Literature, a mirror on current times

(From left) GTLF co-curator Izzudin Ramli, co-directors Kuttan and Fan, Yeoh, sponsor Goethe-Institut KL director Rolf Stehle and Penang Convention and Exhibition Bureau chief executive officer Ashwin Gunasekeran promoting the festival at the press conference.

THE 10th George Town Literary Festival (GTLF) will be held virtually for four days from Nov 26 this year.

Themed ‘Through the Looking Glass’, this year’s festival will look at the role of literature and art in a time of crisis.

GTLF co-director Pauline Fan said they were producing 30 podcasts this year, with 18 in English and 12 in Malay.

“There will be different formats of podcasts as well.

“Some are one-on-one conversations with Malaysian and international writers while some are readings of short stories, poetry and plays plus lyrical discussions and tributes.

“We hope that through the conversations brought into the festival, we can come together to think and reflect together, ” she said during a press conference at Courtyard by Marriott in Penang.

Fan said GTLF had always been a symbiosis between the literary world and current affairs.

“We had quite a challenging time deciding the theme for this year because GTLF has always been about reflecting on the current state of the world.

“The ‘Through the Looking Glass’ theme this year is about looking at yourself through a mirror and travelling beyond your everyday reality.

“It is a literary metaphor but it is very much a real experience, which makes it surreal.

“We hope this theme will allow us to delve into how literature can help us reflect on the state of humanity as well as current times.

“It can perhaps help us look at things in the past as well as bring dreams of possibilities in the future, ” she said.

GTLF co-director Sharaad Kuttan said while this year should be their 10th edition, the festival will move to mostly online conversations.

“Our programmes will take the form of conversations, discussions, readings and radio dramas, ” he said.

Penang tourism and creative economy committee chairman Yeoh Soon Hin said the official celebration of the 10th year had been moved to 2021 although the festival is into its 10th year this year.

“The festival plays a vital part in cultivating a sense of community through the celebration of artistic forms and diverse perspectives.

“This year’s theme will explore our positions in uncharted territory, going beyond the

traditional format to welcome as many colourful voices into the mix as possible.

“We hope this year’s festival will encourage everyone to think bigger, deeper and more inclusively, ” he said.

For more details on the George Town Literary Festival, the public may visit

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