Tickets are now available.

All events are 50 RMB and include a complimentary drink. Attend 2 events in the same evening for 70 RMB. All-access pass: 300 RMB.

Student tickets are half-price.

Jump to:

Suzhou Bookworm Events: March 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27

Children’s Events: March 19 | 26

Off-Site Events: March 15 | 16 | 18


Suzhou Bookworm Events

Friday, March 11

Festival Gig 8.30pm

The Wingmen | Free Event

Come and unwind with friends and enjoy some classic rock and blues and review the feast of events coming over the next two weeks.

Saturday 12

Festival Improv 8.30pm

Channel 21 | Fundraiser for Shelterbox

Meet a variety of characters being given improbable things to do in this great icebreaker to get the intellect stimulated for the forthcoming festival. Channel 21 is a group of improvisers who are experts at creating scenes and characters on the spot. A bit like writers. The session is a fund-raiser for a refugee support group so laugh generously and give generously.

Sunday 13

One Today: Live Reading by Obama’s Inauguration Poet 7.30pm

Richard Blanco

President Barack Obama selected Richard Blanco in 2012 to serve as the fifth inaugural poet in U.S. history, putting him in the elite company of Robert Frost, Maya Angelou, Miller Williams, and Elizabeth Alexander. Born in Madrid to Cuban parents, Blanco grew up in Miami and has used his work to probe questions of identity and place. He is the youngest, first Latino, immigrant, and gay person to read at a presidential inauguration. Come listen to one of the finest poets in the U.S. share his journey of discovery and belonging.

Monday 14

Xu Yun Peng 7.30pm



Xu was born and raised on the Loess Plateau, home to the “naughty” kids. He is a column writer, photographer, musician and most important of all, traveler. He participated in the Photography Festival in Northwest China, and held his own photo exhibition in 2008.

He talks of his travels in the Wei-River and Yellow River regions by motorbike, which inspired his column Traveling across the lifeline of the Chinese Civilization.

Wednesday 16

“Shanghai Redemption”: Investigating Murder, Sex, and Corruption 7.30pm

Qiu Xiaolong

Qiu Xiaolong’s latest novel, Shanghai Redemption, takes the protagonist Inspector Chen Cao on new adventures deep inside the Chinese Communist Party. Qiu, who lives in St. Louis but writes trenchantly about contemporary Chinese issues, took inspiration for his latest – the ninth Inspector Chen novel in the series – from the case of Bo Xilai. There’s sex, murder, and a power struggle, all of which illuminate just a little of the opaque world of China’s political elite. Qiu “is neither a police officer nor a Communist Party official,” writes Edward Wong for the New York Times’s China blog, Sinosphere, “but his novels about Inspector Chen Cao… convey such a sense of realism that many people have come to regard him as an expert on the more sordid aspects of the Chinese political and legal systems.”

Thursday 17

Agree to be Different! 7.30pm

Jon Bilbao, Tammy Ho Lai-Ming

Two writers from different backgrounds and continents – come together for readings and discussion. Tammy Ho Lai-Ming is the poetry editor of the literary journal Asian Cha in Hong Kong, and whose poetry has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize three times.

Jon Bilbao, from Spain, has published three short story collections and the form is also universal, as this master of the short story can attest.

Friday 18

Do Not Marry Before Age 30: Empowering Women 6.30pm


Joy Chen, the former deputy mayor of Los Angeles, is the author of Do Not Marry Before Age 30 – part memoir and part self-help guide – which debunks conventional wisdom that single women are “leftover” by their late 20s, and helps them unlock their potential and realize their dreams. The book is a bestseller in China, where it has won Chen a massive following. In 2012, the All-China Women’s Federation named Chen “Woman of the Year.” She currently has a movie in development with Wanda Media, and one with Alibaba Pictures.

Literature Across Frontiers, Part 1 8.00pm

Owen Martell, Tammy Ho, Nico Helminger

Three international authors discuss the similarities and differences of their backgrounds and chosen literary forms. This event is chaired by Wendy Zhu, Director of the Suzhou Writer’s Association with her own interest in the relationship between local and global culture. Panelists include Welsh writer Owen Martell (winner of the Arts Council of Wales’ Welsh Book of the Year award in 2001) author of a novel set against the real life death of a young bassist in Intermissions, Tammy Ho, a Poet and editor of the Hong Kong literary journal Asian Cha and Nico Helminger, a novelist, playwright and poet from Luxembourg winner of the prestigious Prix Batty Weber in 2008.

Saturday 19

Do Not Marry Before Age 30: Empowering Women 10.00am


Joy Chen, the former deputy mayor of Los Angeles, is the author of Do Not Marry Before Age 30 – part memoir and part self-help guide – which debunks conventional wisdom that single women are “leftover” by their late 20s, and helps them unlock their potential and realize their dreams. The book is a bestseller in China, where it has won Chen a massive following. In 2012, the All-China Women’s Federation named Chen “Woman of the Year.” She currently has a movie in development with Wanda Media, and one with Alibaba Pictures.

Literature Across Frontiers, Part 2 4.00pm

Nora Wagener, Lambert Schlechter, Hashy Lee

In our second foray this weekend into how and what makes literature work Wendy Zhu, Director of the Suzhou Writer’s Association will be discussing universal and local themes with two writers from Luxembourg Nora Wagener, a novelist and playwright and winner of the Prix Arts et Lettres and Lambert Schlechter with 25 books to his name and impressive record of teaching and memberships of writer’s and human rights advocacy groups. Hashy Lee a Nanjing based writer, completes the panel. His early works were published in the Taiwanese Olive Tree and he now publishes various works online.

Catalonia Meets Shanghai 8.00pm

Jordi Punti, Wendy Zhu

Jordi Punti a writer from a small province in Europe meets Wendy Zhu from a larger province in China. How have their birthplaces shaped their writing? Wendy’s stories have been published in many journals and anthologies and her work acclaimed as a “renewal of a refined sensibility characteristic of Southern China.” Jordi, also a writer of short stories has won several awards for his novels. His latest book, highly relevant today, focuses on the relationship between Catalans and “immigrants” from Spain. Both writers have been widely translated.

Sunday 20

The Violet Hour 6.30pm


The Violet Hour is a poignant account of the death of the author’s son from a rare and aggressive form of infant leukemia. But it’s also a celebration of life, in which Sergio Del Molino shows us the deepest parts of an inner life confronted with its limitations. Children who lose their parents are orphans, and those who have to close their spouse’s dead eyes are widows and widowers. But we, the parents who sign the documents authorizing our children’s funerals, we have no name, no civil status. We remain parents forever.

A Girl is a Half-formed Thing 8.00pm

Eimear McBride

Irish author Eimear McBride shot to fame with her debut novel A Girl is a Half-formed Thing, which tells the intimate, powerful story of a young girl’s relationship to her cancer-stricken brother as they each navigate devastating childhoods. Described by Herald Scotland as “a novel that redefines the novel” and by The New Yorker as a “blazingly original novel… fueled by fractured, adventurous language and raw emotion,” it was named Best Book of the Year by a host of publications, and won the Goldsmiths Prize in 2013 and Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction in 2014. Don’t miss this chance to hear McBride talk about her ground-breaking work of fiction and why it took 9 years to get published.

Monday 21

What Makes You Write? 6.30pm

Diego Arboleda, Sergio del Molino, Lao Jian

Two Spanish writers and one Chinese writer explore the motivation to communicate in words. Diego, a former bookseller turned writer won the National Children’s and Young People’s Literature award for the improbably titled It is Forbidden to read Lewis Carroll. Sergio has won prizes for his fiction, some based on haunting personal experiences, but also writes short stories, non-fiction and a newspaper column. Lao Jian, is a Suzhou native, novelist and media worker who is passionate about reading and the future of Chinese culture. Wendy Zhu, Director of the Suzhou Writer’s Association and a fully published and translated author in her own right will facilitate this session.

Dystopia 8.00pm

Anna Smaill

Anna Smaill introduces her Man Booker longlisted The Chimes, a novel set in a London bereft of the written word where memory is lost daily and music is the principal form of communication.

Tuesday 22

今天我可能的写作与生活 The Possibilities in a Writing Life Today 7.30pm

Wendy Zhu


Wen’s talk centres around the cultural, technical and educational issues facing anyone contemplating a career in writing today and her fears that there now is a decline in the influence of Literature in China. Wen, born in Shanghai, has herself been much appreciated by her peers for her “renewal of a refined sensibility characteristic of Southern China.” She has had many stories published and translated into several languages. She is currently serving as the vice chairperson for the Suzhou Writer’s Association.

Thursday 24

Buy Me the Sky: The Remarkable Truth of China’s One-Child Generations 7.30pm


China’s One-Child Policy – recently abolished – has shaped an entire generation of men and women. Those born after 1979 are defined by the policy, and their stories are both remarkable and commonplace in this country of 1.4 billion. Xinran’s Buy Me the Sky is an intimate snapshot of this generation. The author made her name in China through talk radio as host of the call-in program “Words on Night Breeze” from 1989 to 1997. She has since gone on to become an international bestselling author with books that promote women’s issues and cultural understanding, such The Good Women of China, Sky Burial, and Message from an Unknown Chinese Mother: Stories of Loss and Love.

Friday 25

By Way of Illustration 6.30pm

Frane Lessac & Mark Greenwood

Frane Lessac, who has published more than 40 children’s books throughout the world, many of them inspired by her love of travel and the famed children’s writer Mark Greenwood, talk about their graphic work, its importance in their children’s stories and their influences.

An Interview with Nury Vittachi 8.00pm

Nury Vittachi

Nury Vittachi’s The Feng Shui Detective – which has been translated into multiple languages and published worldwide – is a “comedy-crime” series of novels that explore ideological and cultural differences between East and West. Nury Vittachi is a journalist and author based in Hong Kong. His columns are published daily, weekly in a variety of newspapers in Asia as well as on his website. He is also noted for his role in founding the Asia Literary Review, the Hong Kong International Literary Festival, the Man Asian Literary Prize, and was the chairman of the judges of the inaugural Australia-Asia Literary Award in 2008.

Saturday 26

On the Wings of the Dragon 6.30pm

Lieve Joris

In 1985 Belgian writer Lieve Joris set sail to the former Belgian colony of Congo, where her great-uncle had been a missionary. Congo became a recurring theme in her work, but her latest book, On the Wings of the Dragon, is about her journeys between Africa and China, written after she submerged herself in the world of Africans and Chinese who ventured into each other’s territory. Don’t miss this chance to hear one of Europe’s leading non-fiction writers share her thoughts and observations on a rapidly-expanding area of cultural exchange.

Leading into…

The Bookworm Festival Party with four-piece band


Help us celebrate the end of the festival with songs and stories. Impromptu contributions welcome, while you enjoy a beer and a bite to eat.


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Children’s Events

Children of all ages are welcome to the festival, but these are specifically aimed at schoolchildren. Enjoy a coffee while your son or daughter engages with these renowned authors.

All children’s events 30 RMB, includes free entry for parents.

Saturday 19

[Ages 9-14] Maori Legends of New Zealand noon

David Hill

Writer David Hill will tell the Maori legend of how the hero Maui fished part of New Zealand up from the sea – which explains the country’s present shape – and read some of his stories. Combining mythology and geography, this session will introduce listeners to a part of the world full of magic and wonder. Over his long career, Hillhas received multiple awards for his children’s and young adult writing, for books such as See Ya, Simon, Coming Back, and My Brother’s War. Hill has been writing full time since 1983, and his books have been translated into French, German, Danish, Dutch, Chinese, Slovenian, Japanese, and Korean.

Saturday 26

[Ages 8+] Around the World in 70 Minutes 10.30am

Frané Lessac

Go on a book safari and travel to the islands of the Caribbean, the deserts of the Sahara, and the jungles of the Amazon with author and illustrator Frané Lessac, who will give you ideas to help develop, plan, and design your own book inspired by the wonders of the world. Children will commence on working on individual books. Lessac has published more than 40 children’s books throughout the world, many of them inspired by her love of travel. In 2010 she was presented the Muriel Barwell Award for Distinguished Service to Children’s Literature.

[Ages 6-12] Writing Workshop: Strange Objects 2.00pm

Mark Greenwood

Become excited and intrigued by objects and curiosities. Make your own strange-objects book. Discover how they connect us with history and how strange objects can inspire creative writing. The famed children’s writer Mark Greenwood, who has twice received the West Australian Premier’s Award and the West Australian Young Readers’ Book Award, will lead this workshop, which also includes an illustration component. Greenwood’s books have been published internationally, examining myths and legends and promoting multiculturalism.

[Ages 12-20] Who is Mr. Jam? 3.00pm

Nury Vittachi

Come and discover the curious world of Mr. Jam. Nury Vittachi is passionate about writing and is a prolific producer of blogs, websites and novels that encourage, entertain and delight his readers. This is a chance to meet an inspirational and amusing writer and pick up some tips for your own writing and learn also about his Feng-Shui Detective.


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Off-Site Events

Writers will be visiting our main sponsor Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University. All of the following sessions are free and open to members of the public. Please note locations.

Tuesday 15

Philip Wilcox: Spoken-Word Performance 6.30pm

Location: XJTLU Museum, Central Building Room number 123W

Philip Wilcox is the current Australian Poetry Slam National Champion, a competition that more than 1,000 Australian poets entered. He is also the two-time NSW Poetry Slam Champion. He hosts and co-organizes Three Poets Speak, a Sydney showcase of the finest spoken word artists from around Australia. He has featured in major events such as the Sydney Writers Festival, Wollongong Writers Festival, and Newtown Festival, where he performed for a crowd of more than 8,000. He recently headlined the Melbourne event Voices in the Attic. He is also a playwright, having co-written and directed Thursday, one of the most successful productions of the 2013 Sydney Fringe Comedy Festival. 

Wednesday 16

Qiu Xiaolong 9.00am

Location: Foundation Building Lecture Theatre 1E

Qiu Xiaolong’s books have sold over a million copies and have been published in twenty languages. He is the author of the award-winning Inspector Chen series of mystery novels, Death of a Red Heroine (2000), A Loyal Character Dancer (2002), When Red is Black (2004), A Case of Two Cities (2006), Red Mandarin Dress (2007), and The Mao Case (2009). He is also the author of two books of poetry translations, Treasury of Chinese Love Poems (2003) and Evoking T’ang (2007), and his own poetry collection, Lines Around China (2003). BBC4 is currently presenting a radio dramatization of his first three Inspector Chen books. His latest book Shanghai Redemption – which was hailed by Wall Street Journal as one of the best books of 2015 – is partly set in Suzhou and refers to the Bookworm Literary Festival. Born in Shanghai, he currently lives in St. Louis with his wife and daughter.

Friday 18

European Literature Live Event 4.00pm

Location: Foundation Building Lecture Room 2E

With Jordi Punti (Catalan/Spain), Owen Martell (Wales/UK)

A discussion with these two European writers and translators on contemporary literature and the writing life.

Jordi Puntí was born in 1967 and lives in Barcelona. He writes in Catalan and has published two books of short stories: Pell d’armadillo (Armadillo Skin) (1998) and Animals tristos (Sad Animals) (2002). In 2010 he published his first novel, Maletes perdudes (Lost Luggage), which received the National Critics’ Award, El Llibreter Award (booksellers prize), and the prestigious Lletra d’Or, and has been translated into 16 languages. His most recent book is Els castellans (2011), a memoir about the daily life in a Catalan industrial town in the 1970s, focusing on the relationship between Catalan kids and the immigrants arrived from Spain. 

Owen Martell was born in 1976 and grew up in Pontneddfechan, South Wales. After studying at Aberystwyth and Oxford universities, he spent a number of years working as a reporter with the BBC. His first Welsh-language novel, Cadw dy ffydd, brawd (Strong and Prophetic), won the Arts Council of Wales’ Welsh Book of the Year award in 2001. His second novel, Dyn yr Eiliad (The Other Man), was shortlisted for the same prize in 2004. Dolenni Hud (Welsh Knot) is a collection of short stories in collaboration with photographer Simon Proffitt. His most recent novel, Intermission, is his first book originally written in English; it has been translated into French and German.


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  • December 2017
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