Bei­jing festival greets Cana­dian writ­ers

China Daily (Canada) - - ACROSS AMERICAS - By WANG RU in Bei­jing wan­gru@chi­

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 Ama­ 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.

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