Explore the complex relationship between wilderness and human nature at George Town Literary Festival 2022

The literary festival returns in a physical format with the theme, "Taming the Wild".

George Town Literary Festival (GTLF) in 2019, before the pandemic took place (Photo: George Town Literary Festival)

Wilderness, defined as an uncultivated, uninhabitable and inhospitable region, can also be a place of escape, to recharge, learn and discover oneself. A natural environment where animals and plants thrive can inspire imagination. But rich, undeveloped land can also tempt man to use violence and power for material gain.

Participants of the George Town Literary Festival (GTLF) will explore the complex relationship between wilderness and human nature when it returns in a physical format next month with the theme, “Taming the Wild”.

Pauline Fan and Izzuddin Ramli, both writers and translators, will direct and curate the fest respectively. It will be held from Nov 24 to 27 along China Street Ghaut, the main event site. There are two new curators on the Tamil and Chinese panels, namely M Navin, author of the banned Tamil novel Peichi, and Dr Florence Kuek of Universiti Malaya, whose research foci is Chinese literature and literary criticism.


Pauline Fan (Photo: George Town Literary Festival)

The programme has readings, workshops, panel discussions, exhibitions, one-on-one conversations and book launches. GTLF’s first publication, Muara, an anthology of essays, lectures, short stories, poetry and translations by writers from Malaysia and around the world, will be released during the festival. Kinokuniya will have a pop-up store for three days from Nov 25 at the UAB Building.

Among the 72 participants from 18 countries are Indonesian poet and critic Nirwan Dewanto; 2022 International Booker Prize finalists Bora Chung and Anton Hur; poet, essayist and translator Pierre Joris; Scottish writer Cal Flyn; Vietnamese-French novelist Thuan; Indian writer and literary critic B Jeyamohan; poets Ko Ko Thett and Nandar (both from Myanmar); Andriy Lyubka (Ukraine); and Habib Tengour (Algeria).

Malaysian guests include National Laureate Zurinah Hassan, Epigram Books Fiction Prize 2022 winner Karina Robles Bahrin, Huazong Literary Award recipient Fang Lu, and visual artist Syarifah Nadhirah.

Apart from the workshops by festival writers, admission to the 12th edition of GTLF is free. 


Across the Causeway

The Singapore Writers Festival will celebrate its 25th edition from Nov 4 to 20 with a single-word theme, “If”, inspired by the country’s Literature Prize-winner Cyril Wong’s poem, If… Else.

Responding to a time fraught with conflict and uncertainty, the word questions where the festival is now and what its future holds, besides conveying “a feeling of hope and a second chance as it allows for retrospection and ideation”, director Pooja Nansi says.

“If” also offers endless possibilities as participants imagine and reimagine past, present and future. In-person events and online programmes include the signature SWF Playground, Southeast Asian Focus and Youth Fringe. 

An exhibition under the Literary Pioneer series will highlight the contributions of early Malay, female writers, among them Malaysian writer, translator and teacher, Adibah Amin.



This article first appeared on Oct 10, 2022 in The Edge Malaysia.


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