Pittsburgh International Literary Festival
Pittsburgh International Literary Festival, LitFest 2023, features two full weeks of free programs that highlight global voices and perspectives, celebrate literature from around the world, and encourage cross-cultural exchange.
From September 30 through October 15, we welcome more than 50 artists representing over 20 countries and nations to Alphabet City. With 17 free workshops, panels, author interviews, and special performances for kids, teens, and adults, there is something for everyone at LitFest.
Saturday, September 30
Freedom to Create Keynote
Each year we gather at Alphabet City to honor an international writer or artist who shares our mission to promote and honor creative freedom for all. This year we honor Booker Prize winning poet, novelist, essayist, and playwright, Ben Okri.
Tuesday, October 3
Lost & Found in Translation: Storytelling with the World Affairs Council
Justin Wilson | Cherry Aye | Bigyan Regmi | Charity Adhiambo | Dakota Nicholson | Brianna Battles | Ryan Pan | Sara McCarrel
All sharing stories in the theme of Lost & Found in Translation, this program features eight high school students who traveled abroad (Ecuador, France, Italy, Japan, South Korea, and Spain) this past summer through the World Affairs Council’s global Travel Scholars program.
Wednesday, October 4
Writing Away From Home: In-Conversation with Rania Mamoun & Leila Aboulela
Leila Aboulela | Rania Mamoun
This program presents a conversation between two female Sudanese writers, Caine Prize winner Leila Aboulela and City of Asylum writer-in-residence Rania Mamoun. These two remarkable women will discuss the breadth of their work through multiple genres, and discuss their experiences living away from Sudan and how being away from home has influenced their work.
Saturday, October 7
Translating Indigenous Writing
Mathilde Magga | Arthur Malcolm Dixon | Christian Elguera Olortegui | Wendy Call
This panel offers conversations with artists who focus on translating the work of Indigenous creators. The panelists include Mathilde Magga, Arthur Malcolm Dixon, and Wendy Call. Moderated by Michelle Gil-Montero, the panel will celebrate Indigenous work in translation and explore why the translation of Indigenous work remains a crucial and necessary practice. This panel will be followed by an audience Q&A and book signing.
Alphabet City Teens: Brazil Meets Pittsburgh
Vitor Martins | Lucas Rocha | Rachael Lippincott | Alyson Derrick
This delightful panel introduces four authors, two from Brazil and two from Pittsburgh, writing queer contemporary young adult (YA) literature. These authors will discuss the landscape of queer contemporary YA writing, with a special focus on the translation of these works. This conversation will be moderated by Pittsburgh teens Tobi Olaore and Omisa Shah, who both contributed to the Bridges & Books teen podcast. The panel will be followed by an audience Q&A and book signing.
Where Are the Women in Translation?
Marit Kapla | Ebru Ojen | Yu Miri
This panel presents a moderated conversation between three distinguished women in the literary field, Ebru Ojen, Yu Miri, and Marit Kapla, as they discuss what goes into writing the experiences of women and what it’s like to have those experiences be translated into different languages. This conversation will dive into the author’s own works, as well as the biases and obstacles in the realm of translation—a space where only 30% of books translated into English are by women.
Sunday, October 8
From Idea to Translation: Masterclass with Marit Kapla
This workshop offers a Masterclass in literature with author Marit Kapla. Marit will discuss how she wrote her books Kärlek På Svenska (Love in Swedish) and Osebol, which has been translated into 4 languages including Spanish, its most recent translation. Both novels are constructed around interviews conducted all over Sweden, including Marit’s hometown of Osebol.
Desire & Dissonance: In-Conversation with K Patrick
This program features a stop on author K Patrick’s limited United States book tour, promoting their new book Mrs. S—a sensual slightly obsessive sapphic romance set against the backdrop of an all-girls boarding school. Mrs. S is a sensational novel that explores in stylish prose the mercurial nature of love and attraction, the transformative power of desire, and the dissonance between self and place.
Blending Drama & Desire: In-Conversation with Novuyo Rosa Tshuma
In this reading, we welcome acclaimed Zimbabwean author Novuyo Rosa Tshuma to discuss her latest novel, Digging Stars. Blending drama and satire while examining the complexities of colonialism, racism, and what it means to be American, Digging Stars probes the emotional universes of love, friendship, family, and nationhood. The discussion will be moderated by City of Asylum Advisory Board member Anderson Tepper, and will be followed by an audience Q&A and book signing.
Monday, October 9
Jazz Poetry Concert & Collaboration
Mat Maneri | Busisiwe Mahlangu | Yashika Graham | Tammy Lai-Ming Ho | Denver Butson | Saba Hamzah سبأ حمزة
Who said City of Asylum’s Jazz Poetry programming only comes once a year? This special program presents a jazz concert featuring Mat Maneri (performing with the ASH Quartet). The jazz set is followed by a jazz and poetry collaboration with poet Denver Butson and four poets from our partnership with the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program, Busisiwe Mahlangu, Saba Hamzah, Yashika Graham, and Tammy Lai-Ming Ho.
Tuesday, October 10
Global Voices: A Collaborative Performance with City of Asylum & The University of Iowa
Jorge Olivera Castillo | Oleksandr Frazé-Frazénko | Rania Mamoun | Volodymyr Rafeyenko | Olena Boryshpolets | Anouar Rahmani | Busisiwe Mahlangu | Yashika Graham | Tammy Lai-Ming Ho | Raoul de Jong | Saba Hamzah سبأ حمزة
The talented minds of our very own writers-in-residence and some of the writers from The University of Iowa’s International Writers Program come together for a one night only collaboration featuring readings and performances, across genres.
Thursday, October 12
Celebrating the Global Majority with the
Alison Zapata | Amber Epps | Carolina Loyola-Garcia | Madame Dolores | Fran (Ledonio) Flaherty | Geña | Liana Maneese | Maggie Negrete | Maritza Mosquera | Sara Tang | Sarika Goulatia | Veronica Corpuz | Zena Ruiz
In this program, we welcome back the #notwhite collective as they express the hybridized and multifaceted aspects of self-defined liberation. They will be celebrating their recently released book A Future Artefact of the Global Majority: a book that catalogs the #notwhite collective’s journey, vision, members, and work spanning their first six years— 2016–2022. It is a true labor of love that will be commemorated in this evening of poetry, spoken word, and music, followed by a Q&A with artists.
Saturday, October 14
Alphabet City Kids: Story Hour with Jack Wong 黃雋喬
Following along with our ongoing Alphabet City Kids series, this youth centered program offers story time with Boston Globe-Horn Book Award Winning author/illustrator Jack Wong, as he celebrates the release of his new picture book The Words We Share. The story hour will be followed by an engagement activity and a Q&A with Jack.
Stories That Free Us: In-Conversation with Ariel Dorfman
This hybrid program welcomes masterful author Ariel Dorfman, who will be joining virtually, as he discusses his most recent novel, The Suicide Museum, a part mystery, part historical epic, part biography, part human comedy, and part prophecy work of auto-fiction.
Censored Cartooning: In-Conversation with Rob Rogers, Khalid Albaih & Pedro Molina
Rob Rogers | Khalid Albaih | Pedro Molina
This conversation between Pittsburgh political cartoonist Rob Rogers, Nicaraguan cartoonist and illustrator Pedro Molina, and Sudanese artist Khalid Albaih will explore political cartooning and the challenge of cartoonists facing censorship. The conversation will be followed by an audience Q&A and book signing.
Sunday, October 15
Writing the Anti-Hero: In-Conversation with Guy Gunaratne
This hybrid program, curated by City of Asylum Advisory Board member Anderson Tepper, features acclaimed author Guy Gunaratne, who will be livestreamed in for the reading and conversation. The two will discuss Guy’s latest novel Mister, Mister, a blazingly propulsive novel following a captured jihadist and poet-preacher as he recounts his path to international notoriety.