News & Updates

Announcing: 10th Bookworm Literary Festival, March 11-27, 2016

The clock has started on next year’s Bookworm Literary Festival — March 11-27, 2015 — which will be the 10th anniversary of BLF. It’s hard to believe we’ve come this far, but we’re not even close to being done.

If you have authors to recommend or suggestions on how we can make our 10th festival better than ever, please drop us a line in the comments or via email.

In the meantime, keep an eye on this space and across our social media platforms — on Twitter and Facebook — for more information.

Watch: Highlights from Bookworm Literary Festival 2014

Watch: Highlights from Bookworm Literary Festival 2014

You excited about this year’s Bookworm Literary Festival yet? Let the above video help.

Check out our amazing lineup of events, authors, and workshops. Read up on the highlights and events you shouldn’t overlook. Let us know if you have questions.

Download the PDF of the full program here.

literary festival writers on writing

One of the highlights of the past few weeks has been listening to voices from all over the world describe the act of writing. It’s almost as though each of them had their own unique job description. With the festival wrapping up tonight, I thought I’d share some of what I was able to scribble down during workshops and presentations I attended:

“Look at the world closely enough and it will reveal itself to you, and it will give you authority. Let the subject reveal itself to you: This is the source of an artist’s authority.”

-Eoin McNamee (Ireland)
Event: Perception and Form in the Short Story


“We don’t know, when we write. We sleepwalk…layers and layers…characters come to the surface naturally. It is not self-fiction. I am surrounded by singers. Voices sing out pain through me.”

-Dany Laferriére (Haiti/Canada)
Event: After the Revolution: How Literature Confronts Political Turmoil


“If a 50-60 year old says it, he’s a fascist. If I say it, it’s a fact.”

-Santiago Roncagliolo (Peru), explaining the younger generation’s freedom to write critically about both sides in the conflict between

My Experience at the Festival and a Chance Encounter

My Experience at the Festival and a Chance Encounter

Me and Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

‘s fair enough to argue the point that China, and Beijing in particular, is a land of contradictions. We hear about the country’s politics, it’s focus on a political system that is not quite true to its Maoist origins, we hear and read about the pollution that can often result in illness and a general feeling of malaise, but what we don’t hear about is the cultural richness and diversity of this city, and other urban areas within China. Of course China itself has a rich artistic history, as we all know, but what I found, as a foreigner working and living in this odften chaotic metropolis, is that there is a world beyond one’s preconceptions, and eventsa that cater for both the local and expat communities flourish on s regular basis. It was a friend of mine and co-worker, Ruth, who

Ling Chen at the Bookworm Literary Festival

Ling Chen at the Bookworm Literary Festival

auth_lingchenAt last Tuesday night’s Global Science Fiction discussion, the highlight—from my particular and subjective perspective, at least—was Chinese SF writer Ling Chen. She spoke through a translator, which was itself an event within the event. Her lengthy, animated responses to the questions were rather baffling at first—after a few minutes one could scan the room and gauge everyone’s level of Chinese fluency by looking at their faces. There were a few nodding, engaged smiles, some quizzical scrunched eyebrows, and many blank stares. Having studied Chinese only a few months, I was more in the staring blankly category. But once her responses were translated—wow. She described reading “black” (I assume illegal) Soviet sci-fi magazines in an era when the whole concept of science fiction was highly stigmatized in Chinese society. Not the stigmatization of being a “geek” associated with science fiction in the West, but something deeper. Science fiction was officially denounced as pseudo science propagating inaccurate and unclear ideas. The few who read/wrote science fiction were subject to self-repression, loneliness, and

Two days with a popular historian

Two days with a popular historian

Paul HamThe assassination of a relatively minor figure, Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, triggered an escalation of events that nobody really wanted or anticipated, causing World War I. Or so high school history led me to believe. I’ve been carrying this around as a “fact” for many years, and I’m sure many others who were semi-awake during high school are as well. But the answer turns out to be not nearly so simple or decided. With the 100th anniversary of WWI approaching, historians are still hotly arguing over its causes.  

Last week, as a volunteer at the Bookworm Literary Festival, I tagged along with Australian historian Paul Ham as he talked to school groups, writers, and audiences, addressing how he approaches writing about the past. He defines himself as a popular historian, an appellation sometimes spoken with condescension, though one he has come to embrace. He distinguishes himself from academic historians in terms of what he considers relevant information. In addition to sitting in

Anne Spudvilas Workshop

Thanks Chelin!

EWWC - Sophie Cooke on Style vs Content

Style vs Content

Keynote address given by Sophie Cooke

First presented at The Bookworm International Literary Festival, Beijing

Sophie Cooke Keynote text: “Style versus Content, or: The Tao of Writing”

Ali Smith, in her wonderful speech on this topic of style versus content, proposed that we shouldn’t try to separate style from content. That the two are truly inseparable.

In my opinion – and of course everything I say here is simply my own opinion – style does. Content is. Style without content is vacant doing, meaningless activity. Content without style is unexpressed. Style is yang, content yin. They are opposites. Yet in harmony they create each other, and in the end become each other. So I agree with Ali, that it is impossible to conceive of one without the other. But it is very possible – desirable – to conceive of them as separate aspects of a whole, of writing in the sense of tao.

Why is it desirable to see these aspects separately? What does it matter, really, in a world troubled by global warming, unnecessary wars, soaring inequality, and unrestrained greed?

Cat by Anne Spudvilas

Cat by Anne Spudvilas


Unfortunately, due to illness, Mr. Haghenbeck is unable to make his event, The Secret Book of Frida Kahlo - F.G. Haghenbeck. Refunds can be claimed at the bookshop.

Also, Wang Xiaofang’s second Civil Servant’s Notebook event with the FCCC this evening has unfortunately been canceled due to unforeseen circumstances. Apologies to all who registered.


Who’s using Weibo anyways?

Future Perfect: Social Media with Duncan Hewitt and Hu Yong Thursday, March 13, 1pm One in every two Chinese “netizens” used Weibo, China’s most popular microblogging platform. That’s means over 200 million Chinese citizens are doing everything from posting food pictures to sharing news and debating issues on Weibo. Weibo has broken scandals, including numerous […]

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Hu Yong, Chinese Internet Pioneer, Joins Social Media Panel

Hu Yong, the MediaFile Editor at the newly launched ChinaFile and Professor of Media Studies at Peking University is a true pioneer in the study of the Internet in China. He will be joining journalist and author Duncan Hewitt to discus the state and future of social media in China on Thursday, March 14 at […]

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Happiness Equation: JUE Market

Is happiness a right or a reward? Modern society is bent on acquiring more money and possessions, but why don’t these things make us happy? Was Seneca on the right track by saying happiness is optional and a choice? Or is it merely a matter of dopamine? With modern science, we can tweak our brain […]

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Committing Journalism

Yesterday, Barbara Demick (Los Angeles Times) and Tomasz Sajewicz (Polish Radio) discuss the ins and outs of committing journalism in China with Ed Wong (The New York Times). Photos c/o our wonderful volunteer Chelin Miller.

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Beijing Stories Entries

The Beijing Stories shorter-than-short fiction contest is now closed. The winners will be announced in the near future but while we await the result, The Beijinger has gathered all of the entries here for your enjoyment. Thanks to everyone who submitted a story. Happy Reading! @IesGlobal He landed, felt stranded, but found his way, the […]

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Pictures: Opening Weekend

BLF 2013 is off to a roaring start. The opening weekend in pictures.

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EWWC - Li Er on The Future of the Novel

Keynote address given by Li Er First presented at The Bookworm International Literary Festival, Beijing March 10, 2013, UCCA Auditorium Novelist and short story writer Li Er was born 1966 in Henan Province. He is the author of five story collections, two novels and approximately 50 novellas and short stories. His work appears regularly in Zuojia, Shouhuo, […]

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Friday Reads: Asia Cinema Week

Every Friday, we ask members of the BLF community what they’re reading. Up to bat this week: BLF Partner the Asia Cinema Week, part of the JUE Festival. Pete Teo, Curator of the 15Malaysia screening (March 16th, 4pm at Zajia Lab) “Re-reading this: The Sleepwalkers by Arthur Koestler. The idea that scientific discovery and societal progress proceeds in […]

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Excerpted: Half-Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan

Canadian novelist Esi Edugyan’s second novel, Half-Blood Blues, tells the story of Afro-German jazz musician Hieronymus Falk and his arrest in Nazi-occupied Paris. It is a tale of friendship, betrayal, music, race, love, loyalty and the creation of myth. In this excerpt, Sidney Griffith, the only witness to Faulk’s arrest and the man left to deal with […]

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Hot Reads: “I Have Placed My Sickness Upon You” by Karin Tidbeck

Then came that Thursday in February when I stepped into my psychiatrist’s office and was presented with a goat. I was in treatment, but it wasn’t going well. I suffered from recursive treatment-resistant depression or, possibly, bipolar II disorder—my doctors wouldn’t settle on a diagnosis. Whatever you called it, it was hell. Over the years, […]

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  • Tickets for BLF 2019 Events

    Due to high demand, we cannot take reservations over the phone or email; please purchase your tickets at The Bookworm Sanlitun or online via Yoopay (click ‘ticket’ on the events page).