2013 Festival Wrap-Up

How do you follow a glorious Silver Anniversary Festival? With an exceptional 26th edition that builds on the success of the previous year. Once again the Festival set attendance and ticket sale records, with the largest number of events and greatest number of authors. But as I have said before, these are only some of the measures of success for our Festival. Perhaps even more important is the quality of the experience we create for our visiting writers and our audience.

For a number of years it has been a dream of mine to see Tomson Highway and Michel Tremblay on stage together. This year my dream came true. Bill Richardson did a masterful job of guiding the conversation between two of Canada’s most significant playwrights of the last half century in their first ever appearance together. With a generous donation from the R.J. Nelson Family Foundation we were able to videotape the event. Stay tuned, we will make an announcement on our website when the video of this significant occasion is available for everyone to enjoy.

We had another important milestone to celebrate this year with the 25th anniversary of the Literary Cabaret. Sal Ferreras and his magnificent band Poetic License had great line-up of writers to accompany, including Margaret Atwood who has grown increasingly playful and mischievous. At the rehearsal Sal asked her what music they should play and she said: something about bears or a hymn. The band immediately leapt into “Teddy Bear’s Picnic” and that was how her set started. As they searched for the right hymn, she kept prompting them by singing snatches of her favourites. During the Literary Cabaret itself there was another surprise soloist. For only the second time that I can remember, those in attendance were treated to Sal himself singing during Elizabeth Ruth’s reading (for the record, he has a wonderful voice).

Eleanor Catton, winner of both the Man Booker Prize and the Governor General’s Literary Award for her novel The Luminaries, did not sing at her solo event, but she captivated the sold out audience nonetheless. She told us about sneaking out to a shed that housed a computer when she was 8 years old, wrapping herself in a blanket and typing up stories that she hid under secret file names so they wouldn’t be discovered. She also shared how she managed the complex structure and engaging plot that has made her new novel so successful. The audio of this generous conversation will be available on our website soon; to be truly appreciated it must be heard.

Of course planning has already begun for next year. We are working on bringing some international writers who we hope will be exciting discoveries for you. The Canadian list for 2014 also looks to be quite a strong one, so we have a lot to look forward to.

I will close with what is perhaps an old refrain, but one that remains true. One event at this year’s Festival sold out to members before tickets went on sale to the general public. To make sure you get into the events you’re keen on, please consider becoming a member. Your contribution will also help support the ongoing activities of the Festival, including our free reading series Incite. 

Thank you, as ever, for coming out this October and showing our visiting authors that Vancouver is a city of readers with the best audiences in the country.