In its 32-year history, the Vancouver Writers Fest has never shied away from the Big Matters of the Day, but the lineup for this year’s edition of the annual October celebration seems even more sharply focused on burning issues. That's only natural, as the two broad themes just announced for the 2019 fest—the state of the environment and “the importance of belonging”, which includes issues of reconciliation and the need to connect across social divisions—grow more urgent every day.
At the heart of this will be journalist, activist, and recent CBC Massey lecturer Tanya Talaga, in her role as guest curator of the weeklong VWF, running from October 21 to 27. According to a recent fest media release, the program of five events Talaga is creating will feature “remarkable Indigenous storytellers from across the country”, and underline what genuine reconciliation can and must look like.
Alongside these will be a far-reaching selection of events with renowned nonfiction authors, from Malcolm Gladwell and Naomi Klein (both presenting powerful new works) to historian and biographer Charlotte Gray, spoken-word artist and writer Ivan Coyote, and essayist Alicia Elliott.
And, as ever, there’ll be a brilliant contingent of novelists, including Emma Donoghue, Tash Aw, Mona Awad, Sean Michaels, and Michael Crummy, as well as B.C.’s own Anakana Schofield, Alix Ohlin, Michael Christie, and Nazanine Hozar. To name only a few.
Renowned local organizer and activist Jillian Christmas, another new addition to the VWF curatorial team, will present a series of spoken-word events and poetry slams, complementing a program of appearances by such poets as Lee Maracle, Billy-Ray Belcourt, and Eve Joseph.
The fest will release its complete roster of more than 100 authors on August 19 here.