Beijing festival greets Canadian writers
One of the most influential literary events in China, the Bookworm Literary Festival (BLF), embraced four Canadian poets and novelists.
On March 18, at a salon titled Voices of Canada, initiated by the Canadian Embassy, the four Canadian writers presented their works and met local readers and expats at the Bookworm Bookstore in Beijing. Guy Saint- Jacques, Canadian ambassador to China, also attended.
The award-winning writers read some passages to the audience. They also shared their experiences as writers in Canada.
Last year, six Canadian novelists were invited to the BLF. This year, the Canadian writers attended the BLF events in Beijing and Chengdu. They have been invited to meet Chinese publishers and translators at the Canadian Embassy in Beijing.
“I couldn’t believe that someday I would come to China because of my writing,” said Anakana Schofield, an Irish-Canadian writer.
Her debut novel, Malarky, won the Amazon.ca First Novel Award and the 2013 Debut-Litzer Prize for Fiction.
The Canadian literature was littleknown in China. But in 2013, following Mo Yan’s groundbreaking win of the 2012 Nobel Prize for literature, Alice Munro’s success gained her wide attention from Chinese readers.
“Chinese readers are more familiar with the classics of Western literature, but still know little about contemporary Canadian literature,” said Chen Meng, an editor at Thinkingdom Media Group Ltd, one of China’s largest publishing company, which published Alice Munro’s books before she won the Nobel Prize.
Famous Canadian literature translated into Chinese include Yann Martel’s Man Booker prizewinning Life of Pi and Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables.
For decades, Canadian writers have been a force on the global literary scene. Reflecting the country’s aboriginal origins, its English and French colonial past, and the waves of immigrants it has welcomed from every part of the globe, contemporary Canadian literature continues to explore themes that are rich and evolving, varied and compelling.
Besides Schofield, the other three Canadian writers represent the different genres of Canadian contemporary literary.
Dionne Brand, who grew up in Trinidad, is a renowned Canadian poet, novelist, filmmaker, educator and activist. Her latest novel is Love Enough. Brand is also a prolific author of nonfiction on subjects of gender, race, identity and the African diaspora.
Michael Crummey is an awardwinning poet, novelist and short story writer. His debut novel, River Thieves, was a Canadian bestseller and won multiple awards. His latest novel, Sweetland, tells the story of one man’s battle to keep his Newfoundland home.
Andy McGuire, a poet from Toronto, whose poems have appeared in Riddle Fence, Hazlitt and The Walrus, presented his debut poetry collection, Country Club. He won the first-ever Poetry Games held at the International Festival of Authors in Toronto.
This year’s BLF, which took place across the country from March 11-27 and celebrated its 10th anniversary, is the largest ever, featuring more than 180 writers and performers from more than 30 countries.
Canadian novelists and poets attend the Bookworm Literary Festival in Beijing on March 18. From left: Anakana Schofield, Dionne Brand, Michael Crummey and Andy McGuire.