It was the night of South Africa's legendary stars of literature and a night when James Matthews walked with a bounce that seemed to inflate and elongate his naturally small frame.
It was also a night when the imposingly tall Ronnie Govender oozed humour and when Gladys Thomas overflowed with almost sensual nostalgia.
And though taken by surprise when he was asked to read his contribution, Dennis Brutus also lived up to expectation.
The four shone during the first in a series of launches of Band of Troubadours in Cape Town at the weekend.
The book is a collection of writing by some of the winners of the yearly SA Literary Award (Sala), which honours the country's emerging and established literary greats.
The book was launched on Sunday at the Marimba Restaurant at the Cape Town Convention Centre as part of the Cape Town International Book Fair.
Samples of Matthews, Govender , Thomas and Brutus' work as well as that of 39 Sala recipients since 2005 are on offer in Band of Troubadours.
The four award-winning greats read excerpts of their work to applause from adoring fans. Signs are that the book will fly off the shelves in August.
Band of Troubadours flows from the yearly Sala, a crucial nation-building project of wRite Associates, the Arts and Culture Department, the SABC, Sowetan and Nutrend Publishing, which was launched in 2005.
It seeks to promote a healthy culture of reading and writing among South Africans. Deserving winners are awarded:
lThe K Sello Duiker Memorial Award;
lThe Nadine Gordimer Short Story Award;
lThe SA Literary Award Literary Posthumous Award;
lThe Literary Achievement Award;
l The Sowetan and SABC Literary Journalism awards for print, radio and journalism.