Fall Preview Part II: Three literary festivals and a giveaway

Fall Preview Part I was all about the books I’m excited to read. Today, we’re talking Edmonton literary festivals and giveaways.

Actually, three giveaways. Edmonton hosts three excellent literary festivals, and despite my grumbling about a lack of Word on the Street (but for real, Lethbridge and not Edmonton?) I am excited to get into festival season. Read on for my picks, and for your chance to win your way into three of my most-anticipated events!



I had a great time at my first LitFest last year and I’m super bummed that I can’t make it to any of these fine events. If I could, I would go to:

  • And Home Was Kariakoo (M.G. Vassanji) October 23, 7:30 p.m. at Stanley Milner Library. I am so sorry to miss this. I read The Magic of Saida last year and it was brilliant. Here’s my review in which I dub the author M.G. “Mother-effing Genius” Vassanji.
  • Me, My Selfie, and I October 23, 5:30 p.m. at Kids in the Hall Bistro. I went to this event last year and it was so fun! They’ve changed it up a bit this year and are including selfie lessons which I sorely need. My kids take better selfies than I do.
  • Headliner Naomi Klein was on The Colbert Report this week and you can see her October 20, 7:00 p.m. at the Winspear. She’s pretty feisty on Twitter, too:

LitFest is also running Words on the Square, in partnership with Edmonton Arts Council, bringing authors to Churchill Square at lunch time on Tuesdays to read and… well I’m not sure what else. I just have to run across the street to get there, so I’m in!

LITFEST GIVEAWAY: I have two tickets to the M.G. Vassanji event to give away! Just comment on this post and let me know you want the tickets. I may ask you to take my copy of The Magic of Saida and get it signed. If that’s cool with you.



I’m excited to attend the St. Albert Reader’s Festival for the very first time. I love that the focus is squarely on readers. Sometimes at literary events I feel like I’m the only one who’s not an author too. It’s weird.

  • Joseph Boyden: The Soul of an Author October 23, 7:00 p.m. at Arden Theatre, St. Albert. This is the reason I can’t attend the LitFest Vassanji event. How did two of my favourite CanLit authors end up appearing at the same exact time? Talk about #CanLitProblems! I’d already bought my tickets for Boyden and he probably would have won anyway, as I have a well-documented crush on him.
  • Yann Martel: The Power of Literature October 29, 7:00 p.m. at Arden Theatre. I enjoyed Life of Pi and hope to watch the movie one day; as soon as I get a spare couple of hours alone in the house (i.e. never.) Martel has done lots of other stuff since LoP and I need to catch up.
  • Padma Viswanathan: Loss, Identity and Faith October 19, 2:00 p.m. at Forsyth Hall. I’ve had Viswanathan’s The Toss of a Lemon sitting on my shelf for a few months now. Its time may be coming.

Boyden hitting us with some content marketing:

STARFEST GIVEAWAY: I have two tickets to the event of your choice to give away! Just comment and let me know which event you choose. Pick a back up if you want to see Boyden as it may sell out. Maybe reveal your own literary crush, too. 

Festival of Ideas


When Margaret Atwood is the appetizer, can the main course compare? Atwood and Alanis were here last year as a pre-festival event. Joyce Carol Oates is like the crazier, American version of Atwood (on Twitter, anyway) and I must find out for myself what she’s really like. My picks:

  • Joyce Carol Oates November 23, 7:00 p.m. at the Winspear Centre ($30) for reasons stated above. I snagged We Were the Mulvaneys at a library sale and have had it recommended it me more than once.
  • Colm Toibin November 20, 8:00 p.m. at The Citadel ($24) because The Testament of Mary is brilliant. It earned a rare five-star review from me (obviously, everyone’s go-to metric) and showed me that brilliant novellas are not just found in the classics section.

There are more controversial tweets, yes, but to book bloggers, dissing Jane Austen is a throwdown:

FESTIVAL OF IDEAS GIVEAWAY: I have two tickets to Joyce Carol Oates to give away! Just comment and let me know you’re interested. Maybe tell me your favourite JCO book, or link to her craziest tweet.

Did you catch all three giveaways in this post?

All you have to do is comment on this post and let me know which pairs of tickets you’re interested in:

  • M.G. Vassanji at LitFest (October 23)
  • Winner’s choice at STARFest (events in October and November)
  • Joyce Carol Oates at the Festival of Ideas (November 23)

You can say you’re interested in more than one. Go for all three if you like! I’ll do a random draw for each pair of tickets and announce the winners on Friday, October 3. No airfare or hotel, I’m afraid, so make sure you’ll actually be in town. I’m not going to make you subscribe to my blog, or follow me on Twitter, or share this post, to enter. You should definitely do all those things, though.

Thank you LitFest, STARFest, and Festival of Ideas for generously providing these prizes! I’d love to hear what you’re looking forward to this festival season, whether you’re in Edmonton or not.



  1. Naomi

    I’d like to win all the tickets, please. You did say airfare and hotel were included, right? 😉 You have no idea how jealous I am that you are going to see Joseph Boyden! Also, now I am going to have to read Vassanji and The Testament Of Mary. I wonder what Vassanji’s new one is like. Have fun at all your events! I hope we get to hear about it. (Unfortunately, I am joking about the tickets. Boo.)

  2. riverboat38

    Oh wow!! I would love tickets to all three as well but if I had to choose I’d choose Joyce Carol Oates at the Festival of Ideas as I attended the Margaret Atwood event last year and it is so worth attending!!! I simply must go!

  3. Jody Spencer

    Ohhh so many great events and authors! I’d day is want to see Yann Martel. My literary crush that has passed would be Hemingway and alive would be Khaled Hosseini.

  4. Matthew Stepanic

    I’m super sad about the Vassanji and Boyden doubling up as well—if I figure out how to force my body through mitosis before then, do you want me to teach you too? (I’ve got my ticket for Boyden, too, b. t. dubs.)

    Also, I have a bit of info for you on why WOTS is in Lethbridge of all places from one of the organizers. I’ll share that with you the next time I see you, since it’s more of a story. 🙂

    And please enter my name in to win the Joyce Carol Oates tickets!

    • lauratfrey

      Yes please teach me the ways. I feel bad for MG. Gotta think Boyden’s going to win for people on the fence, with all the Canada Reads hoopla.

      PS: reading the current Glass Buffalo, & still working my way through the old one. So many great stories! One essay convinced me to read King’s On Writing and I love the story about the nature centre and the bees. I remember trying to explain to my 3 yr old why the bees were all dead.

  5. Cynthia Wandler

    My ticket buying budget for STARFest and LitFest are already maxed out, otherwise I would have gone to see Vassanji too – I am local and would love to see him for free!

  6. Pingback: In my bed: September 2014 | Reading in Bed
  7. Stephanie Laskoski

    Really, so very interested in seeing Joyce Carol Oates. Love her. My favourite book is her memoir, “A Widow’s Story.” I am obsessed with memoir, particularly from authors whose writing is already quite dark. One of my favourites tweets of Oates’ was when she admitted she is moved by her own writing. Thanks for the contest!! Great idea.

  8. Pingback: I went to a bunch of literary festivals and all you get is this lousy blog post | Reading in Bed

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