It’s been six years since we met up with my sister Liz and her husband Dieter in Thessaloniki Greece. We were on a pilgrimage to Florina, our mother’s hometown, to visit our relatives. Since they live in Vancouver, we don’t get a chance to see them often, and although we email and talk by phone regularly, it was time to see each other again.
Vancouver Writers Fest would be a good reason to visit, especially after it had been on hiatus for two years due to the pandemic. My wife Angela and I made arrangements to arrive in an effort to see both my sister and international authors.
The festival ran from October 17th to the 23rd with eighty scheduled events. Liz and Dieter were very good hosts as they ferried us to the Waterfront Theatre on Granville Island for the selected events.
On the 20th, we went on a tour of the coast to Whistler Mountain for lunch. Our first time. The resort town is very similar to the Blue Mountain Resort area around Collingwood.
We made it back in plenty of time to attend “Fiction from Reality” and we were pleased to have found rather good seats. The first author was Gabriel Krauze and he read from his recent book Who They Was. Gabriel grew up in London and was involved in criminal activity. He left that behind and recaptured his life through writing. His book was long-listed for the Booker Prize and was named best book by Time for 2021. The theatre was spellbound as his story mesmerized the audience. His reading was gritty and authentic and it was a voice from the streets and tenements. It rang from violence and the despair Gabriel must have endured.
The next author was Douglas Stuart who won the 2020 Booker prize for his book Shuggie Bain. Stuart has been compared to D H Lawrence and James Joyce. My impression of his writing is that it’s terrific. I’m reading his latest novel called Young Mungo. It’s my first book by this author from Glasgow, who writes about working-class Scottish life. I think it’s worth a read.
The next speaker was Violaine Huisman who wrote The Book of Mother. Violaine steered her emotional experience with her bipolar mother into a novel that mirrored a recollection of deep emotive memories. I’m sure she touched a lot of people who have had similar experiences.
On October 22nd, after a lovely lunch with a good friend who had moved to North Vancouver, we attended “Building Suspense.” Thomas Olde Heuvelt read from Hex his best-selling novel. It was nominated for numerous awards in his genre of World Fantasy. Stephen King says, “this is brilliantly original.”
Sandra SG Wong, was funny and I found myself laughing at her jokes. Sandra wrote, In the Dark We Forget. She is a fellow Crime Writer of Canada member. Sandra has written a psychological suspense thriller about an LGBTO protagonist and she was well-received by the audience.
I had come for Linwood Barclay who has written twenty novels and teased us with his new novel Look Both Ways. I had just finished Take Your Breath Away and was impressed that Linwood wrote his protagonist in the first person and his other characters in the third person. This was rather a new approach for me. Afterward, all of the authors went to the foyer to sign books. While I was waiting for a ride home, there was a break in the line and Linwood was free. I took the opportunity to introduce myself and gave Linwood my business card and had a few pleasant words with him. Too soon, I said goodbye and made my way out as Angela and my brother-in-law were waiting.
We ate at home and watched jazz from the Lincoln Center. We were introduced to Emmett Cohen and Joey Alexander two wonderful jazz pianists.
After a wonderful visit with my sister and brother-in-law, we left Sunday and flew to San Francisco for the next part of our journey. There’s more to reveal about that experience in the next blog.
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