Passed Down Through Generations


Talking to The Guardian about her debut novel Harmless Like You, Rowan Hisayo Buchanan discussed the need to write a variety of characters: “The standard character was a white person,” she says. “I get really excited when I read writers who write people who, let’s be honest, don’t have my exact racial makeup but who are mixed-up in that way.” In her novel Buchanan not only gives voice to Yuki, a half-Japanese woman, but to the fraught relationships between generations of generations: “A lot of what the book is about is how pain shape-shifts down the generations. There is nothing more personal than family, and yet families are so profoundly affected by political decisions,” she told The Guardian. Buchanan is not the only writer at our festival to be exploring the theme of inherited trauma. From Canadian Japanese internment camps, to urban Indigenous life and the immigrants experience, our writers give voice to the darker side of family inheritance.

Time After Time. Rowan Hisayo Buchanan joins Jenn Sookfong Lee and Terry Jordan for a conversation about how fiction can open up the conversation about the unexpected trajectories each decision can set in motion and the lingering echo of the road not taken. Buchanan's book examines the conflicts between generations of Japanese immigrants to America. Lee's book looks at the secrets kept between mother and daughter and the gap between privilege and desire. Jordan's book takes readers through the rise and fall of fishing life in Newfoundland.

Family Matters. When Stella, a young Métis mother, looks out her window one evening and spots someone in trouble on the Break—a barren field on an isolated strip of land outside her house—she calls the police to alert them to a possible crime.    The Break  by  Katherena Vermett  presents a comprehensive story about lives of the residents in Winnipeg’s North End is exposed. David Bergen's Stranger is a stirring tale that lays bare the bonds of motherhood, revealing just how far a mother will go to reclaim her stolen child. Íso, a young Guatemalan, works at a fertility clinic at Ixchel, where she becomes the secret lover of an American doctor, Eric Mann. After the birth of her daughter, the baby is taken from her and sent to America. Determined to reclaim her stolen daughter, Íso makes her way north through Mexico, eventually crossing illegally into a United States divided into military zones.

Gently to Nagasaki. Set in Vancouver and Toronto, the outposts of Slocan and Coaldale, the streets of Nagasaki and the high mountains of Shikoku, Japan,   Gently to Nagasaki   is also an account of a remarkable life. As a child during WWII, Joy Kogawa was interned with her family and thousands of other Japanese Canadians by the Canadian government. Her acclaimed novel Obasan, based on that experience, brought her literary recognition and played a critical role in the movement for redress. In her new book, interweaving the events of her own life with catastrophes like the bombing of Nagasaki and the massacre by the Japanese imperial army at Nanking, she wrestles with essential questions like good and evil, love and hate, rage and forgiveness, determined above all to arrive at her own truths.

Kay’s Lucky Coin Variety.  Ann Y. K. Choi   is a coming-of-age story that portrays the life of a young Korean Canadian girl who will not give up on her dreams or her family. Family secrets, a lost sister, forbidden loves, domestic assaults—Mary discovers as she grows up in the 1980s that life is much more complicated than she had ever imagined. Her secret passion for her English teacher is filled with problems, and with the arrival of a promising Korean suitor, Joon-Ho, events escalate in ways that she could never have imagined, catching the entire family in a web of deceit and violence. 

Do Not Say We Have Nothing. Nominated for the Man Booker Prize and the Governor General's Award, Madeleine Thien's new novel takes a look at the enduring effect of the Cultural Revolution in China. Set in China before, during and after the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989. Thien takes us inside an extended family in China, showing us the lives of two successive generations–those who lived through Mao’s Cultural Revolution in the mid-twentieth century; and the children of the survivors, who became the students protesting in Tiananmen Square in 1989, in one of the most important political moments of the past century.