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Malaysian festival highlights rise of pan-Asian literature

George Town celebrates growing status of the region's writers

The George Town Literary Festival attracted readers with an eclectic selection of books by Gerakbudaya Bookshop. (Photo by Marco Ferrarese)

PENANG, Malaysia -- In a beautifully refurbished colonial building next to George Town's coastal thoroughfare, a tight-knit yet diverse crowd is hungry for answers. A microphone is passed around, and people rock nervously in their chairs as they wait to throw questions at a row of international authors and editors, who are animated after a heated discussion. Above their heads, the demeaning word "monsters" poses a question: Are writers really monsters -- prodigious or hideous -- in the age of fear and globalization?

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