well read - Open Book Festival 2011

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Book-lovers head to Cape Town this month for the Open Book Festival, held September 21-25, for five days of events and discussions on all things literature.


Open Book

Open Book Cape Town is intended to become an annual literary festival, with the first happening from September 21 to 25. The festival has close to 150 events, 25 international authors, and about 80 local authors participating.

With confirmed authors including Hari Kunzru, JMG Le Clézio, and Earl Lovelace, the list of writers attending Open Book represents a list of some of the most prestigious literary award winners – and many more that have been shortlisted more than once.

Not just a festival for lovers of fiction, the event highlights include ‘Writer Sports – The Cringe Factor’, where a panel of authors bring their ‘best’ worst opening page to a novel; and ‘Dictionaries Uncovered’, how words make it into a dictionary and other facts.

Events will run in several locations in Cape Town’s ‘Fringe’ district. The Fugard Theatre is the hub and will be used extensively for events. Other venues include The District 6 Museum, The Homecoming Centre, the Townhouse Hotel, The Slave Lodge, The Museum, The National Gallery, and Lobby Books.


Book reviews

Gods Without Men
By Hari Kunzru

A four-year-old autistic boy, Raj Matharu, disappears in the wilderness of the California desert, plunging his wealthy New York parents into the surreal public hell of a media witch-hunt. But the desert is inexplicable and miraculous, and the Matharus’ fate is bound up with that of others: a debauched British rock star, on the run from a failed relationship and the sordid excesses of his life; a former member of an extra-terrestrial-worshipping cult, now middle-aged but still haunted by transcendent callings; and a teenage Iraqi refugee.


By Paul Harding

Confined to bed in his living room, an old man lies dying, hallucinating in the throes of cancer and kidney failure. A methodical repairer of clocks, he is finally released from the usual constraints of time and memory to rejoin his father, whom he had lost seven decades before. In his return to the wonder and pain of his impoverished childhood in the backwoods of Maine, he recovers a natural world that is at once indifferent to man and inseparable from him, menacing and awe-inspiring.


Zoo City
By Lauren Beukes

Zinzi December has a talent for finding lost things, and people. Even if they don’t want to be found, as in the case of missing pop starlet Songweza. The trouble is, when you go turning over stones and digging up secrets it isn’t long before the truth comes to light. A truth the local crime lord, dark magician, and beast master, will kill to keep hidden. In this shattered city, magic is horribly real and the criminal classes sport symbiotically-linked animals.


Information is Beautiful
By David McCandless

Information is Beautiful contains visually stunning displays of information that blend the facts with their connections, their context, and their relationships – making information meaningful, entertaining, and beautiful. This is information as you have never seen it before – keeping text to a minimum and using unique visuals that offer a blueprint of modern life – a map of beautiful colour illustrations that are tactile to hold and easy to flick through but intriguing and engaging enough to study for hours.


A Life Apart
By Neel Mukherjee

Ritwik Ghosh, 22 and recently orphaned, finds the chance to start a new life when he arrives in England from Calcutta. But to do so, he must not only relive his entire past but also make sense of his scarred relationship with his mother. The story that Ritwik writes to stave off his loneliness begins to find ghostly echoes in his life with his aged landlady. When Ritwik runs into the suave, unfathomable Zafar bin Hashm, the present and past of several lives collide, and Ritwik’s own goes into free fall.


Cape Town, South Africa
Distance: 7,427 km
Flight Time: 11 hours, 25 minutes
Frequency: 4 flights a week via Johannesburg

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