KL Lit Fest ’07 – Day One

The highlight of the day was equal parts horror and wonder: Tash Aw asked me to read the first three sentences of Lolita in front of what seemed like a hundred people.

Yes, that Tash Aw. The one who wrote the novel set in Malaya during the Japanese occupation, that got long-listed for the Man Booker ’05, and then proceeded to win the Whitbread First Novel ’05 award. That guy.

He was really thin, in jeans and a white shirt, with a British accent. Did a workshop called The Beginnings, took us through several extracts from Austen, Hemingway, and two other authors whose names I can’t really place. As the supplied mic wasn’t exactly wireless, he had to get those sitting in front and up close to read out paragraphs from the extracts (all in the name of “audience participation…).

It wasn’t exactly fun given how Lolita’s opening line is the worst thing to read if you get nervous reading in front of a large unknown crowd — it’s got an unbelievable amount of alliteration and assonance in it. Fudged up “light of my life, fire of my loins”, and I’m pretty sure I sounded drunk at the rate I stumbled through it. But after that horrible first sentence it got better. Sat down to applause.

Guess I’d better get that book signed tomorrow… wonder how many people were actually there for the writing bit and not the “ZOMG FAMOUS ‘MALAYSIAN’ AUTHOR MUST SIGN BOOK!!11” bit. I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt though, there were plenty of people taking notes.

lol Starbucks lol
the obligatory pretentious Starbucks picture (because it’s cool to take pictures of it, I kid you not) makes its appearance here. goodie bag on left.

Eda Kriseova’s session after lunch was a bit hazy. Had a large lunch which Karcy kindly paid for, and struggled to stay awake throughout the whole session as a result. It wasn’t that boring — she read excerpts out of this autobiography she wrote about Václav Havel, the last President of Czechoslovakia. Something that read like A Day In The Life Of Ivan Denisovich.

The session was about freedom of expression under oppression and was enjoyable for the most part, but this elderly guy had to ruin it all during the Q&A session with this conjoined set of 3 questions that were long-winded. Still, it was rather unsettling to hear how similar Czech had it then to us, albeit with a lot more oppression than we’re used to.

Benjamin Zephaniah’s performance poetry thing came after that, and was probably the highlight of the day, if you don’t count that botched Lolita reading in the morning. First time I’ve ever heard of anything like that — it sounds a lot like rap without the awful music to back it, yet even Eminem at the height of his satirical genius didn’t even come close to this. Imagine stand-up comedy. Then imagine poetry reading, then put the two together with an occasional sing-song rhythm for the latter — doesn’t even come close.

On a totally random note: there were roughly around 10 students from Kolej Tuanku Jaafar, among other colleges, attending the Lit Fest, most of which went to the same sessions as I did (must be a demographic thing). Nice surprise to have people your age around. I entertained thoughts about students from KTAR doing the same — the KTJ students were all taking their A-Levels — then laughed it off. Yeah, right.

More updates tomorrow.

Explore posts in the same categories: Events, Literature

2 Comments on “KL Lit Fest ’07 – Day One”

  1. tarlia Says:

    Hey! I know you! ;-) Same lunch table!

  2. Owen Says:

    So do I. (: Thanks for stopping by…

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