Open Book Festival 101: Everything you need to know and hear

The biographies, the images the words and the interview opportunities – it’s all here in one place! Everything you need to know and hear before the Open Book Festival authors descend on Cape Town’s Fringe.

22 MAY 2014, CAPE TOWN
In a few months we'll be well on our way into the refreshing Spring season - the perfect time to host the world's most acclaimed authors. This year Open Book Festival will host authors such as: Sefi Atta, Mike Carey, William Dalrymple, Raymond Elias Feist and Zakes Mda. Till they descend on the Mother City, we'll be keeping you updated with all the creative projects and community development that #OpenBook2014 is involved in.

Authors for 2014: 

Kader Abdolah is the pen name of Hossein Sadjadi Ghaemmaghami Farahani, taken from the names of two executed friends. He published two novels about life under the Khomeini regime before fleeing Iran in 1985. Three years later he came to the Netherlands. He quickly mastered the Dutch language and started writing in it. He debuted with De adelaars (Eagles, 1993), a collection of short stories which earned him the Golden Dog-Ear Award for the best-sold debut of the year. He has since published the short-story collection De meisjes en de partizanen (The Girls and the Partisans, 1995) and the novels De reis van de lege flessen (The Journey of the Empty Bottles, 1997), Spijkerschrift (Cuneiform, 2000), which was awarded the E. du Perron Prize, and Het huis van de moskee (The House of the Mosque, 2006). In 2008 he published De boodschapper (The Messenger), about the prophet Mohammed, and an alternative translation of the Koran underlining a more moderate and ‘human’ Islam. Abdolah’s work has been published in more than 20 languages.

Partner: The Dutch Institute for Literature

Rabih Alameddine is one of the Middle East’s most celebrated voices. His first novel, Koolaids (1998), was followed by the story collection, The Perv (1999), I, the Divine (2001), The Hakawati (2008) and most recently, An Unnecessary Woman (2014). He divides his time between San Francisco and Beirut. He was the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2002. His work has been translated into 10 languages.

Twitter: @rabihalameddine

Publisher/Distributor: Random House Struik

Sefi Atta was born in Lagos, Nigeria. She was educated there, in England and the United States. A former chartered accountant and CPA, she is a graduate of the creative writing program at Antioch University, Los Angeles. Her short stories have appeared in several journals, including the Los Angeles Review and Mississipi Review and have won prizes from Zoetrope and Red Hen Press. Her radio plays have been broadcast by the BBC. She is the winner of several awards, including PEN International's 2004/2005 David TK Wong Prize and the inaugural Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature in Africa for her debut novel Everything Good Will Come (2006). Her short story collection, News from Home, received the 2009 Noma Award For Publishing in Africa.
A Bit of a Difference was published in 2014.


Publisher/Distributor: Jacana

Mike Carey is a British writer whose work spans comics, novels, film scripts, and TV shows. After writing shorts for British sci-fi comic 2000 AD and a few one-shots for Caliber Comics during the 1990s, he was offered DC/Vertigo’s Lucifer &mdash henceforth the longest running and most successful Sandman-related spinoff to date. While continuing to work with DC on Vertigo series like Crossing Midnight and graphic novels like God Save the Queen, he took over as lead writer for Marvel’s X-Men (now X-Men: Legacy) in 2006. His work includes DC/Vertigo’s Hellblazer, Marvel’s Ultimate Fantastic Four, the Felix Castor novels, The Steel Seraglio (with Linda and Louise Carey), and DC/Vertigo’s The Unwritten (with Peter Gross).

Most recently, he published The Girl with all the Gifts (2014), an SF title that has been very well received.

Publisher/Distributor: Jonathan Ball

Currently based in India, William Dalrymple is a non-fiction author whose books have won numerous awards. The Return of the King – The Battle for Afghanistan, is the most recent in an incredible writing career. In addition to writing, he has curated and released a CD (The Rough Guide to Sufi Music), written and presented three TV series as well as series for radio. He has three honorary doctorates of letters, from the University of St Andrews ‘for his services to literature and international relations, to broadcasting and understanding,’ from the University of Lucknow University ‘for his outstanding contribution in literature and history’, and from the University of Aberdeen ‘for his contribution to the writing of the history of India.’ He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, the Royal Geographical Society and of the Royal Asiatic Society, and is a founder and co-director of the Jaipur Literature Festival. He is a regular contributor to the New Yorker, the Guardian, the TLS, and the New York Review of Books, and is the India correspondent of the New Statesman.


  • In Xanadu won the 1990 Yorkshire Post Best First Work Award and a Scottish Arts Council Spring Book Award; it was also shortlisted for the John Llewellyn Rhys Memorial Prize.
  • City of Djinns won the 1994 Thomas Cook Travel Book Award and the Sunday Times Young British Writer of the Year Award.
  • From the Holy Mountain was awarded the Scottish Arts Council Autumn Book Award for 1997; it was also shortlisted for the 1998 Thomas Cook Award, the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize and the Duff Cooper Prize.
  • The Age of Kali, won the French Prix D’Astrolabe in 2005.
  • White Mugals won the Wolfson Prize, in 2003. It was also awarded the Scottish Book of the Year Prize, and was shortlisted for the PEN History Award, the Kiryama Prize and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize.
  • Awarded the Mungo Park Medalin 2002 by the Royal Scottish Geographical Society for his outstanding contribution to Travel Literature.
  • Won the Grierson Award for Best Documentary Series at BAFTA (2002) for Stones of the Raj and Indian Journeys (Wrote and presented)
  • Won the 2202 Sandford St Martin Prize for Religious Broadcasting for BBC Radio 4 series, The Long Search
  • Awarded the Best Print Article of the Year at the 2005 FPA Media Awards for his article on madrases of Pakistan
  • Awarded the Skyes Medal in 2005 from the Royal Society for Asian Affairs for his contribution ‘to understanding (of) contemporary Islam.’
  • The Media Citizen Puraskar by the Indian Confederation of NGOs for emphasising as an author issues of global importance and concern.

Publisher/Distributor: Jonathan Ball

Geoff Dyer is an English writer. As a journalist he writes about a wide range of topics. His published work includes Paris Trance, The Search, The Colour of Memory, and Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi; two collections of essays, Anglo-English Attitudes and Working the Room; and six genre-defying titles: But Beautiful, The Missing of the Somme, Out of Sheer Rage, Yoga For People Who Can’t Be Bothered To Do It, The Ongoing Moment and Zona, about Andrei Tarkovsky’s film Stalker.


Publisher/Distributor: Penguin

Raymond Elias Feist (born Raymond E. Gonzales III, 1945) is an American author who primarily writes fantasy fiction. He is best known for The Riftwar Cycle series of novels and short stories. His books have been translated into multiple languages and have sold over 15 million copies. The majority of Feist's works are part of The Riftwar Cycle. Feist has published three non-Riftwar novels, the first of which, Faerie Tale, is a dark fantasy set in the state of New York. He has also published several short stories in various anthologies.

Publisher/Distributor: Jonathan Ball

Multi award winner, Philip Hensher, has published novels, short stories and is a regular contributor, columnist and book reviewer for newspapers and weeklies including The Guardian, The Spectator and The Independent. He is Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Bath Spa, has edited numerous classic works and has served as a judge for the Man Booker Prize. In 2003, he was one of Granta’s twenty Best of Young British Novelists.

Emperor Waltz will be published in 2014.


Northern Clemency shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize (2008)

2012: Won the first prize in the German Travel Writers Awardand is shortlisted for the Green Carnation Prize.

Won the Stonewall Prize for the Journalist of the Year in 2007

Somerset Maugham Award for his novel Kitchen Venom in 1996.

In 2013, his novel Scenes from Early Life was shortlisted for the Green Carnation Prize, and awarded the Ondaatje Prize.


  • Other Lulus (1994)
  • Kitchen Venom (1996)
  • Pleasured (1998)
  • The Mulberry Empire (2002) Flamingo/Harper Perennial
  • The Fit (2004) 4th Estate/Harper Perennial
  • The Northern Clemency (2008) shortlisted for Man Booker Prize.
  • King of the Badgers (2011)
  • Scenes from Early Life (2012)
  • The Emperor Waltz )2014)
  • The Bedroom of the Mister's Wife (1999) – short story collection
  • Selected Essays (2006)
  • The Missing Ink: The Lost Art of Handwriting (2012)

Publisher/Distributor: Jonathan BallTwitter: @PhilipHensher

Felicitas Hoppe was born in Hamlen, Germany in 1960 and lives in Berlin as a writer. She studied literature, rhetoric and religious studies in Tübingen, Oregon and the Free University of Berlin. She has worked in theater as a dramatic advisor and as a journalist.

Partner: Goethe Institute


  • 1994 Alfred Döblin Stipend
  • 1996 Aspekte Literature Prize
  • 1996 Ernst Willner Prize at the Ingeborg Bachmann Contest in Klagenfurt, Austria
  • 1997 Rauriser Literature Prize
  • 2004 Nicolas Born Prize of the State of Lower Saxony
  • 2004 Heimito von Doderer Literature Prize
  • 2005 Brüder Grimm Prize of the City of Hanau
  • 2007 Literature Prize of the City of Bremen
  • 2007 Roswitha Prize
  • In 2012, Felicitas Hoppe was awarded the most prestigious literary prize in German literature, the Georg Büchner Prize.

Satoshi Kitamura enjoyed reading comics and illustrated novels. Without any formal training, at 19 he started his career working in advertising as an artist, eventually making his way to London. While there he was commissioned to illustrate Angry Arthur by Hiawyn Oram. His illustrations can also be found anywhere from award winning signage at Birmingham Children's Hospital, Eureka! Children's museum in Halifax, posters for the Tokyo Underground, poetry anthologies, a Japanese stationery range and more.

Prizes/Awards Include:

  • National Art Library Awards (1999)
  • Smartie Prize: Bronze Winner (1997)
  • Children's Literature Choice List (1997)
  • Shortlisted for the Smartie Prize (1989)
  • The New York Times Notable Book of the Year Award (1989)
  • New York Academy of Sciences, Children's Book Award (1987)
  • Japanese Picture Book Award (1983)
  • The Mother Goose Award (1983)

Publisher/Distributor: Random House Struik

As a teenager, Fiona Leonard took two career aptitude tests. The first said shewas unemployable, the second returned only one result: coroner. She decided to ignore both (and give up taking aptitude tests) and instead became, in turn, an Australian diplomat, foreign and trade policy consultant, freelance writer, theatre producer, blogger, home schooler and author (and sometimes several of these at once).

Her love of Africa was forged during a three year posting to

Zimbabwe. She now lives in Ghana, West Africa.

Her latest novel, The Chicken Thief, is due in 2014.

Publisher/Distributor: Penguin SA

Antony Loewenstein is an independent Australian journalist, photographer, documentarian and blogger who has written for The BBC, The Nation, Huffington Post and Haaretz, amongst many others. He is the author of three bestselling books, My Israel Question, The Blogging Revolution and Profits of Doom: How Vulture Capitalism is Swallowing the World, co-writer of For God's Sake and co-editor of Left Turn and After Zionism: One State for Israel and Palestine.

Twitter: @antloewenstein

Zakes Mda was born in the Eastern Cape in 1948. He spent his early childhood in Soweto, and finished his school education in Lesotho, where he joined his father in exile. Mda has studied and worked in South Africa, Lesotho, the United Kingdom, and the United States, and is a prolific writer of plays, novels, poems, and articles for academic journals and newspapers. His creative work includes paintings, and theatre and film productions. Zakes Mda now spends his time writing and teaching. He is based in Athens, Ohio, in the United States.



  • (1977) New South African Writing
  • (1979) We Shall Sing for the Fatherland
  • (1979) Dead End
  • (1979) Dark Voices Ring
  • (1980) The Hill
  • (1982) Banned: A Play for Radio
  • (1982) Summer Fires
  • (1986) Bits of Debris: The Poetry of Zakes Mda
  • (1988) And the Girls in their Sunday Dresses
  • (1989) Joys of War
  • (1990) The Plays of Zakes Mda
  • (1991) The Nun's Romantic Story
  • (1992) Soho Square
  • (1993) When People Play People
  • (1993) And the Girls in Their Sunday Dresses: Four Works
  • (1995) Ways of Dying
  • (1995) She Plays with the Darkness
  • (1998) Melville 67
  • (2000) The Heart of Redness
  • (2002) The Madonna of Excelsior
  • (2002) Fools, Bells and the Importance of Eating: Three Satires
  • (2005) The Whale Caller
  • (2007) Cion
  • (2009) Black Diamond
  • (2011) Sometimes There is a Void: Memoirs of an Outsider
  • (2013) The Sculptors of Mapungubwe

Twitter: @ZakesMda

Publisher/Distributor: NB Publisher

Adam Stower is a children’s book author and illustrator. He has collaborated with a variety of authors as well publishing his own work, the most recent being Troll and Oliver. He wrote and illustrated SLAM! - a tale of consequences - which won the Norfolk Library Silver Award for Children's Books.

Recent picture book projects include an exciting collaboration with renowned children's book author, Jeanne Willis: Bottoms Up (winner of the Red House Children's Book Award 2010) and the sequel, Sing a Song of Bottoms (shortlisted for the BookTrust Early Years Award 2010). He also illustrated the popular Mungo series by Timothy Knapman (Puffin).

Publisher/Distributor: Jonathan Ball

Zukiswa Wanner was born in Zambia to a South African father and a Zimbabwean mother. Her debut novel, The Madams (2006), was shortlisted for the K Sello Duiker Award. It was followed by Behind Every Successful Man (2008) and Men of the South (2010). She has also contributed to Oprah, Elle and Juice magazines, and literary reviews and essays to Afropolitan and Sunday Independent, as well as the international online journal, African Writing. She is also a founding member of the ReadSA initiative, a campaign encouraging South Africa to read South African works.

Most recently, she was selected as one of the most promising 39 sub-Saharan African authors as part of the Africa 39 Project.

Publisher/Distributor: NB Publishers


Mzilikazi wa Afrika is a multi-award winning journalist working for the Sunday Times investigations unit in Johannesburg, South Africa. He is also the current chairperson of the Forum for African Investigative Reporters (FAIR), an investigative journalism organisation with members in 36 African countries. Mzilikazi started his career as a freelance reporter for the Witbank News Witbank,Mpumalanga province back in 1995, and has since become one of the South African investigative journalism’s stalwarts. Nothing Left to Steal is due in 2014.

Publisher: Penguin SA

Diane Awerbuck is the author of Gardening at Night, which was awarded the Commonwealth Best First Book Award (Africa and the Caribbean) and was shortlisted for the International Dublin IMPAC Award. Cabin Fever, a collection of short stories was published in 2011. Her latest novel, Home Remedies, was launched at Open Book 2012. She has been shortlisted for the Caine Prize (2014) for her short story, ‘Phosphorescence’.

Publisher: Random House Struik

Tiah Marie Beautement is the author of the novel Moons Don’t Go To Venus and This Day (Modjaji) due out in 2014. Shorter works have appeared in various publications including the anthologies The Edge of Things and Wisdom has a Voice. Her time is split between running writing workshops for children, her role as YA / children’s coordinator for Short Story Day Africa and her own writing.


Publisher: Modjaji

Lauren Beukes is an award-winning, best-selling novelist who also writes comics, screenplays, TV shows and occasionally journalism. She is the author of The Shining Girls, Zoo City, Moxyland, Maverick: Extraordinary Women From South Africa’s Past and the graphic novel, Fairest: The Hidden Kingdom with Inaki Miranda.

Zoo City won the Arthur C Clarke Award in 2011.

Twitter: @laurenbeukes

Publisher: Random House Struik

Andre Brink

Karina Brink

Andrew Brown

Justin Fox

Damon Galgut

Michiel Heyns

John Maytham

Deon Meyer

Niq Mhlongo

Margie Orford

Sally Partridge

Marguerite Poland

Henrietta Rose-Innes

Ivan Vladislavic

About Open Book Festival

Open Book Cape Town is an annual literary festival, the first of which happened in 2011. Dates for Open Book 2013 are 7 – 11 September. The hubs will once again be the Fugard Theatre and much-loved indie bookshop, The Book Lounge.

When Mervyn Sloman and Ben Williams started talking about creating a festival, they had in mind around 60 literary events over 5 days featuring about 15 top international as well as some of the best South Africans writing today. Due to the incredible support Open Book received, that quickly grew into a festival that now includes over 100 events, featuring over 100 authors.