Vancouver International Writers and Readers Festival delights with authors and intercultural insights
On Friday morning I listened to CBC Radio's Sheila Rogers interview with Jen Sookfong Lee as they talked about Lee's debut novel The End of East, which is partly set in Vancouver's Chinatown. Lee is one of the many featured writers at the Vancouver International Writers and Readers Festival this week. She is featured in the program Fresh Faces in Fiction on Friday and GAWK on Thursday night.
The interview was pre-taped at the Dr. Sun Yat Sen Garden. Rogers asked Lee about the state of Vancouver's Chinatown, and what it meant to her, as well as what it meant to be a Chinese-Canadian author. Lee, of course, said that there are many different views to Chinatown and she could only represent her own. And in the same way there are many different types of Chinese-Canadians, but to be put in the same grouping as Wayson Choy was wonderful.
Dan Seto, Christine Chin and Todd Wong meet Jen Sookfont Lee in May 2007 – photo Julie Wong
Hearing Jen Sookfong Lee on the radio reminded me of
meeting her at the CBC Radio Studio One Book Club back in May. She is lively, expressive and articulate. She loved the SKY Lee book “Disappearing Moon Cafe” and would use that as a guide post for her own novel. “No incest – good,” she joked.
The Festival runs until Sunday. And many writers from around the world and from different cultures are featured including Helen Oyeyemi, Kiran Desai,
I would have loved to have seen Severn Cullis-Suzuki, who is hapa and the daughter of the famed Dr. David Suzuki, dicuss how youth can help change the world. Vincent Lam won the Governor General's award for his novel Bloodletting and other Miraculous Cures – which I enjoyed immensely.
But somehow being on the picket line at the library seemed to deny me the usual connections with books, literary festivals and money.
Maritime Medley features author Alistair MacLeod and the Chor Leoni Choir, at 1:30 at Waterfront Theatre.
Paul Gran hosts the After Noon Tea at 3:30 at Performance works with Gail Anderson-Dargatz, Edward O. Phillips, and Célestine Hitiura Vaite – who comes originally from Tahiti and writes about frangipani.
The Bill Duthie Memorial Lecture is given by Eleanor Wachtel who will speak about her long friendship and communications with author Carol Shields. “Random Illuminations is Wachtel’s collection of
those discussions, which offer us an intimate portrait of a great
Canadian writer. Wachtel is widely admired for her contribution to arts
journalism and as the host of CBC Radio’s Writers & Company.”