Posted on April 19th, 2011 by .

The Blue Metropolis Literary Festival, April 27 to May 1, is officially 13 years old and, like most teenagers, it’s staying up past bedtime and throwing a serious party…

This year’s festival boasts over 200 events and promises that over 200 writers will be milling around Montreal and the Holiday Inn comparing dictionary sizes and look for places to drink. With such an extensive program, figuring out just what to see can be daunting so here are the cliff-notes!

If you’re new to Montreal, check out Imagine Montreal which is a performance written by a few of Montreal’s most prominent writers like Gail Scott, Zoe Whittall and Edward O. Phillips, among others. Esteemed Montreal actors read stories that revisit some of Montreal’s milestones, like the infamous ice storm, some political controversies and, of course, the glorious Montreal summer. The City as Character, an event in a similar vein, takes place on April 28 and involves a panel discussion with Gail Scott, Peter Dubé and Teri Vlassopoulos exploring Montreal and Quebec writing, presented by the Quebec Writers Federation.

This year, the festival has placed a special focus on Indian writing and there are several events to choose from. On April 28 there’s Voices From the Indian Diaspora, where Bharati Mukherjee (who is also the focus of Face to Face event on May 1), Amitav Ghosh and Koyamparambath Satchidanandan will be speaking with Eleanor Wachtel about Indian writing and the literary scenes in India. Merrily Weisbord, Meena Kandasamy and Satchidanandan will be paying homage to Kamala Das, an Indian poet who died in 2009. Das has achieved worldwide acclaim and is best known for her work that is considered transformative for its blunt accounts of female sexuality.

On April 30, three Indian writers speak candidly about the books in their libraries that have challenged and inspired them in an event called Celebration of Indian Writing: Opening Your Libraries. If book recommendations are what you’re after, Opening Your Library: Canadian Edition is the event for you too. Get public book suggestions by four Canadian writers (Charles Foran, Alexander MacLeod, Kathleen Winter and Kate Pullinger) who reveal which books inspired them the most.

Bernhard Schlink, a European man of letters with a very impressive resume, discusses his new novel The Weekend and the themes that inform his writing. A former judge, he splits his time between teaching at Humboldt University in Berlin and at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in New York. Schlink publishes crime novels primarily, you know, when he’s not writing essays about German guilt or focusing on his scholarly work about law and morality and the meaning of justice. The event is hosted by Noah Richler on April 28th.

McGill University is presenting a free talk with the Gore Vidal, where he will be discussing the American and international media. The 90 minute talk will be hosted by Marc Raboy. Alternately you could catch Gore Vidal on April 30th when he speaks with CBC’s Michael Enright about his life, his work, his legacy and maybe even that moment above on the Dick Cavett show where Vidal and the irascible Norman Mailer famously duke it out…

Finally, there’s the perennially popular CBC Blue Series moderated by Carol Off. This is a chance for you to see your favourite CBC radio personalities in real life interviewing the likes of Gore Vidal, Alexandre Jardin, Amitov Ghosh and Bernhard Schlink.

The Blue Met is also a family friendly event. The 4th Annual Blue Metropolis Children’s Festival offers over 75 events with authors and illustrators and storytellers at no cost for children under 12 and their families. With so much going on this year, there’s something for everyone at this year’s Blue Metropolis.

Guest Blogger: Sophie Naima Caird

Photo Credit: Blue Met Children’s Fest- Monique Dystra

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