The Role of Literature in Contemporary Life

Edinburgh International Book Festival and the British Council are working together in partnership to engage UK authors and thinkers with writers and people around the world.

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the World Writers’ Conference in 1962, the Edinburgh International Book Festival, in partnership with the British Council, has recently hosted the Edinburgh World Writers’ Conference, bringing together fifty leading writers from across the world to debate the original topics from 1962.  The five conference sessions are available online.

From September, there will be follow-up satellite conferences in fourteen different countries, giving writers across the world a chance to add to the growing debate about writing and its relationship to contemporary life.

Open Book Cape Town is hosting the second satellite conference, in partnership with the British Council South Africa, and there will be three sessions, each reflecting one of the topics discussed at the conference in 1962 and recently in Edinburgh; ‘Should Literature be Political?’ with South African writers Antjie Krog and Njabulo Ndebele, ‘Censorship Today’ with Scottish writer Keith Gray, and ‘A National Literature’ with UK based writer Anjali Joseph giving the keynote addresses.


Each session will open with a keynote address and a contextual reflection on the Edinburgh discussions, after which the event will be opened to the floor. This represents an opportunity for the South African literary community in general, and writers in particular, to bring a South African voice to the international discussion about literature today.

With South Africa having recently celebrated National Book Week, the timing of the Open Book Cape Town festival is ideal.  Giving everyone an opportunity to exchange ideas and views on these topics, the conference will be open to both delegates and a public audience – please RSVP to avoid disappointment.

  • Thursday 20 September 3pm to 5pm at the Fugard Theatre – Censorship Today – keynote address by Scottish writer Keith Gray
  • Thursday 20 September 6pm to 8pm at the Fugard Theatre – Should Literature be Political? – keynoteaddresses by Antjie Krog and Njabulo Ndebele
  • Friday 21 September 3.30pm to 5.30pm at the Fugard Theatre – A National Literature – keynote address by UK based writer Anjali Joseph

For more information AND to RSVP please contact conference co-ordinator: gail.learmont@britishcouncil.org

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