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Home NEWS Events NBDB, FHL organize second Manila International Lit Fest

NBDB, FHL organize second Manila International Lit Fest

Two Pulitzer-prize winning novelists joined the country’s most highly acclaimed writers, as well as some of the world’s top publishing professionals, in a series of highly spirited discussions during the second Manila International Literary Festival held at the Ayala Museum on November 16 to 18.
Junot Diaz, author of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, 2008), and Edward P. Jones, author of The Known World (Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, 2004) took part in several panel discussions in the three-day festival, which carried the theme, The Great Philippine Book Café.

Organized by the National Book Development Board, with support from the Filipinas Heritage Library, the festival served as a venue where various issues and concerns surrounding literary production were discussed, and where local and international writers could interact. The festival also provided Filipino writers an overview of the international publishing industry, with literary agents and literary editors giving the lowdown on what it takes to become a published author. In addition, the festival hoped to serve as a gateway through which the best Filipino writers could reach international publishers, and ultimately a wider international audience.

Resil Mojares, a highly respected literary scholar and essayist, delivered the keynote speech, where he tried to answer the provocative question, “Where in the world is the Filipino writer?” His answer, however, came in the form of an even more provocative question: “How visible is Filipino writing to themselves?”

Mojares said: “For now, the important thing is not to wonder whether we are visible to the world but to ask how fully visible we are to ourselves. It is in becoming fully visible to ourselves that, I trust, we shall be visible to others.”

From left: NBDB Executive Director Andrea Pasion-Flores, Pulitzer Prize-winning novelists Edward P. Jones and Junot Diaz, Rachel Kahan of GP Putnam and Sons New York, Jayapriya Vasudevan and Priya Doraswamy of Jacaranda Press India, and Ravi Marchandani of Atlantic Books UK.


Meanwhile, Diaz and Jones were the speakers at a panel entitled “Writing from the Margins.” Diaz, who had emigrated from the Dominican Republic as a child, and Jones, an African American who had been raised in Washington D.C., spoke eloquently about their experience as writers of color. Excerpts from their works were also read during the session.

Other international guests who graced the festival included Rachel Kahan, literary editor at the New York publishing house G. P. Putnam and Sons; Ravi Mirchandani, editor in chief of Atlantic Books UK, which published Aravind Adiga’s Booker Prize–winning novel White Tiger; Priya Doroswamy and Jayapriya Vasudevan, representing Jacaranda Press, India’s foremost literary agency; and Holly Thompson, an American writer for young adults currently based in Japan.

The rest of the three-day conference featured breakout sessions presided over by writers, publishing professionals, and literature and writing professors. Some of the highlights included the following: “In Search of the Great Philippine Novel,” featuring prizewinning novelists Jose Dalisay Jr., Charlson Ong, Alfred Yuson, and Cristina Pantoja Hidalgo; “When Literature Offends,” featuring Beverly Wico Sy, Isagani Cruz, and Jose F. Lacaba; “From Pen to Print—and Everything in Between,” which discussed the process of publishing a book, featuring Vasudevan,  Mirchandani, and Doraswamy; “From Print to Silver Screen,” featuring Alvin Yapan, Khavn de la Cruz, Jose F. Lacaba, and Ricky Lee; and “How to Get the Young to Read,” featuring Tarie Sabido, Honeylein de Peralta, Ralph Galan, and NBDB chair Neni Sta. Romana-Cruz.

The Great Philippine Book Café marks the second year of the partnership between NBDB and FHL in holding the Manila International Literary Festival.