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Record numbers at Open Book Festival 2017

It’s been a record breaking event for the seventh Open Book Festival which took place from 6 to 10 September.

The Festival is presented by the Book Lounge and the Fugard Theatre, with venues also including the A4 Arts Foundation, District Six Homecoming Centre, Central Library, Elsie’s River Library, Kuyasa Library, and PH Centre.

With more than 140 events on offer, making it the biggest festival yet, nearly ten thousand people attended the Festival with last year’s ticket sales figures surpassed in the first two days.

The Festival presents a world-class selection of panel discussions, workshops, readings, performances and more, designed to inspire, stimulate and entertain audiences, featuring more than one hundred local and international authors.

“We are overwhelmed at the phenomenal response to this year’s Festival,” says Festival Director Mervyn Sloman. “One marker of the enthusiasm people have for the festival and its participants can certainly be seen in what books have been bought and it comes as no surprise to us that holding the number one position is Pumla Gqola’s brand new title, Reflecting Rogue.

“Our off-programme schools line up has also proved a great success this year. Learners at Camps Bay and Groote Schuur schools were captivated by Alex Wheatle, the winner of the Guardian Children’s Fiction Award 2016. They didn’t want to move when their morning break bell rang marking the end of the session!

“Once again the generosity of the authors with their time has been incredible – Man Booker Prize winner Paul Beatty spent more than two hours signing books and talking to audience members despite being sick. The willingness of audiences to openly engage in the topics being discussed is also inspiring,” adds Sloman.

Man Booker Prize winner Paul Beatty signs copies of his book The Sellout


Events at Central Library for younger visitors were sold out and the organisers will be looking at adding additional events next year.

The partnerships with PLAAS presenting a series of events on access to land, and the discussions around cities curated by the African Centre for Cities, were all engaging and insightful. Following the huge success of #cocreatePOETICA last year, the 2017 line-up included Dutch poets Akwasi, Dean Bowen and Sjaan Flikweert. Poet Riyo from Kuils River was the winner of the Cape Town Poetry Slam.

“Congratulations also to Verushka Louw, who won the #FlashFiction #Twitterature competition, run by our fabulous sponsor Leopard’s Leap Wines who have supported us since year one of the Festival. Their #WordsforWine initiative was a great success and collected hundreds of books for the Open Book Library Project,” says Sloman.

The eighth Open Book Festival takes place from 5 to 9 September 2018. For further information visit


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