Vancouver readers and writers know when autumn returns, not because of the cooler weather or the changing leaves, but because talk of the Vancouver Writers Festival begins in earnest. For seven days in October, for the past 30 years, the festival has taken over Granville Island in Vancouver. Reading venues mere minutes apart, one hotel on the island, and just a handful of cafes and restaurants— the festival literally takes over. This means that you can easily bump into multiple writers outside of events.
It would be impossible to gush about all the events we’re looking forward to. Below we’ve highlighted some of the local publishers and authors participating. In fact, it’s nearly possible to see every single event we’ve featured below—we dare you to try!
2017 marks 30 years of the Vancouver Writers Festival, and it also marks Hal Wake’s last festival as artistic director. VWF recently announced Leslie Hurtig as the new incoming artistic director, so it will be exciting to witness what influence she has on building a world-class event. Check out the entire program guide online and we hope to see you on Granville Island for the 30th annual Vancouver Writers Festival, October 16-22, 2017.
(Pictured above: Rachel Rose, Ahmed Danny Ramadan, Lydia Kwa, Maia Caron, and Stephen Collis)
Wednesday, October 18: You gotta be there
On Wednesday afternoon, October 18, join Kathryn E. Shoemaker and Irene N. Watts with Mary Beth Leatherdale and moderator France Perras for Event 27: Seeking Refuge. Illustrator Kathryn and writer Irene are the creative duo behind Seeking Refuge (Tradewind Books), which was recently shortlisted for a Vine Award for Canadian Jewish Literature.
Wednesday evening, Ahmad Danny Ramadan and Jenny Erpenbeck will be joined by moderator Genni Gunn for Event 30: Uprooted to talk about their journeys as refugees, writers, and how their personal experiences affect their writing. Ahmad Danny Ramadan’s first novel written in English is The Clothesline Swing (Nightwood Editions).
Thursday, October 19: Must-see events
On Thursday afternoon, October 19, Event 46: Yes, You Can! will explore how everyone, even young people, can make a big difference in the world. With authors S.K. Ali, Cherie Dimaline, and Arushi Raina, this will be a fantastic event for classroom outings and school visits. When Morning Comes (Tradewind Books), Arushi Raina’s novel, is a finalist for the 2017 Canadian Children’s Book Centre Awards for Historical Fiction.
Thursday evening offers an illuminating discussion delving into short stories with authors Carol Bruneau, Cynthia Flood, Bill Gaston, Jessica Westhead, and Deborah Willis. Event 54: How This Story Began will be hosted Paul Grant and feature short readings by all the authors. Bill Gaston is an award-winning author whose latest collection is A Mariner’s Guide to Self Sabotage (Douglas & McIntyre).
Friday, October 20: TGIFriday
In honour of Canada’s sesquicentennial, explore different times and locations across the Canadian landscape in Event 59: Writing Canada (1). Join authors Angie Abdou, Fanny Britt, Maia Caron, and Kevin Hardcastle, with moderator Merilyn Simonds on Friday, October 20. Angie Abdou’s new novel, In Case I Go (Arsenal Pulp Press), is set in a coal mining town in the Rockies. Maia Caron’s debut historical fiction, Song of Batoche (Ronsdale Press), reimagines the Northwest resistance of 1885 through the local Métis women.
Try to determine truth from fiction at Event 70: True Confessions and Tall Tales on Friday, October 20 (go on, we dare you!). Featured authors include Hera Lindsay Bird, Dina Del Bucchia, Leanne Dunic, Zoey Leigh Peterson and host Angie Abdou. Dina Del Bucchia recently launched her contemporary short-fiction collection, Don’t Tell Me What to Do (Arsenal Pulp Press) and Angie Abdou launched her latest novel, In Case I Go (Arsenal Pulp Press).
Saturday, October 21: Bring on the weekend
Saturday afternoon, October 21, is a festive gathering not to be missed—Event 76: A Celebration of Talonbooks. The party is in honour of Talonbooks’ 50th anniversary and will feature authors Jónína Kirton, Cecily Nicholson, Tetsuro Shigematsu, hosted by Stephen Collis.
Personal identity is inextricably bound up in the work of Jordan Abel, Maia Caron, Ali Cobby Eckermann, Ayelet Tsabari. Join these four authors with moderator Nic Low on Saturday, October 21 for Event 79: Who I Am. Jordan Abel recently won the Griffin Poetry Prize for his collection, Injun (Talonbooks). Maia Caron’s debut historical fiction, Song of Batoche (Ronsdale Press), reimagines the Northwest resistance of 1885 through the local Métis women.
Wander in the ethereal on Saturday, October 21 with Event 80: Ghosts and Spirits. Join authors Angie Abdou, Gurjinder Basran, Alison Pick and host Anne Fleming for an otherworldly evening. In Angie Abdou’s latest novel, In Case I Go (Arsenal Pulp Press), the young protagonist Eli is nearly possessed by his great-great-grandfather, dragged into the past to make amends.
If your definition of otherworldly instead means science fiction and fantasy, join Peter Darbyshire and Lydia Kwa for Event 81: Trips to the Other World on Saturday, October 21. With moderator Sean Cranbury, these authors take a modern twist on speculative fiction and fantasy. Lydia Kwa’s Oracle Bone (Arsenal Pulp Press), a magical realism novel set in seventh-century China, uses tropes of old Chinese myths to tell a story about human desires and greed.
Lorna Crozier is the fantastic host of Event 83: The Poetry Bash on Saturday, October 21, bringing together an incredible lineup of voices, such as Kim Addonizio, Hera Lindsay Bird, Matthew Dickman, Ali Cobby Eckermann, Jordan Mounteer, and Jan Zwicky. In Jordan Mounteer’s debut collection of poetry, liminal (Sono Nis Press), he writes about home, travel, love, ageing and the natural world.
Sunday, October 21: Last call
Vancouver’s outgoing Poet Laureate Rachel Rose shares a phenomenal project from her tenure in the role—Sustenance: Writers from BC and Beyond on the Subject of Food (Anvil Press). On Sunday, October 22, Join Rachel Rose with a swath of contributors and live music from The Pazific for Event 91: Sustenance, A Feast of Voices. Contributors include Elee Kraljii Gardiner, Thomas Haas, Fiona Tinwei Lam, Jami Macarty, Billeh Nickerson, Shazia Hafiz Ramji, Annie Ross, Karen Shklanka, Kevin Spenst, Russell Thornton, and Ayelet Tsabari.
One of the perennial favourites of the festival, Event 92: The Afternoon Tea, marks the final day of the festival. On Sunday, October 22, join authors Cynthia Flood, Mary Gaitskill, Bill Gaston, Jon McGregor, Akhil Sharma, Jessica Westhead with host Paul Grant for an afternoon spilling over with stories in all their glorious forms. Bill Gaston will read from his recently published short story collection, A Mariner’s Guide to Self Sabotage (Douglas & McIntyre).