Thursday, March 6, 2008

Hong Kong Lit Fest 2008 and a little more Gygax

I have a personal bond with the Hong Kong Literary Festival: I came here for the first time on my honeymoon in 2002. While most newly weds spend their time in bed, I have to admit that my wife spent a number of mornings alone in our room at the Mandarin Oriental: listening to me on the morning Radio Hong Kong talk show. But our week was spiced up with lunches and meals with literary greats (Hanif Kureshi and Amitav Ghosh amongst others) - and more parties and champagne receptions than is decent in one week.

So it was with a little thrill that I unpacked my author's pack for this year's festival: the two week membership of the Foreign Correspondant's Club, the name tag and info pack of when I should be where.

The festival started with the launch of 50/50 - an anthology of Hong Kong writers, and the next night followed up just as well with an exclusive Asian Literary Review party, while last night I was with the Hong Kong Geographical Society, to listen to the great travel writer, Colin Thubron, talk about his journey along the Silk Route from Xian to the ancient Antioch, on the Mediterranean coast. Unfortunately, great writers often disappoint, but Mr Thubron was an excellent speaker, and spoke without looking at his notes for an hour, plucking facts and history and story in an almost breathless account. The audience questions were a little dull, with the dullest being one lady who was very concerned to know if Mr Thubron could use chopsticks - but overall a great event.

Meanwhile, to get back to the late Gary Gygax, here's a wonderful quote from him in 2005, which backs up my feeling that storytelling and role-playing are closely related.

"The story of the hero being called forth, usually unwillingly, and adventuring and undergoing a change has been with us probably since stories were told round campfires."

I like that.

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