China Literary Festivals in March: Programs, ticket info, and travel-related highlights

Travel | by China Travel
Posted: February 4th, 2010 | Updated: July 25th, 2012 | Comments
For more of's coverage of this year's Literary Festivals in China, click the links below: Writing a guidebook to China: An interview with Rough Guide author David Leffman Queer Culture in China: An interview with Professor John Erni New speaker at Shanghai Lit Fest: Paul French Foreign memoirs of China: An interview with Amy Sommers The History of Photography in China: An interview with Terry Bennett Shanghai International Literary Festival Preview: Andrew Field *** Book season is almost upon us, with no fewer than three literary festivals playing simultaneously around China in March. Fear not though, many of the people appearing will be at more than one event, so you shouldn't need to run around the country in order to see them. All you need to do is decide who to go see. The China Bookworm International Literary Festival runs from Friday 5th to Friday 19th March. You can browse the schedule here, or download the full program here (PDF). Tickets are on sale now, but can only be bought in person at The Bookworm (9am-9pm). Contact the Festival hotline (187 0147 1558) for more info. The Shanghai International Literary Festival runs from Friday 5th to Sunday 21st March. The program is here, and tickets can be bought through Mypiao . The Man Hong Kong International Literary Festival runs from Thursday 11th to Friday 19th March. Program details are here. Tickets are already on sale (payment by check or online though PayPal), and some events are already sold out. Be quick! Naturally, there's a strong China bent to proceedings, with many (though by no means all) of the participants having some connection to the country. So for specific recommendations we have to narrow our focus. And our focus is travel. Here then, some of the participants whose work concerns either travel around China, or specific places within it that you might find yourself inspired to visit. Terry Bennett
In The History of Photography in China: 1842-1860, Bennett documents the advent of the camera in China (and the Opium Wars which kicked off around the same time), through the work of more than forty practitioners of the art up and down the country.
Shanghai: Sunday March 21, 11am
    Graham Earnshaw First posted to Beijing as a junior Reuters correspondent in 1979, Earnshaw has certainly earned his China stripes; shuttling back and forth between Hong Kong and the mainland (with a spell in Japan) for more than three decades. Since 2004, when not running his media empire (the latest arm of which, Earnshaw Books, publishes (and republishes) books on the Orient), he's been walking from Shanghai to Tibet, always starting at the place he last left off. Beijing: The Great Walk of China, Saturday March 6, 10am Scott Ezell       An artist, poet and musician who spent most of the '90s living in a variety of Asian countries and studying Chinese culture, Ezell is leading a workshop in Beijing that promises to help attendees "turn their travel experiences into compelling, imaginative poetry." Beijing: Postcards from Home, Sunday March 14, 2pm
Peter Hessler 
Hessler's first book, River Town, about his experience teaching English in Sichuan province in the 1990s, established him as one of the finest foreign chroniclers of contemporary China. His new book, Country Driving: A Journey Through China from Farm to Factory, sees him hit the road, first along the route of the Great Wall, then to a small village north of Beijing, and latterly to the boomtown of Lishui in Zhejiang province.
Beijing: In conversation with Ian Johnson (WSJ), Friday March 12, 12.30pm; Beijing Through a Lens, with Mike Meyer (author of Last Days of Old Beijing), Saturday March 13, 7pm
Shanghai: Country Driving – moderated by Patrick Cranley, Sunday March 21, 5pm
Hong Kong: A New Factory Town (in conversation with Claire Scobie), Tuesday March 16, 3.30pm; From River Town to the Road, Thursday March 18, 6.30pm:
Linda Jaivin 
To some, Jaivin is best known for her fruity novel Eat Me, but she's long been a serious sinophile, and she returns to China for her latest book, A Most Immoral Woman, a fictionalized retelling of the turn-of-the-century relationship between a young American heiress and the larger-than-life Australian journalist and China explorer George Morrison. Morrison's own account of his epic journey from Shanghai to Burma was recently reissued.
Beijing: Sex in the Palace (on foreigners in Imperial China), Saturday March 6, 12.30pm
Shanghai: A Most Immoral Afternoon, Saturday March 20, 1pm
Hong Kong: A Most Immoral Woman, Saturday March 13, 3-4pm
David Leffman and Garry Marchant
Here are a pair of writers who know a thing or two about travel in these parts. Leffman co-authors the Rough Guide to China, while Marchant's recent book, The Peace Correspondent, details the most colorful incidents from his three decades of Asian exploring. Only Leffman is appearing in Beijing, but they're together on a panel in Shanghai.
Beijing: Travel Workshop, Saturday March 6, 2pm
Shanghai: Road Scribes: Tales from the Asian Road, Thursday March 11, 6pm
Hong Mo Zhi 
Despite the title, Dalian, around the time of the SARS epidemic, which is when its author, Hong Mo Zhi, who grew up in New Zealand, was there teaching English. His first novel, it's already picked up the Commonwealth Writers Prize.
Shanghai: Saturday March 20, 4pm
Hong Kong: Eccentric Characters, Thursday March 18, 7.30pm Claire Scobie
Having established herself as an award-winning journalist back in the UK, Scobie upped sticks for India almost a decade ago. While there she journeyed frequently into Tibet, the inspiration for her award-winning book Last Seen in Lhasa. She now lives in Australia, where she's developed a parallel career running writing workshops.
Hong Kong: The Secrets of Travel Writing, Monday March 15, 2pm; Last Seen in Lhasa, Monday March 15, 6.30pm; A New Factory Town (in conversation with Peter Hessler), Tuesday March 16, 3.30pm
Murong Xuecun 
One of China's most popular contemporary authors (and a Man Asia nominee to boot), Murong grew up in Jilin, studied in Beijing, and now lives in Lhasa. Yet his work – which he began by posting on the BBS system at his office – is inextricably bound up with the city he called home for many years: Chengdu. Witness the title of his debut novel, now available in translation for the first time: Chengdu, Leave Me Alone Tonight.
Beijing: Sunday March 7, 7.30pm
Hong Kong: Sunday March 14, 4.30pm

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