Blue Metropolis International Literary Festival

Wars, climate change, social tensions and… hope.

Over 150 participants from all over the world, Canada and Quebec gather in Montreal to bring people together through literature

Our times are sorely lacking in dreams. Without turning away from this era’s dark realities, the Blue Metropolis International Literary Festival allows people to dream through literature with this year’s theme, Dreams & Utopias. This spring, writers reach out to passionate readers across genders, horizons and expectations, in languages as varied as English, French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Ukrainian, Inuttitut and Arabic. The Blue Metropolis International Literary Festival is one of the largest literary events in North America.

Festivalgoers will be inspired in their reverie with over 120 literary encounters in a range of new and favourite series: Ecology and Literature; Azul (Spanish & Portuguese);  Women and Words; Almemar (Jewish programming); Indigenous Voices; Peace and War; Literary Awards; LGBTQ+; Imaginary; Bold and Creative and the TD-Blue Metropolis Children’s Festival. Interviews, award ceremonies, readings, cocktail evenings, performances, round-table discussions, book signings, workshops and a cornucopia of online events showcase authors from around the globe.

“We dream, in various states, awake and asleep, to recharge, uplift and escape. Literature helps us makes sense of the world in all of its beauty and horror.”-  Marie-Andrée Lamontagne, Director General, Programming and Communications, Blue Metropolis


Robert Macfarlane

Robert Macfarlane

Explore the planet… Translated into several languages, the works of British writer-explorer and Cambridge professor Robert Macfarlane have become bestsellers the world over. Underland: A Deep Time Journey tells the story of caves, subterranean sites and everything that lives beneath the surface of the earth. Macfarlane has crafted several books in the same fascinating exploratory and literary vein. He is the Blue Metropolis Planet Literature Prize recipient.

See through others’ eyes…  Over the past twenty years, French-Cameroonian novelist, playwright and essayist Léonora Miano has produced a powerful body of work, including novels La saison de l’ombreRouge impératrice and Stardust. Her most recent essay, L’opposé de la blancheur : réflexions sur le problème blanc, shows, without dogmatism, just how difficult it is for white people to understand the reality of people of colour. Blue Metropolis presents Miano with the 2024 Blue Metropolis Words for Change Prize.

Sarah Polley

Sarah Polley

More than ever, the 26th edition of the Blue Metropolis International Literary Festival is about reconciliation; bringing people, cultures, worldviews and languages closer together. Bringing enemies together can be difficult, as is the case with Diaries of War by awarded German-American author and illustrator Nora Krug. Written and drawn shortly after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, this graphic narrative was born out of her exchanges with a Kiev-based Ukrainian journalist of Russian origin and a Russian artist from St. Petersburg who campaigns against the war. Krug will be interviewed on stage by leading literary journalist and radio host Eleanor Wachtel, who inaugurates a new series at Blue Metropolis after thirty-three years at the helm of CBC radio’s Writers & Company. This first edition of the Blue Metropolis Eleanor Wachtel Series also features an interview with Sarah Polley, one of the leading figures of Canadian filmmaking, and author of the beautiful story, Run Towards the Danger.

Indigenous and non-Indigenous people come together with Canadian-Anishinaabeg journalist and essayist, The Globe and Mail’s Tanya Talaga. Her award-winning books, Seven Fallen Feathers and All our Relations, help to better understand the realities of Indigenous peoples in Canada. The Festival presents Talaga with the Blue Metropolis First Peoples’ Literary Prize. In partnership with the Indigenous Voices Awards, the Prix des Premiers peuples Metropolis bleu will be presented to Wendat poet Jean Sioui, whose collections are windows onto reality. Also in attendance are Douglas Sanderson (Amo Binashii) & Andrew Stobo Sniderman, whose book, Valley of the Birdtail: An Indian Reserve, a White Town, and the Road to Reconciliation, offers hope and shows that rapprochement between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people is possible, at least in Winnipeg, between two communities separated by a river and 150 years of racism.

Though confrontations continue to rage, the dream of harmony is ever-present. Moderated by Kareem Shaheen, the Gabriel Safdie Middle East Event round table returns, with writers—Maya SavirEhab LotayefCarlos Fraenkel—and journalist and filmmaker Rami Younis, to discuss the relationship between life and literature in a tragically affected region of the planet. Also in that vein, international humanitarian icon Roméo Dallaire discusses his new book, The Peace: A Warrior’s Journey with Tarah Schwartz.

Blue Metropolis welcomes the 5th meeting of the Parlement des écrivaines francophones to Montreal. Arriving from all over the French-speaking world (Lebanon, Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria, France, Quebec, Martinique, Ivory Coast, United States, New Brunswick, Ivory Coast, Turkey, Belgium, Mali and Switzerland), twenty participants discuss writing and being a woman—their lives and world views filtered through literature.

Margo Glanz

Margo Glantz

Essayist and author Margo Glantz is a leading figure in Mexican literature, fusing Yiddish literature, Mexican culture and French tradition. Born into a Ukrainian-Jewish family that settled in Mexico in the 1920s, she excels in the genre of family biography with Les Généalogies, a landmark book in a body of work that includes over forty titles. A polyglot who speaks Spanish, Yiddish, French and English, Glantz has taught philosophy and literature, and published numerous reviews. She will receive the Premio Metropolis Azul.

To better see utopia, authors take us on the opposite journey with Horror Fiction and Dystopia, including Argentinian novelist Mariana Enriquez, whose frightening novel Notre part de nuit is being snatched up; and from South Korea, Bora Chung, the Booker Prize finalist for Cursed Bunny. Ann-Marie MacDonald discusses kind of paradise in her saga Fayne, combining science, magic realism, love and identity.

There are also two riveting literary performances featuring women artists and poets. Nunaapiga/ Mon cher petit territoire with throat singing by Angela Amarualik and poems by Juliana Léveillé-Trudel, and Jardins imaginaires – poésie, oud et gourmandise with poet and actress Armelle Chitrit performing her fruit-poems.

Another highly anticipated event is with Canadian poet, novelist and playwright Sky Gilbert, co-founder and past artistic director (1979-1997) of Toronto’s Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, one of the world’s leading gay and lesbian theater companies. He is also professor emeritus at the University of Guelph. Gilbert’s award-winning work includes nine novels, three collections of poetry and over forty plays. His recently published non-fiction Shakespeare Lied draws on the 2018 cancellation of his play reading after he posted a controversial poem, reasoning that art is neither a moral nor a political lesson, but a beautiful lie. His latest novel, The Blue House, about the life of a cello prodigy, will be published in 2024. Gilbert will be awarded the 2024 Blue Metropolis Violet Literary Prize.

More reader’s-dream authors to look forward to… The 2024 edition of the Festival is an incredible opportunity to meet renowned writers such as Yuri Androkoviych (Ukraine), David Bergen (Canada), Éric Chacour (Quebec), Paolo Giordano (Italy), Hervé Le Corre (France), Josip Novakovich (Croatia/Canada), Rita Mestokosho (Québec/Ekuanitshit), Rodney Saint-Éloi (Haiti/Quebec), Elisa Shua Dusapin (Switzerland), Fernanda Trías (Uruguay), Martine Reid (France), Velia Vidal (Colombia), Brenda Navarro (Mexico), Marie-Hélène Poitras (Québec), Hemley Boum (Cameroon/France) and Catherine Leroux (Québec).

The Festival is also a chance to (re)discover Éléonore Goldberg (Canada), Maya Ombasic (Bosnia and Herzegovina/Quebec), Kyo McClear (Canada), Kasia Van Schaik (South Africa/Quebec), Paul Saint Bris  (France), Mikhail Iossel (Russia/Quebec), Anuja Varghese (Canada), Céline Righi (France) and Yael Weiss (Mexico).

The Blue Metropolis International Literary Festival also hosts the TD-Blue Metropolis Children’s Festival, offering more than 70 activities for youth and their families in the Montreal region and across Quebec, both in person and online. From April 19 to 29, many Montreal libraries will be featuring Festival children’s authors: Paul Tom, winner of the TD Children’s Literature Award 2023, Josh FreedMonique Polak, Caroline Barber, Anne-Marie Fortin, Dïana Bélice and Danielle Chaperon. Eight of Quebec’s top children’s book illustrators agreed to draw things that make them smile in their work or their personal lives. The result is the Dessine-moi un sourire/Draw me a Smile exhibition, on display between February 27 and April 29 in participating libraries across Montreal, at Hotel 10 during the Festival and online on the Blue Metropolis website on the Children’s Well-Being platform. Also on the program, an edutainment workshop on numbers led by Diane Desfossés. And as part of the Reading to Heal series, there’s a meeting-workshop for children from Sainte-Justine Hospital and the Centre Marie-Enfant, led by Anne-Marie Fortin, based on her album Mon beau potager.

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