The Open Book Festival

The Open Book Festival

Join over 100 writers at one
of SA's biggest literary festivals.
Taking place 6 - 10 September.
+27 (0) 21 461 4554
Caledon Street | Corner of Buitenkant Cape Town South Africa
Open Book Festival

The Open Book Festival

Lovers of all things literary can’t afford to miss this globally recognised affair, with more than 100 writers taking part

Committed to promoting and encouraging a love for literature and showcasing South African writing, the Open Book Festival is returning to Cape Town for its seventh year. The annual bibliophilic affair is hosted at various venues around the Mother City, including the Fugard Theatre, Elsie’s River Library and The Book Lounge, and takes place from Wednesday, 6 to Sunday, 10 September 2017. As always, it promises to be a riveting page-turner!

Building on the resounding success of previous years, the five-day festival will be featuring a record number of over 140 events, making this Open Book Festival the biggest yet! Don’t miss the chance to engage with over 100 local and international wordsmiths as they launch their latest works, participate in talks, give storybook readings, and more. With a mixture of free and ticketed events, this yearly book-centric fiesta is not only affordable, but fun and educational too.

The festival has, interestingly, also become known as a platform for political and social engagement. Panel discussions offer an opportunity to address topical issues in South African society with various writers, commentators, experts and thought leaders. One of the speakers will be Mamphela Ramphele, the former leader of the national political party Agang and a revered anti-apartheid activist. As well as her book Dreams, Betrayal and Hope, Ramphele will be talking about her views on the ANC as ruling party, and the possibility of healing wounds left by apartheid and colonialism in South Africa.

Another highlight for many festival-goers is set to be the participation of recent Man Booker prize winner Paul Beatty. Names to look out for from other parts of the continent include Chibundu Onuzo, Fiston Mwanza Mujila and Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀.


#cocreatePOETICA: This ever-popular part of the festival, with established poets and rising stars, appeals to all lovers of the spoken word and page poetry. You can see poets in panel discussions and poetry slams, and even take part in an open mic event if you’re brave enough! Some of the highlights on the programme this year are the exhilarating InZync Sessions and the Open Book Poetry Slam.

COMIC BOOKS: You’re never too old to appreciate comic books and graphic novels, where people with superpowers, mythical beasts and dark detective mysteries come to life on the page. And you’ll certainly appreciate the range of activities in store at the Comic Book Fest. Illustrators will be hosting plenty of demo sessions, workshops and competitions, from the Monster Battle Draw-Off for aspiring comic artists, to the Draw Your Own Superhero workshop for kids. Be sure to visit the Open Book Marketplace, where you’ll find a treasure trove of comic books and original zines.

SENSATIONAL WRITERS: Considering the amount of writers participating, the 2017 Open Book Festival might just leave you starstruck. Fans can look forward to seeing the likes of Canadian Elan Mastai, who wrote the screenplay for What If (also known as The F Word), and Nigerian author Chibundu Onuzo, who wrote the prize-winning novel The Spider King’s Daughter. Representatives of South Africa’s literary talent include Lindiwe Hani, co-author of Being Chris Hani’s Daughter that tells of facing her father’s killers, and the renowned Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela, author of A Human Being Died that Night: A South African Story of Forgiveness.

LEARNING FROM AWARD-WINNING AUTHORS: This year the festival is engaging its audience with socially relevant topics, which will be discussed in collaboration with some very famous faces. On Wednesday, 6 September 2017 Pumla Dineo Gqola and Iman Verjee will discuss the challenges of writing rape with Helen Moffett. Also on Wednesday, 6 September 2017, international bestselling authorr Paul Beatty will join a discussion on collective memory with various local authors. They will dive into the complexities that come with inheriting trauma and what the current societal impacts of that could be. Once the talks have concluded, authors have been known to hang around and engage with the audience!

#WordsforWine: Adults will love this Leopard’s Leap Family Vineyards initiative. It involves festival-goers bringing pre-loved or new books to drop off for donation to the Open Book Library Project and other charities – in exchange for a glass of Leopard’s Leap vino.

YOUTH PROGRAMME: This festival isn’t just for older readers; it also encourages a love for books amongst the younger generation. Besides running a selection of private events at schools (these are not open to the public), the fiesta will host a range of kiddie-focussed happenings at The Book Lounge and Central Library. Children will be enchanted by ‘Storytime in the Gardens’, where various local storytellers entertain with tales to tickle the imagination. And here’s a juicy tidbit: Alex Wheatle, winner of the 2016 Guardian Children’s Fiction Award, will be at the festival doing a range of events at schools, public libraries and more.

We’ve only selected a few of the many highlights that await you at the 2017 Open Book Festival. For more information and the full festival programme which is now available, visit


Tickets to individual events range from R45/p to R100/p. However, you could also get yourself a Day Pass (which provides one access ticket to six events per day) for R150/p, or a Festival Pass (a Five-Day Festival Pass with one ticket access to six events per day) for R600/p. There are also various free events, however tickets for these must still be booked to secure yourself a place – it’s a good idea to book soon, as there may be some competition for these!

Tickets are available for booking now, which you can do via If you need any more information please do not hesitate to get in touch with the festival organisers via email: [email protected] or phone: +27 (0)21 461 4554.

We recently got a chance to catch up with one of the brilliant South African writers who will be speaking at the Open Book. See what author of the novel The Yearning (her debut) MohaleMashigo told us about herself. If the Open Book Festival is a highlight of your year or at least on your life bucket list, you’re probably a bookworm, and our guess is that you’d love perusing the shelves of these great bookshops in Cape Town.


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