The exhaustive guide to the Capital M Literary Festival Beijing

By That's Beijing, March 14, 2014

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Now in its fourth year, the Capital M Literary Festival returns to Beijing with a diverse and distinguished range of writers, historians, theorists and thinkers. Here’s our guide to the best of the week-long series. 

Book tickets here. Click an author's name below to read an interview with them. 


Endre Lund Eriksen & Endre Skandfer / 11am-12pm
Two of Norway’s most celebrated and beloved children’s authors, Lund Eriksen and Skandfer team up to talk about enchanting mountainous worlds, populated by friendly, noisy monsters. Their interactive talk will be for kids and parents alike.

Dany Laferrière / 3-4pm (French)
The author of a dozen novels, including the provocatively titled How to Make Love to a Negro Without Getting Tired, Laferrière won the Prix Médicis in 2009 for The Enigma of the Return, the story of his return to Haiti after 30 years of exile. More recently, he published Diary of a Writer in Pyjamas and The World is Moving Around Me, an eyewitness account of the earthquake that struck Haiti in 2010. In December 2013, he was elected to the French Academy. 

Christopher Doyle / 5-6pm
An award-winning cinematographer who has worked with directors such as Zhang Yimou, Chen Kaige and, most notably Wong Kar-wai, Doyle’s work includes Temptress Moon (Chen Kaige), In the Mood for Love (Wong Kar-wai), The Quiet American and the recent remake of Psycho. Winner of the AFI Award for cinematography and the Cannes Technical Grand Prize, among others, Doyle has been working in Asian cinema since the 1970s.


Simon Napier-Bell / 7-8pm
Although he’s best known here as the mastermind that brought English pop-duo Wham! to China in 1985, Bell is a music legend who has managed such rock legends as the Yardbirds and T. Rex. 


Literary Lunch. Covering China: Trends in Food / 12pm
A panel of food editors on the latest trends, ideas, fads, organics and scares in China’s food world. With That’s Beijing’s very own Will Philipps, along with Cat Nelson, Sienna Parulis-Cook and Sean Silbert. 


Literary Lunch. Covering China: Trends in Travel / 12pm
What’s new in the travel world? Travel writers and travel industry pros tell us. Panel includes Jeremy Tredinnick, Mei Zhang and Jeff Brown. 

Nicholas Griffin / 7-8pm
In Ping Pong Diplomacy Griffin charts the extraordinary spread of the game throughout China, and attributes its success to the ideological inclinations of Montagu, the figure responsible for codifying its rules and founding the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF). 


Literary Lunch. Covering China: Trends in Current Affairs / 12pm
What’s new in the news. Panel includes Jane Perlez and Evan Osnos. 

C. Raja Mohan / 7-8pm
Author of Samudra Manthan: Sino-Indian Rivalry in the Indo-Pacific, Mohan heads the Strategic Studies Program at the Observer Research Foundation in Delhi, and is currently non-resident senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington DC. Mohan has published widely on arms control, nuclear non-proliferation, Asian security and Indian foreign policy.


Jeremy Tredinnick / 11am-12pm
Travel writing enjoys a certain glamorous, if rugged, reputation. From Kipling to Hemmingway, the image is one of adventure, of exploration – of life on the road. Not so, says Jeremy Tredinnick.

Cruz Garcia & Nathalie Frankowski / 12-1pm
Better known as the co-founders of Beijing-based design think tank, WAI Architecture, Garcia and Frankowski are also co-authors of The Story of the Little Girl and the Sun, a witty and informative children’s book exploring the geometric shapes found in space.

Emma Larkin / 1-2pm
There’s a certain level of unintentional intrigue involved in interviewing American author and journalist Emma Larkin. Having spent the best part of eight years reporting from inside of Burma (now known as Myanmar), Larkin, who writes under a pseudonym, has developed a talent for keeping her real identity hidden.  

John Delury / 3-4pm
There are countless books about the rise of modern China and its likely affect on the rest of the world. Few, though, care to go as deep, or as far back into the country’s recent history as Wealth and Power: China’s Long March to the 21st Century.

Evan Osnos / 5-6pm
After almost eight years living in Beijing, Evan Osnos, author of the New Yorker’s acclaimed regular column Letter From China, now finds himself in the curious position of writing letters to China.


Benjamin Law / 1-2pm
The author of two books, black comedy The Family Law and gonzo-style travel book Gaysia: Adventures in the Queer East, Law is known for his outrageous first-person style explorations into a range of difficult issues. His work has appeared in over 50 publications worldwide, including Good Weekend, frankie, The Monthly and QWeekend. 

Nancy Huston / 3-4pm
Multilingual Huston has written over 35 books, including novels, essays, screenplays and children’s books. Her sprawling 2006 World War II epic, Fault Lines, examines the effects of Himmler’s little-known Lebensborn project, which saw over 250,000 blonde children kidnapped from Poland and the Ukraine and placed in adoptive German families.

Timothy Garton Ash / 5-6pm
Writer and Oxford University historian Timothy Garton Ash describes his work as “studying the history of the present,” which is a polite academic way of saying that he’s captivated by change, addicted even.

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