Jewish Literary Festival returns

The inaugural Jewish Literary Festival (JLF) was a smash hit and JLF2018 promises to be even more exciting. Expect a full day brimming with fascinating events for anyone who loves books, Jewish literature, and culture. The whole family can enjoy a day immersed in words, as JLF2018 brings you the best in cultural conversation.
The JLF will showcase more than 100 authors, poets, illustrators, journalists, writers and educators who have a Jewish connection or are engaged with subjects of Jewish interest. The venue is the Gardens Community Centre in Cape Town, home to the acclaimed Jacob Gitlin Library and the Cape Jewish Chronicle, key partners of the JLF.
From 09h00 to 18h00 the various sites comprising the centre will hum with panel discussions, book launches, readings, debates, presentations and book-style activities. More than 45 events will cover a variety of genres, including fiction, food, memoir, politics, scriptwriting, journalism, and the arts.
You can look forward to hearing from, and meeting, a host of talented authors. We’re excited to host such acclaimed authors as Lyndall Gordon, Jennifer Friedman, Stephanie Urdang, Damon Galgut, Mark Gevisser, Rosemund Handler, Eliza Kentridge, Natalie Knight, SJ Naude, Gail Schimmel, Steven Boykey Sidley, Patricia Schonstein, Gail Schimmel, Malcolm Purkey and Mandy Wiener, to name but a few of our exciting line-up. Any of our authors will be more than happy to autograph their books, all of which will be on sale onsite through The Book Lounge, our associated bookseller. Come and enjoy the browsing space and take home some choice and unexpected finds.
A full children’s program is on offer for ages 4–11. Authors, teachers, entertainers and carers will keep the young ones occupied all day with storytelling, workshopping and creative activities. And for the not-so-little ones: this year, we are delighted to be offering a Young Adults track, with inspirational and enticing content facilitated by experts in that genre.
Ticket price includes admission to all sessions, a delicious lunch at Café Riteve, and access to bespoke coffee bars that will be open throughout the day for that brief pause between sessions.
The prog

ramme will be revealed soon and has been designed to appeal to all ages and cover a range of genres. It aims to promote constructive dialogue and discussion in the true spirit of Jewish life without promoting any single political or religious agenda. JLF2018 offers the opportunity to meet an assortment of wordsmiths, make new friends, engage with ideas and pick up some great reads.
Don’t miss it.
The Jewish Literary Festival – For lovers of literature and Jewish life.


Date: Sunday June 17 2018
Venue: Gardens Community Centre, Cape Town
Cost: Adults R275; Teens R100:
Under 12s R85. Ticket prices Include lunch and two drinks vouchers.


Bookings can also be made at the Jacob Gitlin Library

Tel: 021 462 5088.

What a Boykey!

By Jewish Chronicle,

Steven ‘Boykey’ Sidley has played many roles in his adult life: from animator to private equity investor; chief technology officer of a Fortune 500 company to video game designer; jazz saxophone player to cryptocurrency fundi. But, it’s as a writer that he is best known to local audiences.

“I have wanted to write since my mother gave me Roth, Bellow, Updike and Mailer in my teens, and an English teacher encouraged me,” he says. “It took a little longer to gather the necessary chutzpah. Like decades.”

After spending much of his adult life in the USA (“I meandered through corporate boardrooms, which fit nicely into Dante’s version of hell.”), Sidley returned home to South Africa after meeting his wife, Kate, also a writer.

A late starter, in 2012 Sidley published his first novel, Entanglement, to great acclaim (it won the UJ Debut Fiction Award and was shortlisted for the Sunday Times Fiction Prize and the MNet Literary Award) and continued to write three more in quick succession. “I am in a hurry because I started late,” he says. “It usually takes me six months to a year for first draft.”

Stepping Out (2013) was shortlisted for the UJ Main Fiction Award and Imperfect Solo (2014) was longlisted for the Sunday Times Fiction Prize and the French version (Belfond translation) was selected for Le Grand Livre du Mois, France’s most prestigious national literary book club.

As proof of the esteem in which he is held in France, Elle magazine (France) compared him to Philip Roth – “Mortifyingly,” he quips in his trademark self-deprecating way. Sidley’s latest novel, Free Association, was published in 2017 and made it on to The Times Top 10 Books of 2017. Local critics agree that Sidley’s novels are not to be missed. Reviewing Free Association for the Cape Times, Jennifer Crocker wrote: “Sidley hands us a satirical tale of our times that is truly one of the finest books I have read in a long while.” Celebrated author Henrietta Rose-Innes concurs: “Microphone (the US/French title of Free Association) has profound — and profoundly entertaining — things to tell us about love, lies and storytelling in the age of digital celebrity.”

In Free Association we meet US-based Max Lurie, who hosts a podcast on National Podcasting Network. The idea for the novel came from Sidley’s passion for listening to podcasts on a wide variety of topics. “I listen to about three hours of podcasts each day — at gym, in the traffic, anywhere,” he says. “I am obsessive and addicted — every subject, genre, discipline. Sam Harris, the philosopher is current top of my charts. And More Perfect, about the US Supreme Court. And Radiolab. And New Yorker Fiction. And New York Library Podcast. And Skeptics Guide to the Universe. And Planet Money. And a17z. And…”

Max, a narcissist who has never realised his potential, is startled to find his podcast is a runaway success. His life, however, is pretty mundane and so the podcast becomes a blend of fact and fiction, which become hard to distinguish. The book intersperses narrative with podcasts, a clever vehicle that keeps the reader guessing which aspects of the podcasts are true and which are figments of Max’s imagination.

We have a heavenly choir to thank for this and other Sidley novels. “I am not a disciplined writer,” he says. “I write in the gaps, but I do write every single day to not lose a thread. The heavenly choir serenades at unpredictable moments. Then I yell at the third alto, because she is singing flat. Then I walk out in a huff, because they are singing a stupid song with only three chords. Then I put my head in my hands, because they are not risking anything more than barbershop harmonies. And then I grumble because of insufficient representation of minorities. Especially Jews. Then once in a while, everything comes into place and the voices reach for the infinite and I write an absolutely perfect sentence. Or two.”

And Sidley’s writing talents extend beyond the novel. As one of Daily Maverick’s Opinionistas he writes political analysis on topics ranging from ‘Julius Malema post Nasrec’ to ‘Are (white people) still welcome here?’. His most recent, ‘The New Order in SA: The world’s shortest political honeymoon’, assesses the first few weeks of Ramaphosa’s presidency with refreshing honesty. He is also a very thorough book reviewer, one of a few whose reviews are as lovely to read as the books they describe.

In an interview for South African Country Life Boykey told Nancy Richards, who will be back as a moderator for JLF2018, that he was unlikely to produce his own podcast one day: “Not sure I would be any good.” We beg to differ. It seems this polymath can do anything he puts his mind to.

Steven Boykey Sidley will present at JLF2018 both as a novelist and a political analyst.