A book fair for working people
The 10th Jozi Book Fair hosted atMary Fitzgerald Square from 31 August to 2 September brought together children,youth, authors, social justice activists, workers, publishers, artists and members of the public. The festival hosted 140 sessions over the 4 days, and included roundtables, seminars, workshops, film, jazz, street theatre and photo exhibitions.
The theme of the 2018 book fair was“Literature and Working People”. The theme pointed to the long-term direction of the Jozi Book Fair after 10 years of bringing literature and debate to theSouth African public. The Jozi Book Fair believes that the future of SouthAfrican literature lies in broadening and deepening the participation of SouthAfrica’s working people in writing and reading. In its planning for future book fairs Khanya College adopted the slogan “Towards a National Literature”, and points out that South African literature is in crisis mainly due to the exclusion of its majority, working people.
The 2018 festival kicked off with the Schools Programme on Thursday 31 August. More than 500 learners from 30 schools attended workshops, book launches and street theatre. Ten learner-authors launched their book of short stories, “Love is in the Air”, and the learners engaged established authors and debated literature they had read throughout the year. In the evening the more than 100 attended the launch of Omar Badsha’s photo exhibition ‘The Cordoned Heart’ which was just in line with the theme of the fair narrating the levels of inequality in South Africa.
The book fair featured a variety of authors from Sweden and South Africa mostly who write on the working class. Lindsey Collen, James Matthews and Diana Ferrus, all patrons of the book fair, were joined by other literature stalwarts to celebrate the life and work of the late patron of the book fair, Keorapetse Kgositsile, popularly known as KK.
One of the signature programmes of the book fair, the Children’s Programme, hosted more than 500 children on Saturday and Sunday. Reading, performances, poetry and games kept children’s attention. The fair also debated topical political issues in a number of roundtables.
The 10th edition of the Jozi Book Fair opens a new phase in the literary life of South Africa, and the new emphasis on bringing working people into literature promises an exciting and challenging future for the book fair. The next edition of the book fair is set for 29 August to 1 September 2019.