well read - The Bookworm Int' Literary Festival
Written by Karen Martin
The Bookworm International Literary Festival is a unique celebration of literature and ideas in China, with 100 events across three cities – including Beijing – connecting over 70 Chinese and international writers and thinkers.
The Beijing Bookworm – the city’s best-known bookshop – holds its Literary Festival from March 4-18, presenting China’s myriad voices through some of its most vibrant, modern writers. Avid readers flock to the festival at the popular bookshop to meet novelists and poets from across the globe at lively debates or refined literary dinners. Budding authors can hone their skills at inspiring workshops hosted by professionals.
From first-time novelists to veteran reporters, imaginative children’s writers to sci-fi fans, engaging humorists to un-discovered gems – at this year’s festival you’ll hear from some of the world’s leading literary lights from across the globe.
The 2011 programme features book talks, panel discussions on literature, publishing and journalism, writing workshops, literary eats, meet-the-author events, and an extended children’s programme.
This year the festival also introduces the ‘Footnotes’ programme: evening performances of music, comedy, cabaret, theatre, spoken word, storytelling, and lively audience participation of ‘translation slams’, where two translations of a text are dissected.
Participants include the award-winning short-story writer and author of Love Begins in Winter, Simon Van Booy, who shares his wisdom on short story writing, and 2011 Man Asian Literary Prize-nominated Bi Feiyu, who talks about his newly translated and critically acclaimed novel, Three Sisters.
Now in its fifth year, The Bookworm International Literary Festival is hosted across three of China’s most vibrant locations: the political heart of China, Beijing; the romantic canal-driven and 100-gardened Suzhou; and the cultural hub of Sichuan’s sultry capital, Chengdu.
Ranking amongst Hong Kong’s foremost contemporary English-language novelists, Xu Xi is the author of eight books of fiction and essays, including Habit of a Foreign Sky, Evanescent Isles, Overleaf Hong Kong, and The Un-walled City. A Chinese-Indonesian native of Hong Kong, she inhabits the flight path connecting New York, Hong Kong, and the South Island of New Zealand. In March 2010, Xu Xi became the first writer-in-residence at the English department of The City University of Hong Kong. She has received an O. Henry Award, and was shortlisted for the Man Asian Literary Award.
He has written crime thrillers on literary, philosophical, and mathematical themes with fantastic twists. His most famed novel, The Oxford Murders, was written in 2003 and was made into a film. In the same year, he was awarded the Spanish-language Planeta Prize for this novel. It was the first of his novels to be translated into English and was followed by The Book of Murder.
The Singapore School of Villainy (Inspector Singh Investigates)
Inspector Singh is home – and how he wishes he wasn’t. His wife nags him at breakfast and his superiors are whiling away their time by lecturing him. But very soon Singh finds himself heading up an investigation that rips apart the fabric of Singapore society and exposes the rotten core beneath. Perhaps coming home wasn’t such a good idea after all.
The Solitude of Prime Numbers
Choices are made in a few seconds and paid for in the time that remains. A prime number is inherently a solitary thing: it can only be divided by itself, or by one; it never truly fits with another. Alice and Mattia also move on their own axes, alone with their personal tragedies. Can we ever truly be whole when we’re in love with another? DOUBLEDAY
Oil on Water
From the desks of Nigeria’s newsrooms, two journalists are recruited to find the kidnapped wife of a British oil engineer. Zaq, an infamous media hack, knows what’s in store, but Rufus, a keen young journalist eager to get himself noticed, has no idea what he’s let himself in for and soon finds himself acting as intermediary between editor, husband, captive, and soldier.
The Book of Murder
The unnamed narrator of this tense thriller is a young author living under the shadow of Argentine literary superstar Kloster. One day he is confronted by Luciana, Kloster’s one-time secretary who he himself briefly employed a decade ago. Luciana unfolds a tale of how her family have died one by one, blaming her former employer. Is Luciana mad, or is Kloster Latin America’s cleverest serial killer?
Landing in Australia following her redundancy, Ruby plans a quiet stay with her aunt in the Yarra Valley. But a party at the local winery results in an unexpected job offer: financial policy advisor to the Federal Leader of the Opposition. With its light touch and deft comic instincts, Campaign Ruby is a delightful combination of fashion faux pas, and the unexpected fun of federal politics.
Burying The Bones: Pearl Buck in China
Pearl Buck recreated the lives of ordinary Chinese people in The Good Earth, a worldwide bestseller in 1932 that won her the Nobel Prize for Literature. She foresaw China’s future as a superpower long before anyone else, witnessed the first stirrings of Chinese revolution as a teenager, and narrowly escaped being killed herself in the subsequent battles between Communists and Nationalists. She was the child of American missionaries, but she spoke Chinese before she learned English, and took it for granted she was Chinese herself until she was eight years old when the Boxers’ terrorist uprising forced her family to flee for their lives. Flood, famine, drought, bandits, and war formed the background of Pearl’s life in China. Hilary Spurling explores the hair-raising family life, the traumatic disruptions, and revolutionary ferment that shaped Buck’s imagination.
New Beijing Cuisine: A New Look at Classic Chinese Dishes
New Beijing Cuisine takes a new approach to Chinese cooking by considering the cooking traditions of Beijing, and reinventing them in a modern way. Chef Jereme Leung, regarded as one of the pioneers of modern Chinese cuisine, reinterprets traditional Beijing recipes with unique and contemporary presentations that have given the Whampoa Club restaurants their fame today. In recognition of culinary achievements, Jereme was awarded the Five Star Diamond Award by the American Academy of Hospitality Science in 2000 and 2008, ranking him one of the ‘World’s Best Chefs’. He was also the recipient of the highly regarded XO Hennessy Culinary Awards (Malaysia), and was voted ‘Rising Chef of the Year’ at the World Gourmet Summit, Singapore.
March 5, 10am
March 10, 8pm
March 12, 8pm
Slam, Rap, Words
March 14, 10pm
March 15, 10pm
March 17, 10pm
Identity: a performance,