The 2017 Irrawaddy Literary Festival will be held at the Mandalay Hill Resort Hotel in Mandalay, Friday 3rd – Sunday 5th November 2017
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Launched in 2013 under the patronage of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, just a couple of years after her release from house arrest, the ILF is a literary festival with a difference, an entirely philanthropic venture, its primary objective being to connect long-silenced Myanmar writers with the international literary community.
Former British Foreign Secretary William Hague said that the Irrawaddy Literary Festival ‘achieved more for freedom of speech in one afternoon than most of us manage in a lifetime’.
Past festivals have been attended by international luminaries including Jung Chang, Louis de Bernières, Anne Enright and Vikram Seth, and Myanmar writers led by Ma Thida and Pascal Khoo Thwe. This year’s gathering will attract an equally high-profile delegation of international writers, including Lonely Planet co-founder Tony Wheeler, Britain’s Poet Laureate, Dame Carol Ann Duffy, and award-winning Canadian writer, Madeleine Thien.
Following the last Festival in 2015, journalist Margaret Simons described the Irrawaddy Literary Festival as ‘a kind of miracle . . . a million miles away from the glossy publisher-funded writers’ circuits of the western world’. And Barnaby Phillips wrote, ‘Anyone who is jaded by too many literary festivals should attend the Aké Festival in Nigeria or the Irrawaddy Festival in Burma. . . . ‘
The Irrawaddy Literary Festival offers a three-day programme of events completely free of charge, welcoming huge local crowds as well as international visitors. Burmese-English-Burmese interpretation is provided. In addition to the programmed sessions in four different venues, there are popular informal speaking opportunities at Speakers’ Corner and Poets’ Corner as well as a forum for literary exchange at a traditional Burmese teahouse created in the grounds of the hotel.
The Festival is supported by generous partners including Max Myanmar Holdings, the US Embassy, the Universities of Melbourne and Oxford, and Mandalay Hill Resort. Writers and readers with a penchant for travel will surely be attracted to attend and experience the special charms of the event, where ordinary and extraordinary stories will unfold.
‘We tell ourselves stories in order to heal.’ JOAN DIDION