Arts Literary

Litfest celebrates 10 years with a learning café and discussion groups


What do Marty Klinkenberg, Teva Harrison, Lindy West, Neil Pasricha all have in common? Besides having released new books (The McDavid Effect; In-Between Days: A Memoir About Living with Cancer; Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman; and, The Happiness Equation: Want Nothing + Do Anything = Have Everything, respectively) this past year, all four authors will be presenting at this year’s LitFest—Edmonton’s (and Canada’s only) Nonfiction Festival—which brings nonfiction to life for 11 days through author panels, readings, live performances and master-class writing shops.

The 2016 season is especially important since the festival is celebrating its 10th year.

“We’re celebrating our 10th year of our nonfiction mandate,” says Fawnda Mithrush, the executive director. “So we tried to do a few special things themed around 10 [for] this year.”

Such celebratory events include “For Love or Money: Ten Years of Food Writing in YEG,” which brings together a retrospective of 10 writers to examine food writing in Edmonton over the last decade, and “The Ten-Ten Soiree,” which celebrates and reflects on 10 years of nonfiction in the capital region.

Each year, the festival strives to bring together programming that best illustrates what Edmonton is like, while exploring some national issues as well. The program includes over 50 presenters discussing topics on Syria, immigration, feminism, and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.

“[These are] issues that Edmontonians and Canadians want to talk about,” explains Mithrush. “The TRC publication last year was, arguably, the most important nonfiction work to come out of the country. So, definitely being a nonfiction festival in Canada, we wanted to make sure we had some conversations around that.”

As such, the festival is hosting two events: “Conversation@Noon: After the TRC” and “Keep Talking: Stories Beyond the TRC,” which are both held on Friday, October 14.

“Just because [the TRC] has been published doesn’t mean we can stop talking about it,” says Mithrush. “[These two] events are basically hoping to encourage that conservation to keep going, because you want it to be at the forefront of peoples’ minds.”

In addition, Mithrush says that they’re offering a Learning Cafe, which is available daily from 4 pm to 6 pm during the festival, where facilitators will be encouraging conversations in regards to what festival attendees might have seen at a panel or are excited to see.

“What is the meaning of nonfiction and how does it touch our daily lives?” says Mithrush. “That’s one of the big things we try to do: Encourage people to realize that nonfiction is what gets the conversation going in a lot of ways.”

Thu, Oct 13 – Sun, Oct 23
Various venues

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