Open Book is one of the fastest growing literary festivals on the planet. If everything you read on the Internet is to believed then this festival was born when President Robert Mugabe attacked what was at the time a most import festival at the time; the Harare International Book fair. His attacks were directed at those suffering from “gayism” that were at the fair. As anyone in any creative industries knows, attacking gays comes with consequences and the Open Book festival was born in 2006 as an alternative.
This year’s festival promises to have a huge number of very high profile guests from around the continent and the world. The list of names includes novelists, media, book editors, publishers, nominees of the Caine Prize and the Etisalat as well as a bunch of others. Many have been featured on this blog and others are making their debuts. They include Colleen Higgs, Deon Meyer, Diane Awerbuck, Ferial Haffajee, Helen Moffett, Henrietta Rose-Innes, Imraan Coovadia, Jacqui L’Ange, James Woodhouse, Karen Jennings, Liesl Jobson, Margie Orford, Mzilikazi wa Afrika, Niq Mhlongo, Phillippa Yaa de Villiers, Rachel Zadok, Thando Mgqolozana, Tiah Beautement, Wilbur Smith, Zakes Mda, Zethu Matebeni, Zukiswa Wanner. You can find the whole list here.
Two people will be missing at this year’s events. Ghanaian writer Taiye Selasi, of the gorgeousness and of Ghana Must Go, had to cancel at the last minute because of personal reasons. Also not making the trip this year will be Kenya’s Caine prize winner Okwiri Oduor. The tradition in recent times has been for the prize winner of the prize to attend that festival. With the festival clashing with the Storymoja Festival the young writer had to make do with the Mail & Guardian festival earlier in the year. In this article written when she was down south she is unapologetic about being herself. Hear hear!
Last night the festival started off with a very nice do in its headquarters in the mother city as South Africans call the city on the tip of the continent. It promises to be an awesome one. You can follow the events from South Africa on their official Facebook page.