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Alert! The programme for this year’s @OpenBookFest has been revealed! Click here to see it: fb.me/3EVHbDBFa

Umuzi Authors at Open Book Festival 2014 (17-21 September)

The 2014 Open Book Festival is being held in Cape Town from Wednesday 17 to Sunday 21 September. Umuzi authors to look out for at the festival include Damon Galgut, André Brink, Johan Vlok Louw, Jaco van Schalkwyk, Justin Fox, Diane Awerbuck, Imraan Coovadia, Henrietta Rose-Innes, Tony Park, Meg Vandermerwe, Andrew Salomon and Ivan Vladislavić.

Arctic SummerPhilidaKaroo DuskDie sirkel van bekende dingeDie Alibi KlubThe Alibi ClubWhoever Fears the SeaThe Ghost-Eater and Other StoriesTales of the Metric SystemNinevehDark HeartZebra CrossingTokoloshe SongThe Folly

 

Wednesday 17 September

Writing Sexuality
Venue: Fugard Studio
Price: R40
Time: 2 PM to 3 PM
Damon Galgut, Michiel Heyns and Karina Szczurek speak to Karin Schimke.

Art of the Essay
Venue: Fugard Studio
Price: R40
Time: 4 PM to 5 PM
Imraan Coovadia and Geoff Dyer talk to Hedley Twidle.

Afrikaanse Voorlesing
Venue: Fugard Studio
Price: R40
Time: 6 PM to 7 PM
Kom luister na Andre P. Brink, Karin Brynard, Henry Cloete, Johan Vlok Louw, Jaco van Schalkwyk en Ingrid Winterbach.

Writing to be Read
Venue: Fugard Annexe 2
Price: R40
Time: 6 PM to 7 PM
Andrew Brown, Justin Fox and Fiona Leonard discuss their entertaining, issue driven novels with Diane Awerbuck.

Thursday 18 September

Tribute to Nadine Gordimer
Venue: Fugard Theatre
Price: Free
Time: 2 PM to 3 PM
Imraan Coovadia, Billy Kahora and Margie Orford read from Nadine Gordimer’s work and share stories about her influence on their creative lives. Curated by Karina M Szczurek.

Landscape Architects
Venue: Fugard Annexe 1
Price: R40
Time: 4 PM to 5 PM
Kader Abdolah, Damon Galgut and Marguerite Poland discuss constructing the literary foundations of their respective novels. Chaired by Jacqui L’Ange.

Surprising Diversions
Venue: Fugard Theatre
Price: R40
Time: 6 PM to 7 PM
Rabih Alameddine, Geoff Dyer, Deon Meyer and Henrietta Rose-Innes share a passion unrelated to their work as writers. Chaired by Ben Williams.

Friday 19 September

Wilbur Smith
Venue: Fugard Theatre
Price: R40
Time: 6 PM to 7 PM
After worldwide sales of more than 120 million books, Wilbur Smith launches his latest novel, Desert God, in the company of Kevin Ritchie.

Cry the Beloved Other Country
Venue: Fugard Studio
Price: R40
Time: 6 PM to 7 PM
Distance gives you an edge. Damon Galgut and Zakes Mda talk to Alison Lowry.

Saturday 20 September

The Episodic Novel
Venue: Fugard Studio
Price: R40
Time: 2 PM
Imraan Coovadia (Tales of the Metric System) and Philip Hensher (Emperor’s Waltz) answer questions from Fourie Botha.

IPA 1: Independent Feminist Publishing – Experiences from Around the World
Venue: Fugard Annexe 2
Price: R40
Time: 2 PM to 3 PM
Meg Vandermerwe discusses the experiences of feminist publishers, Susan Hawthorne (Spinifex, Australia), Colleen Higgs (Modjaji, South Africa) and Ritu Menon (Women Unlimited, India).

Under Pressure: Writing the next one
Venue: Fugard Studio
Price: R40
Time: 4 PM to 5 PM
Thando Mgqolozana and Ivan Vladislavic talk to Alison Lowry.

Fantasy and Crime Fiction – 2 sides of the same coin?
Venue: Fugard Theatre
Price: R40
Time: 6 PM to 7 PM
Raymond E Feist, Deon Meyer and Andrew Salomon discuss why crime is at the heart of fantasy and why crime fiction often ends with fantasy. Chaired by Greg Fried.

Writer Sports – Would I lie to you?
Venue: Fugard Theatre
Price: R40
Time: 8 PM to 9 PM
6 Authors, 2 Teams. Some lies. Some truth. Can you tell the difference? Featuring Mike Carey, Imraan Coovadia, Geoff Dyer, Sarah Lotz, Niq Mhlongo & Zukiswa Wanner. Ben Williams – MC.

Sunday 21 September

Because We Can
Venue: Fugard Studio
Price: R40
Time: 12 PM to 1 PM
Geoff Dyer, Mark Gevisser and Ivan Vladislavic try to keep on topic with Bronwyn Law-Viljoen. What topic?

Cutting Edge Fiction
Venue: Fugard Studio
Price: R40
Time: 4 PM to 5 PM
Sarah Lotz, Oliver Rohe and Jaco van Schalkwyk discuss pushing fictional boundaries with Diane Awerbuck.

Book details

Interview: Morten Jerven Speaks about Poor Numbers with Dylan Matthews

Poor NumbersMorten Jerven, the author of Poor Numbers: How we are mislead by African development statistics and what to do about it, was interviewed by Dylan Matthews for Vox about his book.

Jerven spoke about the problems with information on the economies of developing countries, and what should be done to improve the accuracy and worth about economic data.

Read the article:

As China and India continue their fairly rapid paces of economic growth, a greater and greater share of extreme poverty is going to be concentrated in sub-Saharan Africa. But if we’re going to make progress there, we need to have good numbers about how various economies are faring, how income is distributed within them, and so forth.

The trouble, Simon Fraser University economist Morten Jerven argues, is that those numbers are often incomplete at best and downright false at worst. It’s a problem that came into sharp relief recently when Nigeria “rebased” its GDP numbers, doubling its GDP in the process.

Book details

  • Poor Numbers: How we are mislead by African development statistics and what to do about it by Morten Jerven
    EAN: 9781775820659
    Find this book with BOOK Finder!

Kingsley Holgate Foundation To Host World Youth Rhino Summit on World Rhino Day 2014 in KwaZulu-Natal

Africa: In the Footsteps of the Great ExplorersIntrepid explorer, activist, and author of Africa: In the Footsteps of the Great Explorers Kingsley Holgate has initiated the World Youth Rhino Summit through the Kingsley Holgate Foundation.

The summit will take place from 21 to 23 September 2014 in celebration of World Rhino Day 2014 on 22 September.

The aim of the summit is to engage youth conservation leaders in rhino and wildlife conservation. 140 young conservation leaders from South Africa, Pan-Africa and Asia will gather at the iMfolozi Game Reserve in KwaZulu-Natal.

Event Details

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Okwiri Oduor Reveals the Highs and Lows of Winning the Caine Prize

2014 Caine Prize shortlistees
The Gonjon Pin and Other StoriesOne Day I Will Write About This PlaceFeast, Famine and Potluck

Okwiri Oduor admits there are two sides to winning the Caine Prize, but says the negatives are short-lived and far outweighed by the positives.

Binyavanga Wainaina, who won the Caine Prize in 2002 and went on to set up literary magazine Kwani? to promote new African writing, was at the centre of a controversy this week, after slamming the Caine Prize in an interview with This Is Africa.

Wainaina, who has not been long out of the headlines this year, criticised the prioritisation of the Caine Prize, saying that there are many valuable literary institutions in Africa, such as Saraba, the Farafina workshop, Cassava Republic, that are “vastly underfunded and vastly ungrown, and they are the ones who create the ground that is building these new writers”.

I want people to say, Okwiri, who won the Caine Prize, is the founder of Jalada, an online magazine that has won five prizes in the last year and published, I think, the most exciting fiction I’ve seen in ten years. [...] Okwiri made her name long before the Caine prize. [...] The idea that she won the Caine Prize and journalists now want to feed the fact that she was made by the Caine Prize is unmaking her. You ask any smart Kenyan writer who is in the game, they tell you Okwiri is the new be. And we are talking two years ago. We must lose this s**t. Give due credit but don’t go giving free money and free legitimacy. Because the Caine Prize right now needs your legitimacy to get money. They take press clipping from all Nigerian media and use that to source for funding. We need to focus on how we can grow our own ecosystem.

Related news:

In an interview with Book LIVE, which took place a few days before Wainaina’s outburst, Okwiri expressed reservations of a different sort about the prize.

“There’s been lots of interest. Things have been so horrible the past few weeks … I kind of barricaded myself after the win. I couldn’t handle it, I found it so overwhelming, so I kind of shut myself away,” Okwiri admitted.

“In the process, I think I kind of ignored some media inquiries, which I feel slightly bad about but not completely, because a lot of interviewers ask you the same questions and sometimes I feel like just referring them to an interview I did before: ‘Just go online and you will find all the answers’.

“One thing that’s been happening is that I’m being interviewed by someone who maybe didn’t do much research, or is not very interested in the literary arts, or isn’t much or a reader or a writer. It makes the interview much more exhausting than it need be. So I’m ambivalent about interviews.”

However, Okwiri believes the exposure the prize has afforded her is invaluable, and much more important than the prize money or prestige that come with winning the “African Booker”.

“But there’s been lots of positives as well, of course,” she says. “I think the opportunities you get as a result of the prize are the main positive. The money sounds like a lot but when you get down to it it’s surprisingly not much. But the opportunities, like coming to South Africa for the [Mail & Guardian Literary] Festival. Having access to audiences I wouldn’t have had access to on my own. The fact that I’m here talking to you. The fact that someone is reading me who I’ll meet and they’ll tell me ‘Wow, I really enjoyed your story’, and they wouldn’t have read me if it weren’t for this. The fact that in some ways I can apply for residencies or MFA programmes, or whatever I want to, and have more weight on my application. Just, so many opportunities. So many opportunities to meet the readers, to meet other writers.

“Even on the Caine circuit itself, being in London with the other shortlistees, we became friends and I appreciate that.”

The daunting amount of attention Okwiri received after winning the prize, however, does go some way to proving Wainaina’s point. On the strength of writing like “My Father’s Head”, Okwiri deserves recognition. But why does it take a prize awarded in London to shove her into the spotlight?

Let us know where you stand in the comments, or on our Facebook or Twitter pages

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Fiction Friday: '"He Would Tweet His Death" – On the Road to Fame', a Short Story by Williams Magunga

Ainehi Edoro has shared ‘”He Would Tweet His Death” – On the Road to Fame’, a short story by Williams Magunga, on Brittle Paper.

Edoro says Magunga “writes about Nairobi like no one I know”.

In the story, a young hip-hop artist makes his way to his first radio interview – although his girlfriend is not convinced it’s a worthwhile trip. While traveling to the studio, however, disaster strikes.

Read on:

“He Would Tweet His Death” — On the Road to Fame by Williams Magunga | A Nairobi Story

Sunday is the day God takes the roll call.

On this day of the week, when all creations show off themselves to the Almighty, the sun becomes a sadist. It smiles its blistering heat upon the world as if looking to pick a fight with earthlings.

Man brings out his best garments, bulls dust their hides with their tails, hyenas polish their table manners- they say please and thank you when asking slugs to pass the table salt. Pigs brush their teeth, and flowers open up their petals like a drunk virgin opens her legs on her eighteenth birthday.

This Sunday, Philip walks across Nairobi CBD in a black velvet jacket. This is the jacket he wears once in a while when he wants to make a statement. It has a double slit at the back, two silver buttons, and patches at the elbow. It exudes class and accomplishment.

His girlfriend, Wangeci had told him to take it off. That it is foolish to put on a jacket when the sun baked the universe like that. If she squinted her eyes just right, she could see heat waves floating around the air. She said he was trying too hard to impress.

“But that is the point, Tanya,” he had said. He always called her by her first name every time they were in an argument. In most cases, when they disagreed about anything, they would compromise. This always translated to following Wangeci’s lead. But this time it was different. He wanted to look pristine.

Image courtesy of Matatu Travels

Jonny Steinberg Explains the Story Behind His New Book, A Man of Good Hope

A Man of Good HopeJonny Steinberg has explained the impetus behind his new book, A Man of Good Hope, which centres around the life of a Somali immigrant in South Africa.

Steinberg, whose appointment as WiSER professor was announced this week, says to be a Somali in South Africa means you are faced with a “Faustian choice”: be “safe and poor” in an area where xenophobia is not rife, or “prosper and risk death out in the world”.

The spaza shops that many Somalis opt to run, Steinberg says, are excellent money-making tools, but as the cash piles up, “so does the danger”.

Between 2010 and 2012, I spent several hundred hours shadowing a man called Asad Abdullahi.

On arriving in SA, he worked as a storekeeper for his uncle in New Brighton until his uncle was killed in a robbery. He then set up a business in the rural hamlet of Sterkstroom with his cousin but abandoned it when his cousin was stabbed to death by a former employee. He sold up and used the capital to establish a spaza shop in Mabopane until one afternoon armed robbers beat him with their pistols while his patrons helped themselves to his stock.

Whenever I asked Abdullahi why he kept going back for more, he grew angry with me. “If you stop thinking of the future, you are no different from a goat,” he said. “When I die, I want to have given my children a life my parents could never have known. To do that I must earn money.”

How do things look from the other side of the shop counter — to the South Africans who buy from Somalis? SA has never seen wealth accumulation Somali-style, and the sight of it is profoundly disturbing.

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