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International writers to share insights at Hong Kong Book Fair

July 8, 2019 Exhibitions No Comments Email Email

The 30th HKTDC Hong Kong Book Fair, organised by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC), will be held from 17 to 23 July at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (HKCEC). A total of 686 exhibitors from 39 countries and territories are expected to gather at this annual summer literary extravaganza. The 2019 fair once again features the Japan Pavilion and International Cultural Village, expanding visitors’ exposure to international writers and overseas cultures.

With support from the Consulate General of France in Hong Kong and Macau, the European Union Office to Hong Kong and Macao and KADOKAWA CORPORATION, the World of Knowledge Seminar Series will spotlight renowned international speakers, including French writer Bernard Werber, beloved by science fiction fans; acclaimed Japanese writer Kanae Minato, who wrote the bestselling novel Confessions; and Finnish writer Selja Ahava.

Bernard Werber: a whole new reading experience exploring fantastic worlds

The Consulate General of France in Hong Kong and Macau has invited Bernard Werber, currently one of the most popular French authors, to talk at the Book Fair. Mr Werber began writing at the age of seven and his first novel, Les Fourmis, was widely acclaimed after its publication in 1991, later forming a trilogy with Le Jour de Fourmis and La Revolution des Fourmis. His works have been translated into 35 languages and have sold more than 30 million copies worldwide.

His experience working at a science fiction magazine helped prepare Mr Werber for his future literary career. Combining natural sciences, fantasy and adventure, his works create a whole new world view that offer an exceptional reading experience. In 2018, he published La Boite de Pandore, an adventure about reincarnation, history and free will, in which his distinctive characters and tight plot helped to reaffirm his literary status. At the seminar, Mr Werber will explore his imaginary worlds with readers under the theme “Reality vs Fantasy: How to Develop Imagination?”

Selja Ahava: detailing the unexpected and unlikely turns in life

With the support of the European Union Office to Hong Kong and Macao, Finnish writer Selja Ahava is invited to share her insights with readers at the Book Fair. As a graduate of the Theatre Academy at the University of Arts Helsinki, Selja Ahava gained experience as a scriptwriter working in the TV, film and radio fields. Her first fantasy novel, The Day the Whale Swam through London, won the Laura Hirvisaari Prize and was nominated for the Helsingin Sanomat Literary Prize in 2010. Fantastical and comical, the novel is a touching tale of salvation detailing the protagonist’s inner journey after losing her memory.

Ms Ahava’s second novel, Things that Fall from the Sky, starts from a random accident in everyday life and goes on to explore the unexpected things that can happen. The book was awarded the European Union Prize for Literature in 2016 and nominated for various international awards. Booklist’s review praised Ms Ahava’s ability to serve “as an example of what strong writers can do with simple sentences”.

Selja Ahava

Kanae Minato: exploring evil to reveal society’s benevolence

KADOKAWA CORPORATION has invited Japanese novelist Kanae Minato to speak at the fair. Ms Minato published her first novel, Confessions, in 2008, telling the story of a teacher who discovers that her daughter was murdered by one of her students and struggles to exact her revenge. The novel was hugely popular, ranking top in Shukan Bunshun’s Mystery Best 10 in 2008, winning the Japan Booksellers’ Award in 2009, and being adapted into a film in 2010. Ms Minato didn’t stop there, winning the Mystery Writers of Japan Award for Best Short Story with “Umi no Hoshi” from her short story collection Bokyo in 2012, and the Yamamoto Shugoro Prize for “Utopia” in 2016.

Ms Minato writes with simplicity, detailing the changes in her characters’ inner thoughts with just a few well-chosen words. Her works explore the evil in human nature, believing that only by facing evil can we see the value of benevolence. This is just one of the reasons readers find her works so compelling.

Japan Pavilion and International Cultural Village

Besides enjoying sharing sessions and writing tips from a wide array of speakers, visitors to the Book Fair can also explore different cultures at the Japan Pavilion and International Cultural Village. The former is a perennial favourite at the fair, and this year sees the Japan National Tourism Organisation, KADOKAWA CORPORATION – one of Japan’s four largest publishers – and 10 cities and prefectures join as exhibitors. Virtual-reality tours will also be offered to help visitors appreciate the landmarks of Japanese anime culture.

The International Cultural Village continues to spotlight consulates and cultural promotion organisations from 33 countries and territories, with a European Union Pavilion set up by countries including France, Germany, Italy and Poland. Various activities will be organised to offer booklovers a true taste of European culture.

Kanae Minato (c) Yuji Hongo

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