City of Asylum to launch first ever Pittsburgh International Literary Festival | Literary Arts | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

City of Asylum to launch first ever Pittsburgh International Literary Festival


Pittsburgh will soon have its first ever literary festival bringing together different authors from around the globe.

On April 15, City of Asylum announced it will be holding a Pittsburgh International Literary Festival. This 10 day festival starts on May 12, and will “consider themes of migration, identity, and displacement with an emphasis on works in translation.” According to a release, LitFest 2021, as it is also called, will be the first of its kind for City of Asylum and for the Pittsburgh region, continuing City of Asylum’s tradition of bringing cross-cultural voices to the city.

The festival will feature 30 speakers representing more than 20 countries and 14 different languages. The events will be live and virtual, so participants can enjoy the discussions from anywhere in the world. These events will bring authors, translators, and artists together for readings in multiple languages and conversations about craft, translation, and the importance of social justice.


Topics will include “BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) representation among translators, linguistic inclusion of the LGBTQIA+ community, and the politics of publishing, among others,” according to City of Asylum's website.

The festival is free to attend, but City of Asylum asks participants to register online beforehand. Programs start on May 12, and include:

  • Nobel Prize-winning author Olga Tokarczuk discussing her award-winning book Flights, as well as her forthcoming “magnum opus” The Book of Jacob.
  • Pulitzer Prize-winning author Viet Thanh Nguyen and his newest novel The Committed
  • A discussion with Japanese author Mieko Kawakami and the translators of her novel Breast and Eggs, one of Time Magazine’s 10 Best Books of 2020. LitFest 2021 includes the launch event for Kawakami’s highly anticipated new novel Heaven.
  • Pulitzer Prize-winning poet/translator Forrest Gander talks with Mexican poet Coral Bracho and their new work It Must Be a Misunderstanding.
  • “We Crossed the River,” a new music concert created by Music on the Edge at the University of Pittsburgh. Includes raw testimonials collected at the U.S./Mexico border by novelist Angie Cruz.

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