5 Talks You Need To See At The Hong Kong International Literary Festival 2018

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October 30, 2018 | BY Melissa Twigg

Hong Kong is never one to hide its light under a bushel—and the city’s upcoming literary festival is making itself heard on the international book calendar with a line-up that even Jaipur and Frankfurt would be proud of.


This year, its 18th edition, the Hong Kong International Literary Festival is also moving into a new home. Hong Kong’s newest arts and culture hub, Tai Kwun , will host the vast majority of the talks and events over the 10-day festival.


There, the organisers are hoping to attract 10,000 people to hear some of the world’s most famous authors debate a range of subjects. We’ve curated a small round-up of the talks among the 50 on offer.

Photo: Rankin
1

Irvine Welsh: Dead Men’s Trousers

We’ve all seen Ewan McGregor sprinting down an Edinburgh high street in the seminal 1996 film, Trainspotting. But if you haven’t read the novel that inspired this immortal scene—written by Scottish writer Irvine Welsh—then you’re missing a trick. And his latest book, Dead Men’s Trousers, revisits Leith’s most famous junkies to find out if, a quarter of a century later, age has made them any better behaved. In a session moderated by Hong Kong-based author and journalist Paul Kay, Welsh will talk about the original cult classic, its sequel, Porno, and what exactly Mark, Sick Boy, Begbie and Spud are up to now.
Nov 10, 2pm, JC Cube, Tai Kwun, HK$125

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5 Talks You Need To See At The Hong Kong International Literary Festival 2018
Photo: Joni Kabana
2

Cheryl Strayed: Wild

Another bestselling book turned silver screen legend is Wild, written by Cheryl Strayed. The American author was escaping a life beset by inner turmoil when she decided to hike 1,000 miles on her own along the Pacific Crest Trail in the US. A story of survival, danger and beauty, this was Strayed’s extraordinary confrontation of personal demons that included the loss of her mother, the break-up of her marriage and drug addiction. Strayed will discuss her epic journey, her attraction to travel writing and her professional partnership with Reese Witherspoon when she talks to Ravi Mattu from the Financial Times.

Alternatively, why not combine literary insights with beautiful interiors and some of the best Cantonese food in the city? This year’s Festival Gala Dinner is hosted at China Club, where you’ll listen to Strayed discuss her life and work with Generation T editor Lee Williamson while you enjoy a multi-course dinner with wine in Hong Kong’s most famous private restaurant.
Cheryl Strayed: Wild, Nov 10, 5pm, JC Cube, Tai Kwun, HK$125. Festival Gala Dinner, Nov 10, 8.30pm, China Club, HK$1,300

Photo: Courtesy of Hong Kong International Literary Festival
3

Ma Jian: China Dream

British-Chinese author Ma Jian has become of the most respected writers of a generation. In the much-loved Red Dust, he describes his long walk across China—a country he was later exiled from—to try to know, forgive and confront the world he was born into. His later novel The Dark Road was equally acclaimed, shortlisted for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize and nominated for the International Dublin Literary Award in 2014. And now he is discussing his latest offering, China Dream, which is a biting satire and almost hallucinogenic account of President Xi Jinping’s propaganda efforts.
Nov 10, 7pm, F Hall, Tai Kwun, HK$100

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5 Talks You Need To See At The Hong Kong International Literary Festival 2018
Photo: Mathew Stuart
4

Geoff Dyer: Where? What? Where?

Over a 30-year esteemed writing career, this acclaimed English author has published eight books in total—a mix of fiction and non-fiction, which have won him a Somerset Maugham award along the way. Geoff Dyer's latest book, Broadsword Calling Danny Boy, is a hilariously detailed comic analysis of the 1968 film Where Eagles Dare and is an example of how his work often switches genres, moving from fiction to non-fiction to memoir in the space of a few pages. For his talk, he will discuss his collection of essays White Sands, and his love of travel writing.
Nov 3, 7pm, JC Cube, Tai Kwun, HK$100

Photo: Andrew Crawley
5

Susie Orbach: In Therapy

She was Princess Diana’s psychotherapist and has been famous for her studies on the female body and mind ever since the publication of her cult classic, Fat is a Feminist Issue in 1978. In her latest book, In Therapy, Susie Orbach recounts a series of fictionalised therapy sessions, including one with a judge who feels guilty about hiring prostitutes and another about a mother who is trying to control her teenage daughter. It was inspired by Orbach’s partner, the novelist Jeanette Winterson, who wanted to know what goes on in the consulting room. She will talk to Simon Westcott about her career and books.
Nov 10, 3.30pm, JC Cube, Tai Kwun, HK$125

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