THE MAN HONG KONG INTERNATIONAL LITERARY FESTIVAL 2009

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 01 March, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 01 March, 2009, 12:00am

MARCH 8

Opening Night Drinks and Asia Literary Review Launch

Mingle with writers, publishers and other literary enthusiasts. The new English-language quarterly is devoted to fiction, reportage, documentary photography, travel writing and memoirs addressing the needs of intelligent readers. Every quarterly issue contains the work of established writers, and new voices from Mumbai to Shanghai. 6pm, Fringe Club Rooftop, free

Not A Muse: Poetry to Seduce the Senses

Celebrate International Women's Day with the launch of Not a Muse; an evening of multisensory entertainment where live poetry intersects with the passion of jazz; and the beauty of art. Poets from five countries will perform. Ticket price includes a copy of Not A Muse. This event is supported by Haven Books. 7pm, Fringe Theatre, HK$380

MARCH 9

The Harbin Files: Secrets and Spies

Mara Moustafine tells the story of her family's life over 50 turbulent years in China and her quest to uncover the fate of family members who fled the Japanese occupation of Manchuria in the 1930s, only to be caught in Joseph Stalin's purges in the Soviet Union. Secrets and Spies: The Harbin Files was awarded a NSW Premier's Literary Award in 2003 and was shortlisted in 2004 for the Kiriyama Prize and Australia's National Biography Award. 1pm, The Fringe Theatre, HK$110

An Examined Life

Where is the line between fact and fiction? Can an author ever be historically accurate? What makes a memoir interesting to the reader? Mara Moustafine discusses writing a historically accurate memoir. In conversation with Alexandra Harney. 7.30pm, The Fringe Theatre, HK$110

MARCH 10

M Literary Lunch: The Book Thief

With the publication of The Book Thief in 2006, Markus Zusak is now being dubbed a literary phenomenon by Australian and American critics. The novel has been published in 30 languages and is an international best-seller. This event is a fund-raiser for the Man Hong Kong International Literary Festival and is sponsored by M at the Fringe. Zusak's visit to Hong Kong has been assisted by the Australian government through the Australia Council for the Arts. In conversation with RTHK's Sarah Passmore. 12pm, M at the Fringe, HK$480 (sold out)

A Case Of Exploding Mangoes

From the Pakistan Air Force to journalism, Mohammed Hanif's first novel, A Case of Exploding Mangoes, was longlisted for the 2008 Man Booker Prize. He started his career in the Pakistan Air Force Academy before bailing out to pursue a successful career in journalism. He has since written a critically acclaimed BBC drama and feature film, The Long Night. He will be talking about journalism, scriptwriting and novels. 12.30pm, Foreign Correspondents' Club, HK$180

SCMP Presents, Environment Under Threat: Writing Creatively About the Environment

The beauty of the natural world was once the source of inspiration for artists. In this age of environmental crisis, should writers be returning to the natural world for inspiration, wisdom and meaning? And can fiction with an environmental focus encourage change? Julia Whitty, an award-winning creative writer, world traveller and environmental journalist, discusses how the use of words can help. 7.30pm, The Fringe Studio, HK$110

English in Hong Kong: More Than a Colonial Residue

Louise Ho is considered the leading English-language poet in Hong Kong, happy to work in a language that might be thought a colonial residue, and well versed in its poetic traditions, often making use and sometimes making fun of them. Her collected poems, Incense Tree, will launch the inaugural HKU Poetry Prize. She talks with Michael Hollington about her poetry. This event will be followed by an announcement and details about the inaugural HKU Poetry Prize. 7.30pm, The Fringe Theatre, HK$110

MARCH 11

Dim Sum & Then Some Presents, The Scandal of the Season

Sophie Gee's historical work, The Scandal of the Season, is a tale of seduction, betrayal and intrigue. Winning a scholarship to Harvard University, Gee did a PhD in English literature. She wrote her doctoral thesis about filth, pollution and satire in the 18th century. Now an assistant professor at Princeton University, she teaches 17th and 18th-century literature from Milton to Jane Austen. Enjoy lunch and 18th-century gossip about authors and aristocracy as Gee converses with RTHK's Sarah Passmore. Gee's trip to Hong Kong has been assisted by the Australian government through the Australia Council for the Arts. This event is supported by Dim Sum & Then Some and the Press Room Group. 12.30pm, The Press Room, Hollywood Road, HK$420

Worshipped, Eaten, Feared and Loved

Graeme Gibson is inspired by the literary and artistic forms that our affinity for birds has taken over the centuries. Birds appear in mythology and folk tales, in literature by writers as diverse as Ovid, Franz Kafka and T.S. Eliot. Omens, allegories, disguises and guides; they hold a fascination for science, and figure charmingly in the works of nature writers. Gibson, who is the past president of PEN Canada, award-winning novelist and council member of WWF Canada, will amuse and intrigue you with anecdotes from his latest book, The Bedside Book of Birds. In conversation with Kate Rogers. 1pm, The Fringe Theatre, HK$110

Writing Masterclass

Join Thaddeus Rutkowski, the winner of several prestigious poetry slams and the author of Roughhouse - a finalist for the Asian American Literary Award - for a series of fun exercises that work through some essential areas of writing while increasing your confidence. He teaches fiction writing at the Writer's Voice of the West Side YMCA in New York and has taught at Pace University, the Hudson Valley Writers' Centre and the Asian American Writers' Workshop. His latest novel is Tetched. Limited to 20 participants. 2pm, The Fringe Theatre, HK$500

Armchair Traveller

Sip champagne and imagine diving in the Galapagos. Journey to another time in history and hear aristocratic scandals. Julia Whitty, author of The Fragile Edge, and Sophie Gee share fascinating anecdotes in conversation with Stephen McCarty, books editor of the South China Morning Post. This event is a fund-raiser for the festival. 5pm, M at the Fringe, HK$420

WiPS Launch Party for IMPRINT9

The Women in Publishing Society of Hong Kong unveils its annual anthology at the exclusive Kee Club. Gourmet nibbles, wine and soft drinks until 9pm. HK$50 of each ticket will be donated to Springboard, a local charity. All members and their guests will receive a complimentary copy of IMPRINT9. 6.30pm, The Kee Club, HK$150

Conspiracy Theory

Pakistan's political turmoil adds a piquant edge to this fact-based farce spun from the mysterious 1988 plane crash that killed General Zia-ul-Haq, the dictator who toppled Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, father of recently assassinated Benazir Bhutto. Pakistan-born Mohammed Hanif served in his nation's air force for several years, which adds verisimilitude to his depiction of military foibles and some heft to the sagely absurd depiction of his homeland's history of political conspiracies and corruption. In conversation with Nigel Collett. In partnership with the British Council. 7pm, The Fringe Theatre, HK$110

The Proverse Party

Meet and hear authors, editors, translators, publishers and prize administrators talk about changing places, changing words and changing worlds. Booking essential. Cash bar available. 7pm, The Helena May, HK$120

The Fragile Edge: Vanishing Species, Emerging Solutions

Julia Whitty, environmental correspondent for Mother Jones magazine, discusses the beauty of the natural world and the environmental crisis that ravages it. As a veteran filmmaker, her more than 70 nature documentaries have aired on PBS, Nature, Discovery Channel and National Geographic. Her latest award-winning book, The Fragile Edge, is a scientifically rich portrait of teeming coral reefs. In partnership with the Royal Geographical Society. 8pm, Olympic House, HK$150

MARCH 12

The Science of Enlightenment

Marcel Proust said, 'the only real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes'. Susan Jamieson has embraced the spiritual side of healing. Her book, Light in Life: Medical to Mystical, draws on wisdom from ancient traditions that enables us to optimise our skills and potential. Cutting-edge science is explained in a simple way and practical exercises guide participants on a journey to heal themselves, others and the planet. 2pm, The Fringe Theatre, HK$200, www.light-in-life.com

Meet Markus Zusak: Festival Book Club

Read The Book Thief and chat with author Markus Zusak, who writes about weighty subjects with compassion and fearlessness. Enjoy this unique opportunity to discuss the ideas in his book, learn how he began writing and compare the historical events of the second world war to relevant modern issues. This book club is specifically designed to engage secondary students. 4.30pm, The Fringe Theatre, HK$110 (sold out)

Alexander the Great

In his book, In the Footsteps of Alexander The Great: A Journey from Greece to Asia, British historian Michael Wood absorbingly recreates Alexander's epic conquests. The harrowing tale of his own trek over the same ground makes clear how heroic Alexander's army was. He recounts how he found Alexander fiercely alive in poetry, songs and folk tales in cities and villages, in desert camps and on the mountains of the Hindu Kush. In partnership with the Royal Geographical Society. 6.30pm, Hong Kong Football Club, HK$550

Devastated Environment: Not Just Science Fiction

Margaret Atwood's writings often paint a dark picture of our relationship to the environment, exploring the consequences of everything from climate change to genetic engineering. Works such as Oryx and Crake and Chicken Little Goes Too Far, a short story from her most recent minifiction collection, The Tent, depict a world in which our actions have wreaked irreversible havoc on the environment. In this event, Atwood talks about sustainable development and the need to take action. In conversation with Charles Foran. A wine and jazz reception and book signing will follow. This event has the assistance of the Canadian consul-general, the Canadian International School and CISPA. 7pm, The Leo Lee Arts Complex, HK$280

Spotlight on Australia

With tales of scandals and theft, these celebrated authors share their thoughts on writing about history. Markus Zusak's moving novel, The Book Thief, begins in 1939 Germany. When Liesel is nine, she steals her first book. The novel follows Liesel's life throughout most of the second world war. Sophie Gee's historical work, The Scandal of the Season, is set during the reign of Queen Anne. The background is the Jacobite plot to assassinate the queen and put a Catholic Stuart on the throne. The foreground is filled with decadent aristocracy playing out their marriage games among the balls, gambling dens and operas of 18th-century London. In conversation with Karen Koh. This event has been assisted by the Australia Council for the Arts and is supported by the Australian consulate-general to Hong Kong. 7pm, Australia House, HK$150 (sold out)

The Power of Poetry

Solitude is sustenance for a poet's soul but there is a time for sharing. Hear local and international poets read and discuss their work. Considered the leading English-language poet in Hong Kong, Louise Ho's poetry is a reflection of the fortunes of Hong Kong and its people. American poet Thaddeus Rutkowski is the winner of prestigious poetry slams. Irish poet and citizen of the world John O'Sullivan draws on music, art and travel. They are joined by local talents Martin Alexander, Sally Dellow, Viki Holmes and Kate Rogers. 8pm, The Fringe Theatre, HK$110

MARCH 13

Brilliant at Breakfast: Jonathan Fenby

Oscar Wilde believed that 'only dull people are brilliant at breakfast'. We beg to differ. Hear one of the festival's early-morning stars. Former South China Morning Post editor Jonathan Fenby is the author of the Penguin History of Modern China and four other books on China and Hong Kong. He has also written about France, naval disasters and the highly acclaimed Alliance: The Inside Story of How Roosevelt, Stalin and Churchill Won One War and Began Another. 8am, Foreign Correspondents' Club, HK$180

All About Jane. Love Jane Austen?

Want to learn more about her life, her devilishly charming Mr Darcy, her satirical style and her personal sorrows? Talk with Sophie Gee, named the John E. Annan Bicentennial Preceptor in 2006 in recognition of outstanding research and teaching as a member of Princeton University's junior faculty. An expert on Jane Austen, she will share stories and answer questions. In conversation with Carol Hart. 10am, The Helena May, Blue Room, HK$120 (sold out)

China and Obama's America: The Inaugural Great Financial Times Debate

How will the United States' new Democratic administration impact political, economic and trade relations with China? Will there be conflict in Sino-American relations as the two countries navigate a global economic downturn or will financial hardship unite them to a common cause? The Financial Times presents a debate with pundits Simon Schama, Richard McGregor, Jonathan Fenby and Lifen Zhang. David Pilling, Asia editor of the Financial Times, will moderate the debate. Lunch included. 12.30pm, The Four Seasons, Grand Ballroom, HK$450

The Art of Translation

Julia Lovell is the author of several books on China including The Great Wall: China Against the World and The Politics of Cultural Capital: China's Quest for a Nobel Prize in Literature. She has edited and translated in part Lust, Caution, a collection of short stories by Eileen Chang, and her translation of the complete fiction of Lu Xun will be published this year. A lecturer in Chinese history at the University of London, she has translated several contemporary novels including I Love Dollars by Zhu Wen, poet, novelist and filmmaker. The English version was shortlisted for the 2008 Kiriyama Prize. She talks about the pitfalls in translation with Zhu Wen. This session will be in English and Putonghua. 1pm, Chinese University, Chung Chi College Library, free

Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth

Acclaimed for her talent for portraying personal and worldly problems of universal concern, Margaret Atwood is the author of 35 volumes of poetry, fiction, and non-fiction. Most recently, she delivered the CBC Massey Lecture Series, published by Anansi as Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth (2008). Atwood discusses debt: who owes what to whom, or to what, and how that debt gets paid. Debt is a subject much larger than money. It has to do with our basic sense of fairness, a sense that is embedded in all of our exchanges with our fellow human beings. 3pm, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Citigroup Lecture Theatre, Clearwater Bay, free

The Lure of China

Frances Wood is curator of the Chinese collections at the British Library. She has written several books on China including Did Marco Polo Go To China?, The Silk Road, The Forbidden City and The First Emperor. In her most recent book, The Lure of China, she talks about writers and collectors who are drawn to China. In partnership with the Royal Asiatic Society. 6.30pm, Hong Kong Club, Harcourt Suite, HK$120 (sold out)

Everything in Life is Contagious

Andrew Barker's new villanelle-form narrative, Everything in Life is Contagious, is taken from his new publication, Snowblind from my Protective Colouring. It explores the radically different perspectives of an unnamed female and male who reflect on the past and present of a close emotional relationship. This dramatic reading will be performed by Jonathan Douglas and Jessica Yeung, directed by Mike Ingham. This work is a powerful poetic exploration of a turbulent relationship that is written in precise, evocative language. Dramatically speaking, it conjures up associations with Harold Pinter's short plays, and poetically it resonates with many great love poems written in the formal styles of sonnet and villanelle from the era of Donne and Shakespeare to the present. 7pm, The Fringe Theatre, HK$110

In Vino Veritas

Join this intimate conversation with Charles Foran. In his most recent book of essays, Join the Revolution, Comrade, he visits places in Vietnam that have been 'colonised' by western war films, talks to Shanghai residents about their colossal city and commiserates with the people of Bali about the effects of terrorist bombs on their island. He talks with Justin Hill, author of the acclaimed The Drink and Dream Teahouse, which won several awards, was translated into 11 languages and was banned by the Chinese government. Sit in comfortable leather armchairs, surrounded by Lokman's rare books and enjoy wine and whisky while talking with two great authors. Wine provided by Kedington Wines. 7.30pm, Lokman Books, HK$400 (sold out)

Poetic Licence

A lively and entertaining evening of contemporary poetry. Hear poet and painter John O'Sullivan talk about the travels that inspired his new book, Odd Poems and Slogans; Sally Dellow will thrill us with her most recent poems; Michelle Cahill reads from her collection, The Accidental Cage, and Martin Alexander will make us laugh and cry with poems about life, death, bikes and bugs. Bring your own poems and join in or just sit back and soak it all up. 8pm, The Fringe Theatre, HK$110

MARCH 14

Dislocated Voices

For authors who live far from home, can writing act as an umbilical cord to the mother country? Or is the idea of homeland becoming redundant in an age of mass migration, diaspora and exile? Join this panel of transnational writers in a discussion on whether geographical displacement, as it is lived in the 21st century, is an impediment to the writing process - or a gift to it. Featuring Chiew-Siah Tei, Xujun Eberlein and Neel Chowdhury. 10am, The Fringe Theatre, HK$110

Life and Daydreams

Rana Dasgupta, the acclaimed author of Tokyo Cancelled, discusses his highly anticipated second novel, Solo, which recounts the life and daydreams of a reclusive 100-year-old man from Bulgaria. What emerges is a vision of a beleaguered and damaged nation - stained by empire, monarchy, revolution, fascism and communism - and of a man who discovers the musical gift of his own imagination. In conversation with Douglas Kerr. In association with Time Out. 11.30am, The Fringe Theatre, HK$110

M Literary Lunch: Free Food for Millionaires

Min Jin Lee exquisitely evokes what it's like to be an immigrant and, more specifically, the child of immigrants. As much as Free Food for Millionaires is an immigrant story, it is also a story full of class struggle, rugged individualism, social status and, above all, the money haves and have-nots. It is an epic meditation on love littered with betrayals, illicit sex, numerous levels of unfaithfulness, surprise twists and unexpected turns of the heart. Enjoy lunch at M's followed by Min Jin Lee in conversation with Dania Shawwa Abuali. 12.30pm, M at the Fringe, HK$288

Covert Takeover: Heroes and Criminals

Neel Chowdhury's novel, The Inheritors, moves from the crumbling offices of Calcutta to hedge funds in Hong Kong, from the Mumbai stock exchange to colonial Rajasthan, in a story about a takeover of one of India's largest commodity traders. Marxist trade union leaders pit their forces against the head of the dynasty, and family allies come to the fore in an effort to save their empire. This debut author is in conversation with Nigel Collett. 1pm, The Fringe Theatre, HK$110

China: From Then to Now

Frances Wood, curator of the Chinese collections at the British Library, has written several books about China including Did Marco Polo go to China?, The Silk Road, The Forbidden City and The First Emperor of China. She is joined by Jonathan Fenby, who most recently penned The Penguin History of Modern China. In conversation with Justin Hill. 2.30pm, The Fringe Theatre, HK$110

I Love Dollars

Julia Lovell is the translator for Zhu Wen's book, I Love Dollars. Hear them talk about the art of translation, the mistakes and the mishaps. Please note this will be in English and Putonghua. 2.30pm, The Fringe Studio, HK$110

Asia Society Presents, Family Dysfunction

His father is a half-mad, violent eastern European artist. His Chinese mother is subservient and much-suffering; she buffers herself from the dysfunctional family by quoting Buddhist wisdom. In Thaddeus Rutkowski's offbeat coming-of-age novel, Tetched, a biracial narrator tells of growing up in rural America and later escaping to a new life in New York City. Min Jin Lee discusses the tenuous relationship between first-generation immigrant parents and their hip young offspring. Her novel, Free Food for Millionaires, centres on the tightly knit social world of Korean immigrants, whose children strive to blend into their American foreground without clashing with their distinctive background. Moderated by Manreet Sodhi Someshwar. 3.30pm, The Fringe Theatre, HK$110

Tea with Margaret Atwood

Throughout her 30 years of writing, Margaret Atwood has received numerous awards and several honorary degrees. She is the author of works of poetry, fiction and non-fiction and is perhaps best known for her novels, which include The Edible Woman, The Handmaid's Tale, The Robber Bride, Alias Grace and The Blind Assassin. Join her for tea when she will read from her work and answer questions about her writing. This event is sponsored by the Mandarin Oriental. 3.30pm, The Chinnery, Mandarin Oriental, HK$400 (sold out)

RTHK Presents, India: An Epic Journey

Michael Wood is well known as a popular English historian and broadcaster. He has produced numerous television programmes and documentaries based on his research and writings. He talks about his latest journey, told in his book, India: An Epic Journey Across the Subcontinent. In conversation with Hugh Chiverton. 4pm, The Fringe Studio, HK$110

Wine, Words and Wisdom

Join four outstanding international authors who will be paired with a different wine for each course of your dinner. Each author has chosen a reading or anecdote to complement the wine and the food, and to entertain you throughout the evening. Charles Foran brings to the essay form the same restlessness and originality that mark his novels and non-fiction. Nam Le's book, The Boat, is hailed as one of the most spectacular debut works of fiction in recent years. Irish poet and painter John O'Sullivan resides in Bali. Janice Lee, author of The Piano Teacher, will talk about her writing success. Heidi Welsh from Essential Fine Wines will moderate the event. Essential Fine Wines is contributing the wine and DotCod is creating a sustainable seafood menu. 7.30pm, DotCod, HK$800

MARCH 15

Travel & Leisure Southeast Asia Presents Fine Fiction

We often think of writers sitting in solitary hovels, eking out a living. Nam Le and Miguel Syjuco discuss their paths to success. What makes an award-winning book? How much writing and struggle is involved in the process? In conversation with SCMP books editor Stephen McCarty. Coffee and snacks included. This event is sponsored by the Press Room Group. 10am, The Pawn Living Room, HK$250

Kids' Gallery Presents, Tony Ross

Meet Tony Ross, the well-known author and illustrator of The Little Princess series and numerous reworked and updated fairy tales such as Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Children and adults will enjoy hearing him speak about his favourite characters and watching him bring paper to life with his marvellous illustrations. Please note that children should be accompanied by an adult. Ross's trip to Hong Kong is in partnership with the British Council. 10.30am, The Fringe Studio, HK$75

The Life and Times of Birds

Graeme Gibson is joint president, with Margaret Atwood, of BirdLife International's Rare Bird Club. He is also chairman of the Pelee Island Bird Observatory and is a council member of WWF Canada. He talks about the myths, anecdotes and research behind writing The Bedside Book of Birds. 11am, Hong Kong Wetland Park, free

Finding Shangri-La

Michael Wood explores the history behind some of the most well-known myths in the world. He discusses with Justin Hill the birthplace of Shangri-la. In retracing Portuguese missionary Antonio Andrade's steps, Wood embarks on an extraordinary journey through India, Nepal and Tibet to reach a village near Lake Mansarovar and Mount Kailash, some of the holiest places in the Buddhist and Hindu religions. 11.30am, The Fringe Theatre, HK$110

Making a Splash

Some debut authors are fortunate enough to get it right the first time. Janice Lee's The Piano Teacher has been published in 20 countries and in 18 languages. Rana Dasgupta's Tokyo Cancelled was shortlisted for the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize and the Hutch Crossword Book Award. Come and hear them talk about their work and what comes next. Moderated by Stephen McCarty. 1.30pm, The Fringe Theatre, HK$110

Asia Literary Review Presents, The Year of the Short Story

Award-winning authors Nam Le, Rana Dasgupta and Xujun Eberlein discuss the art of the short story. The seven stories in Nam Le's, The Boat, have characters as varied as a Japanese third-grader, an ageing painter with haemorrhoids and an American woman visiting Iran for the first time. In Rana Dasgupta's Tokyo Cancelled, 13 passengers, stuck overnight in an airport, tell stories that add up to a broad exploration of 21st-century forms of life. Apologies Forthcoming by Xujun Eberlein is a collection centred on China's Cultural Revolution and its aftermath. In conversation with Chris Wood, editor of the Asia Literary Review. 3pm, The Fringe Theatre, HK$110

China Cuckoo

Mark Kitto was a successful magazine publisher in China. He built one of the best-known English-language titles in the country. But in 2004 things went awry. He lost his business, and suffered repeated court battles to recover it. Now, at last, Kitto tells his story, the happier one, of picking himself up again and getting on with life in China Cuckoo: An Englishman who went to China in Search of a Fortune and Found a Life. In conversation with Nigel Collett. 4.30pm, The Fringe Theatre, HK$110

A Sense of Place

The unique atmosphere of a particular place can provide the inspiration for a narrative. What does it mean to capture a sense of place? Featuring John O'Sullivan, Kate Rogers and Miguel Syjuco. Moderated by Reverend Sharon Constable. 6pm, StJohn's Cathedral, free

MARCH 16

The Latest Trend: Writing in English

Chiew-Siah Tei is a bilingual Malaysian author. She has written columns on social issues, film, art and literature. Her first collection of prose, written in Chinese and published in 1998, It's Snowing, is an account of her observation as an outsider in Scotland. Her first novel, Little Hut of Leaping Fishes, was longlisted for the inaugural Man Asian Literary Prize. She talks about the implications of the trend to English language and literature as increasing numbers of non-native English speakers from around the world write in English. 12.30pm, Foreign Correspondents' Club, HK$180

China in 2008: Putting a Year of Great Significance into Historical Perspective

Jeffrey Wasserstrom, author of Global Shanghai, 1850-2010: A History in Fragments, talks about the challenges of writing concise histories of complex cities. Wasserstrom is professor of history at the University of California. He discusses how he has engaged with issues linked to contemporary Chinese politics through contributing to newspapers, magazines and, more recently, as the founder of the China Beat blog. 4pm, University of Hong Kong, main building, room 150, free

Bloggers: Should They Be Taken Seriously?

From politics to dating, blogs are part of the literary world. Often derided as unedited ramblings, blogs can also be contemporary and thought-provoking. Should they be given more credence? Jeffrey Wasserstrom, founder of the China Beat blog, talks about the reasons why blogs are so important in today's society, how they affect free speech and privacy in China and what they mean for the future of journalism in this internet age. In conversation with Rebecca MacKinnon. 7.30pm, The Fringe Theatre, HK$110

MARCH 17

The Female Pen

Chiew-Siah Tei's award-winning works run the gamut from screenplays to prose. Little Hut of Leaping Fishes is her debut novel. She talks with Janice Lee, author of the successful The Piano Teacher, about how to develop strong female characters. In conversation with Marysia Juszczakiewicz. Coffee and tea included. 10am, The Helena May, Blue Room, HK$120

The Shanghai Illusion

Jeffrey Wasserstrom is the editor of the Journal of Asian Studies. In his recent book Global Shanghai, 1850-2010: A History in Fragments, he debunks more than a few myths as he traverses 160 years of modern Shanghai history. The greatest of these is what he calls the Shanghai illusion - the city has been represented and misrepresented in so many ways in literature, film and such that it has become 'virtually unviewable save through the fictive scrim of its mythologisers'. 7.30pm, The Fringe Theatre, HK$110

In conversation with Margaret Atwood

Throughout her 30 years of writing, Atwood has received numerous awards and several honorary degrees. She is the author of 35 volumes of poetry, fiction and non-fiction and is perhaps best known for her novels, which include The Edible Woman, The Handmaid's Tale, The Robber Bride and Alias Grace. The Blind Assassin won the 2000 Booker Prize, and in April 2003, her 11th novel, the Man Booker Prize-nominated Oryx and Crake, was released to great acclaim. In conversation with David Parker. March 16 at 3.30pm, Chinese University, teaching complex west, lecture theatre6, free.

Photo: Bloomberg