For the love of words

Spotlight on authors: (From left) Ooi, Bukit Mertajam MP Steven Sim, Zairil, Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, Bernice and the George Town Literary Festival committee members showing posters of the festival which will be held in George Town from Nov 27 to 29.

PENANG will host 30 acclaimed local and international writers at the upcoming fifth edition of the George Town Literary Festival in November.

Penang Institute executive director Zairil Khir Johari said the festival from Nov 27 to 29 would be a celebration of world literature in poetry, prose and spoken word.

“Writers Robin Hemley from the United States, Judy Fong Bates from Canada, Franca Treur from the Netherlands, Anne Provoost from Belgium, Anja Utler from Germany, Omar Musa from Malaysia/Australia, Danton Remoto from the Philippines, Joshua Ip from Singapore and others will engage on the theme ‘We Are Who We Are / Are We Who We Are?’.

“They will not only address obvious issues of identity, but will also go into topics that force us to look at the human condition in ways that are not always pleasant, such as looking at how we treat each other, the deterioration of values, the imposition of judgments, prejudices not just as human, but also as writers and commentators of the society,” Zairil said at a press conference in Komtar.

He said the public could expect panel discussions, readings, spoken word events, book launches, a migrant worker poetry competition, writing workshops, wayang kulit performance and live music performances by singers/songwriters Mia Palencia, Reza Salleh and Zalila Lee.

He added that writer and social activist Marina Mahathir would deliver the keynote address.

“We will also have some of the region’s most respected writers of history and the performing arts speaking at the festival, namely Tan Sooi Beng, Khoo Salma Nasution and Paul Augustin from Malaysia, Khairudin Aljunied (Malaysia / Singapore), Robin Riuzendaal (the Netherlands / Taiwan) and Anthony Milner (Australia).

“Malaysian authors, academics and critics Umapagan Ampikaipakan, Sharaad Kuttan, Yin Shao Loong, Sharon Bakar, Jasmine Low, Ksatriya, Shivani Sivagurunathan, Malachi Edwin Vethamani, Gareth Richards, Latif Kamaluddin and Fuad Rahmat will be our moderators.

“The curator for the first three editions – Bernice Chauly is the festival director, former Penang Global Tourism managing director Ooi Geok Ling and I will be the festival’s producers,” he said.

All the events are free except the writing workshops. For details, call 04-228 3306 (ext 106), email to or visit

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