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Books & Ideas Audio

Books & Ideas Audio

By Vancouver Writers Fest
Exhilarating conversations and ideas from the world’s greatest storytellers and luminaries. From the esteemed vaults of the Vancouver Writers Fest, located in beautiful British Columbia.
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Writing Country (2015) with Roxane Gay, Shilpi Somaya Gowda, Marlon James and Viet Thanh Nguyen
Originally recorded on October 23, 2015, Writing Country is a remarkable conversation with authors Roxane Gay, Shilpi Somaya Gowda, Marlon James and Viet Thanh Nguyen at the start of their illustrious careers. In conversation with Jared Bland, former Arts and Books editor for The Globe and Mail and publisher of McClelland & Stewart.  Known for literature that is firmly fixed in place and culture, these authors join Jared Bland to discuss depicting the soul of a country while also exploring universal concerns though portraits of Haiti, Vietnam, India and Jamaica. Rooted in the personal and encompassing the political, they take you into the backstreets, the slums, the rural Indian countryside and the storm of shellfire.
01:17:40
April 6, 2021
Leanne Betasamosake Simpson in Conversation with Dionne Brand
A renowned Michi Saagiig Nishnaabeg scholar, writer and artist, Leanne Betasamosake Simpson has been lauded by many as one of the most compelling writers of her generation, as demonstrated by Islands of Decolonial Love, This Accident of Being Lost, Dancing on Our Turtle’s Back and As We Have Always Done. Now, in Noopiming: The Cure for White Ladies, Betasamosake Simpson offers a book of wit, power, generosity and fierce insight or, as her publisher explains, “an act of decolonization, degentrification, and willful resistance to the perpetuation and dissemination of centuries-old colonial myth-making.” In conversation with award-winning poet, thinker and Theory author, Dionne Brand, this episode features two exceptional minds together, in a discussion bound to elevate our intellects and our spirits.
56:33
March 16, 2021
Walter Mosley in Conversation with Jael Richardson
Writing Is What I Do: Walter Mosley’s work includes 43 critically acclaimed books, translated into 23 languages, and countless essays in prestigious magazines, not to mention influence over some of the biggest shows on our screens. One of the most celebrated writers in America today, he has been described as both “a writer whose work transcends category” (Time) and “one of the most humane, insightful, powerful prose stylists working in any genre. He’s also one of the most radical.” (Austin Chronicle). In this special Writers Fest event, Mosley speaks with Festival of Literary Diversity Director, Jael Richardson about The Awkward Black Man: a new release of 17 of Mosley’s most accomplished short stories, in which he overturns often-made stereotypes of black male characters. In prose and conversation, this incredible artist paints a subtle, powerful portrait of the complexity of humankind. 
50:37
February 17, 2021
Margaret MacMillan in Conversation with Kathryn Gretsinger
Is peace an aberration? As former president of the World Bank, Robert B. Zoellick, explained, “only a historian with… comprehensive knowledge, command of sources, clarity of thought, and artful writing could succeed so brilliantly with one volume on this sweeping topic.” That historian is bestselling author, award-winning writer and exceptional researcher Margaret MacMillan, who brings modern history to millions of readers with clarity and insight. Her latest work, War, looks at the ways in which war has influenced human society and how, in turn, changes in political organization, technology, or ideologies have affected how and why we fight. Speaking with UBC Professor of Journalism, Kathryn Gretsinger, MacMillan delves into some of the most essential questions about the nature of conflict. When did war first start? Does human nature doom us to fight one another? Why are warriors almost always men? Is war ever within our control? Tune into an event with one of the greatest minds of our generation.
47:52
January 13, 2021
An Evening with Emma Donoghue
Man Booker finalist Emma Donoghue is an undeniable sensation who shot to acclaim for penning both the novel and screenplay for Room. Since then, the author has lived with a foot in both worlds, turning her bestselling books into equally coveted scripts. What do you learn about your work as it transforms into new mediums? Has writing for Hollywood changed her approach to writing novels? In an intimate evening, this hilarious bestselling author shares her new novel, Akin, in which a retired professor takes an unexpected journey to the French Riviera with his great nephew—hoping to uncover family secrets—and reflects on the challenges of adapting her stories for screen and her illustrious career to-date. Presented in partnership with Vancouver Film School.
01:23:22
November 26, 2020
Marilynne Robinson in Conversation with Ian Williams
Time to break out your headphones! In a truly special event and conversation available exclusively through the Festival’s Books & Ideas Audio series, Pulitzer Prize-winning author and one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World, Marilynne Robinson, sits with 2019 Scotiabank Giller Prize winner and national bestselling author Ian Williams to discuss her widely anticipated new novel Jack, the fourth and last of her Gilead quartet. In this timely conclusion, Jack harkens to a world of segregation, polarizing love and overcoming in rural Iowa. Listen in as these master writers discuss craft, thematic choice and the infinite power of fiction to inspire. 
50:25
October 24, 2020
What We Talk About When We Talk About Love
Three Freeman’s contributors from three different genres, born on three different continents, talk about the way love makes a story, a poem, and the shape of a memoir. Mieko Kawakami is the award winning author of Breasts & Eggs, her North American debut, and is declared by Haruki Murakami as his favorite new Japanese novelist; Daniel Mendelsohn is the National Book Critics Circle Award winning author of The Lost, translator of poems of Cavafy, and his latest genre bending tale, Three Rings: A Tale of Exile, Narrative and Fate, and Valzynha Mort is a poet and translator and author of four books. Born in Belarus, she now lives in Ithaca, New York. Her latest collection is Music for the Dead and Resurrected. Join Festival favourite John Freeman as he leads a discussion on a topic we could all use a little more of in our lives: love.
01:14:21
October 23, 2020
Ayad Akhtar in Conversation with Eleanor Wachtel
“The weight of politics in our country had coalesced and summoned a response out of me,” said Ayad Akhtar, the Pulitzer Prize-winning, Pakistani American novelist, playwright and screenwriter explained of his latest work, Homeland Elegies. Is it, he wondered, possible to write a letter to America in such a time—a letter to all Americans? Judging by the acclaim for this title, the answer is Yes. The story of the son of an immigrant father who searches for belonging in post-Trump America has been called “a revelation,” “profound and provocative” and “An unflinchingly honest self-portrait by a brilliant Muslim-American writer,” and the list continues. CBC Writers and Company host, Eleanor Wachtel, speaks to Akhtar about the unflinching honesty in this partly autobiographical work; the “casino” that is American life; and the consequences of everyone becoming a storyteller in the era of social media.
01:27:44
October 14, 2020
Beverley McLachlin in Conversation with Laura Lynch
For nearly two decades, Beverley McLachlin served as the Chief Justice of Canada, the longest serving Chief Justice in Canadian history and the first woman to hold the position. In a special conversation with Laura Lynch, McLachlin speaks to her memoir, Truth Be Told: My Journey Through Life and the Law, inviting Canadians into her childhood in the rural prairies, the defining moments that shaped her sense of justice and behind the bench during some of the most contentious Supreme Court cases—including Charter challenges, same-sex marriage and euthanasia—sharing an intimate portrait of a life lived in pursuit of justice and equality. Hear from this remarkable feminist icon and modern Canadian great as she opens up on her triumphs and her regrets—and the hope she has for Canada’s future.
01:20:58
August 18, 2020
Bina, Bunny & The Idiot
Elif Batuman, Mona Awad and Anakana Schofield delight in a sold-out evening of whip-smart, hilarious and unapologetically audacious conversation, a highlight from the 2019 season of the Vancouver Writers Fest. MFA student Samantha falls down a surreal rabbit hole, captivated by a mysterious cult in Awad’s Bunny. Wry and laugh out loud funny, Elif Batuman’s Pulitzer Prize finalist The Idiot was praised as “addictive” by Miranda July. Giller Prize shortlisted Anakana Schofield balances black comedy and compassion in Bina, a tour de force beloved by literary powerhouses, including Rachel Cusk and Eden Robinson. Moderated by The Globe & Mail's Western Arts Correspondent Marsha Lederman, these women incisively discuss the craft of comedy and writing independent, self-assured protagonists.
01:28:56
July 21, 2020
Tanya Talaga in Conversation with Jael Richardson
Award-winning journalist, author and CBC Massey Lecturer Tanya Talaga's Seven Fallen Feathers investigated the startling deaths of seven Indigenous students in Thunder Bay. Her research has won prestigious awards and, perhaps most importantly, garnered widespread public awareness. In a 2019 conversation with Festival of Literary Diversity Artistic Director Jael Richardson, Talaga discusses these difficult but necessary investigations, the challenge of writing for change and how she continues to find hope while confronting the hardest of truths.
01:02:25
June 19, 2020
Desmond Cole in Conversation with Barbara Chirinos
Award-winning journalist Desmond Cole’s The Skin We’re In: A Year of Black Resistance and Power has been an incisive and revealing work on policing, racial profiling, antiblackness and Indigenous injustice in Canada. While addressing bias, ignorance and willful disregard from those in power, the book heralds the deeply inclusive leadership of #BlackLivesMatterTO and Black activists across the country. Originally recorded February 19, 2020, Cole was joined by Vancouver Arts curator and activist Barbara Chirinos for a lively, intimate discussion on Black activism and resilience.
01:24:31
June 4, 2020
Margaret Atwood in Conversation with Cherie Dimaline
The Handmaid's Tale author and global sensation Margaret Atwood joins celebrated author Cherie Dimaline to discuss The Testaments, writing process and place in an exceptional event recorded at the Chan Centre for Performing Arts. In a conversation that reached far beyond the borders of Gilead, this event was like no other with Ms. Atwood; one that touched on a myriad of topics, from personal to political. In a brilliant sequel to The Handmaid's Tale, Atwood answers questions that have tantalized readers of The Handmaid's Tale for decades. Margaret Atwood's sequel picks up the story fifteen years after Offred stepped into the unknown, with the explosive testaments of three female narrators from Gilead. This event was organized in collaboration with the Canada Council for the Arts to celebrate the finalists and winners of the Governor General’s Literary Awards, and was presented in partnership with the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts and Tourism Vancouver.
01:24:51
May 12, 2020
Malcolm Gladwell in Conversation with Lisa Christiansen
International bestseller author Malcolm Gladwell sits down with CBC Host Lisa Christiansen in a gripping discussion of history, psychology and scandal, bringing to light how bad we are at making sense of people. Originally recorded at The Orpheum Theatre in Vancouver, BC.
01:26:41
April 24, 2020
Lindy West in Conversation with Hannah McGregor
Lindy West is known for her fierce, funny and forthright analyses of contemporary culture. During a special event at the Vancouver Writers Fest, West speaks with Secret Feminist Agenda host and professor Hannah McGregor about her instant bestseller The Witches Are Coming, feminism, misogyny and meme culture.
01:14:23
March 8, 2020
Marlon James in Conversation with Ian Williams
By combining African history, mythology and his own rich imagination, Man Booker prize winning author Marlon James captivated the world with his bestselling fantasy novel Black Leopard, Red Wolf. In a conversation with Scotiabank Giller Prize winner Ian Williams, James shares his theories on writing across genres, the importance of reading diversely, and how stories live on in the minds of readers long after a writer’s work has finished. 
01:00:08
February 11, 2020