Tickets on Sale Now! The Bookworm’s 8th Annual Literary Festival: March 7-21
A celebration of literature and ideas, The Bookworm’s Annual Literary Festival (BLF) is a two-week festival bringing together both Chinese and international writers, thinkers, and artists for more than 300 fantastic events across 8 cities in China for a 2-week program of book talks, panel discussions, writing workshops, stand-up comedy and performances.
Not only is this a rare opportunity to get introduced to a carefully selected collection of great books that you should start adding to your home library, this is also a chance to meet your favorite authors, engage in panel discussions and debates (diving into the latest issues facing the environment, urbanization, social media, healthcare, economics, civil society, arts, politics, international relations and regional security), sign up for some useful writing workshops (novel writing, pitching to the press, travel writing), and also a chance to get your kids excited about writing and reading with The Bookworm’s Children’s Program. I’m most excited about their fringe events bringing music, comedy, improv and screenings to the festival dynamic.
A program as diverse as ever, this festival’s eclectic range of events will certainly please people of all ages, backgrounds and interests.
“We are extremely excited to be welcoming such a host of literary talent to China. We believe in the power of literature. Literature challenges us to understand the world outside ourselves by introducing new perspectives and changing paradigms. We’ve created BLF to be a forum for literature, thought and debate – fundamentals of a progressive society. Literature is an ongoing, live, global discussion and BLF is proud to be a part of that discussion.” – The Bookworm
An independently funded festival, BLF brings over novelists, poets, short fiction writers, screenwriters, non-fiction scribes and academics to discuss, analyze and debate from more than 25 different countries.
“Starting with a small team passionate about literature, BLF has grown to become one of the world’s most prestigious literary festivals. Through our expertise and ever expanding connections, we will bring more authors, thinkers and intellectuals to events throughout China, as well as provide an even greater platform to showcase Chinese authors to the world.”
With over 90 events across 15 days, the difficulty lies in how on Earth you digest all the events on offer and decide which events to attend.
Worried many would feel as overwhelmed with choice as I do, I’ve asked Festival Program Manager Tom Baxter to take a few minutes out of his manic schedule to share his top 10 “must-see” events for this year’s 8th annual festival.
Festival Program Manager Tom Baxter’s Top 10 Picks:
1. David Vann in Conversation, Sunday 9th 4pm
Event Description: For 12 years David Vann’s novel, Legend of a Suicide, was turned down by publishers. When it was finally published in 2008 it met with enormous critical acclaim and has now received a total of ten literary prizes from around the world. Based on his turbulent and troubled experiences as a child in Alaska, Vann’s writing has a raw tone and a cathartic purpose. In coming to terms with his own life experiences through writing, Vann has written some of the most beautiful passages in modern literature. Join us as David Vann talks about his reasons for writing, his struggle to get published and his most recent novel, Goat Mountain.
In Tom’s Words: Simply put – David Vann is a superb writer. Last year I read Legend of a Suicide, his first novel, and was blown away by its intricate plot development, dark and brooding atmosphere, and lyrical style.
2. Sjon in Conversation, Tuesday 18th 6pm
Event Description: Iceland’s multi-talented and prolific novelist, poet and song writer will talk to us about the inspiration he draws from traditional folk tales, the importance of the magical and surreal in contemporary literature and his experiences collaborating with Björk in music and film. Sjón will also speak of his attachment to the Icelandic language. Expect to hear wit and wisdom from this lyrical artist and deep thinker.
In Tom’s Words: Iceland is a country rich in literary tradition, and yet its contemporary writers are very little known. Sjon is one of the country’s most prolific writers. He is even a long time collaborator with Bjork!
3. Between Clay and Dust, Saturday 8th 4pm
Event Description: “Nobody expected that in Partition’s wake would follow a slow disintegration of values that would unravel the inner city”
Musharraf Ali Farooqi’s Man Asian short-listed novel, Between Clay and Dust, is a story of traditional Pakistani roles and institutions at the interface of modernity. As the impact of Partition ripples through the country, a quiet and melancholy decaying of tradition ubiquitously seeps through the town and its society. This forms the backdrop, and infiltrates a subtle and delicate love story between Ustad Ramzi, the head of the traditional akhara wrestlers’ guild, and Gohar Jan, a member of the tawaif institution of courtesans. Farooqi will discuss with Bidisha this sensitive and intelligent novel, which took him over a decade to write.
In Tom’s Words: Between Clay and Dust, by Canadian-Pakistani author Musharraf Ali Farooqi, is one of my favourite pieces of South Asian writing for many years. It is a beautifully subtle tragic story of family tensions against the backdrop of a changing, post-Partition sub-Continent.
4. Chasing Modernity, Wednesday 12th 6pm
Event Description: The two Man Asian-listed authors, Anjum Hasan, from India, and Sheng Keyi, from China, have both written about the lives of ordinary people from ordinary backgrounds chasing after dreams and confronting the often brutal reality of modernity in their respective countries. Tonight they will discuss the similarities and the differences of these tales of change and hope from two sides of this dynamic, transforming continent.
In Tom’s Words: In this event, two Man Asian short listed authors, Sheng Keyi from China and Anjum Hasan from India, will discuss their tales of the contemporary reality of these two enormous, dynamic and culturally rich nations.
5. Literature and the City, Tuesday 11th 6pm
Event Description: From the Southern farmsteads of William Faulkner to the blackened smoke stacks of Dickens’ London, writers have always responded to and been influenced by the environment around them. The 21st century will be the era of the urban. Already, over 50% of the world’s population live in urban environments and here in China the process of urbanisation is happening at breakneck speed. How will the authors of today respond to, and how will their work be shaped by, these rapidly growing new environments? Indian novelist and poet, Anjum Hasan, Brazilian author Cristóvão Tezza, prominent Chinese writer Mu Rong, and Slovak novelist Peter Krištúfek will discuss and speculate on this topic of massive importance to society, art and literature.
This event is brought to you by Rockwater Systems.
In Tom’s Words: Urbanisation is perhaps the big story of our generation. What I’m curious about is how literature from around the world is confronting this radical change in the materiality of everyone’s lives.
6. SPOTLIGHT | South Asian Literature, Friday 14th 6pm
Event Description: With a track record of success in global awards such as the Man Asian, Man Booker and even the Nobel Literature Prize, writers from south Asia have established themselves as heavyweights in world literature. On this panel Indian and Pakistani writers will explore the keys to south Asian literary success and discuss if the sub-continent is likely to maintain, if not develop, this vibrant literary scene. Speakers: Anjum Hasan, HM Naqvi and Musharraf Ali Farooqi, with Zac O’Yeah
In Tom’s Words: The three countries of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh are renowned as a hot bed of contemporary literature. So I can’t wait to hear a panel of acclaimed south Asian writers talk about this scene and its prospects for the future.
7. After the Revolution: How Literature Confronts Political Turmoil, Sunday 16th 6pm
Event Description: Throughout its history, literature has always responded creatively to states of political crisis and turmoil. This literature is also useful in helping us to understand times of violence and times of madness, when order is upturned. The Haitian novelist Dany Laferrière has written about race and life in his tumultuous homeland. His recent novels Heading South and The Enigma of the Return both examine life under the brutal regime of dictator ‘Baby Doc’ Duvalier. Santiago Roncagliolo is a Peruvian author whose award-winning Red April is set against the backdrop of the bloody Shining Path Maoist insurgency. The two will discuss how literature has confronted such events in their home countries and elsewhere.
In Tom’s Words: How literature and politics intersect is a question which fascinates me. In this event the Peruvian author Santiago Roncagliolo and the Haitian novelist Dany Laferrière will discuss precisely this. Both come from countries ravaged by the tragedies of political conflicts and both address such issues in their writing. This is a serious topic, and one I am very much looking forward to discussing.
8. Changing Patronage, Changing Art, Sunday 16th 1200
Event Description: In the 1990s, emerging from behind the curtain of communism, contemporary Chinese art rocked the international art scene. With its radical expressions of dissent, Chinese art found a place in the hearts of Western art enthusiasts and collectors. After two decades of this perfect match, however, the influences on Chinese contemporary art are beginning to change. With a waning international market and a booming domestic market, a new, internal audience for Chinese art is impacting on what this art is. Tom Pattinson, Phil Tinari, the Director of 798′s UCCA, and curator and critic Karen Smith will discuss how this changing patronage is changing the face of Chinese contemporary art.
In Tom’s Words: Contemporary Chinese art has found a hungry audience across the globe for decades. But the influences which shape this art are changing as China herself changes. In this discussion, four renowned curators and art critics will discuss what next for China’s infamous art scene.
By Hua Jiming 华继明, Title: 艳俗艺术, See details on SURGE Art Website
9. To the Arctic, Wednesday 19th, 8pm (in iQiYi)
Event Description: Canadian biologist, historian and filmmaker, David Gray, will share his experiences of 45 years of Arctic studies with a presentation on the 1913-1918 Canadian Arctic Expedition. This talk will include a 20-minute film on his own 2013 expedition to retrace the steps of the CAE on Banks Island in the Canadian Arctic. The film will include archival images from 100 years ago, as well as some unexpected challenges of travel in today’s Arctic, and interviews with descendants of the expedition members. David will discuss the wildlife, people and history of the Canadian Arctic in a Q&A after the presentation.
In Tom’s Words: David Grey is a documentary film maker who has accompanied numerous expeditions to the Canadian Arctic. In this event he is going to be showing some footage from these expeditions and answer audience questions on his experiences.
10. House of the Deaf Man, Wednesday 12th 8pm (in iQiYi)
Event Description: Three times nominated for the Anasoft Literature Prize, Slovakia’s most prestigious literature prize, and listed for the EU Prize for Literature, Peter Krištúfek is fast gaining the reputation as a heavyweight on the contemporary European literary scene. This year will see his most recent novel, House of a Deaf Man, translated into English. Join us this evening to hear this important author read from the forthcoming translation and discuss this and his other works.
In Tom’s Words: This is the hidden gem in the festival calendar. Although a lively, bustling scene, the literature of Slovakia and other central and eastern European countries rarely makes it on to most of our literary radars. BLF offers a chance to amend this flaw with a reading from and in conversation with one of eastern Europe’s most exciting young voices, Peter Kristufek.
For a full list of The Bookworm’s Literary Festival Authors, see here. For full list of BLF events, see here.
Last year, certain events were sold out within days of tickets being released. Hurry as tickets are going fast!
All Literary Festival Events at The Bookworm include a complimentary beer, glass of wine or soft drink. Tickets are sold exclusively at The Bookworm and must be purchased in person. Doors open about 15 minutes before event starting time and everyone entering an event must have a ticket.
If you are interested in getting involved with BLF, email Liz or more information on volunteer opportunities.
The Bookworm’s Literary Festival Event Details:
Date: Friday, March 7- Friday, March 21 (2 weeks)
Tickets: Exclusively sold at The Bookworm (Tickets range from RMB 65-80, children’s events RMB 50 and workshops RMB 250)
Location: The Bookworm
Address: Sanlitun Nanjie, 三里屯南街4号楼
Tel: 6503 2050