Literary festival's founders miffed over 10th anniversary arrangements

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 10 March, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 10 March, 2010, 12:00am

They say hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. Well, the bruised egos of writers come close. The acrimony between the Hong Kong International Literary Festival and its past founders appears to be as bitter as ever.

The festival's 10th-anniversary year will begin tonight with what is turning out to be duelling parties. There's an official launch cocktail at the Upper House early in the evening, while after 9pm a rival writers' party is taking place at Post 97.

The source of this dispute appears to be the lack of recognition for original founders Nury Vittachi (right) and Australian Jane Camens (left). Camens flew back into town especially for the occasion. Vittachi, author of The Fung Shui Detective, suggested they were miffed at being denied a chance to speak at the special event. 'About a year ago, we had planned for a 10th-year party and we took it for granted that Jane and, I as founders, would speak,' Vittachi explained. 'Trying to not be political, we decided to have two events. It was understood we'd speak at theirs and they would speak at our. We've been waiting for a response for months.'

The Lit Fest's general manager, Melissa Long, though, is puzzled by the controversy. 'There are no speeches,' she said of the fest's reception, adding: 'We've invited the founding directors and other past directors to the anniversary. We've even listed their writers' party on our website. What I can say is we're really pleased to have Nury and Jane participating in seminars and as moderators at the festival.'

Let's see if swords will be replaced by pens tonight. Perceived or real snub aside, the Post 97 bash will also celebrate 20 years of the Hong Kong Writers' Circle and the launch of its new anthology, Hotel China.