Wednesday 5 March 2014

Shanghai International Literary Festival

The Shanghai International Literary Festival starts today, Wednesday 5 March, and runs through until Friday 21 March, with events taking place at the restaurant, M on the Bund

After a quick glance down the programme, I picked a few probable highlights:

On Saturday March 8, David Pilling, the Financial Times’ Asia Editor will discuss his new book Bending Adversity: Japan and the Art of Survival. This presents a fresh vision of Japan, revealing its vulnerabilities and resistance in cycles of crisis and reconstruction from the 2011 triple disaster of earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown through the so-called lost decades, after 1990.

On Thursday 13 March, in Of Kings & Moghuls, Xanadu & Djinns, William Dalrymple, the award-winner writer, will discuss the British invasion of Afghanistan in 1839, and share his tales of walking in the footsteps of Marco Polo in the 1990s.

On Sunday 16 Catherine Chung, author of Forgotten Country, a novel about a Korean family in America, North and South Korea, sibling rivalry and bonds, secrets and questions, will take part in Non-Native Speaker-Writing from Another Tongue. Chung’s first language is Korean, and she will discuss what it means to be a native speaker, and the strangeness and complicated power of writing an immigrant's story from a language that is not your first.

Since the Festival venue is a restaurant, there will be several food and wine writers participating, and lashings of fine wining and dining, including a series of mouthwatering literary lunches. To mark International Women's Day, which is this Saturday, March 8, there will be a lunch, on 7th, to discuss women's writing. What is it?  And does this question matter? Singaporean author Shamini Flint  will be one of the guests. 

Of the other literary lunches, Writing China: Journalism, Fiction & History, on Monday 17, looks interesting - it will explore how writers engage with China via three different approaches.  Indian author Mishi Saran is to be one of the panelists.

There are a variety of workshops on offer, including Getting Started, Getting Finished, in which S.J. Rozan, the award-winning author of 13 novels and the leader of a popular summer writing workshop, will take authors through the essentials of beginning and ending their books – and presumably writing the middle bit too.

There are children’s days, poetry sessions, art workshops, and debates. There’s even an event around an erotic fiction competition, at which, according to the Festival’s website, finalists will read their “saucy” stories, and the bar will serve “sexy” drinks – all in a good cause as there will be a raffle for charity.  

If you happen to be attending the Shanghai Literary Festival do please post with your comments – or even write a full post, if you feel so moved.  You can e-mail it to me at, and I’ll put it up on the site.