Fredericton literary festival a success

Fredericton wrapped up the first iteration of its new literary festival, Word Feast, this past weekend.

The festival ran from Sept. 18 -24, and featured a variety of talks, workshops and readings hosted by authors from across Canada.

The festival’s main event, Friday Night Fiction, took place Friday at 8 p.m. in University of New Brunswick’s Memorial Hall. The event opened with a reading by Riel Nason from her new novel, All the Things We Leave Behind.

Rosenblum’s novel, So Much Love, deals with the effect that disappearances can have on a small town. (William Cumming/AQ)

The reading was followed by a lecture by festival headliner Rebecca Rosenblum, titled “Sorry, not sorry: Unlikeable Characters in Canadian Literature and why we kind of love them.” Rosenblum is a Toronto-based fiction author. Her most recent novel, So Much Love, was released in March.

Known for our niceness

In her lecture, Rosenblum discussed the depth that unlikeable characters can add to a story, and why both readers and authors may shy away from them.

“The reason I write fiction, and read it, is to examine the world, the beautiful and ugly bits alike,” Rosenblum said. “Canadians are known for our niceness. But a lot of our best fiction isn’t only about niceness. Like the world, good fiction encompasses all things.”

Rosenblum had been thinking about this subject for a while before she presented at Word Feast.

“This is an ongoing fascination with me. I’m really really fascinated about why people write about unlikable characters, and why people claim they don’t want to read about them. It’s just always really twigged me, because it’s not how I write.”

The lecture was a good barometer for the rest of the week’s events, according to Fredericton’s cultural laureate and festival organizer, Ian LeTourneau.

“It’s definitely unfolding as I imagined it, but so much more,” said LeTourneau. “We thought we would be happy with 30 or 40 people at most events, but we had 79 at our launch and 60 downtown at King Street Alehouse for the poetry reading … People have definitely bought into it, both literally and metaphorically.”

Ian LeTourneau organized the festival to wrap up his year as Fredericton’s first cultural laureate. (William Cumming/AQ)

Tourneau said that his involvement in Word Feast won’t end when he leaves his position as cultural laureate early next year.

“I will probably be involved for the next couple of years, if they’ll have me,” said LeTourneau. “I hope we have more events like this. I think Fredericton has proven that there is a need for a literary festival, and we are more than happy to fill that need.”

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