2012 Guide to the Vancouver Writers Festval

Wed., Oct. 17: The City

Given what we do here at Vanmag, we’re loving an evening framed by the notion of “city” as an organism that shapes its inhabitants. Mohammed Hanif has set his story in the real and gritty present-day Karachi; Rawi Hage‘s city, seen through the windshield of a taxi, is unnamed but very real. Pasha Malla‘s imaginary city is preparing for an urban experience unlike anything ever seen before

Mohammed HanifMohammed Hanif (born Okara, Pakistan) graduated from the Pakistan Air Force Academy as Pilot Officer but subsequently left to pursue a career in journalism. His first novel, A Case of Exploding Mangoes, was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award and won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Novel. His new novel is Our Lady of Alice Bhatti.

Pasha MallaPasha Malla‘s first story collection, The Withdrawal Method, won Ontario’s Trillium Book Award and the Danuta Gleed Literary Prize, was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Book Award, longlisted for the Giller Prize and chosen as a Globe and Mail and National Post book of the year. His new novel, People Park, is a suspenseful and hilarious slice of social satire.

Rawi HageRawi Hage‘s debut novel, De Niro’s Game, won the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and was translated into several languages. Cockroach, his second novel, was a finalist for many prestigious awards, including the Scotiabank Giller Prize. He lives in Montreal.

Where: Studio 1398
When: 8 pm


Fri., Oct. 19: Chip Kidd/Douglas Coupland

The ultimate Vancouver conversation. Chip Kidd–the one name book design geeks the world over can both cite and get behind–has been described as creepy, striking, sly, smart, and unpredictable. His new graphic novel, Batman: Death by Design, digs into a series of construction-related deaths in Gotham City. (As chairman of the Gotham Landmarks Commission, Bruce Wayne has been a key part of this boom, which signals a golden age of architectural ingenuity for the city.) Resident sculptor, critical commentator, author, and city muse Douglas Coupland will himself dig into design, construction, and (one hopes) death in this special evening.

Chip KiddChip Kidd is a renowned graphic designer and writer living in New York City and Stonington, Connecticut. His first book, Batman Collected, was awarded the Design Distinction award from ID magazine, and his debut novel, The Cheese Monkeys, was a national bestseller and a New York Times Notable Book.

Douglas CouplandDouglas Coupland‘s first novel, written in 1991 and inspired by a series of Vanmag stories, was Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture. He has published 13 novels, a collection of short stories, seven nonfiction books, and a number of dramatic works and screenplays for film and television.

Where: Waterfront Theatre
When: 8 pm


Fri., Oct. 19: Dave Bidini & Friends

The writers fest is best enjoyed by meeting authors you’d never otherwise come across. Yet we’re recommending one night of hometown heroes, organized by Ontario smartypants Dave Bidini, because, well, it’s going to be one of those evenings you look back on as special. Some of Canada’s leading singers and songwriters compose and perform original songs (as well as essays, tone poems, and more) inspired by Timothy Taylor’s last novel, The Blue Light Project.

Dave BidiniDave Bidini was a founding member of the pop music band The Rheostatics. He is also the author of 10 books, including Tropic of Hockey, Home and Away and Baseballissimo, which is being made into a feature film. This, his latest brainchild, is called Torn from the Pages and involves composing and performing original songs inspired by recent works of Canadian fiction.

Timothy TaylorTimothy Taylor, born in Venezuela and raised in West Vancouver, won the Journey prize in 2000 for the short story “Doves of Townsend” (two other stories landed on that year’s final shortlist–a feat never matched). His debut novel, Stanley Park, was nominated for the Giller Prize and chosen to be the 2004 One Book, One Vancouver. 

Authors: Dave Bidini, Grant Lawrence, Zsuzsi Gartner, Colin Browne, Timothy Taylor
Musicians: Selina Martin, Veda Hille, Geoff Berner, Brendan McLeod, Karyn Ellis 

Where: Arts Club Backstage Lounge
10:30 pm


Sat., Oct. 20: Raymond Carver

Raymond Carver, one of modern America’s finest story writers, famously battled with Gordon Lish, his editor at Esquire magazine, who exhorted the writer to reduce, reduce, reduce. (Strike that: one ‘reduce’ is enough.) Decades after his death, Carver’s widow, Tess Gallagher, fought with his book publisher to reprint his collection What We Talk About When We Talk About Love, which Lish had drastically cut, rewritten, and retitled. The ensuing re-publication, now called Beginners, forms the core of this intimate evening of personal stories behind her relationship and Lish’s with Carver; hosted by festival artistic director Hal Wake.

Tess GallagherTess Gallagher is an American poet, essayist, author and playwright. Her honors include a fellowship from the Guggenheim Foundation and two awards from the National Endowment for the Arts. She is the widow of Raymond Carver. 

Where: Waterfront Theatre
When: 2 pm


Sun., Oct. 21: David Suzuki & Tim Flannery

Two of this planet’s leading scientists appear together for the first time to close this year’s festvial. Australia’s Tim Flannery has discovered more new species than Charles Darwin, serves as Chief Commissioner of the Australian Climate Commission and works as a broadcaster and author. Canada’s David Suzuki, scientist, author and broadcaster, has spent four decades educating us about science and environmental issues.

Tim FlanneryTim Flannery has published more than 130 peer-reviewed scientific papers. His books include the landmark works The Future Eaters and The Weather Makers. The latter debuted on the New York Times bestseller list and has been translated into more than 20 languages. His most recent book is Here on Earth, a narrative about the evolution of life on this planet from the Big Bang to present day.

David SuzukiDavid Suzuki has written 52 books, including 19 for children, and his broadcasting career has earned him countless awards. He is recognized as a world leader in sustainable ecology, and is a Companion of the Order of Canada.

Where: Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage
When: 8 pm