Explore the complex relationship between wilderness and human nature at the George Town Literary Festival 2022


Wild nature, defined as an uncultivated, uninhabitable and inhospitable region, can also be a place of escape, to recharge your batteries, learn and discover yourself. A natural environment where animals and plants thrive can inspire the imagination. But rich, undeveloped lands can also inspire man to use violence and power for material gain.

Attendees of the George Town Literary Festival (GTLF) will explore the complex relationship between wilderness and human nature when it returns in a physical format next month with the theme “Taming Nature”.

Pauline Fan and Izzuddin Ramli, writers and translators, will lead and organize the festival respectively. It will be held from November 24 to 27 along China Street Ghaut, the main site of the event. There are two new curators in the Tamil and Chinese panels, namely M Navin, author of the banned Tamil novel Peichi, and Dr Florence Kuek of Universiti Malaya, whose research focuses on Chinese literature and literary criticism.

The program includes readings, workshops, panel discussions, exhibitions, one-on-one conversations and book launches. GTLF’s first publication, Muara, an anthology of essays, lectures, short stories, poetry and translations by writers from Malaysia and around the world, will be released during the festival. Kinokuniya will have a pop-up store for three days starting November 25 at the UAB building.

Among the 72 participants from 18 countries are Indonesian poet and critic Nirwan Dewanto; Bora Chung and Anton Hur, finalists for the 2022 International Booker Prize; the poet, essayist and translator Pierre Joris; Scottish writer Cal Flyn; the Franco-Vietnamese novelist Thuan; Indian writer and literary critic B Jeyamohan; the poets Ko Ko Thett and Nandar (both from Myanmar); Andri Lyubka (Ukraine); and Habib Tengour (Algeria).

Malaysian guests include national winner Zurinah Hassan, Epigram Books Fiction Prize 2022 winner Karina Robles Bahrin, literary prize winner Huazong Fang Lu and visual artist Syarifah Nadhirah.

Apart from the festival’s writers’ workshops, entry to the 12th edition of the GTLF is free.

On the other side of the road

The Singapore Writers’ Festival will celebrate its 25th edition from November 4 to 20 with a single-word theme, “If”, inspired by the poem by literature prize winner Cyril Wong, Otherwise.

Responding to a time full of conflicts and uncertainties, the word questions where the festival is and what its future holds, in addition to conveying “a feeling of hope and a second chance because it allows retrospection and ideation,” said director Pooja Nansi.

“If” also offers endless possibilities as participants imagine and reimagine the past, present, and future. In-person events and online programs include the SWF Playground, Southeast Asian Focus, and Youth Fringe.

An exhibition as part of the Literary Pioneer series will highlight the contributions of early female Malaysian writers, including Malaysian writer, translator and teacher Adibah Amin.

This article was first published on October 10, 2022 in The Edge Malaysia.


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