“… the opportunity to mix with predominantly Myanmar writers and learn about Myanmar Literature. The huge turnout of enthusiastic writers and audiences is an impressive endorsement of the Festival’s importance in promoting the link between Myanmar and international writers.” Jung Chang, at the Irrawaddy Literary Festival 2017
The fourth Irrawaddy Literary Festival came to a colourful end on Sunday 5th November with closing speeches, traditional Myanmar dancing, canapés and drinks in the grounds of the lovely Mandalay Hill Resort Hotel.
International and Myanmar authors who had lasted the pace of the three day programme of events mingled with volunteers and Festival organisers to enjoy one last hospitality event courtesy of the Irrawaddy Literary Festival Charitable Trust.
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.
As usual the Irrawaddy Literary Festival 2017 offered a three-day programme of events completely free of charge, welcoming local crowds as well as international visitors. Burmese-English-Burmese interpretation was provided. In addition to the programmed sessions there were popular informal speaking opportunities at Speakers’ Corner and (new for 2017) Poets’ Corner in the grounds of the hotel.
This year’s gathering included Lonely Planet co-founder Tony Wheeler, Jung Chang (Wild Swans) Keggie Carew (Dadland) and a host of other well-loved international writers. Participants were no less stellar on the Myanmar side(over one hundred writers): Shwegu May Hnin, Ju, Ma Thida, Nay Phone Latt, Yin Yin Nu, Ponnya Khin, Yi Yi Mon; these are just some of the names who thrilled audiences and left everyone clamouring for the dates of the fifth Festival.
The Festival is made possible by donations and support in kind from local and international well wishers including Max Myanmar Holdings, the US Embassy, the University of Melbourne and Manchester Metropolitan University, KBZ Bank, Mandalay Hill Resort Hotel and Eden Group.
While serving as British Foreign Secretary, Rt Hon William Hague MP, said that the Irrawaddy Literary Festival ‘achieved more for freedom of speech in one weekend than most of us manage in a lifetime’.