Montreal’s Blue Met literary festival runs April 28-May 8

For its 24th edition, Blue Metropolis International Literary Festival is returning to in-person programming (May 5 to 8) coupled with virtual encounters from April 28 to May 4.

Main event venues are at Hotel 10, the Grande Bibliothèque, and McCord Museum. For 10 days, 250 participants from Quebec, the rest of Canada and abroad will converge on Montreal to meet, read, and discover. Full programming is described at bluemetropolis.org/2022festival.

What can literature do against war? A nod to the national Ukrainian salute, ‘Glory to Ukraine’/Слава Україні (Slava Oukraïni) is a series of events in support of Ukraine, featuring Ukrainian authors with Quebec, other Canadian, and international colleagues. Proceeds for Ukrainian events will be 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 events. Winner of the Taras Shevchenko Prize and the UNESCO Lviv City of Literature Prize for her novel Ivan and Phoebe, Lutsyshyna teaches 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, expected to be a Festival highlight. 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 will 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.

Eight Blue Metropolis’ Literary Prizes will 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.

This year Blue Metropolis is spotlighting science and its relationships to literature. The Science, Planet, Society series features 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, there will be conversations about history, decolonial perspectives, the memory of peoples, and the art of ripening with age. The authors featured in these series include Norma Dunning (Alberta), Andrea Bajani (Italy), Yishai Sarid (Israel), Rosemary Sullivan (Canada), Christopher DiRaddo (Quebec) and Nancy Huston (Canada/France).

Notable names in a variety of literary series The Azul Program (Hispanic and Portuguese-language literature) include Juan Gabriel Vásquez (Colombia/Spain), Julián Fuks (Brazil), Martha Bátiz (Mexico), Carmen Rodriguez (Chile/Canada), and David Unger (Mexico).

Homage to Carlos Fuentes will 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 features an in-person dialogue between Eden Robinson and Tomson Highway at the Grande Bibliothèque, the Festival’s two Indigenous laureates.

Science fiction, fantasy, suspense, whodunits: The Imaginaries series highlights Sylvain Neuvel, Pascal Raud, Su J. Sokol, Elisabeth Vonarburg, Vincent Brault, Derek Künsken, Premee Mohamed, and Marie-Josée Martin.

Virtual programming April 28 to May 4

The online program starts with three 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 to be followed by an interview.

Spain is the honoured country and invitee for the 2022 Frankfurt Book Fair as Canada was in the 2021 series, curated by Ingrid Bejerman, Director of Blue Metropolis’ Azul programming. The series features four duos, each comprised of writers from Quebec, the rest of Canada, and Spanish writers, editors and translators in conversations about our relationship to literature.

The new Festival podcast series, Working Fictions, began March 31. Twenty authors from Quebec and across Canada share their original short stories tackling ecology, sustainability, social justice, and the passage of time. The Working Fictions webpage includes a selection of multi-genre reading recommendations chosen by librarians at the Grande Bibliothèque.

For kids and their families, authors and experts introduce youngsters to math, ecology and astronomy. 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.

For complete programming: bluemetropolis.org/2022festival/ Tickets for most events are $7, with the full amount offered as a discount on all Festival books at Paragraphe Bookstore until May 22.

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