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Bookworm Literary Festival announces 2015 line-up

Beijing book bash attracts international talent

The 2015 Bookworm Literary Festival has announced its preliminary line-up.

Beijing's premier book bash will run from 13 to 29 March this year and will feature panels, talks and workshops from poets, authors and journalists as well as music and comedy events.

The full programme will be released at the end of this month and tickets will be released around the middle of February.

For now, here are the writers that Bookworm Beijing have announced will be dropping round later this year.

Bookworm literary festival 2015 line-up


Korean-American Chang-rae Lee won the Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award for his first novel Native Speaker in 1995 but he'll be in town to talk about this latest book On Such a Full Sea, which is set in a future, dystopian Baltimore.

Yasmina Khadra, the pen name of the Algerian-French writer Mohammed Moulessehoul, is perhaps most famous for The Swallows of Kabul, a novel set in Afghanistan under the Taliban. Moulessehoul fought in the Algerian Army and, having also fought censorship his whole career, may well have some very interesting things to say about the recent attacks on Charlie Hebdo.

Another outspoken French-North African poet and writer, Tahar Ben Jelloun, will also be attending. Jelloun is the author of The Sand Child, a magical-realist novel set in post-colonial Morocco and, more recently, This Blinding Absence of Light, a novel set in a Moroccan jail for political prisoners.

China's John Grisham, He Jiahong, will be speaking, probably about his Hong Jun series of novels, which have been translated into English. Like Grisham, Jiahong is a trained lawyer, giving his legal thrillers a ring of truth, but, unlike Grisham, he's also taken advice from China's Nobel Prize winner Mo Yan. '[He] said my work was too clean – that “good” people never have sex in my novels. So I made it dirty,' Jiahong told us recently.

Also joining Bookworm from within China is Sheng Keyi author of Death Fugue, a re-imagining of the events of June Fourth that was one of our books of 2014, despite being banned in the Mainland.

Another festival author used to censorship is Chan Koonchung. His 2009 dystopian sci-fi novel The Fat Years was censored and so was last year's The Unbearable Dreamworld of Champa the Driver.

Canadian doctor Vincent Lam is best known for his short story collection Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures, which was later adapted by HBO. His 2012 novel was The Headmaster's Wager.

Quebecois-Vietnamese author Kim Thuy, whose novel Ru was translated from French into English in 2012.

Beijing-resident Australian Jennifer Mills. Her novels are The Diamond Anchor and Gone.

Also joining Bookworm: Maltese author Clare Azzopardi, Georgian writer Aka Morchiladze, and British writers Cherry Denman, Faramarz Dabhoiwala, Bridget Strevens-Marzo and Will Buckingham.


Willis Barnstone, a famed translator and poet and Tony Barnstone, Willis's son and a well-known poet himself.

Australian slam poet Zohab Zee Khan, who will be leading some workshops.

Short story writers

Xu Xi, author of Access: Thirteen Tales, a series on Chinese experiences abroad.

Dorothy Tse a veteran writer of critically acclaimed, haunting and occasionally gruesome short stories. Read her interview with Time Out Shanghai here.

Children's and Young Adult authors

Australian young adult authors AJ Betts and Brooke Davis will be sharing their expertise on writing for young people.

From Denmark, children’s authors Lise Bidstrup and Anette Oster.

Non-fiction writers

Philosopher Dr Damon Young is the author of Distraction, an accessible history of Western philosophy, as well as a book about how gardens have influenced writers and thinkers.

Tim Cope will be sharing stories from his time journeying through Asia on bike and horseback.

Anna Chen is best known for her 10-part series Chinese in Britain that aired on BBC Radio 4 2007, though she's also an artist, blogger and journalist.


There are plenty of multi-talented people on in the Bookworm's line-up but none quite as hard to pin down as Wena Poon. She's written short stories, plays, poems and novels, primarily on the Chinese-Singaporean experience but also subjects as diverse as bullfighting in Central America and imagined dystopian futures.

Update note This post was updated on February 4 to reflect the fact that Yves Beauchemin will no longer be in attendance.

Looking for more information on the events? Head over to our Bookworm festival page for full coverage.
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