another inspiring five days of entertainment, insightful conversations, stimulating debate and great books,” says Festival Director Mervyn Sloman. “We’re also excited about new additions to the programme including the Mystery Author 15-minute lunch time readings, poetry and ice-cream pairing and poetry yoga.”

Two of the international authors attending this year have been longlisted forThe Booker Prize 2019 – Chigozie Obioma (An Orchestra of Minorities) and Oyinkan Braithwaite (My Sister the Serial Killer). The Festival welcomes back Nicole Dennis-Benn (Patsy) who was a crowd favourite in 2018. She is joined by amongst others Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah (Friday Black), Carmen Maria Machado (Her Body and Other Parties), Elisabeth Åsbrink (Made in Sweden) and Saidiya Hartman (Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments).

As always, there is a dazzling array of South African authors taking part, from Festival favourites to new faces. A handful of them include Rekgotsofetse Chikane (Breaking a Rainbow, Building a Nation), Haji Mohamed Dawjee (Sorry, Not Sorry), Caryn Dolley (The Enforcer), Zimitri Erasmus (Race Otherwise), Ishay Govender-Ypma (Curry: Stories and Recipes from Across South Africa), Kelly-Eve Koopman (Because I Couldn’t Kill You), Funeka Soldaat (Uhambo), Jonny Steinberg (One Day in Bethlehem), B Camminga (Beyond the Mountain) and Refiloe Moahloli (Yes Yanga!).

Now in its fourth year, #cocreatePOETICA is a partnership between Poetica and #cocreateSANL to present an electric programme of performances, readings, discussions and workshops exploring themes such as culture, identity and history. Catch Dutch poets Simone Atangana Bekono and Radna Fabias as well as an awesome range of talented local poets including, Allison-Claire Hoskins, Roché Kester, Primrose Mrwebi and Mbongeni Nomkonwana.

“In addition to the Dutch poets, we are also delighted to have Mackenzie Berry, Morgan Parker and Ishion Hutchinson join us. All three will certainly make valuable contributions to the events they are part of. Hutchinson is a winner of the 2019 Windham Campbell Prizes for Poetry and author of two poetry collections, Far District and House of Lords and Commons,” says Sloman.

“We can’t wait to hear the winner of the Leopard’s Leap Take a Moment competition. Our incredible and longstanding partners will again host the popular #WORDS4WINE – join Leopard’s Leap at their stand and exchange a pre-loved book for a glass of wine.”

From intimate dinners with international authors to discussions around access to food in urban spaces, how we consume, engage with and are shaped by food is a hot topic at this year’s Festival. The African Centre for Cities (ACC) will present a number of events, including transporting authors on a journey around Cape Town giving a fascinating insight to spaces where food and urban systems connect.

Gender and LGBTQ issues are an important focus with a number of events discussing identity, bodies, culture and belonging. Catch They Called me Queer with Zoey Black, Kelly-Eve Koopman and Kim Windvogel share coming out stories with Kelly Smith,and At the Coalface with Roche Kester, Tlaleng Mofokeng and Kim Windvogel in conversation with Joy Watson about sex and gender activism.

Interrogating the state of the nation is always a key element at the Festival, with events discussing the role of the media, the responsibility of tertiary spaces to prepare students for a world in crisis, student funding and the possibility of healing through storytelling.

At the fabulous Comics Fest Marketplace you can enjoy the work of more than twenty South African artists and snap up some of their amazing work. As part of the Comics Fest events, learn how to create your own comic or GIF and use your smart phone as a creative tool. Be sure to also catch the VR experience, The Lost Botanist.

Young visitors to the Festival are equally important and there’s a wonderful story telling line up for them on Saturday 7 September at Central Library, as well as cool events such as how to learn to draw your own superhero.

This year’s festival will launch the first #WritingmyCity anthology, a partnership between Open Book Festival, the City of Cape Town and Cape Town public libraries to encourage people to submit their stories that speak to Cape Town in some way. A total of 187 entries were received in English, Afrikaans and isiXhosa. The anthology that comes out of this project will be launched in the company of 2 of the judges and selected contributors.

The ninth Open Book Festival takes place from 4to 8September at the hosting venues The Book Lounge and The Fugard Theatre, as well as events at the District Six Homecoming Centre and The A4 Arts Foundation, from 10:00 to 21:00 each day. For further information and the full programme, visit

Bookings can be made at Webtickets

A Festival Day pass costs R150 and allows the holder to book for six events. (A Day pass on 8 September costs R100 to book for four events). A Full Festival pass costs R600 and allows the holder to book for 30 events.

All events, including free events require a ticket for access.

Open Book Festival is organised in partnership with The Fugard Theatre, the District 6 Museum, the A4 Arts Foundation, the Townhouse Hotel, Novus Holdings, the Embassy of Sweden, the Dutch Foundation for Literature and the HCI Foundation and sponsored by Leopard’s Leap, Open Society Foundation, City of Cape Town, Pan Macmillan, NB Publishers, Jonathan Ball, Penguin Random House, African Centre for Cities, UCT Creative Writing Department, University of Stellenbosch English Department, Canada Council of the Arts, the Western Cape Government and the Windham Campbell Prizes.

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