Press release: Irrawaddy Literary Festival

Friday 07 December 2012

Burma’s first international literary festival featuring a host of renowned authors will take place in Rangoon in February. The Irrawaddy Literary festival at the Inya Lake Hotel will showcase the best of international and local writing from February 1-3. The patron of the event, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, said: “I am delighted to lend my support and personal participation to this first Irrawaddy Literary Festival. Literature has always been a big part of my life and I hope this festival will encourage more people to explore the world of literature and further their understanding of the English language.” Among the authors lined up to take part are international best-sellers like Vikram Seth, Jung Chang, William Dalrymple and Fergal Keane. The Festival has also secured the attendance of Sudha Shah, Pascal Khoo Thwe, Thant Myint U and Akash Kapur, alongside a host of eminent local literary and cultural figures such as Zarganar, Dr Ma Thida and the celebrated librarian U Thaw Kaung and his son Dr Thant Thaw Kaung. The festival is the brainchild of Jane Heyn who has lived in Burma since 2009. She says: “The festival’s aim is to provide a catalyst for the exchange of ideas across cultures and literary genres and will reflect the extraordinary cultural vibrancy of a country in the midst of immense change”. The cool, airy rooms of the spacious Inya Lake Hotel, usually more accustomed to wedding parties and tourists feasting at the dining room buffet, will become a unique space for words and ideas with workshops, panel discussions and exhibitions of photo-journalism. The spreading lakeside lawns will be transformed to a colourful tented village teeming with bookstalls, handicrafts, and food.The phenomenally skilled Mandalay Theatre puppeteers are bringing their life-like puppetry to the festival. This is a special opportunity to see masters of an ancient entertainment display their artistry. The Festival is pleased to announce the presentation of the inaugural Yoma FMI Short Story Prize. The competition is now open. We invite stories from any young Burmese up to 25 years old. Interested students should submit a fictional story based on the theme of ‘Changing Lives’, not exceeding 2,000 words. There will be two awards of $1,000 – one for the best story written in English, one for the best story written in Burmese. Please send your entry to: by Friday 18 January 2013. The prize is the initiative of Yoma Strategic Holdings and First Myanmar Holdings, one of the Irrawaddy Literary Festival’s sponsors. Other local backers are MPRL E&P, and the Today Media Group. The British Embassy and the British Council in Rangoon are also supporting the Festival to help strengthen existing cultural links and forge new bonds between the UK and Burma. And The Orwell Prize is lending valuable support, reflecting George Orwell’s close association with Burma, with its ‘Buy a book for Burma’ appeal on their website. Part of the Festival will be dedicated to British Council teachers giving English language workshops for parents and fun educational activities for schoolchildren. Festival tickets will be on sale from 7 January 2013 at the Inya Lake Hotel, the British Council and Today Bookstores. For further details please check the festival website.