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Authors tune up for festival
By Lu Feiran

A potpourri of topics ranging from insights into old and modern China, international politics and media, to discus- sions about film, wine, travel, music and architecture are on the menu at this year’s Shanghai International Literary Festival which opens tomorrow.

The event will go through November 8.Hosted since 2003 by res- taurant entrepreneur Michelle Garnaut of M on the Bund, the annual festival has expanded to Beijing and established an international reputation in literary circles beyond the country.

This year’s guests-of-honor include James Areddy, a Wall Street Journal correspondent, Musa Okwonga, a poet and journalist for ESPN, Xiao Bai, a Shanghai writer, and Professor Daniel Bell.

“There are so many high- lights that make it one of
the most significant literary events on the calendar,” said Garnaut, festival sponsor and organizer.

Discussion of social issues has been introduced into this year’s panels. Speakers will spruce their views on gender inequality and Western me- dia’s attitudes to China.

There will be a special session on Monday in which journalists, including James Areddy and Duncan Hewitt, ad- dress Western media’s attitudes toward China and if the foreign press are tough enough. They will discuss whether

Western media highlight abuses and environmental disasters while ignoring more positive stories about econom- ic development and poverty reduction.

The issue of gender in- equality in China will also be discussed. Leta Hong Fincher, a United States author, will talk about her research on “leftover women,” a group of young women who remain single at their marriageable ages.

Her book, “Women: The Resurgence of Gender Inequal- ity in China” published last year, was named one of the Top 5 books on China by the Asia Society’s China File, one of the best foreign policy books by FPInterrupted, and one of the best Asian books by Asia House.

While previous literary festivals have basically fo- cused on China, international issues will also be discussed this year from writers’ per- spectives. The neighboring Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is expected to draw attention.

Matjač Tančič, a Solvenian photographer, will share his views about the DPRK as expe- rienced through his ongoing project “3DPRK.”

Tančič is an expert in using series of images to tell a story and is winner of the 2013 Sony World Photography Organiza- tion contest in the 3D category. 屏幕快照 2015-11-02 下午4.13.06.png

He won the 2012 Slovenia Press Photo award in the Nature category and in 2009 was among six finalists for the Google Photography Prize. Tančič will also participate in a North Korea panel this Sunday to discuss outsider perspectives of the country. Other participants will be Simon Cockerell, a British author who has made nearly 150 visits to the DPRK, and James Pearson, a foreign correspondent for Thomson Reuters news agency in Seoul.

German-based Musa Okwonga is expected to be a star of the festival.
As a writer, he is full of stories about multiple identities: he is a poet, musi- cian and soccer writer. As the son of refugees from Idi Amin’s Uganda, and a scholarship student at Eton College, he studied law at Oxford University be- fore leaving a career as a City-trained lawyer to become a poet.

Apart from hosting a workshop on poetry writing and a panel on talking and writing about soccer, Okwonga will also present the live show “Glam SLAM Poetry” on the night of November 6.

Australian-born social anthropolo- gist Robyn Davidson will be sharing the story of her epic trek through the deserts of Western Australia with four camels and a dog. She will present clips from the movie, “Tracks,” based on her book of the same name. She will also share her insights into the no- madic communities she met and lived with during the expedition.

“Tracks” was an international best- seller, ringing the tills on sales of more than a million copies in 18 languages and winning various awards. She is the first, and still only, woman to have won the Thomas Cook Travel Book Award.

Chinese writers also will share their views on the development of Shanghai and China. Xiao Bai will talk about his book “French Concession” which is set in an era when those who came to Shanghai unwittingly found them- selves on stage. The book features people who thought of themselves as mere spectators, but soon became ac- tive participants in the city.

Cai Jindong, conductor and music director of the Stanford Symphony Orchestra, will share the story about how he heard Beethoven for the first time during the Cultural Revolution (1966-76) and thus how the composer became an icon in modern China.

“I’m excited that the festival has become a platform for writers to ex- change ideas,” said Garnaut. “It started from something small, but it has now gained influence. Writers are always influential anyway, as they cause people to think and to care.”

Date: October 31-November 8
Venue: M on the Bund (7/F, No.5 The Bund, corner of Guangdong Rd)
All panel sessions: 75 yuan, including a drink Workshops: 120 yuan, including coffee or tea
Literary lunches: 120 yuan, including a lunch box and coffee or tea
Children and student tickets: 35 yuan, only available at the door.
Tickets available at www.mypiao.com or can be purchased at M on the Bund from 10am to 5pm on weekends. 

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