Vancouver Writers Fest is back with stacks of books, events, and authors

Artistic director Leslie Hurtig delves into festival organizing and engaging literature

Leslie Hurtig aims to offer events that engage attendees with the world around them at this year's VWF. Courtesy of Vancouver Writers Festival

By: Charlene Aviles, Peak Associate

The annual Vancouver Writers Fest (VWF) is returning from October 19 to 25 and will showcase over 70 authors. The festival offers a wide variety of events catering to different genres and age groups to deepen participants’ love for literature.

Leslie Hurtig, the artistic director of the Vancouver Writers Fest, explained that the event organizers took a unique approach leading up to the main festival by including weekly events from September to November. Taking into account widespread “Zoom fatigue,” Hurtig and her team planned the festival with the goal of creating an interactive series of events while adhering to public health guidelines through virtual programming.

The organizers experimented with various platforms for hosting online events before landing on methods that allow for greater interactivity, such as audience members being able to choose to turn their cameras on. Hurtig detailed, “We have a few book clubs thrown in where our participants get a copy of the author’s book and are able to interact one-on-one with them via Zoom. Those events have been going well so far, and I’m pretty glad that we’re able to offer more during the fall season.”

“Our main goal was to program exceptional books, ideas, and dialogue on screen and as podcast opportunities, but to keep them as compelling as possible given that we couldn’t do it in person.”

Hurtig also expressed her gratitude for international and local authors donating their time to the festival. “We have an excellent international gathering of both emerging and established writers [ . . . ] The idea of being able to bring them together under one umbrella for the Vancouver’s Writers Fest is really exciting to me.”

When asked about the festival’s objectives, she expressed that hope is central to event organizing. I hope that when people attend one of our events, be it online or in-person, that they come away feeling engaged in the world around them. [ . . . ] Hopefully some people come away with new ideas about the world around them and feelings of hope in this time [ . . . ] We try to present writers who offer ideas, anecdotes, [and] stories that engage with [people] and make them feel like there’s work to be done still.”


The VWF has organized several events in collaboration with various SFU departments, including the following:

The Poetry Bash | October 22 at 8:00 PM | Online via Zoom 

Co-presented with SFU’s department of world languages and literature, The Poetry Bash will be hosted by Billeh Nickerson and feature poets Cicely Belle Blain, Natalie Diaz, John Freeman, Patrick Friesen, Noor Naga, and Ian Williams. The event will involve discussions of poetry as well as poetry readings from works such as Postcolonial Love Poem, Outlasting the Weather, Washes, Prays, and Word Problems. Live captions will be available. 

Ian Rankin in Conversation with Linwood Barclay | October 24 at 10:30 AM | Online via Zoom

During Ian Rankin in Conversation with Linwood Barclay, crime fiction authors Ian Rankin the recipient of several awards including the Climbing Wall Association Lifetime Achievement Award and RBA Prize for Crime Writing and New York Times bestselling author Linwood Barclay will discuss their respective, recent novels — A Song for the Dark Times and Elevator Pitch. This event, presented in partnership with SFU continuing studies, will include live captions.

Marilynne Robinson in Conversation with Ian Williams | October 24 at 2:00 PM | Online podcast

Marilynne Robinson, a 2012 National Humanities Medal awardee, and Ian Williams, a recipient of the Scotiabank Giller Prize, will discuss Robinson’s recent book Jack which “harkens to a world of segregation, polarizing love and overcoming in rural Iowa” — and their experiences as authors. This podcast, organized by the VWF and SFU Creative Writing, is available for streaming on Books & Ideas Audio and is free to listen to.

Excluding book club events with paid admission ($32 for admission and book), festival pricing is on a pay what you can basis. Each device requires only one ticket. To increase accessibility, events with a CC symbol will incorporate live captioning.