Report on the 4th EU-CHINA INTERNATIONAL LITERARY FESTIVAL
Held at the Beijing BookWorm
Opening of final session.
Time: 18:00 – 19:30pm
Number of authors: Nine EU authors and four Chinese authors.
The final session of the 4th EU China Book festival was held at The BookWorm in Sanlitun on Friday, 31st of May, 2019. The event brought together book lovers and book readers from all over Beijing, media personnel, representatives from the European Union, European Embassy representatives as well as nine authors from Europe and four Chinese authors who were all going to be sharing their literary works over the weekend at various events, under different themes.
Program Director of the Festival, Peter Goff, who also doubled as Master of Ceremony for the event introduced the event saying that, over the past four years, the festival had brought together fifty-six European authors who had immensely contributed to the festival through their exchange of literary knowledge with the Chinese authors and audience. Speaking at the launch of the final session, Peter mentioned that the festival had been to various cities in China such as Shanghai, Chengdu just to name a few. He mentioned that over the years there had been several hundred events with numerous participants, acknowledging the presence of a thriving online viewing community which participated via live streaming. The idea of the festival was conceived after a visit from the European Union delegation to China and has successfully been held for four years being facilitated by the Citic Press.
William Fingleton, Head of Press and Information with the Delegation of the EU to China, who spoke at the event articulated how pleased he was to be joining the event. He emphasized the role of the written word in China, elaborating on the significant role the written word plays in the Chinese society by unifying different factions of the society. He mentioned that beyond the connectivity and collaboration between Europe and Asia which mainly focused on building concrete roads and bridges, cultural exchange was also an important aspect of this exchange which should not be overlooked. He said this exchange, which has been mainly through literature, music and arts have been very instrumental in bridging the cultural gap and strengthening the relationship between China and Europe. He was hopeful that such meaningful and integral exchanges would continue in the future.
Manager of Citic Press, Shi Hong Jun, commended the venue of the event (The BookWorm). He reiterated that it made much sense that a book festival of this nature would be held at a venue where there were many different genres of books that highlighted the essence of the festival. He mentioned the power of globalization, stating the power of online publishing and how the Chinese audience were catching up remarkably well with this new trend. Speaking as a representative of one the best Publishing Companies in China, Shi Hong Jun stated that the festival renders book lovers and book readers the rare opportunity to meet face to face with the authors. He stated that the festival offered the opportunity for both European Union authors and Chinese authors to interact and exchange salient ideas that were pivotal to building knowledge. He was expectant to hear and read more beautiful stories form the authors.
The event brought together nine authors from Europe and four authors from China. The European authors for this event came from Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Germany, Malta, Sweden, Romania, France and Spain. Audience were given the opportunity to hear from and engage with all the twelve authors present who mounted the stage to introduce themselves and share a word or two concerning the festival.
From Bulagaria, Keti Bozukova expressed her immense gratitude to the organizers for extending the invitation to be part of this very significant book festival. Reminiscing the memories from her first visit to China some twenty years ago, she mentioned that she was impressed with what she had seen so far. After visiting almost fifty-five countries, she believes her trips have had a huge impact on her work as an author and a poet. Radka Trestikova from Czech Republic introduced her country to the audience. A writer of screen plays and an author of books, Radka mentioned how her passion in book writing and her love for books had led her to publishing five books. However, she was hopeful that her books will soon be translated to Chinese.
Author Piret Raud from Estonia said her country had a population of approximately one million. Not being a fan of counting the books she has written and published she said she had published between fifteen to twenty books. Piret eulogized the indefatigable role that readers played in the book writing business. To her, readers were the most important people because without them the role of writers would be insignificant. She was very excited to share her stories with the people of china especially, her book, The Ear, which she had written about the art of listening.
Chinese author Yuan Ling was happy about the event and the underlying ideology behind the festival, which was to encourage interaction with authors from the EU and China. A former journalist and writer himself, he had written and explored different genres. One of his major goals, he told the audience was to explore the boundary between fiction and nonfiction. He was working on another book he was hopeful would be published in about a month which was going to be centered around the stories and lives of children in both rural and urban settings.
Speaking after Yuan Ling, German author, Antje Damm described how writing was a platform that created spaces for people to travel to different places, know about other people and also stimulate conversations between the younger and older generations. She said good books make people active, get us engaged through appealing to our feelings and give us the opportunity to experience new things.
Claire Azzopardi from Malta, who is a teacher and a children’s writer was enthusiastic about being part of this festival. As a child, the opportunity to travel was very rare however, writing had presented her a great opportunity to move from her small country to experience different cultures all over the world. She was expectant that her dreams would be transferred to the children as she interacts with them during the festival.
Being the only European male author present at the launch, Science fiction author Rafal Kosik from Poland introduced to the audience a brief part of his journey as a writer. As a writer from Poland who has published close to thirty books, he said he had always looked forward to write science fiction and give people the opportunity to share knowledge with other people through writing. He chose to write for young adults because he was able to create more spaces to aggravate their imagination.
Author, Hei Mi from south of China stated how her love for painting and illustration had led her into publishing her books. A detailed artist and a teacher of painting for children, she was very pragmatic with her work. She emphasized the amount of time she spends in coming out with a book. She was intrigued about her new project which was based on children’s songs. Swedish author, Uriak Nielson was keen about language and the role it plays in literature. According to her, “the greatest adventure for me is language and I have to be inside language and try to investigate what is really going on in the world and around human beings”. She said that she was interested in language, investigating forms and genres. Another thing that really fascinated her was ordinary lives, small things, gaps and language. These, to her, are places where very fascinating things took place in the hidden. She was delighted about the experience.
Quan Zhou, also spoke on how her experience as a Chinese born in Spain had turned to a career in book writing. She was excited about sharing her story with the people of China and spoke on how famous her work in Spain had become as she poured her experience through writing comic books for the people of Spain. Author Adina Rosetti from Romania spoke on how writing becomes a great tool for combating a person’s demons. She had discovered over the years that literature was a magical experience and writing for children was the best way to teach them values of empathy and encourage them to be creative thinkers. She stated how she was ready to dedicate her life to new writing projects for children. She shared with the audience how she just had quit her job as a journalist to pursue her dream as a writer for children.
Chinese author A Yi, who was the last author to speak expressed his pleasure meeting the other authors. With a very admirable sense of humor, he thrilled the audience to interesting conversations on age, writing and his interests. A former police officer, A Yi said he enjoyed reading crime and suspense novels. He said most of his work were centered around fighting. He spoke of a book he wrote where the hero dies on the first page of the story.
The event ended with a question and answer session. Audience were curious to hear from the authors’ perspectives experiences on creating and writing stories, the impact of the EU China festival in other jurisdictions in Europe and the authors’ impression of Beijing.
Peter Goff pre-concluded the event by expressing his thanks to all stakeholders present at the festival. He also briefly touched on the process of selecting authors for the festival which he said, involved a lot of careful planning and detailed selection after several interactions and consultations with the respective embassies.
The event which was well-attended ended with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Audience were thrilled by the work of these renowned authors. Participants interviewed after the session were super excited for the final events of the Book Festival.