Shanghai International Literary Festival returns to the Bund
Our city’s annual celebration of books and writing, the Shanghai International Literary Festival, has returned to the Bund, kicking off Friday at the Glam lounge bar with a two-week schedule studded with writers from around the globe. Award-winning Chinese-American author Amy Tan along with other notable or rising writers, academicians, historians and business and political experts will be in attendance. The Global Times has handpicked some highlights for readers’ consideration.
Amy Tan, whose best-selling 1989 novel The Joy
Luck Club ushered in “the golden era” of Chinese-American literature, will revisit Shanghai with stories from her latest book Where the Past Begins, which will be published in October.
On this coming Sunday she will read excerpts from the book and on Saturday she will join writer Duncan Clark onstage for a dialogue about her writing process.
On the same day he speaks with Tan, Clark will also give a separate talk about his own book, Alibaba: the House that Jack Ma Built. Clark is a former adviser for Alibaba, China’s largest e-commerce platform, and has known Ma since the 1990s.
Also on Saturday, Alec Ash, a newcomer to the writing world, will introduce his debut book Wish
Lanterns, which tells the stories of six Chinese millennials from different parts of China.
“These are the people who will determine much of the country’s shifts moving forward, so understanding them is extremely important,” Ash said in a previous Forbes interview.
Ash’s father, an award-winning political author and Oxford scholar, Timothy Garton Ash, will also be speaking at the festival, on March 15, to examine the impact that liberalism has had on societies around the world.
Rob Schmitz, Shanghai’s correspondent for National Public Radio, will speak on Monday about his book Street of Eternal Happiness, which offers readers a glimpse into the daily lives of his neighbors on Changle Road in the former French concession.
Schmitz spent four years conducting interviews for this book and in the process befriended many residents during their pursuit of the Chinese dream.
On March 18, Madeleine O’Dea, an Australian who has personally witnessed China’s drastic changes over the past three decades, will share her keen observation described in The Phoenix Years.
The book tells the stories of nine Chinese contemporary artists born between 1952 and 1985 who, in O’Dea’s words, are “people who have made it their life’s work to see their country clearly.”
In the past year, the world has witnessed many dramatic if not alarming social and political shifts, from Brexit and Donald Trump’s election win, to the new nuclear tests of North Korea and South Korea’s attempt to deploy a THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense). Where we as mankind are heading has become a question tugging on our collective heart strings.
In light of this, Shanghai International Literary Festival will host several events specifically
dedicated to discussing global issues and trending topics. On Sunday, a panel of editors from the Financial Times will ask “Has Western Democracy Been Discredited?”
On March 17, former China bureau chief at The Wall Street Journal James McGregor, who has written a handful of books about China’s economy, will join Shirley Lin, a political science researcher for the University of Virginia, and Harry Harding, a specialist on Asian-US relations, to discuss “global new norms” such as stagnant wages and growing inequality.
New Zealand business journalist Rod Oram will share his in-depth interviews with leaders in science, businesses and politics in China, Singapore and the US on March 18. Australian journalist Stan Grant will take the audience on a more intimate journey, on Saturday, to his motherland where he unveils brutal facts of racism.
Workshops & children’s sessions
The festival will also hold literature workshops for aspiring writers, including one dedicated to writing haiku, a traditional form of Japanese poetry consisting of only three lines, arranged for Tuesday under the supervision of Japanese writer, poet and translator Miho Kinnas.
Maori (indigenous New Zealanders) writer Witi Ihimaera, author of The Whale Rider, will lead the audience in a discussion about how to develop structure and characters for a novel on March 17.
Children’s sessions will take place on Sunday, when wildlife photographer Jan Latta will introduce youngsters to her adventurous experiences across the world. On March 19, YA book writer Sarah Brennan will read from her latest work,
The Tale of Rickshaw Rooster, a funny story about a proud yet noisy rooster living in the 1920s Shanghai.
Glam, a bar and dining lounge located directly on the Bund, is the brainchild of Australia-born restaurateur Michelle Garnaut, who opened M on the Bund in 1999 followed by the Glamour Bar in 2006, which closed down in 2014. The Shanghai International Literary Festival is now one of China’s major foreign-run international author events.
Adult tickets to all events range from 85 yuan ($11.60, including a drink) to 150 yuan (including a lunch), and tickets for students and children sell for 40 yuan. Ticket sales for each event will close the day before the event at 5 pm. For a complete schedule, visit http://www.m-restaurantgroup. com/community/m-literary-festival. Page Editor: yangzhenqi@ globaltimes.com.cn
This year’s Shanghai International Literary Festival kicks off Friday.
(From far left) Amy Tan, Alec Ash, Duncan Clark, Madeleine O’Dea and Rob Schmitz