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Archive for the ‘Open Book Festival’ Category

Comics Fest programme is cooking at Open Book Festival

Brought to you under the Open Book Festival umbrella, the popular Comics Fest takes place on 9 and 10 September. With an array of activities, workshops, discussions and demonstrations, the sizzling hot programme is cooking with events that will delight fans of comic books, illustration and design – professional or amateur, young or old. The Open Book Comics Fest will again be running from the D6 Homecoming Centre and surrounding venues in Cape Town.

Seasoned illustrator Andy Mason will be hosting the Monster Battle Draw Off throughout the weekend, a friendly competition that starts on Saturday where you will be drawing flat-out for 6 rounds! Aspirant comic artists are welcome. The winner will go through to Monster Battle 3 on Sunday. Drawings will be auctioned to raise funds for future drawing workshops for young artists. Spectators are welcome.

Animation guru Mike Scott shares some skills in the Comics Fest Demo session on Saturday 9 September, or catch Hugh Upsher and Martin Mezzabota on Sunday 10thto learn how to create a zine from start to finish, and try your hand and making one.

On Saturday 9 September, Jess Bosworth (Unblush) and André Bozack (Art Facilitator at Heal the Hood, schools & Community Centres) speak to Kay Carmichael about challenges under-represented groups face entering the world of illustration and comic book creation in Skills and Space.

Schools learners should catch Draw Your Own Superhero on 7 September with Roberto Millan and Su Opperman to create a super-hero of your very own, and lose yourself in a word of comic books, original artwork and zines at the Open Book Marketplace that weekend.

“Comics Fest has been an integral part of the Open Book Festival programme and has proved to be a melting pot of ideas, connections, opportunities and inspirations and we are delighted to welcome the creators to the 2017 edition,” says Festival Co-ordinator Frankie Murrey. “Look out for our limited edition bags for sale on the Comics Fest Marketplace floor, which are the result of an initiative with uHlanga Press. Artists were asked to create an original artwork inspired by the words of some of the local poets they publish, which were transposed onto the bags. Funds raised go towards Open Box Library Project.”

Artists participating in Comics Fest include: André Bozack, Andy Mason, Ashe Ah-Sing, Ben Geldenhuys, Ben Winfield, Caitlin Mkhasibe, Carla Botes, Clyde Beech, Danelle Malan, Daniël Hugo, Danielle Albertyn, David du Plessis, Deon de Lange, Dianne Makings, Frank Lunar, Gabriel Metcalfe, Gabriella Jardine, Hugh Upsher, Jess Bosworth Smith, Karl Schulschenk, Kay Carmichael, Kit Beukes, LoyisoMkize, Martin Mezzabotta, Maya LeMaitre, Moray Rhoda, Nick L’Ange, Nina Pfeiffer, Readers Den, ReeTreweek, Roberto Millan, Robyn-Jade Hosking, Sector Comics, Sjaka S. Septembir, Su Opperman, Unblush Collective, Wessie van der Westhuizen, Zapiro and Ziyaad Rahman.

For full details see Visit the individual author pages on the website for a list of the events in which they are participating.

Comic Fest will take place on 9 September from 09h30 to 18h00 and on 10 September from 09h30 to 17h00.

All tickets for events on the Comics Fest programme need to be booked through Webtickets ( unless otherwise stipulated.

The seventh Open Book Festival will take place from 6 to 10 September at The Fugard Theatre, District Six Homecoming Centre, A4 Arts Foundation, Central Library Cape Town 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, Snapplify, Open Society Foundation, Kingdom of the Netherlands, City of Cape Town, Townhouse Hotel, Penguin Random House, NB Publishers, Jonathan Ball Publishers, Pan Macmillan Publishers, The French Institute of South Africa, The Canada Council for the Arts, African Centre for Cities, PLAAS, NORLA, the Embassy of Finland, the Embassy of Sweden, Dutch Foundation for Literature, PEN SA, the Confucius Institute and the Goethe-Institut.

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Open Book Fest’s #cocreatePOETICA – celebrating the spoken word through collaboration

Following the enormous success of the collaboration between Poetica and #cocreateSA last year, #cocreatePOETICA will once again be part of the seventh Open Book Festival.

The Open Book Festival is hosted by the Book Lounge and The Fugard Theatre with events also taking place at the A4 Arts Foundation, District Six Homecoming Centre and Central Library Cape Town. It runs from 6 to 10 September.

#cocreatePOETICA provides a platform for readings, performances and poetical discussions and features a diverse range of poets from established names through to those at the beginnings of their careers.

The aim of the partnership with #cocreateSA and Poetica is to use the art form of RAP and the spoken word to co-create solutions to mutual challenges by providing a platform that voices the concerns of the youth, by the youth.

Last year saw Dutch and South African artists collaborate to create a shared experience and performance pieces on issues pertaining to history, language and culture. In 2017, #cocreatePOETICA takes this further with a three day series of interactions exploring place, language and identity. This will culminate in an event on the programme where those involved can feed back to the public about the process.

#cocreatePOETICA is delighted to welcome Dutch artist, songwriter, actor and director Akwasi back to Cape Town, and privileged to host fellow Dutch poet, performer and actor Dean Bowen, as well as dancer, poet and theatremaker Sjaan Flikweert. All three artists are attending the Festival courtesy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands Consulate General in Cape Town and the Dutch Foundation for Literature.

Catch these three artists at events including Journeys With Poetry on Saturday 9 September, sharing experiences of their three day exploration, facilitated by Adrian ‘Diff’ van Wyk, and on Sunday 10 September, they are in conversation with Siphokazi Jonas about the nature of performance and international audiences.

“With the inaugural run of #cocreatePOETICA last year, we saw how the power of the spoken word can break down language and cultural barriers and unite us in our differences, to celebrate our identity through the art of poetry,” says Dutch Consul-General, Bonnie Horbach. “In particular, poetry provides an outlet for the voice of a younger generation who are often marginalised or misunderstood.”

“Working with #cocreateSA has allowed us to grow what is a vital part of the festival in very exciting ways. #cocreatePoetica is all about meaningful collaboration and exploration,” says Frankie Murrey, Festival Coordinator.

The popular favourites on the programme, that are always a sell-out, include the electric Inzync Sessions closing off the Festival on Sunday 10 September. Grounding Sessions will be owning the stage on Thursday 7 September with featured artists as well as open mic opportunities. The Open Book Poetry Slam with various poets competing for the title this year takes place on Saturday 9 September.

The Lingua Franca Spoken Word Movement also join the line up this year, bringing a Naked Word Poetry Session on Friday 8 September. Naked Word is a collaboration of poetry and music, weaving spoken word with dynamically Afro-futuristic sound to produce a uniquely South African poetic and musical experience. In addition, Lingua Franca will present the Magnifying Glass session on 6 September, with featured artist, acclaimed theatre maker Mandla Mbothwe.

A handful of the other highlights include joining Toni Stuart for an hour of poetry translated into film on 9 September, Nick Mulgrew speaking to Rosa Lyster, Koleka Putuma and Francine Simon about their debut poetry collections on 10 September and Siphosethu Phikelela, Lwanda Sindaphi and Athol Williams in conversation with Roché Kester about working to drive social change.

Artists taking part in #cocreatePoetica include: Adrian van Wyk, Akwasi, Ashley Makue, Athol Williams, Christine Coates, Dean Bowen, Francine Simon, Gabeda Baderoon, Genna Gardini, Jolyn Phillips, Katleho Kano Shoro, Kim Windvogel, Koleka Putuma, Liu Waitong, Lwanda Sindaphi, Nick Mulgrew, Pieter Odendaal, Roche Kester, Rosa Lyster, Sindiswa Busuku-Mathese, Siphokazi Jonas, Siphosethu Phikelela, Sjaan Flikweert, Stephen Symons, Toni Stuart, Upile Chisala and Vusumuzi Lovejoy Mpofu.

Follow @cocreatePoetica on Twitter

Tickets to events range from R45 to R100. 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. There are also a number of free events but tickets must still be booked for these events to secure a place.

Bookings are through Webtickets:

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, Snapplify, Open Society Foundation, Kingdom of the Netherlands, City of Cape Town, Townhouse Hotel, Penguin Random House, NB Publishers, Jonathan Ball Publishers, Pan Macmillan Publishers, The French Institute of South Africa, The Canada Council for the Arts, African Centre for Cities, PLAAS, NORLA, the Embassy of Finland, the Embassy of Sweden, Dutch Foundation for Literature, PEN SA, the Confucius Institute and the Goethe-Institut.

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Open Book Festival 2017 (6 – 10 September)

The full programme of events has been announced for the seventh Open Book Festival. The Festival takes place from 6 to 10 September, and this year there are more than 140 exciting events to choose from.

Brought to you by the Book Lounge and The Fugard Theatre, venues also include the A4 Arts Foundation, District Six Homecoming Centre, Central Library, Elsie’s River Library, Kuyasa Library, and PH Centre. 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 proud to be announcing our biggest Festival yet, and we thank everyone who supported our Thundafund campaign, which has, in part, enabled us to compile this year’s extensive programme,” says Festival Director Mervyn Sloman.

“We have once again worked hard to bring you a phenomenal line up of South African and international authors across a range of genres talking about topics that are engaging, relevant and thought-provoking,” says Sloman. “The nature of the open discussions and debates between authors and audiences and the conversations that continue beyond the event, are what make the Festival unique.”

Key to the success of the festival has been collaborations with partners and 2017 is no different. There is a series of four events focusing on access to land curated by PLAAS and audiences can look forward to a similar segment of programming themed around cities curated by the African Centre for Cities. In addition to the strong political content the festival has become known for, there are multiple opportunities to engage with your favourite local writers as well as some exciting voices from around the world. Paul Beatty, the current Man Booker winner will be a highlight for many. A strong selection of writers from other parts of the continent will also be featured – names to look out for include Chibundu Onuzo, Fiston Mwanza Mujila and Ayobami Adebayo.

There are several books that will be launched at the festival, including Bonang Matheba’s From A to B, Pumla Gqola’s, Reflecting Rogue, Glynnis Breytenbach’s Rule of Law, Sizwe Mpofu-Walsh’s Democracy and Delusions, Mark Shaw’s Hitmen for Hire and Prince Mashele’s Fall of the ANC Continues.

Following the huge success of #cocreatePOETICA last year, this year’s line-up includes Dutch poets Akwasi, Dean Bowen and Sjaan Flikweert, headline names such as Koleka Putuma, Toni Stuart, Gabeba Baderoon and Jolyn Phillips. InZync returns to the Open Book stage as does the Open Book Poetry Slam. Lingua Franca Spoken Word Movement is also joining the line-up.

There’s plenty of excitement and entertainment for the younger visitors – Central Library will be home to a range of events for children on Saturday the 9thSeptember. Don’t miss ‘Storytime in the Gardens’ on Friday the 8th September, an initiative between Central Library and Open Book which will feature a host of local storytellers. Alex Wheatle, winner of the 2016 Guardian Children’s Fiction Award, will be at the festival doing events at schools, public libraries as well as on the main festival programme.

Comics Fest takes place on 9 and 10 September with an array of activities, workshops, discussions and demonstrations for illustrators, designers and comic book lovers. This year seasoned illustrator Andy Mason will be hosting the Monster Battle Draw Off throughout the weekend.

“Our partners Leopard’s Leap Wines will again host their fantastic #WordsforWine. Bring a pre-loved or new book to exchange for a glass of Leopard’s Leap wine.Books will be donated the Open Book Library Project and other charities. Check the programme for times. They will also be announcing the winner of their innovative Flash Fiction competition,” adds Sloman.

The 2017 programme is now available at

Visit the individual author pages on the website for a list of the events in which they are participating.

The seventh Open Book Festival will take place from 6 to 10 September at The Fugard Theatre, District Six Homecoming Centre, A4 Arts Foundation, PH Centre, Central Library Cape Town, Elsie’s River Library, Kuyasa Library and The Book Lounge from 10:00 to 21:00 each day. For further information visit

Tickets to events range from R45 to R100. 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. There are also a number of free events but tickets must still be booked for these events to secure a place.

Bookings are through Webtickets

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, Snapplify, Open Society Foundation, Kingdom of the Netherlands, City of Cape Town, Townhouse Hotel, Penguin Random House, NB Publishers, Jonathan Ball Publishers, Pan Macmillan Publishers, The French Institute of South Africa, The Canada Council for the Arts, African Centre for Cities, PLAAS, NORLA, the Embassy of Finland, the Embassy of Sweden, Dutch Foundation for Literature, PEN SA, the Confucius Institute and the Goethe-Institut.

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Pretend you are in a dark room: Elnathan John presents 3 questions to ask yourself to avoid the pitfalls of identity politics in writing

Writers should pretend they are going into a dark room and move delicately, slowly, carefully so that they do not disrupt the balance of things. – Elnathan John

Elnathan John’s 3 questions to avoid the pitfalls of cultural appropriation in writing

Born on a TuesdayElnathan John shared his three rules for writing about other people’s experiences and communities.

John was a guest of the Open Book Festival in Cape Town, to chat about his debut novel, Born on a Tuesday.

Born on a Tuesday is a coming of age tale about a young Muslim boy who left his home to study Islam and ended up joining a gang of street kids. He and his friends are recruited to cause trouble during an election, and when violence breaks out he is forced to flee. He finds shelter at a mosque run by a kindly imam who takes a liking to him.

The book has earned praise all over the world and from some high profile authors and critics, including Petina Gappah, Taiye Selasi and Uzodinma Iweala. John was also recently shortlisted for the Nigeria Prize for Literature – along with Chika Unigwe for Night Dancer and Abubakar Adam Ibrahim for Season of Crimson Blossoms – an award worth $100,000 (about R1,4 million).

John grew up in northern Nigeria, but is not Muslim himself. At a panel titled Notions of Nationhood, where he shared the stage with Danish-Norwegian novelist Kim Leine, chair Andrew Brown asked him: “Are we entitled to write about other communities, other nations, from our own perspective?”

The question was topical, as We Need to Talk About Kevin author Lionel Shriver had caused a walkout just days before at the Brisbane Writers Festival in Australia with her keynote address, “Fiction and Identity Politics”, which many other writers considered culturally insensitive.

Elnathan John at the 2016 Open Book FestivalIn answering Brown’s question, John asked: “Is anyone entitled to anything? Does any experience belong solely to one person?”, and shared a story from his childhood to illustrate his point.

“My brother died in 2003. One of the biggest issues I had with my family was that at some point my parents were upset that I seemed to be grieving more than other people. It was almost like they were saying, ‘He was our child, we raised him, we gave birth to him, we put him through school. We have a greater loss than you. You cannot mourn more than us. Stop being a complete asshole.’

“And so the question that has always been in my mind is, to whom does any experience belong?

“I didn’t think I owned this experience, but I thought I was an integral part of it, being that I removed his body from the water, I did mouth to mouth; the last moments of his life were in my hands. I thought, well, I certainly should have a right to this experience. But even in this very close experience, I was being challenged. So you can challenge any experience.

“For me, what is important is not whether a person owns an experience they want to write about. Most experiences are external to us. If you have a female character and you are male, that experience is external to you. If you are writing about other nations, they’re external to you. Even if you are writing about your own nation, most of the experiences will be those you’ve not had.”

John said that instead of agonising over who the experience belongs to, writers should consider three questions before they start writing a story.

“What a writer needs is a certain level of empathy that allows us to show respect for the subject. That empathy, normally, would lead people to determine for themselves: One, if they should write a story. Two, if it is time to write that story. And three, how that story should be written, with the respect that it deserves. And if one cannot answer these three questions, then one should not write the story.

“Often people tell writers to write what they know. I like to say the writer should write what they want to know. What that does is that it pushes you into a dark space. And in a dark space you are more careful.

“Writers should pretend they are going into a dark room and move delicately, slowly, carefully so that they do not disrupt the balance of things.”

Read an excerpt from Born on a Tuesday here

Jennifer Malec (@projectjennifer) tweeted live from the event:

Main author image courtesy of Elnathan John on Twitter; image composite by Books LIVE/Secondary author image Retha Ferguson

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‘The Zulu part of me was taken’ – Nomavenda Mathiane tells her grandmother’s story, beginning as a child during the Anglo-Zulu War

nomavenda mathiane


Eyes in the Night

In Eyes in the Night, respected journalist and author Nomavenda Mathiane tells the story of her grandmother, who was a child during the Anglo-Zulu War.

Mathiane is at the Open Book Festival in Cape Town, where she shared a panel with Daniel Browde, author of The Relatively Public Life Of Jules Browde, and Marianne Thamm, whose memoir Hitler, Verwoerd, Mandela and Me was recently released.

Mathiane explained how she “stumbled” into her grandmother’s story.

“My mother died when I was about 66 years old,” she said, “and after her funeral we were seated at the table with my brothers and sisters, and casually I turned to my older sister, and I said ‘Mum never used to tell us about her mother, why is it so?’ And frankly I didn’t think she was going to answer me, but lo and behold she said, ‘It’s because her mother’s story was too sad.’”

Mathiane says she remembers her grandmother as an imposing and capable presence, but her early years were far more precarious.

“I knew gogo as this big woman who could make cheese, could make butter, could make soap. All the things we could not afford, because my parents were officers in the Salvation Army, so there wasn’t much money around.

“But my sister told me that gogo was 10 during the Anglo-Zulu War. She was hiding in the caves with her mother and her little sister. Her father, who was the chief inDuna of King Cetshwayo, was killed during the war, and when they went back their land had been taken, their homes had been destroyed, she doesn’t have a father, her mother doesn’t have a husband. Then the Zulu culture kicks in. The brother must marry her mother. She says, no ways. They make her uncomfortable, and they flee the homestead.”

There began an extraordinary story, and Mathiane says she felt shocked that she had never heard it before.

“My sister was telling me this, and I couldn’t take it. My mother had died without telling us these stories. When you look at how her mother suffered, you realise that the story was too painful. But more than that, we were growing up in the 70s and the Struggle was gaining momentum. Between themselves my father and my mother decided that they mustn’t tell us the story, because because we would get so angry that we would walk straight into the liberation movements. But we ended up getting involved anyway; you couldn’t live in the township and not get involved.”

Mathiane says at times while writing the book she felt angry that a part of her culture and history had been denied her.

“The story of my grandmother has been a journey for me. I grew up in the townships, and I knew very little about Zulu ways. I’d never been to Zululand except on the occasional visit. Even Zulu language, I knew Zulu as a spoken language, but in a language there are idioms and expressions that I wasn’t familiar with. Of course I had heard of the Battle of Isandlwana, but I never knew about the warriors, the generals, what actually happened.

“The sad part is that our parents didn’t talk to us about these things. So the book took me to various areas. Sometimes I would get so angry that I was denied, I was impoverished by being raised in the township. Because there’s a part of me that was cut off, that I didn’t know about. It was just a Christian upbringing, period. And yet there was the other side of me, the African in me, that was never discussed. None of the Zulu rituals were performed. We were Christian girls. The Zulu part of me was taken.”

Mathiane says she hopes her book helps to “inculcate a sense of questioning”.

“Young children, both black and white, must question their parents, their grandparents: where do we come from? You cannot know where you are going, if you don’t know where you come from. It’s time that we told our own narratives. This is the first book of the victims of the Ango-Zulu War. Nobody has ever written about what ordinary Zulu people went through. I would implore you to talk to your children.”

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Open Book Festival shortlisted for London Book Fair International Excellence Award

Alert! The Open Book Festival has been shortlisted for a 2016 London Book Fair International Excellence Award in the category Literary Festivals.

The other events up for The Literary Festival Award are The Krakow Festival (Poland), Flupp (Brazil) and FLIP (Festa Literaria Internacional de Paraty) (Brazil).

“It is an honour we share with all the authors who have joined us and given so much during events over the years,” the Open Book organisers said on their website. “And of course, the audiences who have been so vital in transforming discussions into meaningful engagement on so many different topics.

Other awards include The Bookstore of the Year Award, The Publishers Weekly Literary Translation Initiative Award, a number of publishers’ awards and The Bookseller Adult Trade Publisher Award.

London Book Fair director Jacks Thomas said: “Now in their third year, the LBF International Excellence Awards are a one-stop showcase for some fantastic innovation and sheer determination to get books and content into the hands of consumers in a variety of classical and creative ways. Just looking at the shortlists makes me want to shout a big three cheers for the global publishing industry and all who work in it!”

The Open Book Festival is held annually in Cape Town.

Congratulations from Books LIVE!

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2015 Open Book Festival Round-up

The 2015 Open Book Festival took place in Cape Town from 9 – 13 September this year. Have a look at some of the big event reports:

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“I Wanted People to Hate Me!” – Nakhane Toure Chats about Killing off His Characters at the Open Book Festival

Nakhane Toure

Piggy Boy's BluesNakhane Touré and his publisher Thabiso Mahlape chatted to Mervyn Sloman about Touré’s new novel, Piggy Boy’s Blues, at the Open Book Festival in Cape Town recently.

Piggy Boy’s Blues is the first novel to be published under Jacana Media’s new imprint BlackBird Books, which, as Mahlape explained, will focus on black writers and black stories.

“I have got questions from a lot of people asking, ‘Why only black narratives?’,” Mahlape said, “but, as I said to a journalist from the Financial Times in New York, I don’t think that’s a valid question. But that article never saw the light of day.

“Anyone that knows the history of our country, anyone that knows the history of our literary landscape – something that’s been heatedly contested this year alone – will know that we don’t have enough black writers, and that is what we inherited as a country.”

Mahlape says Piggy Boy’s Blues exemplifies the work she is hoping to do. “Nakhane was turned down by other publishers, but aspects of his story resonated with me, so for me it was a ‘yes’ from the beginning.”

Touré’s debut album Brave Confusion won a South African Music Award for Best Alternative Album last year, but he started writing long before his music career took off. “It’s just that music happened to become more successful!” he said.

On the different creative processes, Touré said he finds music more collaborative and more conducive to the exchange of ideas, while writing is much more solitary.

“With writing, you spend so much time alone”, he said. “And you have to understand your characters as individuals. It’s almost like method acting, where you have to go back and remember something awful that happened to you when you were seven years old, and how it made you feel, which is not necessarily healthy.”

Touré mentioned an early conversation he had with Mahlape about the dialogue in the novel. “We said the dialogue was too normal for prose that was so lyrical,” Mahlape agreed.

But the clash between lyricism and realism is what Touré insists he set out to achieve: “I personally do not believe it when I’m reading a novel and someone is speaking in such considered dialogue. Who speaks like that? So I was going for some form of … postmodern realism, if that makes any sense.”

Touré says he was tempted to kill off his main character Davide, which was another thing he and Mahlape had a number of 2 AM conversations about.

“I had no real good reason to kill Davide except the I wanted to affect the reader,” he said. “That’s how it is when you write, sometimes. You make a decision because you want to make people cry and hate you.

“When I was in my first band we had a rule: The song comes first. And I realised that that rule is similar to writing a book. The character comes first, the storyline comes first. Not your shock tactics. But my decision to kill my character had nothing to do with the character, it had nothing to do with the story, it had everything to do with me, as Nakhane. And that’s something my editor, Alison Lowry, has helped me with.”

Sloman pointed out the delicate way Touré treated his characters. “Homosexuality is at the centre of everything that happens in the book,” he said, “and the thing that isn’t there is the reaction against that. At no point are any of the characters dealing with homophobia.”

Touré says Njabulo Ndebele’s landmark 1991 essay “The Rediscovery of the Ordinary” was an influence on this aspect of the novel.

“I wanted to normalise homosexuality without going, ‘Hey! I’m normalising it.’ Because the moment you say that, you are not normalising it. You’re othering it.”

“The three main characters have a very strange relationship, but it’s not strange because they’re gay,” Sloman said.

“Exactly,” Touré replied.

Touré also commented on the fact that some readers’ reports, before the book was published, categorised it as “queer literature”. “I honour the fact that there are queer characters in this novel, but when does something become queer literature, when the writer is queer, or when the characters are queer? Usually when the writer is queer, bookshops put it in a corner behind the business section where nobody will see it.

“When I was finishing this novel I read a lot of supposedly queer literature. I’ve read A Single Man, I’ve read Giovanni’s Room, and many others, so I understand the tradition. But to rebel against this tradition.”

Touré says he did not want to write another story about a young gay man rejected by his family who ends up living on the street and working as a prostitute.

“Not that I don’t think those stories are important, they are, and they helped me,” he said. “But I did want to make homosexuality a central theme in the novel, but just in a different way. I wanted my characters to be complex.”

Touré also revealed how an earlier draft of the novel was slated in a reader’s report, which contained the line: “If it was up to me I wouldn’t publish this.”

“Being me, I thought ‘I’ll show you!’,” Touré said. He cut the novel down significantly and, among other things, shortened the chapter length. “I wanted it to be more punchy and accessible,” he says.

“Well I think it achieves that, absolutely,” Sloman said.


* * * * * * * *


Jennifer Malec (@projectjennifer) tweeted from the event:



Photographs from Open Book 2015:

Photos from the third day of the 2015 Open Book Festival, happening in Cape Town from 9 – 13 SeptemberBooks LIVE…

Posted by Books LIVE on Saturday, 12 September 2015

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The Most Explosive Event of Open Book 2015: Xolela Mangcu, Hlonipha Mokoena, Crain Soudien, Ashraf Jamal Debate the Complexity of Race (Plus: Podcast)

Crain Soudien and Xolela Mangcu

The diversity of opinions present on stage at the Open Book Festival during the conversation on race illustrated the complexity of this important issue.

As the audience began to leave at the end of the event, the panel continued the discussion – on their feet. A recording is available to listen to below.

Xolela MangcuBikoThe Colour of Our FutureXolela Mangcu, editor of the new Wits Press book The Colour of Our Future, was joined by contributors Hlonipa Mokoena and Crain Soudien in a session chaired by Ashraf Jamal – who kicked off the fiery debate by saying he is “bored of this depressing topic”.

Mangcu disagreed: “First of all I have to liberate myself from his frame. His frame is not my frame. I don’t find race depressing. I don’t find it to be something that we should not be talking about, at all. The whole idea is that we have different ways of thinking of these things, and that was the idea behind the book: to find contrasting perceptions of race.”

Referring to Steve Biko’s interpretation of race, Mangcu stated: “We as South Africans can create a society in which we do not have to deny race, where it is not a biological concern, but as he [Steve Biko] defined it – race as a political concept, and as a cultural concept.”

He summarised his views on race, largely relying on Biko’s construction of what it means to be black, and stated that modern movements like Rhodes Must Fall “are talking about race in a way that Steve Biko would never recognise”.

He went on to say: “They are talking about blackness as gendered, as queer. For me that is what a political understanding of race is: That it is always contextual, always responding to the moment, but it’s never biological. And the idea that it is biological is a straw argument that people bring up.”

Mangcu stressed that talking about blackness is not making a call for the return of apartheid identities. “We are not bringing back apartheid identities. We are bringing what Biko said, and what Biko said actually undermined apartheid identities because he said ‘no, we are not coloured, we are not Indian, we are black people’; and he provided a political definition.”

In closing his introduction, Mangcu made an important observation, similar to that which features on the back cover of The Colour of Our Future: “Our identities are important, but our identities are not all that we are as human beings. We are not just black, or women or gay, or whatever. Those identities are important, but there’s obviously something that is much bigger than those identities and that is something that Biko is trying to achieve with his notion of a joint culture. He is not the first one to do so!”

Crain SoudienAt this point Soudien, who contributed the essay titled “Interogating transformation in South African higher education” to The Colour of Our Future, was integrated into the conversation.

“Let me say quite emphatically … that non-racialism is not dead. It’s really important to be clear about what non-racialism is. We come to think that non-racialism started in 1956, when the ANC adopted the freedom charter, but it’s actually older,” Soudien explained. He went on to say that the way in which the concept of race was constructed as early as the 17th century is so toxic that we, as a society, will never be able to recover from it. The idea that what you look like has a deep signification of what you are is so absurd, yet it is impossible to get away from, the academic explained.

Soudien made a call for the celebration of differences, for people to see that “the fact that I look different to you is a great thing”. However, he believes that we should stop turning race into a value, “which comes to count in the economy of culture”. He rejects the notion that looks, and most importantly skin colour, should dictate identity – much to Manqcu’s chagrin.

Hlonipa Mokoena

Mokoena offered a very different view at this point, describing the way we see race as a phantom limb which does not exist. She explained this concept, which she discusses at length in her contribution to Mangcu’s book on race:

“Race in South Africa is our phantom limb. We are aching for it precisely because it’s just not there. We look down, and we cannot see race but we ache for it. It’s a kind of internalised aching for the presence of race in our lives, in our workplace, in the way that we talk about each other.”

Mokoena believes that race and conversations about it are only important to academics and have become an intellectual debate rather than a lived experience. Mokeona went on to say: “Ordinary people, throughout the century, have always disregarded race. Ordinary people have got many more problems that do not obey racial identities.”

Unsurprisingly this controversial, albeit fresh, take on race in a country as racialised as ours did not sit well with everyone. What followed on from the introductions to the three contrasting views on race in a post-apartheid South Africa was a fascinating, passionate debate that ultimately deserved more than just the one hour allocated to it.

For a better understanding of what the three academics were trying to get across, and more of Jamal’s contribution, listen to a recording of the conversation:


Helené Prinsloo brought the conversation to us live from The Fugard Theatre, using the hashtag #OBF2015:



The Colour of Our Future: Does race matter in post-apartheid South Africa? – edited by Mangcu with contributions by the likes of Soudien, Mokoena, Joel Netshitenzhe, Lawrence Blum, Mark Swilling, Nina G Jablonski, Steven Friedman, Suren Pillay, and Vusi Gumede – aims to shed light on the complexity of our racial identities and the overarching things that influence it.


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2015 Open Book Festival: And That’s a Wrap

Antjie Krog and Mathews Phosa


The Chameleon HouseWe Are All Completely Beside OurselvesThe Alphabet of BirdsInvisible OthersChants of FreedomNever Tickle a Tiger
The House That Jack BuiltForeign Gods, Inc.This One TimeDub Steps

Sunday was the final day of the 2015 Open Book Festival, but the intrepid Books LIVE team kept its foot on the pedal to bring you the events as they happened.

In Limited Space, Melissa de Villiers, Karen Joy Fowler and SJ Naudé discussed character development in short fiction with Karina Szczurek. Helené Prinsloo listened in:



Mathews Phosa read from and discussed his new collection, Chants of Freedom, with Antjie Krog. Annetjie van Wynegaard was on the spot:



Erin Devenish was at Pop the Culture: Comics as a Platform and Springboard to Animation!, where Marc Boutavant, Richard Morgan-Grenville (Strika) and Su Opperman chatted to Wendy Spinks:



In So Hot Right Now, Terry Morris talked fictional trends with Jakob Melander, Okey Ndibe and Alex van Tonder. Erin Devenish was all ears:



Helené Prinsloo was at Hand Me the Mic, where Emile YX, Andrew Miller and Shameema Williams spoke to Adrian van Wyk about the connections between Hip Hop and spoken word:



* * * * *

The festival was covered by Books LIVE editor Jennifer Malec (@projectjennifer), deputy editor Helené Prinsloo (@helenayp), assistant editors Erin Devenish (@ErinDevenish811) and Annetjie van Wynegaard (@Annetjievw).

Have a look at our Facebook page ( and our Twitter profile (@BooksLIVESA) for more information and pictures!

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