Margaret Atwood to Launch 2016 Alice Munro Festival of the Short Story
Legendary Canadian author, Margaret Atwood, will kick-off the 2016 Alice Munro Festival of the Short Story with a reading and conversation at Blyth Festival on Thursday, June 2. The author will read from her 2014 short story collection, Stone Mattress: Nine Wicked Tales, followed by an onstage conversation with fellow Canadian author Merilyn Simonds when they will discuss Atwood’s work, many interests and passions. Tickets for this evening with a Canadian arts icon are on sale now for $25 each, available through the Blyth Festival Box Office – 519-523-9300 or www.blythfestival.com.
Nine other guest authors will also take part in this year’s Alice Munro Festival of the Short Story, June 2 – 5, including multiple Governor General Award for Fiction Finalist and 2007 Scotiabank Giller Prize winner Elizabeth Hay. Ms. Hay will give the keynote address at the Festival’s gala on Saturday, June 4. Fellow Giller Prize winner (2013 Hellgoing), Lynn Coady, is also one of the featured authors on this year’s roster. Ms. Coady will speak at the Huron County Museum on Sunday, June 5, on her latest publication Who Needs Books?: Reading in the Digital Age, an examination of how technology is impacting literacy. Both of these authors will also take part in events geared towards book clubs who are invited, along with individuals, to read either His Whole Life by Elizabeth Hay or The Antagonist by Lynn Coady and participate in facilitated discussions with the authors.
The Alice Munro Festival of the Short Story honours the work of Huron County native and Nobel Prize winning author Alice Munro. Fans of Munro’s work will not want to miss Munro biographer Robert Thacker’s lunchtime talk “Alice Munro Country”. During another event, the new Cambridge Companion to Alice Munro will be the subject of an author panel with two of the contributing authors: Elizabeth Hay and Merilyn Simonds. Mr. Thacker will moderate.
The Opening Reception on Friday, June 3 is a unique collaboration between the Blyth Festival and the Alice Munro Festival of the Short Story. Blyth Festival artists will read selections from If Truth Be Told, a new play by Beverly Cooper which is premiering at Blyth this season. The play is a fictionalized account of a group that was successful in having a number of award-winning books banned in schools in Ontario in the 1970s. Four guest authors will read selections from some of the banned books in-between scenes from the play.
One of the missions of the Alice Munro Festival is to nurture emerging writers. The annual Short Story Contest is an example of that commitment. This year’s contest solicited over two hundred entries from across Canada. The winners in the adult and youth categories will be announced at the Jubilee Gala on June 4, – 2015 by Scotiabank Giller Prize Finalist, Samuel Archibald.
The Festival program includes a series of masterclasses that allow writers of all levels to learn from and network with the guest authors.
Author readings also make up a big part of the program. New York Times best-selling author and regular McSweeny’s contributor, Sheila Heti, will read a selection of new, yet to be published, stories at the Festival. As the only literary festival in the world to celebrate the short story format, a panel of authors will share their favourite short stories at a Books and Brunch event at the Livery Theatre in Goderich on Sunday, June 5. Rounding out the list of 2016 guest authors are: Caldecott Honour winner and Governor General Award Nominee, Mariko Tamaki; 2015 Relit Award–finalist short-fiction collection Shawn Syms; and 2015 Lambda Literary Award finalist, Vivek Shraya.
A new addition to this year’s Festival is the addition of photography. The Huron County Library and Photography Club of Bayfield have partnered on a photo exhibit that matches quotes from Munro’s stories to images of the Huron County Landscape, demonstrating the connection between art and place. Renowned photographer, Don Martel, will conduct a landscape photography masterclass as part of this year’s Festival as well.
Full program details, including box office information, for the 2016 Alice Munro Festival of the Short Story can be found on the website www.alicemunrofestival.ca. The Alice Munro Festival of the Short Story is supported by the Ontario Arts Council, Township of North Huron, County of Huron, and the municipalities of Central Huron and Morris-Turnberry.
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