Alice Munro Festival goes virtual, Donoghue to guest judge
The Alice Munro Festival of the Short Story returns for its seventeenth year June 4-6 with a lineup of eight award-winning Canadian authors. The three-day virtual event features six author readings, two writing masterclasses and the awards ceremony for the Festival’s annual short story contest.
David Adams Richards starts things off, on Friday, June 4 with a reading and conversation about his new novel, Darkness. Richards is one of only three writers to have won the Governor General’s Award in both the fiction and non-fiction categories. He is a co-winner of the 2000 Giller Prize for his novel, Mercy Among the Children. In 2009, he was made a Member of the Order of Canada and in 2017, David Adams Richards was appointed to the Senate of Canada on the advice of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Camilla Gibb will read from her new novel, The Relatives on Saturday, June 5 at 10 a.m. Gibb is the author of four internationally-acclaimed novels, Mouthing the Words, The Petty Details of So-and-so’s Life, Sweetness in the Belly and The Beauty of Humanity Movement – as well as the bestselling memoir This is Happy.
This year’s guest judge for the short story contest, adult category, is Emma Donoghue. Donoghue is best known for her international bestseller Room (2010) a finalist for the Man Booker, Commonwealth and Orange Prizes. Her screen adaptation, directed by Lenny Abrahamson, was nominated for four Academy Awards. Her 2020 novel, Pull of the Stars, set in the maternity ward of a Dublin hospital during the great flu epidemic of 1918 was longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and appeared on many “Best Books of 2020” lists.
Rounding out the day on Saturday, June 5 is a reading by M.G. Vassanji from his new short story collection, What You Are (May, 2021). Vassanji is the author of nine novels, two collections of short stories, a travel memoir about India, a memoir of East Africa, and a biography of Mordecai Richler. He is twice winner of the Scotiabank Giller Prize (1994, 2003), the Governor General’s Prize (2009) for best work of nonfiction, the Commonwealth First Book Prize (Africa, 1990) and the Bressani Prize.
Mary Lawson will discuss her new best-selling novel, A Town Called Solace, on Sunday, June 6 at 11 a.m. Lawson was born and brought up in a small farming community in Ontario and now lives in England. She is the author of Crow Lake; named a Book of the Year by The New York Times and The Other Side of the Bridge; which was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize.
Prepare a picnic lunch on Sunday afternoon and listen to two-time Taste Canada Gold Award winner Lindy Mechefske discuss her new book, Ontario Picnics: A Century of Dining Outdoors. Mechefske is the author of Out of Old Ontario Kitchens and Sir John’s Table. She is the food columnist for Canada’s oldest newspaper, the Kingston Whig-Standard.
Alix Ohlin closes out the 2021 Festival with a reading from her new short story collection, We Want What What We Want (July 2021). Ohlin is the author of five books, including the novels Inside and Dual Citizens, which were both finalists for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize. She lives in Vancouver, where she chairs the creative writing program at the University of British Columbia.
All six of the author readings are free to attend, as is the short story contest award concession with guest judges Emma Donoghue (Adult Category) and Heather Smith (Youth Category). Aspiring authors can participate in 90-minute masterclasses with M.G. Vassanji and Alix Ohlin over the weekend for a nominal fee.
The 2021 Alice Munro Festival of the Short Story takes place June 4-6. Registration is required for all events through eventbrite.ca. For more information about guest authors and the festival program, visit alicemunrofestival.ca. The annual festival is supported by The Ontario Arts Council, County of Huron, Township of North Huron, Dr. Marie Gear, Royal Homes, Capital Power, Leslie Motors, Stainton’s Home Hardware, Crawford, Mills & Davies Law Office, Joe Kerr Ltd., Hurontel, John Schenk Legal and Glassier Physiotherapy Clinic.