The Neilson Hays – Literature Festival

by Expat Life
Neilson Hays

To celebrate its 150th anniversary, The Neilson Hays Library in collaboration with the Office of Contemporary Art and Culture (OCAC) is organizing a first of its kind Literature Festival featuring an exclusive group of renowned Thai and international writers from around the world who will deliver insightful talks, panel discussions on various topics and poetry reading.  The Neilson Hays Bangkok ‘Literature Festival’, scheduled to take place from Saturday, 16 to Sunday, 17 November 2019, will also feature other entertainment activities such as art and craft market and workshops as well as film screenings.

Proudly representing Thailand at the Festival will be such well-known writers/authors and winners of the prestigious Southeast Asian Writers (S.E.A Write) Award as Zakariya Amataya, Uthis Haemamool, Duanwad Pimwana (whose novel and collection of short stories have recently been translated and published internationally in both the US and Australia), and Veeraporn Nitiprapha. Also sharing their wealth of knowledge and international experiences at the Festival are none other than young Thai, internationally renowned literary stars who currently live abroad such as Pichaya Sudbantad who grew up in Thailand, Saudi Arabia and the American South, and Mui Poopoksakul, lawyer-turned-translator with special interest in contemporary Thai literature who had lived for two decades in the US and who now lives in Berlin, Germany, and last but not least Anusorn Tipayanon author, novelist and translator who attracts and observes Art in every aspect.

Neilson Hays Library Festival

Amongst the outstanding, award-winning literary personalities from overseas who have confirmed their presence at the Festival are Adam Johnson, winner of the Pulitzer Prize 2013 and who is currently Professor of English at the prestigious Stanford University, California, the US, and Melissa Lucashenko, a multi-award-winning Goorie novelist from Australia who recently won the 2019 Miles Franklin Award, the country’s most prestigious literary prize amongst other accolades.  The Festival is also honoured and excited to host Mike Curato from the US, author-illustrator of the wildly popular Little Elliot picture books (which has been translated into 10 languages).

Not forgetting to showcase the equally rich literature from Asia and ASEAN, the Neilson Hays Bangkok Literature Festival has successfully invited outstanding literary luminaries from India, Japan, China, the Philippines, Singapore and Myanmar including India’s Raghu Karnad, journalist and writer and winner of the Windham-Campbell Literature Prize for non-fiction, and P. Sivakami, feminist writer and one of the most prominent Dalit novelists in India; Chinese-American Qiu Xiaolong, author of 11 novels in the award-winning Inspector Chen series which have been translated into more than 20 languages; Myanmar’s human rights activist and winner of the 2018 S.E.A. Write Award  Ma Thida; Japan’s Kanako Nishi, winner of the prestigious Naoki Prize amongst others.

The Board of Directors of the Neilson Hays Bangkok have extended invitations to H.E. Mr. Ittipol Khunpluem, Minister of Culture, and  M.R. Sukhumband Paribatra, Chairman of Suan Pakkad Palace Museum and Chairman of the S.E.A. Write Organising Committee, to preside at the opening ceremony of the Literature Festival scheduled to take place on Saturday, 16 November 2019 at 9.00 am at the Library.

The Neilson Hays Bangkok Literature Festival is supported by the following: 

Partners:  Office of Contemporary Art and Culture (OCAC), Embassy of Australia, Embassy of Canada, Japan Foundation, Indian Studies Center, Chulalongkorn University, James H.W. Thompson Foundation, International School Bangkok, S.E.A. Write Award, Bangkok Edge, P.E.N. International Thailand Centre, the Writers’ Association of Thailand.

Sponsors:  Premier Group, Kasikorn Bank PCL, The British Club, AirAsia, Wine Garage. 

Bookings will be open from 1 October 2019 onwards.

List of confirmed speakers so far:  Sarinee Achavanuntakul, Zakariya Amataya, Michael M. Coroza (The Philippines), Mike Curato (American), Uthis Haemamool, Nisid Hajari (journalist & writer based in Thailand), Adam Johnson (American), Raghu Karnad (Indian), Melissa Lucashenko (Australian), Darrel J. McLeod (Canadian), Pankaj Mishra (English-Indian), Kanako Nishi (Japanese), Veeraporn Nitiprapha, Rewat Panpipat, Duanwad Pimwana, Mui Poopoksakul (Thai/German), Haresh Sharma (Singaporean), P. Sivakami (Indian), Pitchaya Sudbanthad, Ma Thida (Myanmar), Anusorn Tipayanon, Patrick Winn (journalist & writer based in Thailand), Clare Wright (Australian), Qui Xiaolong (Chinese/American), and more.     

Originally founded in 1869 as the Bangkok Ladies’ Library Association, the Neilson Hays Library is the oldest English-language, non-profit library in Thailand. It has been serving the Bangkok community through literature and the arts for 150 years. The library’s existing building was built in 1921 and opened in 1922. 
The Neilson Hays Library is open Tuesday to Sunday from 9.30 am to 5.00 pm (closed Mondays)
Tel. 02 233 1731; Email:  [email protected]  
Please check out the Library’s website:

Authors Bio
Adam Johnson, USA
Adam Johnson won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, one of the world’s most prestigious literary awards – for the Orphan Master’s Son, his surreal portrait of North Korea, which manages to be at once disturbingly dark and wrenchingly funny. He followed it up with a book of short stories, Fortune Smiles, which went on to win another coveted prize, The National Book Award for Fiction in 2015. These eclectic novellas tackle a range of uncomfortable themes from terminal illness to invasive futuristic technology, yet revealing the human spirit in all its cruelty, compassion and beauty. He is a Professor in creative writing at Stanford University. Winner of a Whiting Award and Fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts and the American Academy in Berlin. His fiction has appeared in Esquire, GQ, Playboy, Harper’s Magazine, Granta, Tin House and The Best American Short Stories. His work has been translated into more than thirty languages.

Clare Wright,  AustraliaClare Wright
Dr Clare Wright won the 2014 Stella Prize for her narrative non-fiction book, The Forgotten Rebels of Eureka, which is her answer to the question ‘What is lost when half of history is erased?’ The Battle of the Eureka Stockade is one of  Australia’s first and most famous battles for democracy and independence – but the historical record never included women. It is now being adapted for a television drama series. She has also written two historical documentaries for ABC TV and is the writer/host of Radio National’s history podcast, Shooting the Past. Her latest book is You Daughters of Freedom: The Australians Who Won the Vote and Inspired the World, the second instalment of her Democracy Trilogy. Clare is an Associate Professor of History at La Trobe University. She is also a political speechwriter, and historical consultant.

Darrel J McLeod, CanadaDarrel
Darrel J. McLeod
is the winner of the 2018 Governor General’s Literary Award for Non-Fiction, for the memoir Mamaskatch: A Cree Coming of Age. The sequel to Mamaskatch, entitled Peyakow, is in the final editing phase and will likely be released in the fall of 2019. Darrel is Cree from Treaty 8 First Nation of Alberta and holds degrees in French language and literature from the University of British Columbia, a diploma in education and advanced training in dispute resolution. Before retiring and pursuing a career in writing, he was chief negotiator of land claims for the federal government and executive director of education and international affairs with the Assembly of First Nations. In the spring of 2018, Darrel was accepted into the Banff Writing Studio to advance his first work of fiction. He lives, writes, sings and is an accomplished jazz musician, playing the guitar in Sooke, B.C., and Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

Duanwad PimwanaDuanwad Pimwana won the 2003 S.E.A. Write Award for Changsamran – now published in English as Bright. Her short stories collection Arid Dreams is also published in English, coming out at the same time as Bright in April 2019, available in the US and Australia. Duanwad Pimwana is the pen name of Pimjai Juklin. She worked as a journalist for a local newspaper before becoming a full-time author. Her writing has appeared in Words Without Borders, Asymptote, and The Southern Review. Three of her stories (1992, 1993, 1994) won Thailand’s Cho Karaket Literary Prizes. She lives in Chonburi on the Gulf of Thailand, where she was born.                                                                                                                                       
                                            Haresh Sharma, Singapore
Haresh SharmaHaresh Sharma has conferred the S.E.A. Write Award in 2014 and awarded the Cultural Medallion, Singapore’s highest arts honour in 2015. He has penned 120 plays, which have been staged in London, Glasgow, and Cairo. This Singaporean’s body of work is experimental and topical and spans every genre from comedy and dramedy to the guttingly sad. Haresh Sharma is the Resident Playwright of The Necessary Stage. His Off Centre was selected by the Ministry of Education as a Literature text for ‘N’ and ‘O’ Levels. In 2017, the Esplanade featured Haresh’s plays at the first playwright-centred season of The Studios. Haresh is the first non-American to be awarded the Goldberg Master Playwright by NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.


Kanako NishiKanako Nishi, Japan
Kanako Nishi won the Sakunosuke Oda Prize in 2007 with her novel Tsutenkaku (Osaka Tower), and in 2012 she received the first Hayao Kawai Prize for her novel Fukuwarai (Funny Face). Her masterpiece, Saraba! won the prestigious Naomi Prize in 2015.

Kanako’s made her debut in 2004 with short story collection Aoi (Blue). Born in Tehran, grew up in Cairo and Osaka, she now lives in Tokyo.



Ma ThidaMa Thida
, Myanmar
Ma Thida received PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award in 1996 while serving her sentence in Insein Prison on charges of endangering public peace, having contact with illegal organizations, and distributing unlawful literature. Her first book, The Sunflower, was banned in Myanmar in the 1990s. In 2011, she received the Norwegian Freedom of Speech Award, in particular for her novel The Roadmap (2011), which she published under the pen name Suragamika, meaning ‘brave traveler’. She is now editing Info Digest journal and Shwe Amyutay magazine. She still writes articles and short stories in English and Burmese. In Myanmar, Ma Thida, also a surgeon, is best known as a leading intellectual whose books deal with the country’s political situation.


Melissa LucashenkoMelissa Lucashenko, Australia
Melissa Lucashenko won the 2019 Miles Franklin Award, Australia’s most prestigious literary prize for her latest novel, Too Much Lip. It has been described as both low-brow and high-brow, taking an unsparing look at an Aboriginal family existing in a tiny country town in Australia, where the land is sacred and the truths of racism, displacement, abuse, and incarceration are hard. This book is brash, confrontational, devastating and funny as all get-out. A Goorie novelist from Brisbane, Melissa has also received the Queensland Deloitte Literary Prize, the Nita B. Kibble Award, and the Victorian Premier’s Award for Indigenous Writing. In addition to winning the Miles Franklin Award, Melissa has been shortlisted for the Stella Prize, the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award, and the Pacific Region Commonwealth Writer’s Prize. Melissa is a Walkley Award winner for her non-fiction, and a founding member of human rights organisation Sisters Inside.

Michael M. Coroza

Michael M. Coroza, The Philippines
Michael M. Coroza received the S.E.A. Write Award in 2007. He is a poet, essayist, children’s story writer, translator, and editor. He declaims his poems and sings the kundiman, the classic Filipino love song.

He is a Professor of Filipino Literature, Creative Writing, and Literary Translation at the School of Humanities of the Ateneo de Manila University, Republic of the Philippines. He is concurrently the Chair of the Writers’ Union of the Philippines and of the National Committee on Language and Translation (NCLT) of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA).


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