South Africa – Guest of Honour at the Gothenburg Book Fair 2020

The South African Story

South Africa is the honorary guest and theme country for the 2020 Book Fair. The country’s literature and current societal issues will be reflected in seminars, dialogues on the Fair premises and in poetic performances. The theme initiative will showcase today’s stories from a country with a rich culture and eleven official languages.

Sweden has had strong ties to South Africa, which stretch back to its political and humanitarian support in the struggle against apartheid in the 1960s.

The country is now entering its third decade of democracy. How is the rainbow nation – a concept coined by Desmond Tutu after the fall of apartheid – doing today? The country has one of the strongest economies in Africa, a free media climate that is unique for the continent and exceptional literary talent. At the same time, inequality and segregation are still great societal problems. There is also, just like in Sweden, a need to improve the culture of reading and writing in the country. As Nelson Mandela once said: A reading nation is a successful nation.

Collaborating partners are the National Library of South Africa and South Africa’s Department of Arts and Culture. The program will be designed together with organisations from the civil sector, among them Olof Palme Center and the Swedish Church.