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A Look At The Hong Kong International Literary Festival

Picture of Sally Gao
Updated: 16 September 2016
This year’s Hong Kong International Literary Festival (HKILF) will be held from November 4th to November 13th. Featuring discussions, workshops, book signings, and readings, the festival has been held every fall since 2001 and focuses on featuring writers with a connection to Asia. More than 35 authors are scheduled to make appearances; here are six writers we’re paying special attention to.

Lionel Shriver

Lionel Shriver is an American journalist and the bestselling author of 13 novels. She is best known for her 2003 novel We Need to Talk About Kevin, which won the 2005 Orange Prize and which was the basis for the 2011 film of the same name. Her newest novel is The Mandibles, a searing dystopian satire about a not-so-distant future in which American society is on the verge of collapse.

Shriver is set to take center stage at the festival’s annual opening gala dinner, ‘An Evening With Lionel Shriver’ on November 4th. She will also appear in “Lionel Shriver in Conversation” on November 6th.

Sarah Howe

Hong Kong-born poet Sarah Howe won the 2015 T.S. Eliot Prize for her debut poetry collection, Loop of Jade. The award-winning collection explores Howe’s Anglo-Chinese heritage, interweaving issues of identity and origin with broader themes of cultural difference and language.

Howe will speak at a panel titled ‘Evolution of Ideas’ on November 7th, and she will read from Loop of Jade on November 8th.

Hanya Yanagihara

An American novelist of Hawaiian descent, Hanya Yanagihara became a literary sensation in 2015 with the publication of her second novel, A Little Life. A coming-of-age novel about four young men trying to establish themselves in New York City, the book was shortlisted for the 2015 Man Booker Prize and was a finalist for the 2015 National Book Award.

Yanagihara will speak about the novel at ‘Hanya Yanagihara: A Little Life’ on November 5th. She will also participate in a discussion called ‘Evolution of Ideas’ on November 7th.

Helen Oyeyemi

Cambridge-educated British novelist Helen Oyeyemi write her first novel, The Icarus Girl, while she was still in high school. Her newest book, What Is Yours Is Not Yours, is a collection of 9 tales. Experimental, protean, and imaginative, Oyeyemi is one of British literature’s most important young voices.

Oyeyemi will speak in three festival events — ‘Helen Oyeyemi in Conversation’ on November 5th, ‘What Is Yours Is Not Yours’ on November 7th, and ‘Evolution of Ideas’ on November 7th.

Helen Oyeyemi | © Ubud Writers Festival/CC BY 2.0/Wikimedia Commons

Hyeonseo Lee

Hyeonseo Lee grew up in North Korea and escaped in 1997. She is now an activist living in South Korea. Her memoir, The Girl With Seven Names, details her extraordinary life, including her childhood under North Korea’s dictatorship and the ordeals she faced after her defection.

Lee will discuss her memoir at ‘Hyeonseo Lee: The Girl With Seven Names’ on November 6th.

Bei Dao

The Beijing-born Bei Dao is a leading Chinese poet who has been nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature multiple times. A leading figure in the Misty Poets movement in the 1970s, whose work reacted against the horrors of the Chinese Cultural Revolution, he was forced into exile after the Tiananmen Square demonstrations of 1989. He now lives in Hong Kong and teaches at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Hear him read his work at ‘Readings by Bei Dao’ on November 10th.