Whether rigorous journalism or expansive fiction, literature can be a crucial tool in thinking through complicated political realities – and imagining new ones. The 100+ authors attending the Vancouver Writers Fest this from October 21-27, 2019, do just that. Here are five events for anyone interested in nuanced and unapologetically feminist conversations on today’s most pertinent stories.
On Belonging: Indigenous Strength and Hope in the Wake of Genocide
Saturday, October 26 at 4:00pm
A special free Saturday event curated by decorated journalist and Festival Guest Curator Tanya Talaga in remembrance of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA. Talaga, Cassandra Blanchard (Fresh Pack of Smokes) and Alicia Elliott (A Mind Spread Out on the Ground) come together for a conversation on how Indigenous individuals and communities can move forward, and share their crucial works, each of which untangles the repercussions of Canada’s abuse and ongoing genocide. Critical and galvanizing, this is a necessary, not-to-missed discussion.
Lives of Girls & Women
Wednesday, October 23 at 8:30pm
Sharing four of the most buzzed about books of the season, these authors promise a vibrant, inclusive conversation that celebrates female relationships and their many diverse permutations and contexts. Together, Mona Awad (Bunny), Nazanine Hozar (Aria), Laisha Rosnau (Little Fortress) and Alix Ohlin (Dual Citizen), explore everything from courting peer approval in cultish Creative Writing classrooms to surviving a political revolution, and delve into topics including the ramifications of class and isolation on our friendships to the difficult realities of sisterhood.
Politics & Prose
Thursday, October 24 at 8:30
Joanne Ramos’ The Farm is a national bestseller. Set in dystopian future where vulnerable women sacrifice their bodily autonomy for economic security, it’s full of arresting observations on the financial and familiar pressures placed on immigrants and marginalized individuals. Ramos is joined by Nazanine Hozar – whose novel Aria follows three different women navigating a politically unstable Iran – and Michael Christie – who shares Greenwood, an ambitious, ecological-driven epic – for an urgent discussion on how fiction can reveal political truths and impel action.
Friday, October 25 at 8:30pm
South of the border, conversations about gender roles and human rights have become particularly fraught. In this eye-opening event, three brilliant American writers tackle the unfolding turmoil. Joanne Ramos is joined by Wonder Woman writer and The Bird King author G. Willow Wilson and Pulitzer Prize finalist Elif Batuman (The Idiot) for this fearless analysis. Spanning an electric range of genres and forms, they each speak to how they employ the written word to both make sense of the most contentious political debates and create vital new possibilities.
Lee Maracle: A Life’s Work
Wednesday, October 23 at 6:00pm
Stó:lo mythmaker/keeper and decorated storyteller Lee Maracle is one of the most renowned and prolific Indigenous authors in Canada. In this deeply personal event, Maracle will reflect on her stellar literary legacy and her tireless activism and outspoken criticism of the Canada government’s treatment of Indigenous communities and women. She’ll also speak to her newest works, including the unique rewards of intergenerational collaboration and Hope Matters, a poetry collection she wrote with her two daughters.
The Vancouver Writers Fest takes place from October 21-27 at events on and around Granville Island. Visit their website to view the full program guide and purchase tickets.
Rebecca Peng is a writer currently living on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh peoples.