Book lovers come together at the Jewish Literary Festival

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Hayley Rubin, Susan Sherman and Nadine Gottlieb

A relative newcomer to the South African book festival circuit, the Jewish Literary Festival put on its second event in two years on 17 June 2018.

And after two years of planning it did not disappoint with its packed programme and slick organisation. Following the inaugural event, which saw over 60 presenters grace the 7 venues, this year saw an increase in both visitor and presenter numbers with a whopping 650 registered visitors and 110 presenters on the bill. Despite coinciding with Father’s Day, this year’s event, like the last one, sold out days before.

Writers on the bill included Rahla Xenopoulos, whose latest book, The Season of Glass is pitted to become the great South African Jewish novel and journalist Gus Silber, whose session: Funny you should mention it! explored the Jewish thread in South African humour and had the audience in fits of laughter as we journeyed through the shticks of South African comedians from Pip Freedman to Nik Rabinowitz.

Other South African Jewish writers who presented on the day were Stephanie Urdang, Lyndall Gordon, Steven Boykey Sidley, Gail Schimmel and MJ Honikman.

By the end of the day, after attending a record 72 sessions in the festival’s nine venues, including a pop-up Book Lounge, run by the Roeland Street shop’s owner, Mervyn Sloman, the tired and inspired audience left the Gardens Community Centre in the driving rain, which thankfully held off until the final hour. All in all, a good day for South African literature, the Jewish community and a rain-thirsty city.

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