International writers’ roundtable at the Community Book Center

Event: Jun 25, 2011

The writers, clockwise from top-right: Pilar Quintana (Colombia); Kevin Bloom (South Africa); Hind Shoufani (Jordan); Zhang Yueran (China); Marvin Victor (Haiti); Josephine Rowe (Australia); Dorothy Tse (Hong Kong); Kgebetli Moele (South Africa)
The writers, clockwise from top-right: Pilar Quintana (Colombia); Kevin Bloom (South Africa); Hind Shoufani (Jordan); Zhang Yueran (China); Marvin Victor (Haiti); Josephine Rowe (Australia); Dorothy Tse (Hong Kong); Kgebetli Moele (South Africa)

The University of Iowa’s International Writing Program (IWP), in conjunction with Room 220 and the Community Book Center, presents an open roundtable discussion with a group of accomplished authors from around the globe on Friday, September 30, at 5 p.m. at the Community Book Center (2523 Bayou Rd.).

The Iowa IWP has brought international writers to study as part of the university’s prestigious writing program since 1967. One of the IWP’s stated goals is to “introduce talented individuals to American life,” and to do so the program takes the writers out of the cornfields on week-long excursions to cities like San Francisco and New Orleans. The writers will be in town Tues. – Sat., Sept. 27 – Oct. 1, touring the city, taking in some live music, and dropping into classes at the New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts, the  Bard Early College program, and Loyola University New Orleans. They’ll also be in attendance at Michael Martone’s reading at the Antenna Gallery on Thursday, Sept. 29, at 7 p.m., as well as the Community Book Center event.

The discussion at the Community Book Center on Friday will be an informal event, and will provide members of the New Orleans writerly and readerly communities an opportunity to converse with this diverse group of professional international authors about issues both individual and universal, that affect New Orleans or the writers’ home countries, or both and everyone in between. The event is free, and will likely prove the international literary event of the season.

Participating writers’ biographies:

Pilar Quintana is a novelist and fiction writer from Colombia. She is the author of three novels, including Cosquillas en la lengua [Tickles in the Tongue] and Conspiración iguana [Iguana Conspiracy]; an excerpt from Coleccionistas de polvos raros [Collectors of Weird Screws] appeared in Gargoyle in 2011.  Her short stories have appeared in magazines and anthologies across Latin America, and in Spain and Germany.  In 2007, the Hay Festival Bogotá named Quintana among the 39 most important Latin American writers under the age of 39. In 2010, she received the La Mar de Letras award.  Her blog is “La Manigua.”

Kevin Bloom is a nonfiction writer from South Africa. He has written for many South African and international publications, including the Guardian and Times in the U.K., The National of the UAE, and Global Brief of Canada. In broadcast media, he was contracted to CBC as a radio essayist during the 2010 FIFA World Cup, and has worked as a presenter and co-writer of investigative documentaries. In 2010 his narrative nonfiction book, Ways of Staying, won the South African Literary Award for literary journalism. He is currently co-writing a book entitled Whiteout: The advance of the Chinese and the twilight of the European in Africa.

Hind Shoufani is a poet and filmmaker from Jordan. She was born to Palestinian parents in Lebanon and lives in Dubai. Shoufani has made a number of short films and documentaries, and is now at work on the documentary Journey in Migration (2011) and the feature-length This War on Love. She has been a film instructor in Jordan and Lebanon, and written on the arts for the Beirut newspapers The Daily Star and The Guide. The author of two volumes of poetry, More Light Than Death Could Bear (2007) and Inkstains on the Edge of Light (2010), she is also the founder of The Poeticians, a group that hosts multilingual poetry and spoken word events in Amman, Beirut, and Dubai.

Zhang Yueran is a novelist and editor from China. She has published the short story collections Sunflower Got Lost in 1890 (2003) and Ten Tales of Love (2004), and three novels: Cherry’s Distance (2004), The Narcissus has Gone Riding a Carp (2005) and Bird Under Oath (2006), which was named the best saga novel on the 2006 Chinese Novel Ranking List. Since 2008 she has been the editor-in-chief of the literary magazine Newriting, which anthologizes the best of belles-lettres magazines in China. A recipient of a number of awards—among them the Most Promising Talent Prize in Chinese Press (2005), the Spring Literature Prize (2006), and the Mao-Tai Cup People’s Literature Prize (2008)—she is currently enrolled in the Ph.D. program in Chinese Literature at Beijing University.

Marvin Victor is a fiction writer and filmmaker from Haiti. He has worked on a number of documentaries, shorts and feature-length films, including the 2009 adaptation of Kathy Acker’s novel Kathy Goes To Haiti, and he has taught creative writing courses for Fondation Culture Création. In 2011 he has published the novel Corps mêlés and his short fiction has been included in the collection HasdfHaiti Noir; earlier, his articles have appeared in the magazine Conjonction. He is the recipient of the 2008 Young Francophone Writers Award and the 2011 Grand Prix du Roman de la Société des Gens de Lettres.

Josephine Rowe is a fiction writer and poet from Australia. She has worked variously as a lecturer, editor and curator of literary events. Her writing has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, including Best Australian Poems (2005, 2006 & 2010), Best Australian Stories (2010), Overland, ABR, and The Griffith Review, and her short story collection How a Moth Becomes a Boat was published in 2010. Her stories have been made into short films and performance pieces, and broadcast on Radio National’s The Book Show and Poetica.

Dorothy Tse is a fiction writer from Hong Kong. She teaches in the Department of Chinese Language and Literature at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, where she is also completing her Ph.D., and is a co-founder of the literary magazine Fleurs des Lettres. Her columns have been featured in the newspapers Ming Pao and Fleurs des Lettres, a Literary Magazine. Tse is the author of the short-story collection ?? [So Black] (2003), which won the 8th Hong Kong Biennial Awards for Chinese Literature. Her fiction has also been awarded prizes at the 15th Unitas New Fiction Writers’ Awards.

Kgebetli Moele is a novelist and fiction writer from South Africa. He has been a theatre producer and creative writing teacher, and his short stories have appeared in the anthology Sun Tropes: Sun City and (post-)Apartheid Culture in South Africa and in the Italian magazine Internazionale. His Room 207 won the 2007 Herman Charles Bosman Debut Novel Award and the University of Johannesburg Debut Novel Award. He received the 2010 South African Literary Award for his second novel, The Book of the Dead. He is currently at work on three novels.

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