Satire, memoir, and afternoon tea—five events to check out at this year’s Vancouver Writers Festival

Tom Perrotta. Ben King photo courtesy HBO.

The 30th Annual Vancouver Writers Festival (Oct. 16-22) is less than two weeks away, and some events are already sold out.

Fortunately, there are still plenty of events left that still have tickets available. Here are five we think are worth checking out, including a discussion about satire, another about what it’s like to be strangers in a strange (and getting stranger by the minute) land, and a chat about the art of memoir. (Note: most Vancouver Writers Festival events take place on Granville Island.)

Modern Day Satire—Guests: Tom Perrotta and Suzette Mayr. Tom Perrotta, whose books include Election (a 1999 movie starring Reese Witherspoon) and The Leftovers (the launching-off point for the HBO series of the same name), looks at sexuality, identity and parenthood in modern-day America in his latest book, Mrs. Fletcher. He’ll discuss satire and making fun of things with Mayr, a Canadian novelist and creative writing prof in Calgary. Her fifth novel is Dr. Edith Vane and the Hares of Crawley Hall, about academic life. (Tues., Oct. 17, 6 – 7:15 p.m., Waterfront Theatre, 1412 Cartwright St.)

Life Drawing—Guests: Helen Humphreys, Witi Ihimaera, Sayed Kashua, Eileen Myles. The four writers discuss their latest books and the art of memoir. Canadian poet Humphreys’ latest, The Ghost Orchard, begins as a history of the apple and widens to become a memoir of dealing with a friend’s terminal illness. American poet Myles’ latest is a collection of poems, Afterglow, about her beloved pit bull. Ihimaera, author of The Whale Rider (which became a 2002 movie), recalls his early life in rural New Zealand in Maori Boy. And Sayed Kashua documents his own life, as well as society at large, in a new collection of essays, Native. Suitable for grades 10-12 and adults. (Fri., Oct. 20 10 – 11:30 a.m., Granville Island Stage, 1585 Johnston St.)

Our Home and Adopted Land—Guests: Adam Gopnik, Sayed Kashua. Both authors are expats, one from Canada (Gopnik), one from Israel (Kashua), now living in the U.S. As one might expect, this is proving problematic in these uncertain times. Gopnik, a staff writer for the New Yorker and occasional guest on HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher, will discuss their adopted homeland with Kashua. The latter received the Israeli Prime Minister’s Prize in 2005 for his often satirical writing. (Fri., Oct. 20, 8:30 p.m. – 12 a.m., Waterfront Theatre, 1412 Cartwright St.)

Mary Gaitskill in Conversation with Eleanor Wachtel—Mary Gaitskill made her literary splash in 1988, with the publication of her debut short story collection Bad Behaviour. Her most recent novel is Mare, while her latest book is a collection of essays. The subjects in Somebody with a Little Hammer range from post-punk New York band Talking Heads, to such disparate writers as John Updike and Gillian Flynn, as well as hot-button societal issues like date rape. (Sat., Oct. 21, 8 – 9:30 pm, Studio 1398, 1398 Cartwright St., 3rd Floor)

Mary Gaitskill is a guest at this year’s Vancouver Writers Festival.

The Afternoon Tea—Guests include Cynthia Flood, Mary Gaitskill, Bill Gaston, Jon McGregor, Akhil Sharma, Jessica Westhead. Tired of a steady diet of words? This event offers freshly baked treats as well as authors. (Sun., Oct. 22, 3-5 p.m., Performance Works
1218 Cartwright St.)

For more info on these and other events, visit

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