The 37th annual Cherie Smith JCC Jewish Book Festival takes place Feb. 6-10 at both the Jewish Community Centre of Greater Vancouver and online, with authors joining from across Canada, the United States, Israel, Australia and Great Britain.
“We look forward to welcoming our live audiences to the joyful experience of a shared literary event,” said festival director Dana Camil Hewitt. “The Jewish Book Festival strives to reflect and showcase recent literature that revels in the lively and pivotal ideas stemming from the modern world and, in the process, expose our city and community to meaningful and captivating conversations about the written word in every shape and form.
“And, while the nucleus of our festival is Jewish-themed, our speakers, events and audience happily represent a diversity of experiences and cultures that defy narrow categorization. We are attuned to timely and universal themes and we thrive on the interdisciplinary, always inviting visual arts and performance art into our events.”
Opening the festival are American novelist and journalist Dara Horn, with her book People Love Dead Jews: Reports from a Haunted Present, and British comedian and writer David Baddiel, with his book Jews Don’t Count. On the closing night, Daniel Sokatch, an expert who understands both sides of the Israeli-Palestianian conflict, will present his book Can We Talk About Israel? A Guide for the Curious, Confused and Conflicted.
Winner of the Canadian Jewish Literary Award for fiction Gary Barwin joins the festival with Nothing the Same, Everything Haunted: The Ballad of Motl the Cowboy, together with U.S. author Jai Chakrabarti, who brings A Play for the End of the World.
Short stories will be celebrated in an event with Vancouver’s Rachel Rose and her collection The Octopus Has Three Hearts, long-listed for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, together with Montreal’s Ami Sands Brodoff presenting her intricately linked stories in The Sleep of Apples. From Toronto, novelist and cultural critic Hal Niedzviecki discusses his latest novel, The Lost Expert.
Stories of artists in the Second World War era are presented by two U.S. writers: Meg Waite Clayton (The Postmistress of Paris) and painter/writer Michaela Carter (Leonora in the Morning Light). History also has an important place in the work of Leah Garrett, who presents X-Troop: The Secret Jewish Commandos of World War II (who were the inspiration for Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds), and Menachem Kaiser, whose Plunder: A Memoir of Family Property and Nazi Treasure won the Canadian Jewish Literary Award for non-fiction.
The annual Book Clubs event features Australian author Heather Morris, with her novel Three Sisters, the last in the Tattooist of Auschwitz trilogy.
Among the B.C. authors represented are Isa Milman, with her memoir Afterlight: In Search of Poetry, History and Home, and Rachel Mines, with her translation of Jonah Rosenfeld’s The Rivals and Other Stories. An epilogue event (i.e. after the festival run) moderated by Yosef Wosk features Robert Krell and his memoir Sounds from Silence and Alan Twigg’s Out Of Hiding: Holocaust Literature of British Columbia.
Regular updates can be found at jccgv.com/jewish-book-festival, where the digital program guide will be available after Dec. 28.
– Courtesy JCC Jewish Book Festival