How do we tell politically potent stories? How to do we resist stereotypes and champion marginalized voices in all their complexity? From October 21-27, 2019, The Vancouver Writers Fest will welcome more than 100 authors from around the world to explore everything from overcoming teenage heartbreak to reconciling with difficult inheritances. With 80+ events, it can be hard to know where to begin. Here are five events to get you started.
For those keen for narratives beyond Crazy Rich Asians…
Tash Aw In Conversation with Eleanor Wachtel
Wednesday, October 23 at 7:30pm
In this not-to-be-missed conversation, acclaimed Malaysian British writer Tash Aw peels back the curtain on modern stereotypes of Asian wealth and prosperity, scrutinizing the expansive economic shifts that have transformed Asian societies over the last century. We, The Survivors focuses on Aw Hock, a poor Malaysian fisherman whose dreams of self-betterment and success are warped into violence. It’s a potent and nuanced look at how we are trapped by our circumstances told with all the style and complexity we’ve come to expect from this twice Man Booker nominated talent.
For those interested in how art can educate…
Educating with The Witness Blanket
Friday, October 25 at 10:15am
Indigenous artist Carey Newman and co-author Kirstie Hudson speak to The Witness Blanket, a living artwork comprised of photos, letters, hockey sticks, braids and bricks. Drawing from Coast Salish tradition, Newman’s blanket exemplifies how to acknowledge the trauma inflicted on Indigenous peoples by the residential school system, and use art to both educate and heal. It promises to be an illuminating conversation for anyone looking to both reckon with legacies of colonialism and the weight of our histories.
For those looking to explore the complexities of immigration and cultural expectations…
The Fiction of Belonging
Thursday, October 24 at 1:00pm
A Somali immigrant is torn between religious expectations and his own academic passions. Two Indian Canadian siblings navigate growing up in their dominantly white suburb. A second-generation Jamaican Canadian girl struggles to find her voice between peer pressure and strict family expectations. In this highly anticipated event, three of Canada’s most exciting new voices explore how to straddle cultural divides in order to find an authentic sense of self.
For those hungry for fiction that sparks political change…
Politics & Prose
Thursday, October 24 at 8:30pmHow can fiction hold up a mirror to our society’s broken system – and to what ends? This incisive conversation explores how the novel can address our most pressing political issues with three esteemed literary stars. Michael Christie’s Greenwood is a multi-generational epic that confronts ecological collapse. Joanne Ramos’ lauded debut The Farm explores the harsh realities of immigration and motherhood. Nazanine Hozar’s Aria is a stunning odyssey set against the Iranian Revolution, one that incisively untangles how tensions about class, religion and natural resources can spill into larger conflict.
For those looking for inspiring stories of young protagonists building community on their own terms…
Saturday, October 26 at 2:00pm
Young adult novels have won over fans of all ages for their fearless and optimistic engagement with identity and belonging. Three ground-breaking YA talents discuss the power of the genre and how they engage with themes of marginalization and empowerment. From exploring one’s sexuality to mediating conservative cultural beliefs to reimagining generic expectations, this promises to be an electric discussion of how to constructively engage with the world on one’s own terms.
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.