1 November, 2016
Lifestyle

Hong Kong Literary Festival Authors 2016: Women Who Write

1 November, 2016

5 Female Authors to Watch at the Hong Kong Literary Festival

 

Bookworms can’t miss the upcoming Hong Kong Literary Festival 2016 from 4 – 13 November, which features a number of events all over town. A host of talented writers will be participating in everything from discussions to workshops, and we were lucky to catch up with five intelligent, creative authors who will appearing at the festival. For a taster of what’s to come and for shot of literary inspiration, check out what these five fabulous women have to say about their work, their favourite books and characters, and their advice for aspiring writers!

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If you had to take one book to a desert island, what would it be? 

I was once very accomplished as an accordion-player and loved learning new tunes for the instrument, so I think I’d like to take a songbook (and of course an accordion) along with me!

What book would you recommend all young women to read? 

Report of the detailed findings of the commission of inquiry on Human Rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea – also available as a brief, yet nonetheless breath-taking, heart-stopping 36-page summary, published in Chinese, Arabic, French, Russian and Spanish.

Who is your favourite female book character/heroine and why?

Queen Sondok, because she was the first female leader of a unified Korea, which she inherited from her father in 634. She ruled during a time of strife and violence, but managed to extend and promote the peninsula’s influence and prestige beyond.

What advice would you give to your aspiring authors and writers?

Be brave, and trust your instincts to follow your dreams. The road will likely be difficult and challenging, but you will lead yourself to a better place.

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If you had to take one book to a desert island, what would it be?

The Night Circus is a book I could read over and over again on a desert island. It has a special kind of magic that would be a welcome escape in uncomfortable circumstances. It’s also big enough to use as a pillow.

What book would you recommend all young women to read?

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver. She has a masterful command of language, and she explores coming of age themes through the eyes of four very different young women.

Who is your favourite female book character/heroine and why?

Hermione Granger from Harry Potter keeps her head and does what needs to be done to help her friends. She’s not afraid to hide her intelligence or accomplishments, or her moments of vulnerability.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors and writers?

Write the kind of books you love to read. Don’t worry about making the first draft perfect. Just get the story down on paper so you have the raw material to shape. Rewriting is where the real fun (and work!) begins.

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If you had to take one book to a desert island, what would it be?

Infinite Jest, because that might be the only way I ever make time to get through it!

What book would you recommend all young women to read?

Anything by Jean Rhys, who after Wide Sargasso Sea was the infatuation of my late teens.

Who is your favourite female book character/heroine and why?

Dorothea Brooke, whose desire to be good is so compelling. I wish I could be as humane and even funny as she is, but can also understand the drive towards self-sabotage.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors and writers?

Just get all the words down and worry about the right order later.

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If you had to take one book to a desert island, what would it be?

The Art of Eating by M.F.K. Fisher, which is the bible of food writing as far as I’m concerned. This collection of her seminal works (“Serve It Forth,” “Consider the Oyster,” etc.) is perfect for a desert island not just because it’s long (784 pages) or because of its enchanting prose, but also because the tales of meals and dishes in this book would likely serve as a constant reminiscence of the magical world of eating beyond said island. Although, I’m not sure if this book would drive me to want to survive the island so I could dine like that again – or make me want to dash my head on a rock because I’m so hungry.

What book would you recommend all young women to read?

Portnoy’s Complaint by Philip Roth – I have never laughed harder (sometimes out loud, on the New York City Subway) while reading a book. Alexander Portnoy as a character is hilarious – the line, “I want to make a flood: I want like he does to shift the tides of the toilet bowl!” (when comparing his bathroom habits to that of his father’s) is still stuck in my head years after reading this book.

Who is your favourite female book character/heroine and why?

Frankie in The Member of the Wedding by Carson McCullers, who is one of my favorite writers (The Heart is a Lonely Hunter remains one of my all-time favorite books). I identified with and understood the adolescent Frankie and her yearning to make sense of the world around her – and her identity and place within it – when I read this and it really stuck with me. I found Frankie both profound and complexly drawn and I felt her pain, hope and also a sense of hopelessness acutely when I read this. It’s such a marvelous character that stung – her search for “the we of me.” I’ve never forgotten that.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors and writers?

Sit down and write. I hear so many people say they have a book in them and then spend more time complaining about not writing it than actually doing it. Make the time. Start – or you’ll regret it.

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If you had to take one book to a desert island, what would it be?

Such a gloomy thought. Either Louis MacNeice’s Autumn Journal or John Berger’s Selected Essays, edited by Geoff Dyer.

What book would you recommend all young women to read?

 Clarice Lispector’s The Hour of the Star.

Who is your favourite female book character/heroine and why?

So many to choose from. The eponymous character in Xi Xi’s story A Girl Like Me and Death in Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series. These characters are not your typical heroines and they have a good understanding of life and mortality, given what they do on a daily basis.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors and writers?

As I said elsewhere: read a lot before you start writing. Don’t write to please a particular crowd or worse, a particular person. Be responsible for what you write. Don’t be discouraged easily and do listen to constructive criticism. Be part of a writers’ community, even if you may not agree with some of its members. Have an opinion about things. Don’t compromise and don’t self-censor. Write.

heart-black

www.festival.org.hk

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