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World Authors Join Hong Kong Literary Festival

The Hong Kong International Literary Festival Ltd.
23/F Success Commercial Building,
245-251 Hennessy Rd., Wanchai, Hong Kong
tel. 2980-2840 (dir), 2511-4211 (office), fax 2507-3335
e-mail: hkintlitfest@china.com
http://www.paddyfield.com.hk/festival
11-13 May 2001

Media Release 26 March, 2001


Authors from Around the World Join
First Hong Kong International Literary Festival


May 11-13, 2001 sees a new event on Hong Kong's calendar -- the city's first International Literary Festival, celebrating good writing in English from Asia roots. Standard Chartered Bank is the title sponsor of the event.

The Standard Chartered International Literary Festival will enable audiences to meet acclaimed writers whose work has been informed in some way by Asia. The writers will include short-listed Booker Prize nominees, Timothy Mo and Romesh Gunesekera.

More than half a dozen new books by writers attending the festival will be launched during the three-day event.

The festival aims to encourage more reading for pleasure in English in Hong Kong and, in the long term, to spawn more good writing in English about Asia.

"Hong Kong is the place where Asian and 'anglo' cultures meet and mix, so it should be a great source for writers who can express the Asian experience in English," says festival director Nury Vittachi. "Unfortunately, this has generally not been the case, because not enough has been done to foster a love of reading and a literary culture here."

Group Executive Director of Standard Chartered, E. Mervyn Davies, said: "Improving English standards is critical to Hong Kong's prominence as a world class city. This city has been home to Standard Chartered since 1859, and we have grown strong on the contribution of our local employees. This Festival as a great opportunity to nurture reading and to encourage people to enhance their English."

The literary festival was initiated by writers and journalists, Jane Camens and Nury Vittachi, together with the chair professor of English at the University of Hong Kong, Shirley geok-lin Lim. It is being supported by the Australian, Canadian, New Zealand, and US Consulates and the British Council, each of which are assisting writers from their countries to the three-day literary celebration. Other sponsors include the University of Hong Kong, the Language Centre of Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Hong Kong's on-line bookseller Paddyfield.com, Dymocks bookshops and the Hong Kong iMail.

The children’s segment of the Festival is organised by Paddyfield.com and co-sponsored by the Hong Kong Government Leisure and Cultural Services Department.

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The Standard Chartered International Literary Festival
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More than 15 writers are coming from overseas. They include, from Australia, Teo Hse-Ming and Lau Siew Mei (courtesy of the Australian Consulate); from Britain, Romesh Gunesekera and Atima Srivastava (courtesy of the British Council); from Canada, Goh Poh Seng (sponsored by the Canadia Council and Canadian Consulate); from New Zealand, Lynda Chanwai-Earle (courtesy of the Asia 2000 Foundation of New Zealand) and, from the United States, Shawn Wong (courtesy of the US Consulate), prestigious Flannery O'Conner short story prize winner Robert Abel, Alex Kuo and locally born author Xu Xi.

From the Philippines, the poets Krip Yuson, Marra Lanot and Wendell Capili have been assisted by other sponsor funding which has also assisted towards airfares from France for (Philippine writer) Reine Arcacha Melvin, from Malaysia for Kee Thuan Chye, and from Singapore, for Nadine Sarreal and Kirpal Singh. The National Arts Council of Singapore has assisted with funding for Leong Liew Geok.

Some of the locally based poets and writers who will participate include Louise Ho, Agnes Lam, P.K. Leung, and Shirley Geok-lin Lim; playwright and English professor at City University Dino Mahoney, writer and chair professor of English at Chinese University David Parker, poet Mani Rao, and writer (and Far Eastern Economic Review managing editor) Michael Vatikiotis.

Throughout the weekend, authors will read from their latest work and talk about their process of writing, answering audience questions. On the Saturday evening (May 12) there'll be a cocktail party and chance to meet the writers in a casual setting and have books signed.

The Festival’s Children’s Programme will include several events that will give young people the chance to meet some of the authors, with the aim of fostering their English language skills and having fun. While the adult segment of the festival will be held at the Fringe Club in Central Hong Kong, the Children's segment events will be held at the new Central Library in Causeway Bay. The children's programme will include a talk for secondary school students by Romesh Gunesekera and Nury Vittachi, and “Rollicky Rhythm and Rhyme,” a presentation for juniors and primary school students by Informing Performing, an Australian performance art troupe sponsored by the Australian Consulate General. Popular local cartoonist Gavin Coates will also be part of the children's programme. As well as catering for the children, there'll be talks on children’s literature for parents, teachers and professionals given by Elaine Leung of Paddyfield.com and Tony Mahon of the Hong Kong Institute of Education.

Biographies of most the writers, together with the festival programme, can be found on the festival website: www.paddyfield.com.hk/festival.

The festival is administrated by Elaine Leung and Peter Gordon of Paddyfield.com, and Helen Kuchel, an independent event organiser.

ENDS

For more information:

Festival Directors Jane Camens on 9383 2030, or Nury Vittachi on 97569404

(Regarding the children's segment only, contact Elaine Leung on 2511 4211)

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