What to do at a literary festival?
Well - I always imagine them something like my backpacking trips when I was a younger me: early nights, lots of reading, up early, and hours and hours walking and seeing places.
Then you throw in a bunch of writers, and the balance shifts more to long dinners, late night's drinking and then late mornings, just up in time for breakfast, where we sit and wipe bleary eyes and set out for our days.
I was delighted to be included in the Chinese writer's lunch: and as soon as Paul Tan of the festival told me this, I struggled to bring all my mandarin back to mind. Was with Bi Feiyun and Taiwanese writer, Hao Hsiang-yu.
Then an interesting event on settings, with Meira Chand, Kunal Basu, and Dawn Farnham. A really interesting session, followed by dinner with the Man Asian Prize team who were buzzing from their simultanous launch of the 2011 longlist.
Bi Feiyun spent the night trying to finish off the last of last year's prize money on some fine wines: and I thought that was a good lesson in life, to share the bounty we get with others. A great guy, who's had a great year, also winning the Mao Dun Prize. Well done him!
Great that the prize is attracting big names, and that the prize is so well run: slick, professional, and focussed on the job of promoting Asian writing.
Razia Iqbal below: