Pulp Fiction At Open Book

Posted: 22 October 2013
Category: Features
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The backdrop of many of this year's Open Book Festival events featured an installation of nearly 25 000 books, split over multiple venues, that were subsequently donated to libraries, courtesy of Granta Books in the UK.

Each year hundreds of thousands (possibly even more) of unsold books are pulped by publishers all over the world. Due to the efforts of Mervyn Sloman, one of the organisers of the Open Book Festival and the owner of The Book Lounge, an independent book store in Cape Town, Granta Books in the UK agreed to donate 24 496 of its unsold books to South African schools and libraries this year, as part of the Open Book Festival. The project was aptly named Pulp Fiction.

Granta Books also generously covered the costs of shipping all the books to Cape Town, which were then assembled as temporary installations and furniture - conceptualised by Stuart Cairns of The Book Lounge - around the various festival venues for the five days of the Open Book Festival.

The mini installations in each room formed an amazing backdrop to a number of events that helped to set a warm, bookish atmosphere and added light, colour, and texture to the festival. The books also served to anchor the various venues together so that they formed a themed whole, even though they were in multiple buildings.

The following collection of photographs showcases some of the spaces that were enhanced temporarily by the installations during the 2013 Open Book Festival.

The Fugard Theatre Main Auditorium
Pulp Fiction: The Fugard Theatre

The Fugard Theatre Main Auditorium, the main theatre in The Fugard Theatre complex and the central point for events during the festival, is in the middle of its run of The Rocky Horror Show so the stage was permanently set up with the show's scenery and set design.

For this reason the festival organisers couldn't install anything too complicated in the theatre but they did build a table from books that was used during multiple events, such as the Writer Sports 2 event, which featured (picture in the foreground above) Western Cape Premier Helen Zille, author Imraan Coovadia, and author and comedian Marianne Thamm.

Pulp Fiction: The Fugard Theatre

The Rocky Horror Show's presence really helped to enrich the atmosphere in the theatre, however, which was particularly relevant during the Fox & Raven: Readings From The Dark Side event, in which authors read one of their macabre short stories or horror-filled excerpts from their novels.

Pictured above is Something Wicked's Joe Vaz with authors SA Partridge, Cat Hellisen, Sarah Lotz, Will Storr, Lauren Beukes, and Songeziwe Mahlangu, each of whom took a turn to gross out the audience in the most entertaining manner.

The Fugard Annexe 1
Pulp Fiction: The Fugard Annexe 1

The Fugard Annexe comprises two venues but I only had a chance to sit in on one presentation, in annexe 1, during the festival as my attention for most of the five days was on the comics festival.

This event was titled The Shining Boys and was MCed by Lauren Beukes, author of The Shining Girls. It featured Charlie Human (left), author of Apocalypse Now Now, and Alex Latimer, author of The Space Race talking about their new speculative-fiction novels and their writing processes.

The Fugard Theatre Foyer
Pulp Fiction: The Fugard Theatre Foyer

Even the foyer of The Fugard Theatre received an installation treatment. It was difficult to photograph most of it as the room was always packed but the bar areas, such as the one above, had books temporarily incorporated into them and The Book Lounge's mini store in the foyer was built partly out of books too.

Pulp Fiction: The Fugard Theatre Foyer

Above is a section of the long sales area that formed part of The Book Lounge's mini store. If you look carefully you can see that the books for sale are all resting on a "table" of donated books.

The Fugard Studio
Pulp Fiction

Probably the most breathtaking of the installations was the one that formed the backdrop to the Fugard Studio, which is already a magnificent setting as it's set in a converted congregational hall.

It lent itself particularly well to large events such as Writer Sports 1, pictured above, which featured authors Gareth Crocker, Will Storr, Lauren Beukes, Niq Mhlongo, Imraan Coovadia, Sarah Lotz, and Fiona Snyckers writing short stories based on themes and settings chosen by the audience. With them are Mervyn Sloman, of The Book Lounge, and Ben Williams of BOOKS Live.

Pulp Fiction: The Fugard Studio

Thousands of books were stacked high against the back wall of The Fugard Studio.

Pulp Fiction: The Fugard Studio

Smaller events, such as Cityscapes Live: Lagos, a discussion with author Teju Cole, were equally at home in the beautiful environment created in The Fugard Studio.

After the five-day festival had concluded the Pulp Fiction installation was sadly, but unavoidably, disassembled but, happily, librarians from all over the country were then invited to take the books to add to their libraries. Granta Books' generous donation will be helping to foster literacy in this country, which we desperately need, and the Pulp Fiction project is a great legacy for the Open Book festival.

Tags: #arts_and_culture, #books, #cape_town, #lauren_beukes, #open_book, #team_scripticon

On The Internet
Open Book Festival: Official Site, Facebook, Twitter
The Fugard Theatre: Official Site, Facebook, Twitter
Granta Books: Official Site

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