Novelists and poets to collaborate and celebrate in Seoul

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Novelists and poets to collaborate and celebrate in Seoul

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Renowned literary figures from Korea and elsewhere will gather in Seoul next week to provide inspiration to each other and to Korean fans of literature.

The Seoul International Writers’ Festival kicks off its seven-day run this Sunday.

The biennial event, organized by the Literature Translation Institute of Korea, is a rare venue where Korean novelists and poets can network with their foreign counterparts while also interacting with their readers.

This year, 14 Korean novelists and poets and 14 foreign novelists and poets have been invited to take part in the event which consists of talks, recitals, performances in the youthful Daehangno area of Seoul. Talks will take place in the afternoon while recitals, coupled with a variety of performances inspired by literary pieces, will be held in the evening.

Novelists include: Kim Kyung-uk, Kim Soom, Bae Su-ah, Jeong You-jeong, Cheon Myeong-kwan from Korea and Jinji (China), David Vann (U.S.), Lili Mendoza (Panama), Mohib Zegham (Afghanistan) and Werner Fritsch (Germany).

Jinji, a Chinese of Korean descent (known in Korea as Joseonjok), made headlines for winning a number of awards for “I Don’t Have a Home to Call My Own,” whereas Mohib Zegham, a cardiologist based in Kabul, was awarded Afghanistan’s highest governmental medal for his literary and civic activities.

Poets, on the other hand, include Kim Sun-woo, Moon Tae-jun, Park Sang-soon, Teemu Manninen (Finland), Linda Maria Baros (France, Romania) and Andrei Khadanovich (Belarus). Linda Maria Baros is the 2007 winner of the prestigious French literary award Guillaume Apollinaire Prize, while Andrei Khadanovich is the president of Belarusian branch of the PEN Center, which is an international literary and human rights organization.

Interestingly, the literary figures at this year’s festival have teamed up for the program. For instance, Kim Soom is paired with Jinji, Cheon Myeong-kwan with David Vann and Park Sang-soon with Linda Maria Baros. Detecting the literary chemistry between the two in the programs will be added fun for the participants, organizers noted to the Korean JoongAng Daily.

This year’s festival will delve into the topic of memory, with its theme being “The Forgotten and the Unforgettable.”

“Some memories are forgotten while others remain with us forever. Forgetting can be a blessing at times and remembering a cause for sadness,” said Kim Seong-kon, the president of Literature Translation Institute of Korea.

“Writers help us to rediscover forgotten memories and to forget unforgettable memories,” he added. “As Guy de Maupassant said, ‘Our memory gives back life to those who no longer exist.’”

BY KIM HYUNG-EUN [hkim@joongang.co.kr]

The Seoul International Writers’ Festival runs from Sept. 25 to Oct. 1. Talks will take place at Space Feelux while recitals and performances will be held in the 3rd Hall of the Daehakro Arts Theaters.

People can make prior reservations through Yes24 (www.yes24.co.kr) and Naver (http://booking.naver.com), but they can also participate without prior reservation.

For detailed programs and other information of this year’s festival, visit the institute’s website or Facebook page dedicated to the festival, http://siwf.klti.or.kr and www.facebook.com/siwfest, or call 02-6919-7721~22, 7725.
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