Wolf lined up for writers' festival

Wolf lined up for writers' festival
Karen Joy Fowler will be joiningNaomi Wolf at Singapore Writers Festival.

SINGAPORE - Best-selling American writer Naomi Wolf, who took on the cosmetics industry with 1991's The Beauty Myth and divided feminists with her 2012 memoir of sexual healing, Vagina, is one of the headliners of this year's Singapore Writers Festival.

The literary event runs from Oct 31 to Nov 9 and features two other American heavyweights - fantasy star Raymond E. Feist and award-winning genre-bending author Karen Joy Fowler.

Feist, 68, confirmed his appearance on his Twitter account, @refeist, on June 11. Fowler's appearance was last week confirmed by her publisher Penguin US, and Wolf's by HarperCollins.

The theme of this year's Singapore Writers Festival, revealed at the end of last year, is The Prospect Of Beauty.

Wolf, 51, is synonymous in many minds with The Beauty Myth, which highlighted unrealistic portrayals of women in the mass media and how these images feed into the multi-million-dollar cosmetic and plastic surgery industries.

Her recent biography Vagina has been less well received, with critics at The New York Times and Guardian newspapers arguing that she did not treat the subject of female sexuality with appropriate gravity.

Still, Singapore readers such as playwright Carolyn Camoens, 40, are looking forward to seeing her at the festival. "The Beauty Myth was important to me in my journey in confidence. I would very much like to hear her opinion on how much progress women have made in sexual discourse and feminine understanding," Camoens says.

San Diego-based Feist is another well-known name. His 30 solo or co-authored novels of fantasy are regulars on The Straits Times' and global bestseller lists. He is best known for his Riftwar cycle of books, about warring kingdoms and magicians, which began with Magician (1982) and continues in last year's Magician's End.

Writer Felicia Low-Jimenez, 35, who co-authors the Sherlock Sam series of children's books with her husband Adan Jimenez, grew up reading Feist's work. "I think he writes characters very well. Pug from Magician was the unlikely hero that every teenage geek can identify with," she says.

Another big-name author in the genre of fantasy and science fiction is Fowler, 64, who co-founded the noted James Tiptree Jr Award with writer Pat Murphy. The award is named for a woman writer who wrote under a male pen name, and is given annually to books that explore gender and gender roles.

Fowler has written three collections of short stories and six novels including literary homage The Jane Austen Book Club (2004). Last year's We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves is a critically acclaimed family drama centred on the use of animals in research, and won the influential PEN/Faulkner Award in May. Writer and editor Jason Erik Lundberg, 38, was one of Fowler's students at the 2002 Clarion Writers Workshop in Michigan. "When she comes for the festival, I hope to ask her about winning the PEN/ Faulkner Award for her latest novel We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, as well as catch up on the latest gossip in the science-fiction community," he says.

The festival is an annual event organised by the National Arts Council. Ticketing details as well as the full programme will be unveiled in the coming months.

Festival director Paul Tan says: "The Writers Festival is, at the end of the day, a festival about ideas." Among the topics this year's festival will explore, he promises, are "the notion of aesthetics, especially today's unrealistic ideals of female beauty; the tensions between pristine nature and development; and of course, what beauty means to poets and fiction writers".

akshitan@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on July 01, 2014.
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