GTLF2021 promises to be more exciting


BEING a home-grown event, George Town Literary Festival has never failed to document the beauty of literature in ways that could leave people mesmerised with the presence of art, and this year like any other, is about to get even better and interesting.


GTLF’s theme for this year, ‘Mikro Cosmos’, explores the spirit of cosmopolitanism and interconnectedness that endures through literature, language and ideas, even as the troubles of today pose a big challenge to our existence and deepen the social fragmentation.


It will be happening from Nov 25 to 28.


From the mundane realm to the cosmological imagination, this year’s theme is also set to venture how wilderness and freedom of our shared creativity is encapsulated and expressed in the diverse literatures of our region and beyond.


The festival, which was founded by the Penang government during the tenure of former Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, will once again feature mostly online conversations this year after going hybrid for the first time last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.


State Tourism and Creative Economy Committee chairman Yeoh Soon Hin said that through this festival, over the years, Penang was able to receive many amazing local and international talents such renowned authors, writers, artists and thinkers from different parts of the world.


“They have all created relevant and meaningful discourses while establishing a platform for them to express worldly views on the ever-evolving social issues.


“I am proud to acknowledge how much GTLF has grown, from debuting with just five writers, to achieving the highest number of 80 writers and arts participants.


“It was also a momentous achievement when it was recognised at the London Book Fair Awards 2018 with the Literary Festival Award.


“Most of the programmes planned by the festival will take to hybrid mode, a similar approach when it decided to go online last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.


“I am glad to share that last year, the festival which went on for four days, recorded 11,513 online attendees from 21 countries, which proves that no matter physical or virtual, GTLF was still be an event not to be missed,” Yeoh said during a press conference at Hin Bus Depot in George Town today.


The festival is run by its director Pauline Fan and curated by Izzuddin Ramli.


Fellow literature and arts enthusiasts can expect a list of engaging programmes which include a series of specially curated podcasts and videos in English and Bahasa Malaysia.


The line-up of speakers will feature many Malaysian writers and translators, as well as Southeast Asian and international authors.


Notable Malaysian guests for this edition will include writer and social activist Marina Mahathir, Sabahan writer Ruhaini Matdarin, Malaysian-Tamil writer M. Navin, and iconic actor Wan Hanafi Su.


Meanwhile, Yeoh said that Penang will continue to seek ways to unleash the potential of creative economy, to make it one of the main pillars in the state’s economic growth.


“We see it as a necessity to maintain our community’s diverse individualities and enhancing society’s quality of life, through the use of creative industries,” he added.


Also present during the press conference was Penang Convention & Exhibition Bureau (PCEB) chief executive officer Ashwin Gunasekeran.


Story by Kevin Vimal
Pix by Muhamad Amir Irsyad Omar