The Word Vancouver festival’s annual celebration of all things literary is getting set to present its 2019 edition, which will take over venues around town starting September 24, and end on September 29 with a huge array of panels, talks, readings, and more at the Vancouver Public Library downtown. At the heart of the fesitval is, as always, a wide-ranging roster of authors.
The Straight approached a group of these writers and asked them to describe their most significant experiences as readers. Which books fired up their desire to become authors themselves? Which ones resonated in a life-changing way?
Here’s what Vancouver poet and writer Hasan Namir told us. He’s the author of the collection War/Torn and the Lambda Award–winning novel God in Pink. Namir will read from his work at 4 p.m. on September 29, on the Poetry Stage located on the ninth floor of the Vancouver Public Library’s central branch.
During the time before I read this book, I was lost, trying to find myself. I was struggling to reconcile between my sexuality and my family-religion-culture-home country Iraq.
During that period of my life, I was attending university and I was majoring in English literature. I was taking English 357 and the focus was ’50s gender and sexuality. One of the books that we read was James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room. I felt like David, I was hiding inside, trying to fight my attraction to men while trying to make my parents happy by playing the straight boy. I knew I didn’t want to live that life.
Not only is it my favourite book of all time, but the book truly changed my life.