Spoken word performances at George Town Literary Festival 2013.
Spoken word performances at George Town Literary Festival 2013.

Readers, writers and bibliophiles alike are eagerly anticipating George Town Literary Festival. Now in its fourth year, the festival will run from the 28 – 30 November at The Whiteways Arcade. With over 30 events, ranging from conversations, lectures, readings to book launches, the over-arching theme for this year’s festival is “Capital”. Here are some of the highlights we’re looking forward to for the weekend:

Tuah, Jebat and the Battle for the Malay Soul, a lecture by Kassim Ahmad

Saturday 29 November ,11.30am – 12.30pm, Gallery 2 (Whiteaways)

The complexities of the Malay tale and the duel between Hang Tuah and Hang Jebat was challenged by political activist and philosopher Kassim Ahmad more than half a century ago. But the conversation didn’t stop there. Kassim Ahmad will present his argument for reinterpreting the myth and the men.

You can also catch Kassim Ahmad in conversation with Ahmad Fuad Rahmat on Sunday 30 November.

Murakami Three Ways

Saturday 29 November, 3.00pm – 4.00pm, Gallery 2 (Whiteaways)

How much of a text can you salvage through translation? Haruki Murakami’s latest novel, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgramage was written in Japanese, translated to English, then translated to BM. This session sees a multi-lingual reading in all three languages, followed by a Q&A of the nuanced process of translating fiction between languages.

Susan Barker small
Susan Barker, British novelist.

The Incarnations, a lecture by Susan Barker

Sunday 30 November, 11.30am – 12.30pm, Gallery 2 (Whiteaways)

British writer Susan Barker’s third novel The Incarnations is centred around a taxi driver set in modern Beijing, but interjected with stories of China’s deep history and cultural shifts. This lectures will explore the novel’s premise and historical elements; it will be followed by a Q&A session with Bernice Chauly. Barker’s previous novels are Sayonara Bar (2005) and The Orientalist and the Ghost (2008).

There’s also the chance to learn about creating characters from Susan Barker in a writing workshop.

Say It Like You Mean It presents CAMPUR-CAMPUR

Saturday & Sunday 29 & 30 November, 6.00pm – 7.00pm, Gallery 2 (Whiteaways)

A cabaret with local flavour, CAMPUR-CAMPUR will have performances and stories told through music, spoken word, dance, comedy and more. Say It Like You Mean It (SILYMI) is a space for people to come together to create, inspire and entertain, and CAMPUR-CAMPUR will bring together talent from around Malaysia for this variety show.

Battle of the Bookish: Quiz Night

Saturday 29 November, 9.00pm – 10.00pm, The Bee, 44 Jalan Muntri

Nothing gets a geek’s heart racing like a good quiz night. This quiz night will be a tour de force from Austen to Zola. The evening will also feature a spoken word performance from US-based poet Caits, as well as music from Amanda Imani.

Chulia Street hawkers draw a crowd in George Town.
Chulia Street hawkers draw a crowd in George Town.

Writers Digest: Food Writing Today

Saturday 29 November, 2.30pm – 3.30pm, Lightbox (Whiteaways)

It’s practically impossible to be in Penang and not pay homage to the food – pick up one of the festival food maps, have a taste of Penang’s famous street food and listen in on the discussion of three food writers as they talk about the joys of eating and writing about food. Panelists include Penang food bloggers CK Lam and Ken Tho, as well as travel writer and food writer John Krich.

Egads! This Book Has Pictures!

Saturday 29 November, 4.00pm – 5.00pm, Lightbox (Whiteaways)

The graphic novel can tell many different stories – it’s not just a form for superheroes. Listen in on this panel discussion as graphic novelists talk about the art of putting words and pictures together. The panelists include Sonny Liew, a Singaporean graphic novelist and illustrator, as well as Zan Azlee and Arif Rahman Othman, who recently published a graphic novel based on travels through Afghanistan.


In Conversation with Wong Phui Nam

Sunday 30 November, 10.00am – 11.00am, Gallery 2 (Whiteaways)

A literary pioneer and poet whose work often plays on identity and ethnicity, Wong Phui Nam makes a rare appearance at George Town Literary Festival. He’ll discuss his writing and career with Umapagan Ampikaipakan in what’s sure to be a compelling conversation.

The End of the Rainbow: How Writers Make Money

Sunday 30 November, 10.00am – 11.00am, Lightbox (Whiteaways)

How much is it a myth to be able to write for a living? And how much does the presence of money affect the creative process? Three writers speak about striking that balance of creating in a world where money is seemingly everything. The panelists include novelists Miguel Syjuco and Rozlan Mohd. Noor; with journalist Zan Azlee and BFM89.9’s Maya Tan Abdullah as moderator.

The Ever Present Past

Sunday 30 November, 4.30pm – 5.30pm, Gallery 2 (Whiteaways)

George Town is a city that’s grappling both with the past and the future. In this session, Penang Heritage Trust’s Khoo Salma moderates a session on how the past can haunt the present in fiction, and how writers address their own histories in putting pen to paper. The panelists are Malaysian writer Shivani Sivagurunathan, Said El Haji from the Netherlands and Susan Barker.

Buku Fixi Book Launches

Saturday 29 and Sunday 30 November, 6.00pm – 7.00pm, Twelve Cups Coffee (Whiteaways)

Bestselling Malaysian publishing house Fixi is set to launch four new books at George Town Literary Festival, by authors Regina Ibrahim, Rozlan Mohd. Noor, Tunku Halim and Julya Oui. Meet the writers and get your copies signed first.

All events excluding workshops are free. Find out more about George Town Literary Festival at www.georgetownlitfest.com and on the Facebook page.