Penang literary fest bags International Excellence Awards

GEORGE TOWN: The George Town Literary Festival (GTLF) has added another feather in its cap by clinching The International Excellence Awards 2018: The Literary Festival Award at The London Book Fair 2018.

Touted as the first South-East Asian literary festival to win the prestigious award, the event was named as the winner during the ceremony on the opening night of The London Book Fair in The Con­ference Centre, London, on April 10.

GTLF director Bernice Chauly said the award has put George Town firmly on the global literary map.

“We beat two other finalists namely the Joseph Conrad Inter­national Literary Festival in Poland and the Druskininkai Poetic Fall in Lithuania,” she said.

She said GTLF started in 2011 with only five writers but grew to become the largest literary festival in Malaysia with 4,500 attendees in 2017 – the highest number for the three-day festival since it started.

“This is a win for culture, literature, as well as free speech and expression in Penang and also Malaysia. This is a win for discourse, diversity and conversation.

“This is a win for all of us who love the (written) word and what it represents to us, to South-East Asia, (and) to the world,” she said at a press conference here yesterday.

Reading what the judges said, Chauly said GTLF “stands out as a vibrant, diverse and brave festival that engages with a wide community of voices, speaking to the world from a complex region”.

She added that this is a huge honour for the work her team had done, and the work that they will continue to do.

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, who spearheaded the initiative, said he is proud that GTLF was given the global recognition.

“The initiative was inspired by the vision to encourage the literary arts to bloom and flourish freely. ... This recognition not only places GTLF on par with other world-class events but makes Penang an international and intelligent city, in arts, culture and literary events,” he said.

The 2018 edition of GTLF returns for four days from Nov 22 in George Town.