The Festival which will be held at the UNESCO world heritage site in George Town, Penang will host 15 writers from Scotland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Ghana/UK, India, Indonesia, Singapore, Australia and Malaysia who will engage on the theme, ‘Voyages. Hopes. Dreams’.
This year’s festival will see Malaysian writer Tan Twan Eng return to share his voyage, hopes and dreams as a writer. The Penang born author’s The Garden of Evening Mists is one of the six nominees for the prestigious Booker Prize 2012- the first Malaysian writer to be short-listed for one of the most prestigious literary prizes in English. Twan Eng was longlisted for the prize in 2007 with his debut novel, The Gift of Rain.
The inaugural festival began in 2011 with five internationally recognised Malaysian writers who explored the theme ‘History and Heritage – Where Are Our Stories?’ “Encouraged by last year’s response which showed that Penang was more than ready for a festival which celebrates writers, the festival this year is three times bigger than last year.
The theme this year is a continuation of last year’s and seeks to appreciate the many cultural diasporas in the region and beyond, and the stories that were inspired,” said Festival Curator Bernice Chauly.
Other acclaimed international writers attending the festival include:
David Van Reybrouck, one of Belgium’s leading political commentators and winner of several prestigious literary prizes. His book Congo - A History is one of the most celebrated books in Dutch letters in recent years.
Rana Dasgupta, winner of the 2010 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for his novel Solo. Born in England, he now lives in Delhi. His first novel Tokyo Cancelled was shortlised for the John Llewelyn Rhys Prize.
Linda Christanty, Indonesian writer, activist and journalist who has won Indonesia’s top literary award, The Khatulistiwa Award, twice in 2004 and 2010. In 2012 she was a nominee of N-Peace Awards, Role Models for Peace, an award given to champions of peace in the region.
Ng Yi-Sheng, Singaporean poet, playwright, journalist, critic and fiction writer and the youngest-ever recipient of the Singapore Literature Prize.
Among the Malaysian writers is National Laureate A. Samad Said, reknowned writer/poet who is one of the most prolific writers in Bahasa Malaysia and recipient of the region’s top literary awards. Other Malaysian writers include Chiew-Siah Tei, Dina Zaman,Shivani Sivagurunathan and Malaysian-Australian rapper/poet Omar Musa.
Others attending the festival are Judith Uyterlinde and Reggie Baay from the Netherlands, Nii Ayikwey Parkes from Ghana (residing in London), Andrew Greig from Scotland and writer/playwright Alfian Sa’at from Singapore.
One of the more interesting events in this year’s festival will be Wayang Kata VIII, a spoken word/poetry event which will feature the diversity of Penang’s many cultures through expat and local poets who will perform in English, Bahasa Malaysia, Hokkien, Tamil, Thai and Burmese.
Music enthusiasts can look forward to a blend of reggae, blues, folk and jazz performances by Az Samad, Isaac Entry, Jerome Kugan and Mei Chern.
The moderators for this year’s festival include a stellar line-up of Malaysian writers and literary critics who include Rehman Rashid, Farish Ahmad Noor, Sharaad Kuttan, Sharon Bakar, Amir Muhammad, Kam Raslan, Umapagan Ampikaipakan and Jasmine Low.
The festival will feature 20 free events which include readings and panel discussions, book launches, a poetry workshop with local schoolchildren, a ‘rant’ and spoken word/poetry event and live music.
The George Town Literary Festival 2012 is funded by the Penang State Government, presented by Penang Global Tourism and supported by Hotel Penaga, ChinaHouse, Studio@Straits, Sekeping Victoria, British Council, Firefly, BFM 89.9 and Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. It is also organised in partnership with Writers Unlimited, the International Literary Festival of the Hague, Netherlands.
All events are FREE of charge. There will also be an Alternative Bookfair featuring local publishers and distributors Gerakbudaya, Areca Books, The Penang Bookshelf, Matahari Books and Fixi.
The festival venues include ChinaHouse, Studio@Straits and Sekeping Victoria, all within walking distance of the historic city of George Town, Penang.
More information on the George Town Literary Festival 2012 can be obtained from:
Tel: +604 264 3456