Literary Fest says Tai Kwun shuts out events featuring Beijing critic Ma Jian

Local | 8 Nov 2018 3:39 pm

The managers of the Tai Kwun arts complex in Central have kicked out two events featuring Beijing critic author Ma Jian, saying they do not want the venue "to become a platform to promote the political interests of any individual.''

This came after the organizers of the Hong Kong International Literary Festival confirmed that they had been asked to shift two events featuring the London-based Chinese writer, RTHK reports.

These announcements come a day after Ma said his planned events at Tai Kwun had been cancelled without reason.

The director of Tai Kwun said they are closely with the festival organizers to find a more suitable alternative venues.

Ma, who was born in Qingdao and had previously lived in Hong Kong, was due to take part in two events at the literary festival on Saturday. One of the events is a presentation on his latest book, "China Dream", a satire on modern China. The other is a panel discussion on Hong Kong literature, also featuring local writers Hon Lai-chu and Ng Mei-kwan.

The 65-year-old wrote on social media that he was told his events could "no longer be held at Tai Kwun, where all the other events are taking place," and he would have to go elsewhere.

In a brief note, the organizers confirmed they "have been asked to change the venue for two events by Tai Kwun". They said new venues for the two events would be announced soon.

The organizers added that they were proud of their work and their association with the people participating in the events.

"We are proud of the role we play in Hong Kong’s thriving literary and arts scene, and proud of the authors whose ideas and work we help spread,” the organizers said.

Ma is a member of the Independent Chinese Pen Centre, a collective of writers in exile. The French magazine Lire once recognized him as one of the 50 most important writers of the 21st century.

In a social media post last week, Ma had said publishers in Hong Kong were now scared to publish his books and so he was releasing "China Dream" only in Britain.

Penguin, the publisher, describes the book as a mix of tragic and absurd reality which "is a portrait not of an imagined future, but of China today". Litfest organizers billed Ma as "China's answer to Orwell, Swift and Solzhenitsyn.''

Tai Kwun, which opened earlier this year in the former Central police station complex after a HK$3.8 billion revamp, is now managed by the Jockey Club.

Both events were still listed on Tai Kwun's website as of the afternoon today.

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