I attended quite a few sessions of the Brisbane Writers Festival over the last four days, and enjoyed the whole atmosphere, though I have some complaints or issues to communicate with the organisers.
On Sunday morning I went in early to a session entitled "The Mona Lisa Meets the Girl with the Pearl Earring". Tracy Chevalier wrote the book "The Girl with the Pearl Earring" and Prof. Donald Sassoon wrote "Mona Lisa: The History of the World's Most Famous Painting."
I had only seen the full program on the Saturday, and did not realise that the two sessions I had intended to attend needed tickets. Luckily only $12 each, but I had to rush and purchase tickets after learning of that necessity.
I had not seen the film or read the book by Tracy Chevalier,but the blurb about the session intrigued me, and I am glad I attended. There was great discussion about both books - the fact that the Mona Lisa tome was about fact and the other book was very much made up as there was little information about the artist of the painting, "The Girl with the Pearl Earring" and most of the story was created by the writer because there was so little known about the girl and the painter.
The session on China, clearly was of interest to me. The two writers were most fascinating. Linda Javin is the best selling author of 8 books according to the program, and works with the University of Beijing (or is it Peking?) and as I write this is either on her way back to China or leaving some time today. She was fascinating. The other speaker was Frances Guo, who according to the program "is a Peking University graduate and journalist. She has worked at Australian universities, Australian Embassy in Beijing and News Corporation. She now now researches Chinese media at UTS" ( I will have to find out what UTS stands for. A Google search indicates it might be University of Technology, Sydney.)
Frances spoke of her life in China, and how she escaped after the major battle at Tianamen Square. She tells a little of her family story in the latest issue of Griffith Review.
One thing that neither speaker mentioned during the session was the affect that the one child policy of China will have on the future of China. Both speaker suggested that the policy was not so strict now and that many families had more than one child, which is true in some places - especially in the rural areas.
However, the statistics about the inequality in genders - there are some millions more young men than women - suggest that there could be further challenges.
In any case I found the discussion most interesting.