A Malaysian literary festival has been shortlisted for a prize in the prestigious London Book Fair International Awards 2017 (LBFIA).

The George Town Literary Festival (GTLF), a Penang-based annual literary event, was named by the LBFIA as one of three shortlisted nominees for the Literary Festival Award.

The award is supported by the International Literary Showcase, and is open to any literary event outsideBritain. It celebrates literary festivals that demonstrate varied programming, high-quality organisation, care and attention to authors, diverse appeal, and a connection with the local community.

GTLF festival director Bernice Chauly said she was thrilled and honoured that the festival was shortlisted, and was grateful to the LBFIA and the International literary Showcase for acknowledging them.

“The GTLF is indebted to the support from its partners, participants, and festival audiences who continue to believe in the necessity and urgency of free speech and expression,” said Chauly, speaking via email.

The GTLF is the only literary festival funded by a state government in Malaysia. First organised in 2011, the festival celebrates the literary world of poetry, prose and spoken words, while hosting various writers, novelists, spoken word artists and more from diverse writing disciplines.

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(From left) Musicians Leon Thum on guitar, Bernardine on flute and Yasunari Rajendra on the didgeridoo accompany poet Cecil Rajendra as he reads his poems. Photo: Malcolm Foo

“This shortlist will spur us on in our efforts to engage in open discourse, conversation and criticality, and to continue the work we do every year,” said Chauly.

The two other shortlisted nominees are India’s Bookaroo Trust – Festival of Children’s Literature and South Africa’s Open Book Festival.

The LBFIA is held in partnership with Britain’s Publishers Association, and celebrates excellence in sixteen categories, including international publishing, academic and scholarly publishing, children’s publishing, literary translation and digital innovation. The judging panel for each award category is comprised of judges from that sector.

This year’s awards will be presented on March 14, in London.

“I am delighted that the 2017 International Excellence Awards shortlist is truly global, with all five continents represented,” said The London Book Fair director Jacks Thomas in the shortlist announcement.

“The strength and breadth of the entrants on this list is impressive and is a testament to the passion, commitment and creativity of all those involved in publishing, selling and bringing books to a wider audience.”