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CALLING ALL BOOKWORMS: The 6th International Writers Festival is underway

Samanta Schweblin
© Alejandra Lopez Samanta Schweblin

For the sixth year, Jerusalem’s International Writers Festival invites literary enthusiasts and anyone open for a thought-provoking exploration of subversive topics for a unique program.


The Mishkenot Sha'ananim, an international cultural center based on dialogue and pluralism, is hosting three days of events and activities with local and international leaders in contemporary world literature. Each day’s schedule is packed with talks from local and international writers, musical performances, exhibitions, writing workshops, and more.


From May 8-11, dozens of events will be held in various spaces across the cultural center.


Members of Moscow’s Pussy Riots are hosting the opening event, The Writers Rebel, a “literary protest,” praising protest-inspired imagination and creativity. Incorporating other musicians, authors, and a DJ, the “rebellion” will be in English, Russian, and Hebrew, and followed by a party. Maria Alyokhina of Pussy Riots will also be talking about her book Riot Days, social activism, and her years spent in a Russian prison (May 10, 20:30).


Also, Australian author Graeme Simsion will be speaking about her bestselling novel about Asperger syndrome, The Rosie Project, and how we can make the world better for people coping with autism. In another event the same evening, authors will analyze humor and political correctness in Israeli and American society. Participants include Paul Beatty, author of a novel about reintroducing slavery and segregation, and Etgar Keret, author of a novel about recruiting soldiers via Pokémon figures in combat zones (May 8).


Paul Beatty

© Hannah Assouline


There will also be a series of panels inspired by Herman Melville’s Bartleby, The Scrivener. As a tribute to the character who says “no” to society, the discussions will shed light on the individual’s freedoms to refuse and cast doubt.


Isaac Herzog, Knesset member, opposition leader, and son of Irish immigrants, Ruth Gilligan, author of a novel about the Irish Jewish community, and Assaf Gavron, novelist and son of English immigrants, will meet for a discussion titled The Dubliners. They will investigate religion, community, literature, and the deep connection between the Irish, English, and Israeli cultures (May 9, 18:30)


These events and many more can be found online where tickets are also sold for about NIS 50 each. With some of this era’s most intriguing authors coming to Jerusalem, take some time this spring to stimulate your mind and contemplate the frameworks of society.