Something for everyone at Open Book Festival 2016 CAPE TOWN

Now in its sixth year, the Open Book Festival has established itself as one of South Africa’s most innovative and leading book festivals. It is committed to creating a platform to celebrate South African writers, as well as hosting top international authors. The Festival strives to instill an interest in and love of reading among young attendees, while the programme of more than one hundred events over five days is designed to resonate with the Festival goers long after the event.  Elements of the Festival programme include talks by international authors and South African writers; poetry;  comic marketplace; panel discussions; book launches; outreach reading initiatives; youth programmes and writer sports. The Festival has already been recognized internationally, having been shortlisted for the London Book Fair Excellence Awards in the category of Literary Festivals. In 2015, Open Book hosted nearly 10 000 visitors at the 123 events with more than 150 participants. 

The Open Book School Library Project continues at St Mary’s Primary School where 4 ‘Open Boxes’ have thus far been placed. An additional 2 boxes will be placed in the Grade 5 and 6 classrooms respectively.

As part of the Open Book Festival’s mentorship project, writing programmes ran at Westridge High School, Mowbray Library and Usasazo High School during the first half of 2016.

Mervyn Sloman – Festival Director

Mervyn Sloman worked in the book trade for five years before opening the Book Lounge in the heart of Cape Town at the end of 2007.TheBook Lounge has won a number of awards including that of Best Independent Bookshop in SA in 2014 and 2015.  He is the founder and festival director of Open Book.


Frankie Murrey – Festival Coordinator

Frankie Murrey worked in the book trade for a number of years before becoming the Festival Coordinator of Open Book Festival. In addition to work on the core festival programme, she works closely with others on Poetica, Comics Fest and the Youth Fest. She is the facilitator of the Mentoring Programme and the Open Book School Library Project. In 2015, she was awarded the Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.

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“I loved coming to the Open Book Festival in Cape Town and being enveloped in literary love.”

Chris Riddell, UK Children’s Laureate


Brought to you by the Book Lounge and The Fugard Theatre, Open Book Festival this year has something for everyone.  There’s a feast of book launches, panel discussions, workshops, master classes, readings, performances and more.

The event takes place from 7 to 11 September at The Fugard Theatre, District Six Homecoming Centre and The Book Lounge in Cape Town.

The Fugard Theatre in the heart of historic District Six is one of the key venues for the Open Book Festival Photographer Retha Ferguson

The Fugard Theatre in the heart of historic District Six is one of the key venues for the Open Book Festival Photographer Retha Ferguson

From the rock stars of the literary world to emerging writers, the Open Book Festival provides a platform to connect with a diverse range of local and international authors. The more than one hundred events are designed to entertain, engage and stimulate ideas and conversations.   The programme will again include the popular Poetica and Comics Fest as well as events for younger readers.  Nearly ten thousand people attended the Festival last year.


“We are thrilled to be announcing the first group of authors for Open Book Festival 2016,” says Festival Director Mervyn Sloman. “We have confirmed participants joining us from Botswana, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Ghana, Holland, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Reunion, United Kingdom and USA.  As always we look forward to an outstanding collection of powerful South African writers talking about their work on the international stage that Open Book provides. I can’t wait to see the impact the likes of Pumla Gqola, Fred Khumalo, Bongani Madondo, Mohale Mashigo and Yewande Omotoso are going to have on Cape Town audiences. These writers are the tip of a very exciting iceberg that gives us cause for celebration in the SA book world that has many real and difficult challenges.”


On the international front, we’ve compiled a handy guide to the overseas authors confirmed to date so you can get reading now:


Author: Benjamin Chaud (France. Attending OBF 2016 thanks to the French Institute)

Books include:The Bear’s Song; The Bear’s Sea Escape, Bear’s Surprise, I Didn’t Do My Homework Because…, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to School, The Truth About My Unbelievable Summer, Pomelo Explores Colour, Pomelo Begins to Grow, Pomelo’s Opposites, Pomelo’s Big Adventure and Farewell Floppy

Why we’re excited: The award-winning books of this French author and illustrator have been translated into over twenty languages and appeal equally to children and adults.


Author: Martin Egblewogbe (Ghana. Attending OBF 2016 thanks to the Goethe-Institut)

Books include: Short story collection Mr Happy and the Hammer of God; The Tree of Life which appeared in Pen  America’s “Passages”, The Gongon Pin (title story of the Caine Prize 2014 collection)

 Why we’re excited: Egblewogbe is an accomplished short story writer and poet and also the Co-founder of the Writer’s Project of Ghana.


 Author: Jostein Gaarder (Norway. Attending OBF 2016 thanks to NORLA)

Books include: Sophie’s World; The Orange Girl, The Christmas Mystery and The Ringmaster’s Daughter; The World According to Anna.

Why we’re excited: Sophie’s World has been translated into sixty languages and sold more than forty million copies worldwide. His brand new book, The World According to Anna, explores crucial questions about environmental education.


Author: Misha Glenny (Great Britain)

Books include: McMafiaDarkMarket; Nemesis: One Man and his Battle for Rio 

Why we’re excited: Glenny is a distinguished investigative journalist who has won several major awards for his work, including the Sony Gold Award for outstanding contribution to broadcasting.

Praise for Nemesis: One Man and his Battle for Rio:

“one of the most daring and original true-crime writers of today” (Mail on Sunday)

“Fascinating dive into Brazil’s terrifying underworld, where the stakes are all or nothing…Nemesis reads like a fast-paced thriller” (The Times)

“Breaking Bad meets City of God” (Roberto Saviano)


Author: Garth Greenwell (USA).

Books include:What Belongs to You.

Why we’re excited: Greenwell dazzles with his eloquent, literary and skillful language in his debut novel What Belongs to You. A story of desire and its consequences, the book was described by BBC Arts as ‘The publishing sensation of the year.’


Author: Rawi Hage (Canada. Attending OBF 2016 thanks to the Canada Council)

Books include: De Niro’s Game (winner, IMPAC Dublin Literary Award); Cockroach (winner of the Paragraphe Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction and a finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Awards) and Carnival

Why we’re excited:“laugh-out-loud hilarious and full of pathos” (Daily Telegraph)“Imagine Camus rewriting Taxi  Driver” (Toronto Life); “A rich and often beautiful, brave, engrossing, intelligent, literate, funny and very human novel.” (The Guardian)


Author: Nadia Hashimi (USA / Afghanistan)

Books include:The Pearl That Broke Its Shell; When the Moon Is Low; House Without Windows  and One Half from the East.

Why we’re excited: Two brand new books to talk about (House without Windows international release August  2016 and her first  novel for young adults, One Half From the East, being flown in to SA specially for launch at OBF).


Author: Hippolyte (Reunion. Attending  OBF 2016 thanks to the French Institute)

Books include: His adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula;Monsieur Paul; L’Afrique de papa

Why we’re excited: The range of techniques he uses and his work in the non-fiction comic book genre


Author: Lauri Kubuitsile (Botswana)

Books include: Scattering; Signed, Hopelessly in Love; In the Spirit of McPhineas Lata and Other Stories

Why we’re excited: “This is masterful storytelling…Here is a writer who knows intimately that nothing in life is ever simple, that the will to live can hold even those who want to die. Here is a woman outraged at the devastation of war.” (Business Day)


Author: Kim Leine (Denmark Attending  OBF 2016 thanks to the Embassy of Denmark)

Books include:  The Prophets of Eternal Fjord

Why we’re excited: He received the Golden Laurel award and the Nordic Council’s Literature Prize for The Prophets of Eternal Fjord, which The Guardian newspaper described as ‘A fervid, exhilarating evocation of faith versus hypocrisy, empathy versus disclocation and desperate rebellion versus grim destiny’.


Author: Andy Martin (Great Britain)

Books include: Stealing the Wave; Reacher Said Nothing: Lee Child and the Making of Me

Why we’re excited: Lee Child’s many fans will be thrilled that Andy Martin will be conducting a Skype interview with him.


 Author: Indira Neville (New Zealand. Attending OBF 2016 thanks to the Publishers Association of New Zealand)

Books include:Nice Gravy; I Am A Comic; co-editor of Three Words, a collection of New Zealand women’s comics

Why we’re excited:  Neville is an independent zine creator with 20 years of experience.


Author: Heather O’Neill (Canada. Attending OBF 2016 thanks to the Canada Council)

Books include: Lullabies for Little Criminals; The Girl Who Was Saturday Night; Daydreams of Angels

Why we’re excited: Multi award winning and bestselling novelist has now published a wonderfully imaginative collection of short stories. And if her twitter feed (@lethal_heroine) is anything to go by, she’s going to make us laugh. A lot!


Author: Chigozie Obioma (Nigeria)

Books:The Fishermen

Why we’re excited:his debut novel, The Fishermen,has taken the world by storm and was shortlisted for the 2015 Man Booker Prize for Fiction. It is a breathtaking novel firmly rooted in the best of African storytelling.To understand our excitement click here…see


Author: Nnedi Okorafor (USA / Nigeria)

Books include:Zahrah the Windseeker(winner Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature); Who Fears Death (winner of the 2011 World Fantasy Award for Best Novel);Binti, (which recently won a Nebula award); Lagoon and The Book of Phoenix (shortlisted for the Arthur C Clarke Award)

Why we’re excited: her groundbreaking African-based science fiction and also one of the winners of the Triggerfish Storylab competition


Author: Rosemary Sullivan (Canada. Attending OBF 2016thanks to the Canada Council)

Books include:Shadow Maker: The Life of Gwendolyn MacEwen; By Heart: Elizabeth Smart/A Life ;Stalin’s Daughter: The Extraordinary and Tumultuous Life of Svetlana Alliluyeva (2015)

Why we’re excited: In 2012, Rosemary was inducted as an Officer of the Order of Canada (Canada’s highest civilian award) for outstanding contributions to Canadian Literature and Culture. The list of accolades for this prolific author is quite phenomenal, and her multiple award-winning Stalin’s Daughter: The Extraordinary and Tumultuous Life of Svetlana Alliluyeva (2015) is a must-read for any history lover. See


Author: Philip Teir (Finland. Attending OBF 2016thanks to the Embassy of Finland)

Books include: The Winter War

Why we’re excited:A personal favourite of festival director, Mervyn Sloman, The Winter War is – a funny and  razor-sharp family drama that unravels the fantasy some have of a perfect Scandinavian society. The Daily Mail described it “Written with unshowy care and thought…there’s something Anglo-Americanly, unScandinavianly familiar about the way Teir tackles these domestic and emotional entanglements – only with weird Finnish names, very heavy snowfall and temperatures that reach -20 Celsius”.


Author: Adeiye Tjon (Netherlands. Attending  OBF 2016 thanks to the Dutch Foundation for Literature)

Why we’re excited: Adeiye ‘MC Complex’ Tjon Tam Pau is a coach and workshop master for Poetry Circle Nowhere. He is a highly regarded MC and co-founder of the hip-hop group 7th Foul Nation, and a member of the  band ‘D-lusion’


Author: Michela Wrong (Great Britain)

Books include:In Footsteps of Mr Kurtz,;  I didn’t do it for you, It’s Our Turn to Eat, and Borderlines

Why we’re excited: With nearly twenty years’ experience working as an African correspondent, Borderlines is Wrong’s first work of fiction “Few other writers could make a border dispute in the Hague have readers sitting on the edges of their chairs” (Lionel Shriver, author of We Need To Talk About Kevin


 Author: Sunil Yapa (USA)

Books include: Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist

Why we’re excited: “A symphony of a novel. In the contemporary tradition of Aleksandar Hemon and Philipp Meyer, with echoes of Michael Ondaatje and Arundhati Roy, Yapa strides forward with a literary molotov cocktail to light up the dark” (Colum McCann, National Book Award-winning author of Let the Great World Spin)

See what American media have had to say about this phenomenal debut novel at


The final programme will be available in early August, at which point bookings  can be made at


The sixth Open Book Festival will take place from 7 to 11 September at The Fugard Theatre, D6 Homecoming Centre and The Book Lounge, from 10:00 to 21:00 each day. For further information visit


The Open Book Festival is made possible thanks to the support of its sponsors and partners: Leopard’s Leap, The Fugard Theatre, The District Six Museum, Townhouse Hotel, Penguin Random House, NB Publishers, Jonathan Ball Publishers, Pan Macmillan Publishers, CCIBA,  The French Institute of South Africa, The Canada Council, the Publishers Association of New Zealand, NORLA, the Embassy of Denmark, the Dutch Foundation for  Literature, the Embassy of Finland and the Goethe-Institut.