George Town Literary Festival is a festival for writers, poets and thinkers who champion the value of literary exchange. For the book lovers and aspiring writers, the festival is a space to get personal with their favourite wordsmiths. Many literary figures have sat in the hot seat, such as Man Asian Literary Prize winner Tan Twan Eng, Man Booker Prize nominee Tash Aw as well as American-based travel writer Eric Hansen. The festival was first established in 2012, and its curator Bernice Chauly was born in George Town and is known in the local writing, poetry, acting and filmmaking scenes, so it’s quite fitting to have Chauly pave the way for international and local literary acts to take the stage at this festival.
The previous years have seen various international luminaries sharing their views on the world of writing such as Michael Kleeberg, Christine Otten, Annelis Verbeke, Rodaan Al Galidi, Ali Cobby Eckermann, Aruni Kashyap and Madeleine Thien. Closer to home, Malaysian cartoonist Datuk Lat, poet and human rights lawyer Cecil Rajendra, Orang Asli writer Mahat Akiya and playwright Huzir Sulaiman also shared the stage alongside Singaporean-based novelist Shamini Flint.
More than the standard book readings and meet-and-greets, the festival lifts literary figures from the pages of their books and sets them under the spotlight amid interesting discussions. Audiences will hear their inspirations, ponder over the challenges of censorship in Malaysia, question the relevance of history and humour in writing – in other words, things get personal at this festival.
Aspiring writers can also pick up a thing or two from the ‘In Conversation’ series that has featured Canadian author Madeline Thien, Datuk Lat and ‘Five Star Billionaire’ author Tash Aw. Other interesting and exciting inclusions include film screenings, book launches and poetry readings to tease the literary senses of many.
When: November 28–30
Where: Various venues in George Town
Fee: Varies considerably according to event but many are free