Dark comedy highlighted at Open Book Festival

Green Point author Paige Nick was one of the speakers at the Open Book Festival.

The sixth annual Open Book Festival, which came to an end on Sunday September 11, seems to just get bigger and bigger.

Authors from all over the world get together during the festival to talk about the art of writing. Most of the events took place in the Fugard Theatre as well as the Book Lounge.

Green Point author Paige Nick was one of the speakers this year. She sat on a panel with well-known South African writer Niq Mhlongu as well as Durban-based Paul Crilley. They spoke about writing and dark comedy in their latest works.

Nick’s new book, Dutch Courage, is about strip clubs, and it’s set in Amsterdam. She spent a lot of time in Cape Town strip clubs researching her novel.

“I write stuff that is funny to me. I think there is some dark humour in the dancers and some of those characters are quite dark.

“At the same time, I didn’t want to minimise the seriousness of the situation,” Nick told the audience.

She said advertising was always her passion and a background in that industry had influenced her writing.

A prolific writer, Nick said you can always make time to chase your dreams. “I believe that if you want to do something badly enough you will make enough time for it. The thing about writing is that you don’t have to write an entire book all at once. That is what is scary about writing a book. You can write a page a day so there is a way to make it bite size and fit into your life, that is what I try to do.”

Mhlongu’s new work of short stories, Affluenza, has just been translated into German.

He got into writing, as he told the panel, almost by accident after studying law.

Festival director Mervyn Sloman said: “We put an enormous amount of thought into curating the programme, but it is the immense generosity of the participating writers from South Africa and around the world and the engagement of audiences that make the festival special.”

The festival programme inc-luded talks by international and South African writers, poetry, a comics marketplace, panel discussions; book launches, outreach reading initiatives and youth programmes.

The City’s mayoral committee member for tourism, events and economic development, Eddie Andrews, hailed it as an important event for the city.

“The festival not only creates a stage to celebrate South African writers and illustrators, but also draws top international authors who come and share their knowledge and expertise. It creates an atmosphere which stimulates an interest and love of reading among all those who attend,” he said. “We are not only proud to be a supporter of the festival, but the City is also privileged that some of our libraries are a part of the event. Our libraries are more than just spaces to house books and have become true recreation hubs.”