This weekend, I’ll be returning to Penang for the 2017 George Town Literary Festival, and I’m delighted to have been asked back as a moderator. And after the almost overwhelming craziness of SWF, it’ll be nice to discuss books and writing in a more intimate setting. I’ll be attending a bunch of panels and readings, as well as the award ceremony for the inaugural Penang Monthly Book Prize (for which Bernice Chauly’s novel Once We Were There, which I edited, is shortlisted), but here are the events that I’m directly involved with:
Speculative, dystopian and fantastical genres have always been a challenge for some, but not for others. These four writers have defined and re-defined the genres they work in and continue to create worlds that defy our imaginations. How do they revision the future and the past? How does the writer act as an agent for the in-between of what is real, plausible and fantastical? And is this the way of writing the future?
There are many commonalities in the world’s mythologies and cosmologies. Greek legends, Norse and Celtic sagas, and Hindu epics all had gods and goddesses who were anthropomorphic and therefore resistant to Joseph Campbell’s argument – ‘that the secret cause of all suffering is mortality itself, which is the prime condition of life.’ Did the immortals deny humans the right to live uninterrupted, guilt-free lives? What is the notion of ‘god’ and its mythos in literature? We examine some of our most enduring myths, the power they still wield in our everyday lives and narratives, and how these stories have evolved from then until now.