Quelques grammes de culture dans un monde de brutes

Festival Ticket
Festival Ticket

The above title refers to a famous French TV 1980’s advertising. Lindt chocolate was described as “Quelques grammes de finesse dans un monde de brute” (that could be translated as “a few moments of light in a very dark world”). This really applies to the Shanghai International Literary Festival. As much as I like Shanghai, this city is not a cultural center, but the festival brings a lot of it to us.

Shanghai International Literary Festival was taking place this month. As a literature fan and heavy reader, I spent most of my weekends at the conferences. Events take place in the wonderful atmosphere of Glamour Bar, giving it a real touch of the old Shanghai. The old building of Bund #5, renovated by lovers of Old Shanghai with a touch of modernity is the perfect cradle for the event. In the city of modern skyscrapers, electronic billboard advertising and constant marketing noisy aggression taking about a “old” media like book was a blessing. The weather was foggy, modern towers in the other side of the river were disappearing through the mist. Looking at the next door building (3 on the Bund), it felt like we were back in the days of old Shanghai.  We were listening to a single person talking about their love of writing and books, just like our predecessors must have done decades ago. I enjoyed the conferences tremendously, as well as the highly cultural atmosphere.

I have to admit that I did not read most of the books that were discussed before the sessions, but I left with a massive stack of reading to do. Conferences I enjoyed including Qiu Xialong (writer of the chief inspector Chen), Amy Tan (“The Joy Luck Club”), Arlette Shleifer (“Le Bar Rouge” which ends on the Bund), Xiaolu Guo (“A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for lovers”) and many others. The closing session of the festival was the launching of the new guide to the Bund by Peter Hibbard.

Shanghai is not the city of culture, but the literary festival definitely brings a lot on that field. Thanks to this great event, Shanghai is becoming a little bit more of a world cultural city.

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