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First Look at the International Authors for the 10th Bookworm Literary Festival

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The Bookworm Literary Festival (BLF) is one of the largest bilingual cultural events in China and among the most prestigious literary festivals in the world. Can you believe we’re celebrating our 10th anniversary — an entire decade! — this March?

The festival this year will include roughly 100 authors, about 70 of whom flying in from outside mainland China, and nearly 300 events spread across Bookworm locations in Beijing, Chengdu, and Suzhou. Please keep an eye out on this space — and the official festival website — for announcements, including the launch of the full program, which should happen before the end of this month.

For now, please allow us to introduce our international authors for the 2016 Bookworm Literary Festival! This list is subject to change — we expect to add up to a half-dozen more international authors in the next week or two, and boatloads from the local community.

Of the many outstanding authors on our list, a few nonetheless manage to stand out:

  • Roxane Gay is one of the fastest rising literary superstars in America today, a writer of immense range. She has published fiction and nonfiction, tackling subjects as divergent as gender, privilege, loneliness, and Scrabble with equal intelligence and humor. You might know her as the “bad feminist” — her TED Talk on the subject has been viewed more than 1 million times — and her book by that name is a New York Times bestseller, a “manual on how to be human,” according to Time. Roxane will be in Beijing during the festival’s opening week.
  • We have a substantial poetry program this year, with many outstanding poets across all ages and ethnicities, but it’s highlighted by Richard Blanco, who read at President Barack Obama’s Second Inauguration. In doing so, he became just the fifth Inaugural poet in the history of the United States, and the youngest, first Latino, immigrant, and gay person to serve in such a role. His personal story is as compelling as his professional accomplishments: born to Cuban-exiled parents in Madrid, he grew up in Miami, where he began his negotiation of cultural identity and place that characterize his body of work. His memoir One Today: An Inaugural Poet’s Journey is a brilliant story of not just an immigrant poet but a country’s spirit. His solo event will take place at The Bookworm on the evening of Saturday, March 12.
  • Many Chinese authors — most of whom yet to be announced — will participate in this year’s festival, such as A Yi, who Nobel-nominated poet Bei Dao called “one of the most gifted Chinese authors in recent times.” Known for his rebel streak, A Yi’s popularity has soared in recent years. He was introduced to a new world of readers in June 2015 with the publication of his novel A Perfect Crime in English. A Yi has worked as a police officer, secretary, and editor, with a brief stint as editor-in-chief of the edgy literary magazine Chutzpah.
  • Also: celebrity chef Ken Hom, who has spent more than three decades on UK television and was appointed honorary Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for “services to culinary arts” in 2009; Joy Chen, former vice mayor of Los Angeles and author of Do Not Marry Before Age 30, who has a huge Chinese following; notable children’s authors Ian Whybrow and Graeme Base, who have about 200 books between them; Irish author Eimear McBride, whose A Girl is a Half-formed Thing won the Goldsmiths Prize and Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction; Qiu Xiaolong, famous for his Inspector Chen series of detective novels that probe contemporary Chinese society and make pointed statements about corruption; Nury Vittachi, literary renaissance man who is founding editor of Asia Literary Review and co-founder of the Hong Kong Literary Festival; Philip Wilcox, current reigning Australian Poetry Slam national champion; Canadian author Dionne Brand, a wonderful and lovely speaker on issues ranging from love and longing to race and gender; and so, so many more.

Take a look at the complete list of authors and let us know which ones catch your eye!

Beginning soon, we will be publishing at least one blog post per day devoted to these authors. If you’d like to contribute a blog post, please get in touch ( and we’ll explain how you can help.

As always, we will be making a call for volunteers very soon, as well as part- and full-time interns. Stay tuned for the official announcement, but please email if you’d like to get a jumpstart on the competition.

Finally, be sure to follow @BeijingBookworm on Twitter, official WeChat account @BeijingBookworm and Facebook for chances to win tickets, etc., in the coming weeks.

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