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Another April,

Another Litefest comes to a close…

It’s always hard to farewell our favourite weeks of the year; the afternoons full with conversations and the evenings spent devouring our latest literary purchases. Litfest has passed as if in a dream, and we return to waking life. 

We’d like to sincerely thank all of the sponsors who made this year’s events possible for lending their support in myriad ways. We hosted 43 authors across 33 events this year, a feat certainly to be congratulated. 

Also a big thank you to everyone to who attended sessions this year, both to watch and to work; it was a thrill to see many of you more than once!

See the posts below for a summary of some popular sessions…

Olivia Martin McGuire: Engaged Chinese couples can spend up to USD$400,000 on a destination pre-wedding photoshoot. Others visit expansive photo studios on the outskirts of the city and spend 8 am to 10 pm in front of the lens, in search of the perfect depiction of their partnership. Australian photographer Olivia Martin McGuire shared her experiences shadowing these couples as part of her documentary process for China Love, delving into the rationale behind one of China’s mammoth industries. 

Rao Pingru: Ninety-eight year old Grandfather Rao spoke to an awed audience about his life story and his lifelong love for his wife, Meitang. Although he spent more than 20 years of their marriage away from her, his graphic novel Our Story commemorates the couple’s endurance through separation and sickness; it was a heartwarming lunch. 

Hugo-award winning sci-fi author Hao Jingfang spoke about her novella Folding Beijing, it’s exploration of space and inequality and her own approach to writing alongside her role at an economic think tank.

Cruz Garcia and Nathalie Frankowski, known in practice as WAI Architecture Think Tank, asked about the relationship of architecture to capital and wondered, through a walkthrough of their previous projects, how spaces might instead be used to facilitate learning and critical thinking.

Long-time Litfest favourite and Shanghai legend Paul French returned to Glam once again, this time to introduce the eighteen real life figures, albeit true characters, that populate his new book, Destination Shanghai

Sunday morning with Stephen Brusatte was an absolutely stand out session. A palaeontologist at the University of Edinburgh, Brusatte revealed to an amazed audience not only that birds are members of the dinosaur family tree, but also that many dinosaurs had feathers. 

Adrian Bradshaw arrived in China to study in the early 80s; instead, he found himself drifting away from formal language study and into photography as he documented the changes in China throughout the 1980s. In this retrospective session, Bradshaw talked the audience through his photographic collection of the era; quite literally providing a snapshot of China over three decades ago. 

For the kids: Our first Saturday session saw New Zealander and author of The Kitchen Science CookbookMichelle Dickinson, lead her young audience in easy experiments to pique their scientific minds.

Litfest 2019 was graced with not one, but two talks from Australian journalist Richard Fidler. We enjoyed his Friday conversation about Ghost Empire and the ancient layers of Constantinople in contemporary Istanbul so much that we squeezed in another session the following Tuesday. In this, he spoke about his more recent book, Saga Land, and the Icelandic tales and histories that it contains.