When Nury Vittachi told a Hong Kong friend that he had just finished writing a book, his friend responded: “Why would anyone write a book when you can just buy one?” Twelve years later, that attitude has faded as Hong Kong’s literary scene has expanded and matured.
Part of that change can be attributed to Mr. Vittachi, an author and journalist known for his humorous takes on cross-culture clashes in Hong Kong. He launched the Hong Kong International Literary Festival 10 years ago with Jane Camens, a short-story writer from Australia. The 11th iteration of the festival starts March 8 and features talks by authors such as Amitav Ghosh, Peter Hessler and Jeffrey Archer.
Mr. Vittachi no longer heads the festival (power was handed over to a board of directors consisting of businessmen and academics in 2006), but has continued to father new outlets for Asian writers, including the Asia Literary Review and the Man Asian Literary Prize, part of the Man Booker Prize. Mr. Vittachi lobbied the Man Investment Group for three years before the Man Asian prize was finally launched. The fourth winner will be announced March 18. “Being an absolute pest” is his “specialty,” he says. Mr. Vittachi tells The Wall Street Journal what to watch in the world of books and culture—and at the Hong Kong International Literary Festival:
Asian Murder Mysteries
E-volution From Books to Screens
Live Music in Hong Kong