The fourth annual celebration of great books and great writers comes to Victoria Oct. 2-6 and promises a stellar list of special guests, workshops, discussion panels and more.
The Victoria Festival of Authors embraces poets, fiction and creative non-fiction writers and other storytellers who come from a wide variety of communities, with diverse backgrounds, and from all levels of a writing career.
Authors from across the country and right here on Vancouver Island will once again share their writing, ideas and techniques for developing writers and those who have already embarked upon a literary career.
A project spearheaded by the not-for-profit Victoria Festival of Authors Society, the festival brings together authors from a broad cross-section of genres.
Among this year’s special guests is Victoria’s Yasuko Thanh, whose novel Mysterious Fragrance of the Yellow Mountains won the Rogers Writers Trust Fiction Prize. Her short-story collection Floating Like the Dead was shortlisted for the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize and her latest book, the memoir Mistakes to Run With, describes her evangelist upbringing in Victoria and years on the streets in Vancouver. It was published this spring by Hamish Hamilton to rave reviews.
Reviewing the book for Quill & Quire, Rudrapriya Rathore writes, “Though the depictions of Thanh’s relationships with men – often emotionally abusive – are visceral enough to induce physical discomfort, her development as a writer, which appears concurrently, acts as a healing balm for both author and reader.”
In an interview with Dana Gee for the Vancouver Sun, Yasuko spoke about the differences between writing fiction and writing memoir: “At first I had a difficult time, dogged by the sense that the work was gratuitous. In fiction, removing emotional experience from ourselves, we make our own insights worthwhile, we create wonderful characters. To turn the focus on oneself lays bare the nitty gritty of our personal fictions, what we do every day to give our lives meaning. Memoir lays bare the artistry and artificiality of what we call ‘our lives,’ the imposition of significance on events that are in reality, probably, just shit that happened followed by more shit that happened.”
Thanh will be one of the readers at the Wednesday night launch, Oct. 2 at 7:30 p.m. at the Victoria Arts Council Gallery, along with Julie Paul and Richard Van Camp. Thanh will also take part in the Saturday memoir panel From These Beginnings, 3:30 p.m. at the Metro Theatre, along with Carla Funk, Meenal Shrivastava and Samra Zafar.
Also among those taking part:
- Ian Hamilton, the author of the bestselling Ava Lee series, which follows the adventures of a Chinese-Canadian forensic accountant. Hamilton has won the Arthur Ellis Award and has been shortlisted for the Barry Award and Lambda Literary Prize. The Ava Lee series is currently being adapted for television. The 12th book in the series, The Mountain Master of Sha Tin, takes Ava to Shanghai and Hong Kong. It was published last month by House of Anansi and is already appearing on bestseller lists. For an interesting account of the genesis of the series, check out Ian’s YouTube channel. Hamilton will be part of the Friday mystery panel, The Usual Suspects, at the Metro along with Nathan Ripley and Iona Wishaw.
- Sonnet L’Abbé is the author of three collections of poetry, A Strange Relief, Killarnoe, and the just-released Sonnet’s Shakespeare, from Penguin Random House. In 2000, she won the Bronwen Wallace Memorial Award for most promising writer under 35 and in 2010 was shortlisted for the CBC Literary Prize for poetry. Sonnet is a professor of creative writing at Vancouver Island University in Nanaimo.
- Richard van Camp is a member of the Dogrib (Tlicho) Nation from Fort Smith, Northwest Territories, and is the author of over 20 books, including several short-story collections featuring the fictional community of Fort Simmer. An enthusiast of numerous genres he has written books for babies and graphic novels, and worked as a writer and consultant for the television series North of 60. Richard’s latest collection, Moccasin Square Gardens, was published this spring by Douglas & McIntyre.
A wide range of events are planned over the course of the week. Tickets go on sale Aug. 31 and interested parties are encouraged to purchase early to make sure you get a seat for your top picks. Students receive a 20 per cent discount on tickets. Find more information at victoriafestivalofauthors.ca,where thefull schedule of events will be posted soon.