A touch of royalty at this year's Book Fair
A touch of royal glamour will grace this year's Hong Kong Book Fair as authors including Prince Charles' stepson and a royal history expert meet the public in a push to get more people reading in English.
English constitutional historian David Starkey - a specialist on the Tudor dynasty and author of books including The Six Wives: The Queens of Henry VIII - and award-winning food writer Tom Parker Bowles - son of the Duchess of Cornwall and stepson and godson of Prince Charles - will take part in the Book Fair's public forum.
Entrepreneur and arts patron David Tang is putting together the forum for a second time after its success last year.
Other speakers at the forum are British novelist and controversial restaurant reviewer Adrian Anthony Gill, who writes under the byline A.A. Gill, and Nicholas Coleridge, author of best-seller The Fashion Conspiracy and managing director of Conde Nast, which publishes magazines including Vogue and Vanity Fair.
The forum will be held at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre during the Book Fair on July 22.
Tang said the tremendous response to last year's forum - which featured authors including Stephen Fry and Frederick Forsyth - was encouraging, and he hoped for more such events in the city to give the public a chance to meet renowned international figures for free.
'The problem with Hong Kong is that the general public does not get too many opportunities to interact with accomplished people,' said Tang, adding that even if such figures are in town, they only appear at private functions.
'You have to pay [to meet them], especially for those in the arts field.'
Tang - who will be moderating the forum, entitled 'How and what and why do writers write?' - said he was pleased with the enthusiasm shown by last year's audience, which fired a wide range of questions at panel members.
'Art is always about inspiration. It's a good opportunity for people to question these writers, who will give them inspiration ... get their imaginations going. It's not just about the language,' said Tang, who is also a newspaper columnist.
Tang, who was knighted by Queen Elizabeth in the 2008 New Year Honours List, said he was aware of the debate over the declining standard of English in Hong Kong, but to him the problem was not restricted to the English language.
'It is the articulation of language, not just English but also Cantonese,' said Tang, adding that panellists' 'fierce ability to articulate' would provide a good example for audience members looking to further their language skills.
Other overseas writers who will attend this year's Book Fair include award-winning English contemporary poet Wendy Cope, American-Japanese writer Karl Taro Greenfeld, and best-selling crime and detective novelist Ridley Pearson.
The organiser of the fair, the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, said it hoped that bringing overseas authors to the event would get more Hongkongers reading English-language books.
The fair will run from July 20 to 26.