More than forty of the best contemporary Canadian and international writers are heading to Greater Moncton to take part in 60 public events and 130 school visits.
The program for the 16th edition of Atlantic Canada’s largest literary happening is the Festival’s most ambitious yet. The Festival promises to feed imaginations and invites readers to discover new authors, strange places, and quirky characters. The authors featured in this year’s line-up flaunt their imaginative prowess, offering up stories of obsession and revenge, secrets and distortions, beauty and memory, growing up and getting old. Their books are filled with historical lore, music, love, medicine, death, family tensions, and art, and they cover genres such as horror, history, memoir, biography, drama, science fiction, women’s literature, LGBT fiction, poetry, travel literature, and children’s literature.
It is the perfect excuse for Greater Moncton booklovers to plan a literary staycation and attend events from April 25 to May 3.
Sweeping narratives: Nature, beauty, and memory
Internationally acclaimed novelist Jane Urquhart headlines this year’s festival with her new novel The Night Stages (coming out April 7), an intimate yet epic novel that sweeps the vast landscapes of Ireland and Newfoundland and explores themes of memory, family bonds, love, and art. The novel is meticulously researched and beautifully written, and fans of Urquhart’s previous novels (including The Stone Carvers, The Underpainter, and Sanctuary Line) will appreciate The Night Stages. Urquhart will deliver the Festival’s 2015 Maillet-Frye Lecture on Saturday, May 2 at l’Escaouette theatre, followed by a Q&A hosted by Globe and Mail Arts Editor Jared Bland.
In Ringing Here & There: A Nature Calendar, poet, non-fiction writer and professor Brian Bartlett invokes the spirit of Henry David Thoreau and gives readers a year’s worth of poetic meditations inspired by his wanderings.
Author of the bestselling novel Annabel, Kathleen Winter embraces the unknown as she journeys through the Northwest Passage from Greenland to Kugluktuk in Nunavut. She recounts her adventure in her Writers Trust-shortlisted Boundless: Tracing Land and Dream in a New Northwest Passage, which blurs the lines between history, nature writing and travel memoir.
Strange places for fiction: Weird heavens, urban underbellies, and gruesome underworlds
In his Giller Prize-winning debut novel Us Conductors, Sean Michaels, a music blogger, founder of saidthegramophone.ca, and columnist for The Telegraph, re-imagines the story of Russian spy, scientist and theremin inventor, Lev Termin. Written as a love letter to his “one true love,” Termin recalls his life from his early years as a scientist to his time in Jazz Age New York City to his imprisonment in a Siberian gulag.
Steeped in historical lore, Ian Weir’s second novel, Will Starling, takes readers to the alleyways, brothels, cemeteries, and filthy operating rooms of 1816 London. As he helps his mentor build a medical practice in a rough area of the city, surgeon Will Starling uncovers an unholy conspiracy and rumours of experiments on the living begin to spread.
From the award-winning author of Room comes a story of love and bloodshed in 19th century San Francisco. The 2014 novel Frog Music is Emma Donoghue’s eighth novel, in which she fictionalizes the murder of Jenny Bonnet through the eyes of burlesque dancer Blanche Beunon as she risks everything to find justice and uncovers the secret life of her murdered companion.
Neil Smith’s highly anticipated debut novel Boo (coming out May 12, but available at the Festival!) is the coming-of-age story of Oliver Dalrymple, who, following a tragic accident, finds himself in a strange heaven populated only by 13-year-old Americans. Smith published his critically acclaimed short story collection Bang Crunch in 2010.
Giller Prize-shortlisted novelist and short fiction writer Craig Davidson’s most recent novel, Cataract City, tells the story of two boyhood friends who dream of escaping the uncanny stronghold that Cataract City has on its citizens but whose divergent paths into adulthood will test the bonds of their friendship. Davidson’s alter ego, Nick Cutter, will also be on hand to expose the dark machinations behind The Troop and The Deep.
Former Algerian military officer Yasmina Khadra’s tales of war and violence in the Middle East have garnered him a readership of more than four million in France. Most of his novels have been translated into English, including the trilogy The Swallows of Kabul, The Attack, and The Sirens of Baghdad, as well as What the Day Owes the Night. Most recently, he has a writing credit for the film Two Men in Town (2014), starring Forest Whitaker.
Globe and Mail columnist Elizabeth Renzetti’s satirical debut novel Based on a True Story looks at celebrity, journalism, and the consequences of lying. Following the improbable success of her memoir, only loosely based on her true story, fallen starlet Augusta Price embarks on a journey with an insecure tabloid journalist that takes them from London to Los Angeles to exact revenge on a former lover and stop him from unravelling the web of lies.
No such thing as an uninteresting life: Biographies and memoirs
In Confessions of a Fairy’s Daughter, Alison Wearing tells the story of growing up with a gay dad in 1970s Ontario. Wearing has turned her bestselling memoir into a five-starred one-woman show that won Best of Fest awards at the Stratford Springworks and Wakefield Fringe festivals and Best Drama at the Victoria Fringe Festival. She’ll present her show on Saturday, May 2 at théâtre l’Escaouette.
Alain Farah blends autobiography and retro science fiction in Ravenscrag, a GG-nominated novel about the remedying power of literature. The writer is at McGill University in 1962 and 2012 at once; a psychiatrist conducts unethical experiments on his patients, and an uncle uncovers the truth but doesn’t live to tell the tale. An investigation ensues and leads to the depths of a gothic manor …
In Whiteout, accidental voyeurism forces George Murray to reconsider time and a shift in perspective that results from getting older. It is the sixth collection of poems from the editor of NewPoetry.ca and the Poet Laureate of St. John’s, Newfoundland. He published a children’s book, Wow Wow Haw Haw in 2014.
In Irving vs Irving, Jacques Poitras peers into the notoriously private lives of the Irving family who, through their monopoly of English-language print media in New Brunswick, often avoided the critical gaze of journalistic scrutiny over their corporate dealings, business mishaps, and family feuds.
Something for everyone
Moncton’s Nancy Cohen will launch Here Babies, There Babies at the Festival’s event for preschoolers. Children’s writer Ruth Ohi will bring her successful Fox and Squirrel series to the Festival, meeting with young readers at KidsFest (Saturday, April 25) and in schools. Co-authors Ann-Maureen Owens and Jane Yealland are adding an educational component with the timely re-issuing of their book Canada’s Maple Leaf: The Story of Our Flag; they’ll present a writing and illustrating workshop for children on Saturday, April 25. Kelly Cooper, author of the short story collection Eyehill, will put her extensive experience in giving workshops and presentations in schools and help the Festival inspire 10,000 students.
The Festival’s line-up of Francophone writers is just as strong, with novelists Claudine Bourbonnais, Michèle Ouimet, and Alain Beaulieu, children’s writer Edith Bourget, and Innu poet and slammer Natasha Kanapé Fontaine.
The Festival’s signature events—including Soiree Frye (Friday, May 1), Frye Jam (Saturday, May 2), the Maillet-Frye Lecture (Saturday, May 2), and KidsFest (Saturday, April 25)—will return in a program rounded out with “meet the author” and “authors in conversation” events, public readings, story times for preschoolers, book signings, and multidisciplinary activities. The Festival will also present a bilingual celebration of original and translated Acadian books granted the Governor General’s Literary Awards. Antonine Maillet (On the Eighth Day), Serge Patrice Thibodeau (One), Herménégilde Chiasson (Beatitudes), France Daigle (For Sure, Just Fine), and Emma Haché are on the roster for that event, which will take place Thursday, April 30.
New this year: writing workshops on horror fiction, memoirs, food and nature; literary and multidisciplinary celebrations for the City of Moncton’s 125th anniversary; multiple community partnerships that ensure inclusiveness, diversity, accessibility; and, a collaboration with the East Coast Comic Expo for an exhibit at the Moncton Public Library (April 2 to May 2).
The Festival will also offer a book store from now until the beginning of the Festival. They’ve teamed up with Tidewater Books to make every Friday a Frye-Day. Current titles from participating authors will be on sale every Friday between 10 am and 5 pm at the Festival office (140 Botsford St, suite 21, Moncton), and staff will be on hand to offer personalized suggestions. Readers are also encouraged to order books from the authors’ backlists and pick them up at the Festival office. Support our local bookstores!
Authors participate in the language in which they write, making most Festival events bilingual. Many events, including all family activities, are free.
For more information on the 2015 Frye Festival, as well as detailed bios and photos of the participating authors, visit www.frye.ca.