Blue Metropolis International Literary Festival, April 28-May 8, LIVE events

Photo credit: Carley Romeo

24th BLUE METROPOLIS INTERNATIONAL LITERARY FESTIVAL:

PLANET, SOCIETY, PEOPLE: WHAT AGE ARE WE?

April 28 to May 8, 2022

Over 250 participants in more than 150 events

International and local writers | films | discussions on Ukraine and its literature featuring Oksana Lutsyshyna and Andrey Kurkov | 20 new podcasts

Everything is changing, constantly speeding up. What to do? How about taking some time for books and reading… For its 24th edition, Thursday, April 28 to Sunday, May 8Blue Metropolis International Literary Festival is pleased to return to enriching, in-person programming(May 5 to 8) coupled with virtual encounters (April 28 to May 4). “We are delighted to reach beyond Montreal with our extensive online programming, and are eager to welcome back audiences and participating authors for thought-provoking live events. This year, along with a focus on the juxtaposition of science and literature, we also honour Ukrainian authors and the power of the written word to promote change,” said William St-Hilaire, Blue Metropolis Executive and Artistic Director. Event venues include Hotel 10, the Grande Bibliothèque and McCord Museum.

Our era is experiencing upheavals on a number of fronts; environmental, social and individual. Do ecology and the human species have a common future? And now with the recent attacks on Ukraine, war is back in Europe. Have we arrived at a crossroads? The Festival offers some answers to these questions, and to this year’s theme—Planet, society, people: what age are we? Throughout the course of 10 days, over 250 participants from Quebec, Canada and abroad are set to converge on Montreal to meet, read, discover and reread. There’s a wide variety of events in store, with full programming described at bluemetropolis.org/2022festival/.

FESTIVAL HIGHLIGHTS

INSPIRING IN-PERSON PROGRAMMING MAY 5-8

Ukraine is in the throes of a tragedy. What can literature do against war? Plenty—war is inhuman; literature is one of the best outlets humanity has to offer. A nod to the national Ukrainian salute, ‘Glory to Ukraine’/Слава Україні (Slava Oukraïni) is a series of events in support of Ukraine, and features Ukrainian authors side by side with their Quebec, Canadian and international colleagues. Proceeds for Ukrainian events donated to the Montreal chapter of the Ukrainian National Federation of Canada.

The Festival welcomes Ukrainian novelist and poet Oksana Lutsyshyna to Montreal to helm several key events. Winner of the Taras Shevchenko Prize and the UNESCO Lviv City of Literature Prize for her novel Ivan and Phoebe, Lutsyshynateaches in the Department of Slavic and Eurasian Studies including feminist theories at the University of Texas at Austin. She is also co-editor of the Ukrainian poetry anthology, Words for War. Andrey Kurkov (Western Ukraine), Russian-language author of Death and the Penguin (translated into 30 languages) and most recently, Grey Bees, will join via video conference for East, West, Mittel, Middle East: European Literature in the era of tanks, sure to be a high point of the Festival. Along with Lutsyshyna, this round table event also includes Andrea Bajani (Italy), Santiago H. Amigorena (France) and Yishai Sarid (Israel).

Other events in this series are: Is Empire a Male Concept? This discussion features Rosemary Sullivan, biographer of Stalin’s Daughter, and Oksana Lutsyshyna; Ukraine/Українa, a performance combining interviews, music and readings of Ukrainian poets translated into French, and words of support by local writers translated into Ukrainian, in collaboration with P.E.N. Quebec; Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Ukrainian Literature but Never Asked, an introductory workshop on Ukrainian literature and culture led by Lutsyshyna; and as part of the Babel Blue multilingual reading event, in collaboration with Amnesty International, Festival authors read excerpts of works by imprisoned writers, including Ukrainian journalist Vladyslav Yesypenko who most recently worked for Krym Realii, a media outlet in Russian-occupied Crimea.

Literary prizes

Each year, Blue Metropolis’ Literary Prizes and accompanying interviews mark the highlight of our program. In 2022, there are eight to be awarded, including two new ones: Blue Metropolis Words for Change Prize to French-Senegalese writer David Diop; Premio Metropolis Azul to Columbian writer and journalist Juan Gabriel Vásquez; Blue Metropolis First Peoples’ Literary Prize to Haisla/Heiltsuk novelist Eden Robinson; Blue Metropolis Violet Literary Prize to Cree writer, playwright and musician Tomson Highway; Blue Metropolis Science and Literature Prize to writer and astrophysicist Hubert Reeves, to which is added the FRQSC-Science and Literature Prize for emerging researchers, to Élaine Després; and the newly-created Lumières sur la pauvreté Prize, in partnership with Observatoire québécois des inégalités, awarded to Quebec anthropologist and artist Francine Saillant.

Headlining thematic series

In 2022, Blue Metropolis is spotlighting science and its relationships to literature. The Science, Planet, Society series centers on ecology, the importance of the living world, mechanisms of disinformation, the role of social media, and dialogues between scientists and science fiction authors in relation to four distinct disciplines: biology, anatomy, astrophysics, and artificial intelligence. 

For the series Aging—A New Look, rich encounters await, including conversations about history, decolonial perspectives, the memory of peoples, and the art of ripening with age, a practice many will want to cultivate and exemplify. Choice authors feature prominently in one or the other of these series, including among others: Norma Dunning (Alberta), Andrea Bajani (Italy), Yishai Sarid (Israel), Rosemary Sullivan (Canada), Christopher DiRaddo (Quebec), and Nancy Huston (Canada/France).

Christopher DiRaddo

Notable names in a variety of literary series

The Azul Program (Hispanic and Portuguese-language literature) is more vibrant than ever. In addition to Juan Gabriel Vásquez (Colombia/Spain), writers featured include Julián Fuks (Brazil), Martha Bátiz (Mexico), Carmen Rodriguez (Chile/Canada), and David Unger (Mexico). Homage to Carlos Fuentes will notably include the late author’s daughter, Cecilia Fuentes Macedo, who has published a book about her mother, the actress Rita Macedo.

The Indigenous Literatures and Voices series proposes, among other things, an in-person dialogue between two literary greats, Eden Robinson and Tomson Highway, this edition of the Festival’s two Indigenous laureates. Hosted at the Grande Bibliothèque, the exchange promises to be a memorable one. Science fiction, fantasy, suspense, whodunits: The Imaginariesseries highlights authors working in these genres, including established, rising and perennial voices such as Sylvain Neuvel, Pascal Raud, Su J. Sokol, Elisabeth Vonarburg, Vincent Brault, Derek Künsken, Premee Mohamed and Marie-Josée Martin.

OUTSTANDING VIRTUAL PROGRAMMING APRIL 28-MAY 4

The Festival presents a tempting online program starting with a series of three headlining solo interviews with major authors: American feminist Gloria Steinem, Algerian novelist and journalist Kamel Daoud, and Italian novelist Francesca Melandri. These interviews feature questions of feminism beyond the #MeToo era, of post-independence Algeria, and of elements of Italian history that are hard to overcome.

Four films will be presented in partnership with the Montreal Israeli Film Festival, each highlighting a great contemporary author—Amos Oz, Saul Bellow, David Grossman, and Abraham Yehoshua—the latter is also followed by an interview conducted specifically for the Festival.

Spain is the honoured country and invitee for the 2022 Frankfurt Book Fair as Canada was in 2021. With that connection in mind, the Festival presents the Spain-Canada Digital Dialogues series, curated by Ingrid Bejerman, Director of Blue Metropolis’ Azul programming. The series features four duos, each comprised of Quebec, Canadian and Spanish writers, editors and translators in impassioned conversations about our relationship to literature. Not to miss are Jorge Carrión/Stephen Henignan, Rosemary Sullivan/Raquel Martínez-Gómez, Katiza Agirre/Kevin Lambert, and Katia Grubisic/Lawrence Schimel. To this is added a number of virtual encounters: on the relationships between science-fiction and science, on 19th-century poetic thought transported to the modern moment, and on the idea of community in genre literature.

Working Fictions podcast series

The new Festival podcast series, Working Fictions, got off to an exciting start on March 31. Here, twenty authors from Quebec and across Canada share their original short stories tackling one of the overarching themes of the series; ecology, sustainability, social justice, the passage of time, and intergenerational dialogues. With a new, free podcast released each week, these stories feature current topics combining imagination, intuition, invention, and the music of language. To keep the momentum going, the Working Fictions webpage includes a selection of multi-genre reading recommendations chosen by librarians at the Grande Bibliothèque.

For kids and their families

Fascinating themes and captivating authors and experts introduce youngsters to math, ecology and astronomy, or simply move them or make them laugh. The TD-Blue Metropolis Children’s Festival’s various youth and educational programs offer an adaptable hybrid format. From April 22 to May 1, the Festival will present 30 in-person activities at libraries, childcare centres and daycares. Beloved children’s authors look forward to meeting their audiences. Virtual programming includes fun quizzes and reading recommendations for all ages, as well as Playtime, a podcasts series presenting new texts by well-known authors including Bonnie Farmer. There are over 70 activities to enjoy year-round.

Tickets for most events are $7, with an equal amount offered as a discount on all Festival books at Paragraphe Bookstore until May 22.

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