20th Hong Kong International Literary Festival

The 20th anniversary edition of HKILF will go ahead this year as a hybrid festival of live and online events. From 5th – 15th November we will present more than 70 events featuring writers and speakers from around the world. 

This year’s re-imagined festival offers the best of all worlds, with a wealth of literary talent, thought-provoking discussion, laughter and learning, and the flexibility for you, our audience, to choose how and when you want to engage. You can watch a book talk at home at your own convenience, or come out to mix, mingle, and hear a panel discussion in lively company. You can join an event as it streams online and put your questions to the speakers, or catch it at a later time that suits you better.

As befits a Hong Kong Festival, we are truly multi-lingual this year, with events in Cantonese or Mandarin as well as English. Some events will have simultaneous interpretation and all our online events will be uploaded 24 hours after broadcast with added subtitles: Chinese subtitles for English language events and English subtitles for Chinese language events. All our online events will remain available throughout the festival period until 30th November. 

Going virtual has allowed us to bring a wider range of high-profile authors to the festival than ever before. This year’s line-up includes two 2020 Booker Prize longlisted authors, Colum McCann and C Pam Zhang; Irish Fiction Laureate, Sebastian Barry; Pulitzer Prize winners Jhumpa Lahiri and Jonathan Kaufman; Vera and Shetland crime series author Ann Cleeves; poet Marilyn Chin, editor of The Atlantic David Frum; historians Thant Myint-U, and William Dalrymple; and journalists Ananth Krishnan, Bob Davis and Lingling Wei. Additionally, there will be a vibrant group of Hong Kong and regional writers and speakers including Chan Koonchung, Dorothy Tse, Kai-Yin Lo, Christine Loh, Elizabeth Sinn and many more.

Our 20th edition theme ‘Present Tense/Future Perfect’ explores in fiction and non-fiction how the world is responding to issues such as health, inequality and climate change, as well as possible future directions for humanity and the planet. Lynda Gratton and Andrew Scott will discuss their latest book, The New Long Life: A Framework for Flourishing in a Changing World, and panels will examine issues such as the future of US politics and US-China relations, racism in Asia, the world post-COVID-19, and the future of food. Other highlights include a series of book talks and film screenings featuring local filmmakers, and Bruce Lee’s daughter Shannon Lee discussing her book, Be Water My Friend: The Teachings of Bruce Lee. Novelist Romesh Guneskera who took part in the first festival in 2001 will join us again, and Hong Kong born poet Marilyn Chin and her iconic work, Urban Love Poem, will close the festival, with Chin and local and international poets reading their own urban love poetry.

Since starting in 2001, HKILF has brought literary luminaries to Hong Kong and provided a platform for established and emerging voices. Our 20th edition reflects past achievements, celebrates how books bring people together and looks ahead to a range of issues that affect our everyday lives. We hope as many people as possible will join the conversation.