May 2021 I Newsletter

Dear members of the Word Alliance,

The upcoming month is a real festival month – with nine of our member festivals taking place in May and therewith setting off a firework of literature, creative ideas and inspirational thoughts across the globe.

We are pleased to provide further details about all dates, festival programs and new literary voices below.

Wishing all upcoming festivals much success and a wide audience!

Best regards from Berlin

Ulrich Schreiber

Festival News

From 1 to 9 May, 2021, the Bay Area Book Festival will take place virtually. Covering diverse topics such as race and identity, women and gender, environment and nature, there is something for every taste in this inspiring program. The wide range of celebrated and subversive writers and authors will include Tracy K. Smith, Orville Schell and Yiyun Li, Carol Edgarian and Vendela Vida, Avni Doshi, Maaza Mengiste and Alia Trabucco Zerán. Find all details and information on their program here.

The 9th Jerusalem International Writers Festival at Mishkenot Sha'ananim will take place from 3 to 6 May, 2021. This year, leading writers and artists from Israel and the world will take part. Alongside digital events and encounters that feature international and local writers, there will be in-person events at Mishkenot Sha'ananim and throughout Jerusalem, including literature and music performances, picnics, tours, workshops, exhibitions, and more. Find all details and information about their program here.

The Dunedin Writers & Readers Festival, taking place from 6 to 9 May, 2021, is full of Aotearoa’s literary gold. There’s fun for wee ones on the Storytime Double Decker Bus, school sessions that look to the way our young people think about their future and place in the world, and an eclectic range of panels, readings, and discussions. This year, there are threads of romance, New Zealand societal change, escapism, sense of self in time and place, and looking forward. After a difficult 2020, a view of the future feels important. For further details and insights into their program, click here.

From 11 to 16 May, 2021, the Auckland Writers Festival will take place. Presenting over 200 local and international writers mainly live but also digitally, the festival celebrates the power of the written and spoken word, explores innovative ideas and shares stories from New Zealand and around the world. Participating writers and artists will include Kazuo Ishiguro, Isabel Allende, Neil Gaiman, JP Pomae, Sue Kedgley and Ngahuia te Awekotutu, Miro Bilbrough, and Ai Weiwei. Find all details and information on their program here.

The 2021 PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature runs from 18 to 22 May, 2021. The Festival, drawing on the theme, Power to the People, brings together virtual audiences for more than 20 virtual events over five days and convenes fiction and nonfiction writers, poets, translators, thinkers, and activists to honor the art of the possible and the power of storytelling to push boundaries, challenge inherited narratives, and give voice to hope, courage, and survival. Tickets for all events available here.

Special highlights of this year’s PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature are:

The People’s History: Writing the Wrongs

Nearly one year has passed since uprisings across the United States and around the world decried anti-Black violence. Amid the pandemic, surging anti-Asian hate crimes have led to a swell of activism within, and in support of, AAPI communities. In a riveting opening night conversation moderated by Maria Hinojosa of Latino USA, whose recent memoir Once I Was You intimately explored America’s ongoing immigration crisis, Viet Thanh Nguyen, Nikole Hannah-Jones, and Imbolo Mbue confront questions of how to reconcile our collective pasts, challenging and reframing contested histories underlying today’s inequities.

Writing Our Way Out: Reflections on Inheritance

Debut authors Danielle Geller, Jamie Figueroa, and Linda Rui Feng discuss familial inheritance and loss.

The Ties that Bind: Weathering Crises in a Globalized World

Yamen Manai, Jordi Nopca, and Kawai Strong Washburn discuss their latest works of fiction.

The International Literature Festival Dublin will take place from 20 to 30 May, 2021. For 10 days the festival celebrates Irish and international writing, introduces new literature for children, families and young adults, invites to wellbeing, wandering and sightseeing and provides invaluable insights into the world of literature and publishing through professional development masterclasses and events, mostly online. Amongst the manifold highlights and guests will be Hanif Abdurraquib, Dairena Ní Chinnéide, Angie Thomas, Dermot O’Leary and Shane Hegarty. Find all details and information on their program here.

From 22 to 24 May, 2021, the 30st Étonnants Voyageurs, Saint-Malo will take place online and free of charge. On four simultaneous channels, continuously from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., live and as a replay, the festival broadcasts major debates, literary café, major interviews, poetry meetings, film screenings, during which authors* meet, words collide, cultures touch. Among the guests will be Simone Schwarz-Bart, Mathias Énard, Franck Bouysse, Céline Georges-Olivier Chateaureynaud, Cédric Herrou, Dany Laferrière from the French Academy, Rachel Khan, Serge Joncour, Céline Curiol and many more. More details on the extensive programme can be found here.

This year's festival also takes place in memory of Michel Le Bris, who has just passed away. We express our heartfelt condolences.

Hay Festival Wales brings writers and readers together online for its 34th spring edition, 26 May to 6 June, 2021, for an inspiring array of conversations, debates, workshops and performances. Over 12 days, more than 250 acclaimed writers, global policy makers, historians, poets, pioneers and innovators will take part in this year’s Festival, launching the best new fiction and non-fiction. It will interrogate some of the biggest issues of our time, from building a better world post-pandemic to tackling the compound crises of climate change, inequality, and challenges to truth and democracy. Festivalgoers can explore the programme and register for free now here.

Ullapool Book Festival will be held online over a period of four months in 2021. This will take the form of having one event a week starting on 26 May and finishing on 4 August, 2021. The festival’s guests will be Jim Carruth, Linda Cracknell, Chris Dolan, Tom Devine, Miriam Gamble, Peter Geoghegan, Peter Mackay, Fiona J Mackenzie, Donald S. Murray, Ambrose Parry, Leela Soma, Sunwise (Christine Morrison, Ian Stephen, Mike Vass). For further details and information about their program, please click here. Ticket sale (£4) will start on 5 May, 2021.


New Global Voices

In this newsletter, we’d like to introduce New Voices from Israel, recommended by the Jerusalem International Writers Festival at Mishkenot Sha'ananim.

Yaara Shehori

Yaara Shehori is an Israeli novelist and poet. She has been an editor of Hebrew literature at Keter Books since 2013. She holds a PhD in Hebrew literature from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and was awarded a Fulbright scholarship and a fellowship from the University of Iowa International Writing Program. Her novel Aquarium was recently published in the US by Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

For more information please see here and here.

Yaniv Iczkovits

Yaniv Iczkovits is an award winning Israeli writer known for his novels, essays and philosophical work. His 2015 fantasy-historical adventure novel The Slaughterman's Daughter, with an unlikely assortment of Jewish characters on a quest in late 19th century Czarist Russia, has been translated into several European languages and gained critical acclaim. It was recently published in the US by Penguin Random House.

For more information please see here.

Maya Arad

Maya Arad is an American-based Israeli writer. She taught at Harvard University, Geneva University, and in the theater department at Stanford University. She is currently writer-in-residence at the Taube Center for Jewish Studies at Stanford. Arad is the author of nine books, which were best sellers and gained critical acclaim. Her latest book, All About Abigail, was just published in Israel.

For more information please see here.


Literary News

As previously announced, the ilb is currently calling on individuals, schools, universities, cultural institutions and of course, other festivals to participate in a Worldwide Reading for the Dead of the Corona Pandemic on September 5, 2021. We’re very happy about a constantly growing number of participants and a growing number of submitted essays and poems related to this topic. Please spread the word and email in case of participation or support. Find all details about the call, readings and all literary texts here.


This newsletter lives off your contributions. So do let us know about your events, ideas of further member festivals, or information about new authors. Share it with us at Also, please help us keep this mailing list up to date. Any change of email address, please let us know. Thank you.


April 2021 I Newsletter


Dear members of the Word Alliance,

We are excited to announce the launch of our new Word Alliance website.

The framework and listings of all current members are in place. Do let us know how you like the website and especially the presentation of your festival within. Your feedback is valuable in making our digital platform work.

This Word Alliance newsletter is going to be another regular feature. Now it's up to all of us to fill it with content and life. We invite you to tell us about recent experiences and all things coming up. Be it festival information and dates or any other exciting event or information in the global field of literature. We look forward to hearing from you and to working together in creating a vibrant flow of information this year.

The idea behind the Festival News section is to give an overview of all literature festivals happening in the upcoming month. This is a great opportunity for the festivals to draw attention to the festival itself and to one of its remarkable highlights such as an interesting panel, exclusive speakers or specific job offers.

The Festival Reviews section is our rear view mirror. This section features impressions and experiences from recent festivals. A great way of sharing photos, texts and videos with the Word Alliance community.

The New Global Voices section looks ahead and introduces 2-6 young writers / new books from various parts of the world. In preparation for each newsletter, we will ask two festivals to share their recommendations of new writers in their region with us and the Word Alliance community.

The section Literary News provides information and relevant news for and from within the global literary sphere.

We hope that most of our 2021 festivals will be able to go ahead again, either live or digitally – Fingers crossed!

Best regards from Berlin

Ulrich Schreiber


Festival News

From 21 to 25 April, 2021, the Cúirt International Festival of Literature will take place both online and on site. Its packed hybrid programme reflects the diversity of our changing world, questions of connection to each other, our surrounding landscape and ourselves as well as the wealth of international and Irish writers. Among its guests will be Viet Thanh Nguyen, Emma Dabiri, Alexander Chee and Carmen Maria Machado, Mona Eltahawy and Leila Slimani, Derek Owusu, Douglas Stuart, and many more. Find all details and information on their program here.

From 21 to 25 April, 2021, the Cambridge Literary Festival will take place online. Its manifold literary events address diverse topics such as identity and multiculturalism, nature and science, religion, art and culture in modern times and current threats to our existence. The wide range of celebrated and subversive writers will include Maggie O’Farrell, John Bercow, George Saunders, Pete Paphides, Mel Giedroyc, Maria Stepanova, Nikesh Shukla, Katherine Angel, and many more. Check out their full program here.

And last but not least, we are happy to announce that the 21st edition of the international literature festival berlin (ilb) will take place from 8 to 18 September, 2021, with an opening speech by Leila Slimani (Morocco/ France). Among the topics covered will be cancel culture, misogyny, bioeconomy and the new world order. Special event series will focus on the life and work of Toni Morrison, Thomas Brasch, Susan Taubes and Michel le Bris, festival director of the festival Étonnants Voyageurs, Saint-Malo, who passed away on 30 January 2021. The festival’s full program will be released on 25 July 2021, here.

In addition, the ilb is currently calling on individuals, schools, universities, cultural institutions and of course, other festivals to participate in a Worldwide Reading for the Dead of the Corona Pandemic on September 5, 2021. The readings are intended to commemorate those who died - particularly acknowledging those whose loss is invisible, or where the restraints of pandemic measures have prevented relatives and friends from saying goodbye properly. All institutions and individuals are welcome to participate. Please spread the word and email in case of participation or support. Find all details about the call and readings here.


Festival Reviews

From 2 to 8 November, 2020, Soul International Writers’ Festival 2020 took place online. Ms. Chung Serang participated in this year's SIWF as closing keynote speaker and spoke about her ideas of living together in societies, referring to the COVID-19 pandemic, amongst others. You can watch the full speech here.


New Global Voices

Cristina Morales: Lectura Fácil

Published in German in 2021 and awarded the Premio Herralde de Novela 2018 and the Premio Nacional de Narrativa 2019, the novel tells the story of four mentally handicapped women living in an assisted living facility in Barcelona. The novel mixes different text genres, from an anarchist fanzine and court records to WhatsApp messages.

Pajtim Statovci: Crossing

This novel is set against the backdrop of Albanian myth and legend. It tells the story of two young men who leave their traumatized homeland in the wake of the rule of Enver Hoxha and communism in order to get to Italy. The two young men seek to make a new home in a foreign country while dealing with the personal alienation of their own bodies and its sexuality. The English-language translation was a finalist for the U.S. National Book Award in 2019.


Literary News

Since his global success "A History of Reading" (1996), Alberto Manguel has published dozens of anthologies and books about reading. In 2015, he had to give up his private library with 40,000 volumes in Mondion, France. Now his library will be established and opened to the public as “Centro de Estudos da História da Leitura“ (CEHL) in Lisbon.

Following links will provide further information about Alberto Manguel’s private library, the new Centre and his own thoughts

·         Literary Review

·         Sicnoticias

·         Câmara Municipal de Lisboa

Apart from this, international debates and discussions around Cancel Culture and Wokeness have flourished during the last months. In order to contribute to this discussion, we would like to point out the positions of John McWhorter and Waleed Aly, which we consider to be very progressive. John McWhorter will be among the guests of the 21. ilb.

·         The Monthly

·         The Atlantic

·         The Fire


This newsletter lives off your contributions. So do let us know about your events, ideas of further member festivals, or information about new authors. Share it with us at Also, please help us keep this mailing list up to date. Any change of email address, please let us know. Thank you.