Open Book Festival 2017: An interview with Mervyn Sloman

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Mervyn Sloman (photo: Retha Ferguson)

The seventh Open Book Festival takes place from 6 to 10 September 2017, and this year there are more than 140 events to choose from.

“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.”

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.

“Our partner 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 to 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 Open Book Festival.

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 (five 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.

Mervyn Sloman answers Naomi Meyer's questions about this year's festival.

Hi Mervyn! Open Book Festival 2017 is upon us. What can festivalgoers look forward to in this year’s programme?

A wide range of discussions and performances that will stimulate and entertain. Twenty-five top international writers from around the world and more than a hundred local participants. Really looking forward to some of the interactions between international and local writers, for example, Master Manipulators at 6:00 pm on Wednesday evening, featuring acclaimed British crime writer Ali Land, Norwegian Carl Frode Tiller and the exciting local debut novelist Chwayita Ngamlana.

Please can you tell our readers more about the international authors attending Open Book Festival this year?

Twenty-five amazing international writers are attending the festival. Obviously, a lot of attention is focused on 2016 Man Booker Prize winner, Paul Beatty. Nigerian novelists Chibunudu Onuzo and Ayobami Adebayo will both be talking about their brilliant new novels, Welcome to Lagos and Stay with me respectively. Multi-award winner Fiston Mwanza Mujila will be presenting Tram 83 (winner of the best Swedish crime novel in 2016), Malin Persson Giolito will be a fascinating presence, American novelist Nathan Hill’s novel The nix deservedly featured on just about every reputable list of best American novels of 2016, while Canadian journalist Scaachi Koul is going to impress the hell out of people as she talks about her collection of essays, One day we’ll all be dead and none of this will matter.

We live in a complex, dynamic and multilingual country. Looking at the programme, who is your target audience – English, Afrikaans, other African language speakers?

Open Book is predominantly an English-medium festival.

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