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Literary Festivals in Vancouver


Sep. 2019

The central branch of the Vancouver Public Library is a hub for literary events throughout the year (Photo © Rebecca Brown/dreamstime.com)

Local bookstores and libraries host author readings and book launches year-round, but autumn is literary festival season. Here are five events that celebrate the written word in all its forms. Fair warning: your list of must-read books is about to get a lot longer.

Canzine Vancouver

Sep. 21

Take a break from traditional tomes at a gathering of nearly 100 creative characters, including chapbook writers, comic book illustrators and indie artists. Head to the eighth floor of the Vancouver Public Library’s central branch to discover colourful zines and comics on every topic. Whether you’re curious about science, social justice or the idea of feline ghosts, these unique publications have you covered. Hone your writing skills at drop-in workshops—including the delightfully irreverent “You are Herod – Make Your Own Religious Tract!” with poet and author Richard Kelly Kemick.  

Word Vancouver

Sep. 24 to 29

Now in its 25th year, this sprawling festival lures some 25,000 book-lovers to workshops, readings and book launches at locations across the city. (Including, of course, the Vancouver Public Library.) Rub elbows with Canadian wordsmiths, including children’s author Kit Pearson, fiction writer Hasan Namir, and poet, novelist and librettist Marilyn Bowering. Peruse stacks of fascinating volumes to find one (or a dozen) worthy of your precious suitcase space.   


Sep. 27 and 28

Ready to start a new chapter? This celebration of Asian-Canadian voices, held at Chinatown House and Sun Wah Centre, draws from the top tiers of Vancouver’s diverse writing community. Catch all six award-winning authors—including Rita Wong and Fred Wah—at the opening-night panel. Or get up close and personal with these talented folks at workshops such as “Events and Epiphanies: Writing Your Personal Myth” with poet and fiction author Sally Ito and “Writing by Remembering Our Multicultural Pasts” with memoirist and historical-nonfiction writer May Q. Wong. 

Whistler Writers Festival

Oct. 17 to 20

There’s literary gold in them thar hills! Less than two hours’ drive from Vancouver, this mountaintop fest showcases some of Canada’s greatest ink-slingers in very scenic settings. Enjoy a so-good-it-should-be-illegal midday meal featuring readings by heavyweights from the crime, mystery and suspense genres. Or get into the groove at a literary cabaret, where award-winning authors present their works accompanied by live music. Got a story idea to pitch? Book a session with publishers and agents from Penguin Random House, Simon & Schuster and others.  

The Vancouver Writers Fest

Oct. 21 to 27

Lit nerds are in full swoon this week, as over 100 superstar storytellers from Canada and around the world descend on Granville Island. Get your fix of nonfiction from journalists Naomi Klein and Armando Lucas Correa, dive into page-turning prose with novelist Aviaq Johnston, or read between the lines with poet Billy-Ray Belcourt. Too excited to wait? The festival organizes year-round events. Hear Margaret Atwood discuss The Testaments—the long-awaited sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale—on Sep. 26, or see Malcolm Gladwell in person on Oct. 3. 

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