2024 Festival:
October 21–27

33. Season of the Witch

33. Season of the Witch

Witches aren’t just for Halloween. In spite of centuries of persecution, Hollywood stereotypes, and cultural misunderstandings, witchcraft is seeing a renaissance, and more and more women are exploring the power and feminism steeped in this practice. Our authors will talk with Guest Curator and Moderator Elamin Abdelmahmoud about why the concept of the witch is such a fertile playground for writing. Zalika Reid-Benta’s River Mumma explores Jamaican folklore and the vital connection to ancestral ties. Cherie Dimaline’s VenCo is a deliciously imaginative, deeply feminist novel of contemporary witches on the rise, while Anna Maxymiw’s Minique looks to the witches in history, in a fierce, outsider narrative about the so-called “witch in the woods” in 17th century Montreal. This is all about big witch energy—and subverting stereotypes, from fear to empowerment.

Event Participants:

Elamin Abdelmahmoud

ELAMIN ABDELMAHMOUD is the 2023 Guest Curator for the Vancouver Writers Fest. A former writer for BuzzFeed News, his work has appeared in the Globe and Mail, Maclean’s, Rolling Stone, and others. He is the author of the number one national bestseller Son of Elsewhere: A Memoir in Pieces.

Cherie Dimaline

CHERIE DIMALINE is an author from the Georgian Bay Métis Community. Her book The Marrow Thieves won the prestigious Kirkus Prize for Young Readers' Literature, the Burt Award for First Nations, Métis and Inuit Literature, and the Governor General's Literary Award, among others. Its sequel, Hunting by Stars, was published in 2021 to great acclaim, and has been selected as Book of the Year from NPR, Indigo, and Kobo, and is a Good Morning America Buzz Pick. In 2023, she published two new books, VenCo and Funeral Songs for Dying Girls.

Anna Maxymiw

ANNA MAXYMIW is the author of the novel Minique. Her memoir, Dirty Work: My Gruelling, Glorious, Life-Changing Summer In the Wilderness, won the Louise de Kiriline Lawrence Award for Nonfiction. Her writing has appeared in the Globe and Mail, Maclean’s, the Washington Post, and the Toronto Star, and has won a National Magazine Award. She lives in Toronto.

Zalika Reid-Benta

ZALIKA REID-BENTA is a Toronto-based writer whose debut story collection, Frying Plantain, won the Danuta Gleed Literary Award and the Rakuten Kobo Emerging Writer Prize for Literary Fiction. Frying Plantain was longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, and it was shortlisted for the Toronto Book Award, the White Pine Award, and the Trillium Book Award. Zalika served as the 2021-2022 Writer in Residence at Western University and was the chair of the 2021 Scotiabank Giller Prize. She received an M.F.A. in fiction from Columbia University, was a John Gardner Fiction Fellow at the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, and is an alumnus of the Banff Centre Writing Studio.