20 Aug 2020

Hong Kong International Literary Festival announces 20th edition to take place 5-15 November 2020

The Hong Kong International Literary Festival (HKILF) 20th edition will go ahead in November as a hybrid festival of live and online events.

The festival’s new Executive Director, Catherine Platt says: “Our 20th anniversary programme will be an uplifting event that brings people together to hear their favourite authors and discover new voices and ideas. The flexible hybrid format means people can join no matter what the COVID-19 situation in November. We are planning some live events with local authors and we hope it will be possible for people to come out and enjoy the live festival atmosphere, and we are also offering an incredible virtual line-up that people can watch at home with their family, friends or book club. In fact, going virtual has allowed us to bring a wider range of high-profile authors to the festival than ever before.”

This year Hong Kong’s premier literary event includes two 2020 Booker Prize longlisted authors, Colum McCann and C Pam Zhang; Irish Fiction Laureate, Sebastian Barry; Crazy Rich Asians author Kevin Kwan, Vice-Chairman of Ogilvy, Rory Sutherland; Pulitzer Prize winners Jhumpa Lahiri and Jonathan Kaufman; Vera and Shetland crime series author Ann Cleeves; poets Marilyn Chin and Mary Jean Chan, editor of The Atlantic David Frum; historians Thant Myint-U, and William Dalrymple; and journalists Ananth Krishnan, Bob Davis and Lingling Wei. Additionally, there will be a vibrant group of Hong Kong and regional writers and speakers including Chan Koonchung, Dorothy Tse, Kai-Yin Lo, Christine Loh, Elizabeth Sinn and many more. 

Platt, who has previously managed literary festivals in the USA and China, joined HKILF in April 2020.  Her belief is that arts organisations can serve as “second responders” during the COVID-19 pandemic, providing fun and engaging events that promote mental health, while first responders tend to our physical health. She explains: “The Festival brings writers and book lovers together to talk, share ideas and start conversations. Our 20th edition theme ‘Present Tense/Future Perfect’ explores in fiction and non-fiction how the world is responding to issues such as health, inequality and climate change, as well as possible future directions for humanity and the planet. Lynda Gratton and Andrew Scott will discuss their latest book, The New Long Life: A Framework for Flourishing in a Changing World, and discussion panels will examine issues such as the future of US politics and US-China relations, racism in Asia, the world post-COVID-19, and the future of food. We will be releasing information about authors and books featured in the festival over the coming weeks, building up to a full programme launch in late September.”

Other highlights include a series of book talks and film screenings at the Asia Society, featuring Kevin Kwan, Benjamin Law, and Bruce Lee’s daughter Shannon Lee discussing her book, Be Water My Friend: The Teachings of Bruce Lee. Novelist Romesh Guneskera who took part in the first festival in 2001 will join again, and Hong Kong born poet Marilyn Chin and her iconic work, Urban Love Poem, will close the festival, with Chin and other local and international poets reading their own urban love poetry about Hong Kong.

Visit their official website to find out all the details.

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