Exhilarating conversations and ideas from the world’s greatest storytellers and luminaries. From the esteemed vaults of the Vancouver Writers Fest, located in beautiful British Columbia.
Emma Donoghue in Conversation with Laura Spinney
There are few moments we feel more connected to the events of 100 years ago—during the Spanish Flu—than as we experience a global pandemic… or when we read Emma Donoghue’s latest work, The Pull of the Stars. Bringing light and hope to a dark subject, the novel centres around three women in an understaffed maternity hospital in Ireland, 1918: a nurse, a doctor on the run, and a young volunteer. As they lose patients to the baffling pandemic, they share humanity amidst their impossible work. Donoghue’s research for this title included reading the work of Laura Spinney—a science journalist and author—whose own book, Pale Rider: The Spanish Flu of 1918 and How it Changed the World, masterfully explores the consequences of the pandemic with insights into some of the individual lives impacted and rich, quirky details. Hear two fascinating minds explore a subject of heightened relevance amidst the celebration of their new titles.
Marilynne Robinson in Conversation with Ian Williams
Time to break out your headphones! In a truly special event and conversation available exclusively through the Festival’s Books & Ideas Audio series, Pulitzer Prize-winning author and one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World, Marilynne Robinson, sits with 2019 Scotiabank Giller Prize winner and national bestselling author Ian Williams to discuss her widely anticipated new novel Jack, the fourth and last of her Gilead quartet. In this timely conclusion, Jack harkens to a world of segregation, polarizing love and overcoming in rural Iowa. Listen in as these master writers discuss craft, thematic choice and the infinite power of fiction to inspire.
What We Talk About When We Talk About Love
Three Freeman’s contributors from three different genres, born on three different continents, talk about the way love makes a story, a poem, and the shape of a memoir. Mieko Kawakami is the award winning author of Breasts & Eggs, her North American debut, and is declared by Haruki Murakami as his favorite new Japanese novelist; Daniel Mendelsohn is the National Book Critics Circle Award winning author of The Lost, translator of poems of Cavafy, and his latest genre bending tale, Three Rings: A Tale of Exile, Narrative and Fate, and Valzynha Mort is a poet and translator and author of four books. Born in Belarus, she now lives in Ithaca, New York. Her latest collection is Music for the Dead and Resurrected. Join Festival favourite John Freeman as he leads a discussion on a topic we could all use a little more of in our lives: love.
Ayad Akhtar in Conversation with Eleanor Wachtel
“The weight of politics in our country had coalesced and summoned a response out of me,” said Ayad Akhtar, the Pulitzer Prize-winning, Pakistani American novelist, playwright and screenwriter explained of his latest work, Homeland Elegies. Is it, he wondered, possible to write a letter to America in such a time—a letter to all Americans? Judging by the acclaim for this title, the answer is Yes. The story of the son of an immigrant father who searches for belonging in post-Trump America has been called “a revelation,” “profound and provocative” and “An unflinchingly honest self-portrait by a brilliant Muslim-American writer,” and the list continues. CBC Writers and Company host, Eleanor Wachtel, speaks to Akhtar about the unflinching honesty in this partly autobiographical work; the “casino” that is American life; and the consequences of everyone becoming a storyteller in the era of social media.
Beverley McLachlin in Conversation with Laura Lynch
For nearly two decades, Beverley McLachlin served as the Chief Justice of Canada, the longest serving Chief Justice in Canadian history and the first woman to hold the position. In a special conversation with Laura Lynch, McLachlin speaks to her memoir, Truth Be Told: My Journey Through Life and the Law, inviting Canadians into her childhood in the rural prairies, the defining moments that shaped her sense of justice and behind the bench during some of the most contentious Supreme Court cases—including Charter challenges, same-sex marriage and euthanasia—sharing an intimate portrait of a life lived in pursuit of justice and equality. Hear from this remarkable feminist icon and modern Canadian great as she opens up on her triumphs and her regrets—and the hope she has for Canada’s future.
Bina, Bunny & The Idiot
Elif Batuman, Mona Awad and Anakana Schofield delight in a sold-out evening of whip-smart, hilarious and unapologetically audacious conversation, a highlight from the 2019 season of the Vancouver Writers Fest. MFA student Samantha falls down a surreal rabbit hole, captivated by a mysterious cult in Awad’s Bunny. Wry and laugh out loud funny, Elif Batuman’s Pulitzer Prize finalist The Idiot was praised as “addictive” by Miranda July. Giller Prize shortlisted Anakana Schofield balances black comedy and compassion in Bina, a tour de force beloved by literary powerhouses, including Rachel Cusk and Eden Robinson. Moderated by The Globe & Mail's Western Arts Correspondent Marsha Lederman, these women incisively discuss the craft of comedy and writing independent, self-assured protagonists.