Reading may start as a solitary act, but you can experience much more after you’ve finished a book — or before you’ve even cracked the spine! LitFest: Edmonton’s Nonfiction Festival welcomes the best names in nonfiction to the city every October for events featuring food, music, art, discussion, and more! From October 13 to 23, the festival will ignite many great conversations and experiences surrounding topics affecting Canadians. “What excites me most about the festival every year,” says Fawnda Mithrush, LitFest’s Executive Director, “are the conversations generated between authors and audiences. It’s always amazing to see how people continue the discussion from an event after it’s over.”
Though every event is tied to a book, the festival focuses on more than what’s between the covers, and programs its events around the topic of the book. “Not everyone considers him or herself a book person, but everyone is interested in something,” says Mithrush. “Nonfiction covers a huge array of interests: we’ve got books about comedy, food, hockey, memoir, science, feminism, social inclusion, and Alberta politics.”
This year, LitFest is celebrating its “Nonfictionversary”, as it adopted its nonfiction mandate 10 years ago. The Canadian Literature Centre — which promotes the diversity of the country’s literature — is also celebrating its 10th year, so they’ve teamed up for a special soirée at the innovative arts hub Latitude 53 on October 22. The cultured night will feature five writers paired with five artists who will re-imagine their works. Expect the who’s who of the literary scene in the city to join in and mingle over craft cocktails and tasty appetizers.
The popular Food Matters event returns this year bigger than before on October 22. Ten local food writers will assemble at the new Duchess Atelier to discuss local food issues, including Edmonton’s real signature dish and the culinary talents’ vision for the city. This salon-style event will celebrate the launch of some local cookbooks, including Edmonton Cooks: Signature Recipes from the City’s Best Chefs, and attendees will sample light nibbles and wine as they learn from the food experts.
Another must-catch event features Lindy West, whose uproarious memoir, Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman, has become a rallying cry for feminists, as it touches on everything from body positivity to problems women face in the workplace. She’ll share her entertaining and blunt opinions on October 17, and this humourous talk should hopefully end the debate once and for all about whether women can be funny.
Want to welcome more joy into your life? Consider attending Neil Pasricha’s talk on October 18. He is the author of bestsellers The Happiness Equation and The Book of Awesome, both of which celebrate the good things in life, delving into simple ways to be happy. Mithrush hopes the book will bring a “boost of positivity, particularly to the many Albertans who have faced a very challenging year.”
Also in the lineup this year: the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, whose report was published as a book last year. “It’s arguably one of the country’s most important nonfiction publications,” says Mithrush, so LitFest is honouring it with multiple events including a panel with several indigenous writers. The panel will explore the many issues First Nations peoples still face and the important work Canadians need to do to ensure reconciliation occurs in the country.
If the thought of a long reading list before the festival is daunting, don’t worry — LitFest isn’t like a college class where you have to read the book beforehand. Books are on sale at every event where, after your interest is piqued, you can purchase a copy to take home with you. “You definitely don’t need to read the book before an event,” says Mithrush, “but I promise you’ll want to read it afterward.”
Most events are free. Visit the website to purchase tickets for some events and learn more. —Matthew Stepanic
WHERE Edmonton is giving away a pair of tickets to Neil Pasricha’s event, The Happiness Equation, on October 18! To enter to win, follow us on Twitter (@whereedmonton) and watch for tweets about the contest. Contest ends on Friday, October 7.