not literal

Global Times | 2013-3-5 20:43:01 
By Hannah Leung

When thinking of
literary festivals, images of star-struck fans, sold-out performances, acoustic
sets and comedy shows may not immediately register. But this year's Bookworm
Literary Festival (BLF), running from March 8 to 22, promises to be anything
but perfunctory, bringing an impressive and international mix of collaborations
to the capital. 

The 2013 opening party for the BLF will kick off Friday at 7 pm at the
Bookworm, featuring author Lionel Shriver – the name behind Orange
Prize-winner We Need to Talk About Kevin and more
recently The New Republic, followed by a performance by American
indie-folk-pop musician Joe Gil. 

Since its beginnings in 2007, the nationwide festival has tweaked and added
more to the mix; this year welcomes 80 authors from 18 countries.

What's new 

Chen Mengfei, program assistant and media liaison of the BLF, says the big
change in this year's festival is the larger Chinese program. The festival on
wheels will hit Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, Suzhou, Ningbo, Chengdu and
Chongqing, featuring readings, performance poetry, panels and discussions for
Chinese audiences, all for free. 

“The BLF is an English language festival … but a lot of what we do is
about engagement, introducing foreign authors to Chinese audiences, and vice
versa. Interesting things happen when you have the Chinese and international
mix,” said Kadi Hughes, director of BLF. 

Hughes added that one of the main focuses of the BLF was partnering with
interesting people to ensure it reached broad demographic across age and
nationality. “Literature is something for everyone … sometimes people
think only a certain type of person will go to a book talk, but there's a lot
of diversity,” said Hughes.  

While every expat learns the whereabouts of the Bookworm shortly after settling
down in Beijing, the store is still something new for many locals. Cherry Yu is
an Anhui Province native and first-time volunteer at this year's festival. She
said that among her Chinese colleagues at a foreign enterprise in Beijing, only
a handful know about the festival.  

“I registered to sign up for their newsletter, and when I saw the
newsletter calling for volunteers this year, I thought it would be a good
chance to get involved,” she said. 

Two other new events this year are the Future Perfect panel, which discusses
the future of the society, and the Big Questions series, which will gather
thinkers. The program this year includes different artistic programs such as
comedy and plays, to draw on Beijing's vibrant artistic space.


The process of choosing the writers for the festival is a yearlong effort,
beginning from the end of the last BLF. 

“From May to November, it's a constant process. We put together a
wish-list of people and around November, invitations go out. It's a long
process, because people have to be able to make it here,” said Chen. 

This year features with many established authors, like Lionel Shriver, in
conversation with debut writers like Sifiso Mzobe and Chinese figures. Hu Yong,
a popular social media critic, for example, will be participating in a panel
about social media alongside Duncan Hewitt, author of Get Rich First. 

“This is really a nationwide festival,” Hughes emphasizes.
“After seven years, we're lucky that we have a great reputation and
writers want to [participate]. We see what other festivals do and tweak

For the selection of the Chinese authors, the Bookworm works closely with Paper
Republic and Pathlight magazine. All talks at the Bookworm will be in English;
authors that don't speak English will have a translator.

“It's good to see authors speak because their writing might come across
one way, and speaking another,” said Hughes. 

Tickets are available for purchase at the Bookworm, from 9 am to 9 pm. For a
full list of events, visit

Metro Beijing picks of the BLF: 

Songwriting with Joe Gil @ Atelier

Folk pop musician Joe Gil will hold a workshop on the art of constructing
lyrics and melodies. 

When: Noon, Saturday, March 9

Where: Room 202, Bldg. 3, Jinxiu Yuan, Xingfucun Zhonglu, Chaoyang disctrict

Tickets: 280 yuan

Future Perfect:
China 3.0 @ The Bookworm

What's the future look like for those who want to do business in China? David
Wolf of consulting group Wolf Asia, Arthur Kroeber of Dragonomics and Cao
Haili, Chief Editor of The New York Times Chinese, discuss challenges and payoffs. 

When: Noon, Sunday, March 10 

Where: No.4 Sanlitun Nanlu, Chaoyang district

Tickets: 100 yuan

CJ Bowerbird: a
Performance @ The Bookworm

Watch CJ Bowerbird, winner of the 2012 Australian National Slam Championship,
in action. 

When: 8 pm, Saturday, March 16

Tickets: 65 yuan

Fantastical Tales:
Talking Science Fiction with Karin Tidbeck @ The Bookworm

Swedish Tidbeck and Chinese Fei Dao discuss the reality of fantasy. 

When: 5 pm, Monday, March 22

Tickets: 65 yuan

Queer Voices in
Literature: Justin Torres & Jacek Dehnel @ Colibri

American Justin Torres, author of We the Animals and Polish poet Jacek Dehnel
discuss the issues of being a gay author and a queer voice in literature. 

When: 11:30 am, Monday, March 18 

Where: LG51, The Village North, No.11 Sanlitun Lu, Chaoyang distrcit

Tickets: 65 yuan




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