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Bookworm Festival Pulse : A Fitting Close to an Inspirational Festival

A Fitting Close to an Inspirational Festival

It’s eight o’clock at night, and The Bookworm is teeming with excitement. This is the last night of the Beijing Literary Festival, and what better way to cap off two and a half weeks of creative energy and intense conversation than this: A Pub Quiz!!

People mill about with their drinks in their hands, waiting for their teams to arrive, or scout out their tables and hunch forward to discuss strategy. The Bookworm staff hover around the edges, dutifully scanning the crowd to see who needs a drink and making sure the sound and lights are all working as they should. Chairs are pulled into tables, people stick out their hands to introduce themselves, and music flows from the speakers.

I stand to the side with the other festival volunteers, busily typing up my final blog post as Sam Waterson, who has been a reliable source of photography for the festival, alternatively sluices between tables and perches on chairs, snapping stills of the participants. Alison Chen, who has been conducting a mind-blowing number of interviews with authors and audience members over the last few weeks, joins us at the table as Karen Tong, this year’s kick-ass BLF manager, surveys the crowd with a satisfied smile.

Anthony Tao, a manager of BLF in previous years and creator of the Literary Festival’s pub quiz, sits at the front of the room in a light purple button-down shirt and blue suede shoes. He is staring intently at his computer with a half-finished beer and a microphone.

The music is lowered and Tao asks for everyone to find their seats and put their group name on their score sheets for the first round. Quick clips of movies that were adapted from books are the first challenge. There is head nodding and drink sipping and a buzz of collective chattering as teams lean in and bounce around ideas.

From art pieces that represent wars, to country codes, to a game of human-telephone where quotes from movies and poems are passed between living participants then announced to the crowd for identification, the quiz question get sillier and sillier. Owners David Cantaloupo, whose charismatic presence has been a constant delight over the past two and a half weeks, and Peter Goff, whose has been sacrificing money and time for this event since its beginning, both make appearances.

The night ends with a spirited debate over the meaning of the title “Khaleesi” in Game of Thrones, with two brave men standing up to dispute its origins. There is a raucous round of applause as the winners are announced. Gifts and rounds of drinks are passed out to the three top scores, the music is raised, the microphone turned off, and just like that, two and half weeks of passion and inspiration and literature come to a close—but then more drinks are poured, and the participants resume their role as customers, and the conversation continues, as it always will at the Bookworm.

Until next year, BLF!

Thanks to all!

Written by: Amanda Fiore

Writer & Writing Educator in Beijing, China

BLF Volunteer, 2019

WeChat: AmandaJaneFiore

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Chaoyang District, Beijing

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