The Insider Guide to Open Book Festival 2016

Cape Town - The Book Lounge and the Fugard Theatre once again welcome bookworms, comic fans and intellectuals to enjoy the remarkable literature programme of the Open Book Festival. A multitude of panel discussions, workshops, book launches, master classes, readings and performances await in Cape Town from 7 - 11 September 2016!

From literary legends to newbies on the scene, the Open Book Festival provides a platform to connect with a diverse range of local and international authors. The festival also includes Poetica and the Comics Fest.

What you need to know:

When: 7 – 11 September 2016

Where: The Fugard Theatre, District Six Homecoming Centre and The Book Lounge in Cape Town.

Cost: Events vary from R45 - R60 and you can catch a few free events as well.

Programme: Click here to see or download the full festival programme. For more info on participants, click here.

Contact: For more info, visit the festival website here.
Find them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and use #OBF2016


(Design by Luis Tolosana)

More than 100 events, discussions and readings with guest speakers and authors, both local and international, will be hosted and it can be daunting to narrow it down to a few. There are, however a few highlights we suggest you don't miss over the five-day festival.

Your itinerary for #OBF2016:

Wednesday, 7 September:

10.00 - 13.00: On the Bus

Pippa Hudson from Cape Talk interviews Nazeem Hardy from City of Cape Town Library Services on the bus to Elsie’s River Library. Librarian, Julian Schroeder, will host Dianne Case and Elnathan John. Book tickets to hop on the bus from the Townhouse Hotel at 10.00.

14.00 - 15.00: Cape Sounds

Join Dianne Case, David Cornwell, Valda Jansen, Mbongeni Nomkonwane, Shirmoney Rhode and Lwanda Sindaphi for six readings in three languages.

20.00 - 21.30: Afrikaaps and Hip Hop

Blaq Pearl, EmileYX (Heal the Hood) and Shaquile Southgate (Heal the Hood) explore the lessons they took from Afrikaaps into their teaching practice for Hip Hop to young adults. They are joined by B-Boy Mouse and chaired by Quentin Williams.


Discussions in full swing at The Book Lounge.

Thursday, 8 September:

10.00 - 11.00: Point of Departure

Join the discussion between Kim Leine, Nomavenda Mathiane and Rosemary Sullivan.

16.00 - 17.00: Interior Design

The domestic spaces in the novels of Garth Greenwell, Yewande Omotoso and Philip Teir reflect the interior lives of their characters. Chaired by Ed Suter.

20.00 - 21.00: Pulse of the Nation

Bongani Madondo, Justice Malala and Yolisa Qunta speak to Thabiso Mahlape.

An audience enjoys an Open Book Festival event at the Book Lounge. Photo: Retha Ferguson

Friday, 9 September:

11.00 - 13.00: Women and Urban Space

Rebecca Davis, Pumla Gqola, Thabiso Mahlape, Palesa Motsumi, Yewande Omotoso, Koleka Putuma, Katleho Shoro and Toni Stuart explore women’s experiences living and working in urban spaces through a roundtable discussion.

13.00 - 17.00: Comics Fest Workshop

Join Hippolyte from Reunion,  local Su Opperman and Kai Pfeiffer from Germany for a comic masterclass.

18.00 - 20.00: Current State of Poetry

Vusumuzi Mpofu and Vus’umuzi Phakathi explore the emerging South African voice of poetry. Enjoy performances and and interviews by selected guests.

18.00 - 19.00: Reacher Said Nothing

Andy Martin skypes with Lee Child, author the of Jack Reacher book series.

A photo posted by LouanneCT (@louannect) on


Saturday, 10 September:

10.00 - 11.00: Trump, Jenner and U.S. Politics

Shane Evans, Garth Greenwell and Sunil Yapa explore contemporary USA based on what we learn from Donald Trump and Caitlyn Jenner. Chaired by Derrick Higginbotham.

14.00 - 15.00: City Limits

Rawi Hage, Masande Ntshanga and Ameera Patel talk to Wamuwi Mbao about how their characters are shaped by their cities.

18.00 - 19.00: Reimagining the City

Join Zahira Asmal, Khalied Jacobs, Jay Pather, Thania Petersen and Nick Shepherdas they discuss the intensity and complexity of the movements that forged and continue to create the city of Cape Town.

20.00 - 21.00: Word Counts

Columnists Rebecca Davis, Fred Khumalo and Lerato Tshabalala speak to Darrel Bristow-Bovey.


Open Book Poetry Slam hosted in 2015.

Sunday, 11 September:

10.00 - 11.00: Rosemary Sullivan

Steve Connolly quizzes the Canadian historian about her award winning Stalin’s Daughter.

12.00 - 13.00: Between Absence and Presence

Reading and Dialogue: Unathi Slasha and Sisonkepapu explore the importance of ‘ordinary’ stories through their poetry and prose with Azola Dayile.

14.00 - 15.30: On my Mind

Haji Mohamed Dawjee, Elnathan John, Nthikeng Mohlele and Sunil Yapa engage in a four part conversation chaired by Rebecca Davis.

16.00 - 17.00: Kariba Work in Progress

Join the Kariba team for a behind the scenes look at the work they have been putting into Kariba.

17.30 - 19.00: Inzync Session

Nothing like a celebration to conclude your Open Book experience! Join the mix of genres and languages that is Cape Town's Urban Poetry Scene. Inzync Session will include Koleka Putuma, Jitsvinger, Toni Stuart and Akwasi. Enjoy this event, hosted by Adrian “Diff” Van Wyk and Pieter Odendaal with the accompanying beats of Cupfuss Crew.

More about the Open Book Festival

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 100 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, a comics marketplace, panel discussions, book launches, outreach reading initiatives, youth programmes and writer sports. The Festival has already been recognised 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.

What to read next on Traveller24:

- Roaming Rwanda: Your Kigali checklist

- Weekend Review: 5 stories you might have missed

- How a brain tumour made one South African change his life and travel the world

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