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Archive for the ‘LBF 2010’ Category

Not the London Book Fair in the South African Media

Building Crowd

Antjie KrogAlert! The Not the London Book Fair last Monday not only rocked the Book Lounge, it also rocked the SA media.

While not every news source out there got its facts quite straight – for the record, the NTLBF was organised by Mervyn Sloman/The Book Lounge, Helen Moffett and myself/BOOK SA, with the assistance of various publishers and individuals (especially those who came to CT from afar), plus Leopard’s Leap – the goodwill shown by reporters and editors toward the event was very heartening. A big thanks from the NTLBF to those who got the word out and/or reported on the event after the fact.

In the “after the fact” department, we perhaps owe the biggest debt to Maureen Isaacson and the Sunday Independent, which published an account of the NTLBF by BOOK SA’s own Liesl Jobson:

Soon, with 100-odd other writers and publishing industry professionals who’d invested thousands of hours preparing for this unique opportunity, hope was icy shards, stratospherically distant.

Those who’d lingered in foreign departure halls returned, exhausted, only to discover rumbles of an underground event on the cards. By noon on Friday indie bookstore proprietor Mervyn Sloman and Book SA’s Ben Williams were rapidly hatching a plan to channel the peculiar turn of events into something other than a stillbirth.

“Not The London Book Fair” would go off with a bang at the Book Lounge. South African literature would party, regardless. It would be live-blogged and videoed, linked to London.

The Mail & Guardian books editor, Darryl Accone, also mentioned the NTLBF in last Friday’s paper – in an au courant piece that also tackles the FLF and World Book Day:

Consolation events were arranged for those attendees who were stranded in Cape Town, and opened to the public. One such was “Not the London Book Fair” at the Book Lounge. Nothing, however, could quite make up for the opportunity lost in what is widely seen and touted as this country’s year and place in the sun.

And here follow a series of “before the fact” links featuring the NTLBF:

From BOOK SA to our colleagues in the media, thanks very much for the support!


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Meet BOOK SA's London Book Fair Liveblogging Heroes

LIVE from the #lbf10 - a snap of the BOOK SA stand w/Arja Salafranca  busy liveblogging inside

BOOK SA’s preparations for liveblogging the 2010 London Book Fair were nothing short of meticulous – and all that, ahm, meticulosity went up in a cloud of ash.

But little did we know how swiftly our cause would be rallied to during the fair – or just how much material we would still be able to bring to our audience, even given the SA Market Focus‘ much reduced circumstances.

It all came down to a few BOOK SA liveblogging heroes and our Facebook page, which carried scores of crucial LBF10 updates each day of the fair. Meet the hastily assembled but highly effective stand-in BOOK SA London Book Fair liveblogging team!

Timothy Edwards, your #lbf10 #readsa volunteer liveblogger!Leo Sutherland, you #lbf10 #readsa volunteer liveblogger!

Timothy Edwards and Leo Sutherland, student volunteers from the UK, were the twin linchpins of our effort. They manned the stand, dispatched bloggers, organised schedules and generally ensured that BOOK SA had top-class LBF representation online and off. Two nicer chaps I’ve not had the pleasure of never meeting. And to think that all this time they were meant to be dogsbodies! Tim, Leo, you stepped into the breech with magnificent resourcefulness. SA Lit owes you a lot!

Arja SalafrancaHenrietta Rose-Innes

Arja Salafranca and Henrietta Rose-Innes provided the bulk of BOOK SA’s coverage that wasn’t produced by Tim and Leo. SMSs and telephone calls flew back and forth between Cape Town and London as we plotted our next moves – and Arja and Henrietta always delivered the goods. Special bottles of wine for you two!

Karina Magdalena SzczurekJoy Levin & Margot SafferPreetha Leela

Karina Magdalena Szczurek, Margot Saffer and Preetha Leela filled the gaps, left, right and centre, showing up at the BOOK SA stand with material that wasn’t even asked for. Such terrific work – BOOK SA is in your debt!

Liesl Jobson ReadingEstelle Jobson & Kundayi Masanzu

Finally, a word about the liveblogging team that wasn’t. Both Liesl Jobson and her sister Estelle Jobson were meant to be at LBF 2010 – and both were stranded in different parts of the world. They offered BOOK SA much support during our volcanic trials. Thanks so much for being there for us!


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Videos: New High Definition Clips from the Not the London Book Fair Event in Cape Town

Building Crowd

It took all night (literally; the first video started uploading at 11 pm, and the last finished at 9:15 am), but somewhat miraculously it didn’t fail (in South Africa, there’s many a slip twixt a file and its upload), and so BOOK SA proudly presents high-definition video clips from the Not the London Book Fair event held at the Book Lounge in Cape Town.

The videos are longer versions of the low-grade clips we published during the event; most pleasing is the fact that we’ve captured the complete readings of Antjie Krog, Kopano Matlwa, Liesl Jobson and Fiona Snyckers. Here they are, along with clips from Victor Dlamini‘s panel with Krog and Imraan Coovadia, and Helen Moffett‘s chat with Matlwa, Snyckers and Modjaji BooksColleen Higgs:

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Antjie Krog reads a poem at the Not the London Book Fair

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Imraan Coovadia on humour in South African Writing

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Liesl Jobson reads flash fiction at the Not the London Book Fair

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Kopano Matlwa reads from Spilt Milk at the Not the London Book Fair

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Fiona Snyckers reads from Trinity Rising at the Not the London Book Fair

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Remarks of Kopano Matlwa, Fiona Snyckers and Colleen Higgs on women’s writing in South Africa


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Videos: Messages of Support from Cape Town to the London Book Fair

#lbf10 Messages of support from Not the London Book Fair shown in the  LBF's SA pavillion

At the Not the London Book Fair event last night at the Book Lounge, Leopards Leap wines, a sponsor of many of the activities that were meant to happen during the London Book Fair‘s South Africa Market Focus programme, recorded messages of support from a host of authors and publishers – messages that are currently being streamed live at the LBF.

Here are several of the almost 20 messages recorded; click here to view them all on YouTube.

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Nelleke de Jager, Kwela Books

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Frederik de Jager, Umuzi

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Mervyn Sloman, The Book Lounge

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Sadika Ahmed, Cape Town Book Fair

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Imraan Coovadia

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Jeremy Boraine, Jonathan Ball

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Maxine Case


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The Not the London Book Fair Rocks the Book Lounge

Building Crowd

It was a spectacular event, a perfectly-tossed last-minute literary salad with readings, panel discussions, the filming of a special message for the London Book Fair, and much more.

While the Leopard’s Leap camera crew interviewed stranded writers and publishers in the basement of the Book Lounge, the Not the London Book Fair organising committee, Helen Moffett, Mervyn Sloman and myself, sprinted through a build-up like no other, creating a gigantic “stand” on the Lounge’s main floor, setting up liveblogging facilities, and putting the finishing touches on the evening’s programme.

We began with a special message from the London Book Fair – filmed that very day – which touched everyone who couldn’t make the big event very deeply:

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Poet Antjie Krog opened the NTLBF with a deeply moving reading of a new, as-yet untitled poem, then joined Imraan Coovadia – who also read, from a new short story – and Victor Dlamini for a discussion, expertly guided by Dlamini, of the state of contemporary South African letters and its intertwinedness, or otherwise, with current SA politics.

Antjie KrogImraan Coovadia, Antjie Krog, Victor DlaminiImraan Coovadia, Antjie Krog, Helen Moffett, Victor DlaminiLiesl JobsonKopano Matlwa, Fiona Snyckers, Colleen HiggsFiona SnyckersKopano MatlwaPhakama Mbonambi, Ben Williams and Arthur Attwell at the #ntlbf #lbf10

Further readings by Liesl Jobson, Kopano Matlwa and Fiona Snyckers led to a panel on women’s writing featuring Matlwa, Snyckers and Colleen Higgs of Modjaji Books. Moffett chaired, and we learned much about the shape and direction of women’s fiction in South Africa – and heard heartbreaking tales of dashed LBF plans.

Finally, I took the microphone for a chat with two of the most inspiring people on the SA books scene, Phakama Mbonambi of Wordsetc magazine and Arthur Attwell of Electric Book Works. We talked print vs digital – keeping it short, although like other literary geeks we could have keep the audience there until well into the wee hours.

In the meantime, BOOK SA‘s Sophy Kohler frantically livetweeted the entire evening’s proceedings. Catch up with the Not the London Book Fair via Twitter search.

The audience was typical for the Book Lounge, spilling right out the doors into the chilly Cape night. An after party at the nearby Kimberly Hotel carried on, in true London Book Fair fashion, until the birds started chirping.

Special thanks to Victor Dlamini, Fiona Snyckers, Kopano Matlwa and Phakama Mbonambi for travelling down down from Johannesburg – and to Incwadi‘s Ingrid Andersen for making the even longer trek from KZN.

It wasn’t the London Book Fair, but it was a spectacular jol! Here are liveblogged video clips from the do.

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Gallery

Fwd: #ntlbf #lbf10 Build up at Not the London Book Fair w/Etienne van  Heerden#ntlbf #lbf10 Build up at Not the London Book Fair w/Colleen Higgs &  Arthur Attwell#ntlbf #lbf10 Build up at Not the London Book Fair w/Ben Williams#ntlbf #lbf10 Build up at Not the London Book Fair#ntlbf #lbf10 Build up at Not the London Book Fair w/food from Kalk  Bay Books' The Annex#ntlbf #lbf10 Build up at Not the London Book Fair w/Mervyn Sloman#ntlbf #lbf10 Build up at Not the London Book Fair w/Willemien de  Villiers#ntlbf #lbf10 Build up at Not the London Book Fair w/Imraan Coovadia#ntlbf #lbf10 Build up at Not the London Book Fair#ntlbf #lbf10 Build up at Not the London Book Fair w/ @VictorDlamini#ntlbf #lbf10 Build up at Not the London Book Fair w/Phakama Mbonambi#ntlbf #lbf10 Build up at Not the London Book Fair w/Imraan Coovadia,  @VictorDlamini, Antjie KrogAntjie Krog reading at the #ntlbf #lbf10Imraan Coovadia reaading at the #ntlbf #lbf10Imraan Coovadia, Antjie Krog, Victor Dlamini live at the #ntlbf #lbf10Liesl Jobson reading at the #ntlbf #lbf10Victor Dlamini with his new/old medium format camera at the end of the #ntlbf #lbf10Ingrid Andersen and Fiona Snyckers at the #ntlbf in Cape Town #lbf10#ntlbf #lbf10 Build up at Not the London Book Fair w/Helen Moffett


» read article

The Not the London Book Fair Rocks the Book Lounge

Building Crowd

It was a spectacular event, a perfectly-tossed last-minute literary salad with readings, panel discussions, the filming of a special message for the London Book Fair, and much more.

While the Leopard’s Leap camera crew interviewed stranded writers and publishers in the basement of the Book Lounge, the Not the London Book Fair organising committee, Helen Moffett, Mervyn Sloman and myself, sprinted through a build-up like no other, creating a gigantic “stand” on the Lounge’s main floor, setting up liveblogging facilities, and putting the finishing touches on the evening’s programme.

We began with a special message from the London Book Fair – filmed that very day – which touched everyone who couldn’t make the big event very deeply:

YouTube Preview Image

Poet Antjie Krog opened the NTLBF with a deeply moving reading of a new, as-yet untitled poem, then joined Imraan Coovadia – who also read, from a new short story – and Victor Dlamini for a discussion, expertly guided by Dlamini, of the state of contemporary South African letters and its intertwinedness, or otherwise, with current SA politics.

Antjie KrogImraan Coovadia, Antjie Krog, Victor DlaminiImraan Coovadia, Antjie Krog, Helen Moffett, Victor DlaminiLiesl JobsonKopano Matlwa, Fiona Snyckers, Colleen HiggsFiona SnyckersKopano MatlwaPhakama Mbonambi, Ben Williams and Arthur Attwell at the #ntlbf #lbf10

Further readings by Liesl Jobson, Kopano Matlwa and Fiona Snyckers led to a panel on women’s writing featuring Matlwa, Snyckers and Colleen Higgs of Modjaji Books. Moffett chaired, and we learned much about the shape and direction of women’s fiction in South Africa – and heard heartbreaking tales of dashed LBF plans.

Finally, I took the microphone for a chat with two of the most inspiring people on the SA books scene, Phakama Mbonambi of Wordsetc magazine and Arthur Attwell of Electric Book Works. We talked print vs digital – keeping it short, although like other literary geeks we could have keep the audience there until well into the wee hours.

In the meantime, BOOK SA‘s Sophy Kohler frantically livetweeted the entire evening’s proceedings. Catch up with the Not the London Book Fair via Twitter search.

The audience was typical for the Book Lounge, spilling right out the doors into the chilly Cape night. An after party at the nearby Kimberly Hotel carried on, in true London Book Fair fashion, until the birds started chirping.

Special thanks to Victor Dlamini, Fiona Snyckers, Kopano Matlwa and Phakama Mbonambi for travelling down down from Johannesburg – and to Incwadi‘s Ingrid Andersen for making the even longer trek from KZN.

It wasn’t the London Book Fair, but it was a spectacular jol! Here are liveblogged video clips from the do.

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Gallery

Fwd: #ntlbf #lbf10 Build up at Not the London Book Fair w/Etienne van  Heerden#ntlbf #lbf10 Build up at Not the London Book Fair w/Colleen Higgs &  Arthur Attwell#ntlbf #lbf10 Build up at Not the London Book Fair w/Ben Williams#ntlbf #lbf10 Build up at Not the London Book Fair#ntlbf #lbf10 Build up at Not the London Book Fair w/food from Kalk  Bay Books' The Annex#ntlbf #lbf10 Build up at Not the London Book Fair w/Mervyn Sloman#ntlbf #lbf10 Build up at Not the London Book Fair w/Willemien de  Villiers#ntlbf #lbf10 Build up at Not the London Book Fair w/Imraan Coovadia#ntlbf #lbf10 Build up at Not the London Book Fair#ntlbf #lbf10 Build up at Not the London Book Fair w/ @VictorDlamini#ntlbf #lbf10 Build up at Not the London Book Fair w/Phakama Mbonambi#ntlbf #lbf10 Build up at Not the London Book Fair w/Imraan Coovadia,  @VictorDlamini, Antjie KrogAntjie Krog reading at the #ntlbf #lbf10Imraan Coovadia reaading at the #ntlbf #lbf10Imraan Coovadia, Antjie Krog, Victor Dlamini live at the #ntlbf #lbf10Liesl Jobson reading at the #ntlbf #lbf10Victor Dlamini with his new/old medium format camera at the end of the #ntlbf #lbf10Ingrid Andersen and Fiona Snyckers at the #ntlbf in Cape Town #lbf10#ntlbf #lbf10 Build up at Not the London Book Fair w/Helen Moffett


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Get Ready for "Not the London Book Fair" at the Book Lounge

Book Lounge

Alert! The travel chaos ash cloud that has fallen over South African writers and publishers and their plans for the London Book Fair has witnessed the gleam of a silver lining, rapidly expanding in Cape Town, in the form of the Not the London Book Fair event, set to take place at the BOOK Lounge on Monday, 19 April, starting from 6pm.

Antjie KrogImraan CoovadiaFiona SnyckersVictor Dlamini

Currently, the event’s headline acts include Antjie Krog, Imraan Coovadia, Fiona Snyckers, Victor Dlamini, Modjaji Books and Arthur Attwell. Helen Moffett is organising it – and BOOK SA will hold a lucky draw with three copies of the recently-launched Home Away to win. Leopard’s Leap will be on hand, too, to film a message from SA Lit punters for the London book crowd; and Kalk Bay Books‘ The Annex restaurant will be sending over snacks from the deep South.

As tweeter TO Molefe said earlier today:


  1. TOMolefe RT @readsa: Check out the official page for the Not the London Book Fair event happening in CPT on Monday #lbf10 #NTLBF: http://bit.ly/9
  2. TOMolefe Pessimist: Volcano ruined my #LBF10! Optimist: The volcano brought #LBF10 to me. #NTLBF http://bit.ly/c8FjSH

Well put indeed.

BOOK SA will liveblog the event, of course – and, like Leopard’s Leap, we’ll send photo and video material to the London Book Fair for use in Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s South Africa market focus activities.

Here’s the official NTLBF press release:

Press release

Invite

ATTENTION ALL MEDIA

Determined not to be daunted by a little bit of volcanic ash, South Africa’s grounded authors, publishers and literati who were headed for the London Book Fair this weekend, have pulled together to organize Not The London Book Fair — a scintillating literary event scheduled for Monday evening, at indie bookstore The Book Lounge.

This event has the blessing of the official London Book Fair — which had picked South Africa as its market focus country for 2010. Readings, panels, debate and interviews will be live-reported through to the LBF, so those at the LBF will still get a sense of the richness and freshness of our talent. Reportage will take the form of podcasts, live-tweeting, live-blogging, and hopefully a video link-up directly to the London Book Fair. Possibilities for Skype-ing are also being investigated.

Some local authors and many organizations and publishers have indeed made it to the LBF, and volunteers are manning echoing stalls — but sadly, the writers already abroad are mostly already established authors with international recognition. The intention of NTLBF is to offer a platform to all those affected by the flight embargo, especially fresh, fascinating and alternative voices. We know how innovative, energetic and fabulously creative our writers are, and we want the world to see them shine.

The line-up, already a literature lover’s dream, so far includes:

* Antjie Krog, whose most recent book Begging To Be Black winds up questions this acclaimed poet, journalist, award-winning author and iconoclast began asking in Country Of My Skull;
* Imraan Coovadia, who’ll talk about his tour de force novels, including his recent High Low In-between;
* Fiona Snyckers, author of the bubbly, witty chick-lit-with- heart Trinity series;
* Entrepreneur and cultural connoisseur Victor Dlamini will bring his expertise to the interviewing panel;
* Arthur Attwell of Electric Book Works, joint winner of the international Young Publisher of the Year award and electronic publishing guru;
* Colleen Higgs of Modjaji Books, rapidly filling a niche as South Africa’s premier publisher of quality poetry, fiction and memoir by women, with a frontlist of exciting new books;
* Ben Williams, writer, web journalist and driving force behind BOOK SA (http://bookslive.co.za).

This line-up is subject to change as we add more writers and voices… come prepared to be surprised and delighted.

Food and drinks are being sponsored by Kalk Bay’s The Annexe, Leopard’s Leap Wines, Electric Book Works, Modjaji Books, Fiona Snyckers and The Book Lounge.

Venue: The Book Lounge, cnr of Roeland and Buitenkant Street, central Cape Town.
Time: 6pm till late.

Ends

See you there!


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Gillian Slovo on the Sparks that got SA Lit Started (Plus: Author Vox Pops)

Every Secret ThingGilian SlovoThe London events for South African writers may be falling, in the memorable words of a BOOK SA correspondent who’s on the scene, “like ninepins”, but the British press is keeping to its SA-themed production schedule, printing terrific stories on our literary scene. Don’t miss yesterday’s Andrew van der Vlies story in the Independent – and here’s a piece by Gillian Slovo remembering two pre-liberation conferences, in Lusaka and Victoria Falls, that got the ball rolling for a new generation of poets and novelists. It’s followed by a vox pops on the “future for SA writing” with Deon Meyer, Damon Galgut, Antjie Krog, Mandla Langa, Keorapetse Kgositsile and André Brink:

I, a child of South Africans who had lived most of my life in England, had joined the ANC in 1982 after my mother’s assassination by South African police. My membership was a direct response to her murder: if “they” were going to try to silence the opposition by death, then, I decided, it was beholden on “us” to take up the cause. I was a South African, a writer, a member of the ANC cultural committee, and I was also deeply English. Nowhere did I feel this as strongly as when I was in Victoria Falls.

I spent the conference with a rictus grin to hide the agony that I felt. We were two separate communities. They were Afrikaans writers whose position in their culture gave them, no matter what their political views, a privileged place in apartheid South Africa. We were the exiles, the discards, the unvoiced. Between us, we were meant to be uncovering our common humanity.

What I uncovered was a sense of my own estrangement. From the moment when the poet Antjie Krog gave a paper about an incident in her childhood when she had come across her beloved father savagely beating the black foreman she also loved, I felt the pain well up.

[...]

What is the future for South African writing?

Damon Galgut

Alas, politics impinge on every aspect of South African life. The past isn’t really past here, not at all. It’s my deep feeling that we’re at a point where South African writing needs to push politics aside and replace it with something else. There are other things that define us all as South African, aside from politics, and I see it as my mission to start making those things apparent. To replace the crowd with a sense of self. To replace burning historical questions with an awareness of what might be simply beautiful or ugly. How to do so authentically, without ignoring the overwhelming realities of our past and present, is the challenge.

Book details

Photo courtesy the Guardian


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The SA Lit London Book Fair Rearguard Effort Needs £150 000

Airplane

London Book FairAlert! The London Book Fair‘s International Key Accounts Manager, Amy Webster, has not given up on the SA Market Focus programme (currently under grave threat due to that volcano). Late this evening, she sent out an appeal for wide distribution which, it must be said, speaks as much to the desperation of the situation as it does to the LBF team’s fighting spirit:

Dear all

IMPORTANT INFO!

It would cost £150,000 to charter a flight from South Africa (Cape Town, stopping in Jo’burg, flying to an open UK airport, then transit to London).

If we have 200 people from South Africa who are still looking for travel, this would cost £750 per flight.

I imagine that most people have already tried to make alternative plans, BUT please get in touch with Amy amy.webster@reedexpo.co.uk if you would like us to look into this. If we get a good number of people, then this becomes a viable option.

Please pass this to all of your contacts who were meant to be coming to London Book Fair and who may have cancelled their flights.

Webster has since discovered that the £150 000 would only cover a one-way trip – which doesn’t mean that those interested would necessarily have to fork out twice that to travel, as they’d presumably be able to catch their return flights back to South Africa (the current forecast has UK airspace reopening before the end of the Fair).

Still, it’s the kind of figure to make the stout of literary heart go wobbly-kneed. What’s needed here is either a stellar SA Lit group effort – as of midnight on Fri/Sat, Webster informed BOOK SA, she had 25 of the required 200 interested individuals needed to pay for a chartered flight, or 15% – or an intervention from someone along the lines of Mark Shuttleworth. (Anybody got his cell?)

It’s a long shot – but it’s also a time for courage and the redoubling of efforts, keeping in mind the importance of the SA Market Focus to the cause of southern African writing and publishing. The significance of this year’s London Book Fair to our collective bookish endeavours cannot be overstated: this moment was meant to have been the real, proper debut of our work to the rest of the world – an injection into London of the incredible talent, energy and spirit that have made rain for SA publishing during the last decade.

BOOK SA challenge: To that end, BOOK SA will put its money where its mouth (tweets? posts?) is: we’ll put three people on any chartered plane – myself, Liesl Jobson and an extra, someone not associated with BOOK SA, but who was meant to be in London. Further, we challenge others who are invested in SA Lit, and who want to see it reach the new heights promised by this once-in-a-publishing-lifetime event, to add their names to the chartered plane list, plus one. Go ahead, commit to the sponsorship of SA Lit. Perhaps, that way, we can make it to London-town after all.

We also ask anyone with contacts who have extra-deep pockets – or the right placement in the travel or airline industries – to send out feelers. People and companies who weren’t planning to go to the London Book Fair, but who want to make a contribution to the furtherance of South African culture, are very welcome to sponsor seats on the mooted chartered flight. (Interested sponsors should contact me, Ben Williams, at editor@book.co.za / 083 684 1112, first, and I’ll pass your details along to Amy Webster.) We’ll also take up any offer, from airlines, of individual seats on Europe-bound flights, so we can at least place a few more South Africans at the fair.

In short, we’ll take anything that’s on offer – and we’ll keep you posted!

Photo courtesy FlySAA


» read article

The SA Lit London Book Fair Rearguard Effort Needs £150 000

Airplane

London Book FairAlert! The London Book Fair‘s International Key Accounts Manager, Amy Webster, has not given up on the SA Market Focus programme (currently under grave threat due to that volcano). Late this evening, she sent out an appeal for wide distribution which, it must be said, speaks as much to the desperation of the situation as it does to the LBF team’s fighting spirit:

Dear all

IMPORTANT INFO!

It would cost £150,000 to charter a flight from South Africa (Cape Town, stopping in Jo’burg, flying to an open UK airport, then transit to London).

If we have 200 people from South Africa who are still looking for travel, this would cost £750 per flight.

I imagine that most people have already tried to make alternative plans, BUT please get in touch with Amy amy.webster@reedexpo.co.uk if you would like us to look into this. If we get a good number of people, then this becomes a viable option.

Please pass this to all of your contacts who were meant to be coming to London Book Fair and who may have cancelled their flights.

Webster has since discovered that the £150 000 would only cover a one-way trip – which doesn’t mean that those interested would necessarily have to fork out twice that to travel, as they’d presumably be able to catch their return flights back to South Africa (the current forecast has UK airspace reopening before the end of the Fair).

Still, it’s the kind of figure to make the stout of literary heart go wobbly-kneed. What’s needed here is either a stellar SA Lit group effort – as of midnight on Fri/Sat, Webster informed BOOK SA, she had 25 of the required 200 interested individuals needed to pay for a chartered flight, or 15% – or an intervention from someone along the lines of Mark Shuttleworth. (Anybody got his cell?)

It’s a long shot – but it’s also a time for courage and the redoubling of efforts, keeping in mind the importance of the SA Market Focus to the cause of southern African writing and publishing. The significance of this year’s London Book Fair to our collective bookish endeavours cannot be overstated: this moment was meant to have been the real, proper debut of our work to the rest of the world – an injection into London of the incredible talent, energy and spirit that have made rain for SA publishing during the last decade.

BOOK SA challenge: To that end, BOOK SA will put its money where its mouth (tweets? posts?) is: we’ll put three people on any chartered plane – myself, Liesl Jobson and an extra, someone not associated with BOOK SA, but who was meant to be in London. Further, we challenge others who are invested in SA Lit, and who want to see it reach the new heights promised by this once-in-a-publishing-lifetime event, to add their names to the chartered plane list, plus one. Go ahead, commit to the sponsorship of SA Lit. Perhaps, that way, we can make it to London-town after all.

We also ask anyone with contacts who have extra-deep pockets – or the right placement in the travel or airline industries – to send out feelers. People and companies who weren’t planning to go to the London Book Fair, but who want to make a contribution to the furtherance of South African culture, are very welcome to sponsor seats on the mooted chartered flight. (Interested sponsors should contact me, Ben Williams, at editor@book.co.za / 083 684 1112, first, and I’ll pass your details along to Amy Webster.) We’ll also take up any offer, from airlines, of individual seats on Europe-bound flights, so we can at least place a few more South Africans at the fair.

In short, we’ll take anything that’s on offer – and we’ll keep you posted!

Photo courtesy FlySAA


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