2024 Festival:
October 21–27
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Incite: A Reading with Michael Ondaatje – A Year of Last Things

Presented in partnership with Vancouver Public Library.

With A Year of Last Things, acclaimed novelist Michael Ondaatje returns to poetry, where he began his career over fifty years ago. It also marks his first return to the Vancouver Writers Fest since 2018. We are thrilled to connect the Booker Prize-winning author with Vancouver readers at this free Incite event.

Born in Sri Lanka during the Second World War, Ondaatje was sent as a child to school in London, and later moved to Canada. These poems reflect the life of a writer, traveller and watcher of the world—describing himself as a “mongrel,” someone born out of diverse cultures. Here, rediscovering the influence of every border crossed, he moves back and forth in time, looking back on a life of displacement and discovery, love and loss. 

A Year of Last Things has already been named “Ondaatje’s finest.” (Quill & Quire) Hear mesmerizing readings from this new work, and a contemplative conversation between the celebrated Canadian author and his dear friend Jenny Penberthy, a renowned scholar in the field of modern poetry and poetics. 

Books will be for sale at the event—including copies pre-signed by Ondaatje!—courtesy of Book Warehouse, a division of Black Bond Books. There will be no live signing at this event. Can’t make the event time? Register for the livestream option and we’ll send you a link to watch the recording! 

Join us for Incite all season, in-person or online! This readings series offers conversations with celebrated authors and emerging talents every two weeks from January to June. Incite is free and open to all

Participants and Speakers

Jenny Penberthy

JENNY PENBERTHY is a former editor of The Capilano Review and the editor and author of several works related to the American poet Lorine Niedecker with whom Jenny and Michael Ondaatje share an affinity.

Michael Ondaatje

MICHAEL ONDAATJE is the author of seven novels, a memoir, a nonfiction book on film, and several books of poetry. His novel The English Patient won the Booker Prize in 1992 and became a major motion picture that won nine Academy Awards, including Best Film; Anil’s Ghost won the Irish Times International Fiction Prize, the Scotiabank Giller Prize, and the Prix Médicis. Born in Sri Lanka, Michael Ondaatje now lives in Toronto.