Montreal literary events not to miss this fall
by Billie LeBel-Gagné
While fall is a season that brings its fair share of endings (like the too-short glorious summer weather), it does have a colorful, effervescent nature: vibrant fall colours, delicious harvest flavours, and cozy moments. In between the return to work and school and the holidays, there are some great cultural events and exciting new releases, and Montreal is no stranger to great literary events happening in fall. Here are some not-to-be-missed literary events and festivals happening in the coming weeks in Montreal to fill up your social calendar and kickstart your holiday shopping.
Salon du livre de Montréal
After having had last year’s Salon entirely online, the Salon du livre de Montréal is back this year for its 44th edition. Both in person and online, the Salon is taking place from November 13 to 28 under the theme “Rencontres.” On top of happening in the flesh again, the Salon can also boast a new location: after over 40 years of being hosted at Place Bonaventure, it has now officially moved to Palais des Congrès.
While mostly directed at a francophone audience, Salon du livre will also feature some interesting events in English. AELAQ and the Quebec Writers Federation are participating with their own booth at the live event, from Nov. 25 to 28, titled Get Lit, and are organizing a few events, including the Rapid-Fire Readings, Ricochet Writing, which will feature many of the 2021 QWF Awards finalists.
A few events geared towards translation are also planned, like Translating Montreal and Transe hivernale/Winter Trad 2021, the latter being presented by the The Literary Translators’ Association of Canada. Finally, the Librairie Saga is hosting a series of bilingual events called Le SLM dans NDG—Les voix actuelles de l’imaginaire/Current Voices in Speculative Fiction on Nov. 13 and 20, featuring authors from around Canada such as Kama La Mackerel and J.D. Kurtness.
To consult the complete programme, visit the Salon du livre de Montréal’s website.
For something off the beaten path of mainstream publication, Expozine is always a good bet: they cover small presses, zines, and comics. They are celebrating their 20th anniversary this year: the event will be held in-person at the SAT (Société des arts technologiques) on November 20 and 21, but overall programming starts as early November 18 with an online presentation by artist Michael Deforge. Another early event is a reboot of Expozine’s pandemic project, Dial a Poem – Allô Poéme, featuring readers who were recently published in the literary publications Carte Blanche, Moebius and Lettres Québecoises. Dial a Poem will be hosted at the karaoke bar Astral 2000 on November 19. For the full programme and more information, check Expozine’s website.
Jewish Book Month
Presented by the Jewish Public Library, Jewish Book Month is a yearly event that’s officially back this year for an entirely online, multilingual live-streamed event. Started on October 16, it runs through November 30; authors and other important cultural figures from around the world are scheduled to be featured in this year’s programme. With the festival now at his halfway point, there are still some exciting talks and workshops coming in the next few weeks, such as the Montreal launch of Steven Pinker’s new work, Rationality, on November 17.
Montreal-specific events include Missing Inks: Jewish Texts In Controversial Contexts, a workshop on rare books from the Jewish Public Library’s Rare Book Collection, with Eddie Paul, JPL’s Senior Director of Library & Learning Services, and librarian Nicole Beaudry, on November 24. For the full programme, you can visit JPL’s website.
AELAQ’s Holiday Book Fair
We’d be remiss not to mention AELAQ’s very own event, our Holiday Book Fair. Produced in association with Quebec Writer’s Federation, the Holiday Book Fair is a free event, both in-person and online, happening from November 16 to 18, 2021. To kick things off, the Montreal Review of Books fall issue is launching on Tuesday, November 16 at 7 p.m. at the Atwater Library; authors featured in the issue, Helen Chau Bradley (Personal Attention Roleplay), Eli Tareq El Bechelany Lynch (The Good Arabs), and Tara McGowan-Ross (Nothing Will Be Different), will be present for readings and a Q&A. The launch has limited capacity in person, so first come, first seated! It will also be available online for those who can’t attend in person, so tune in on the mRb’s Facebook, Twitter or YouTube at 7 p.m.
The next two days of the Holiday Book Fair will present live conversations between authors. On Wednesday, Nov. 17, Marie-Claire Blais talks with Katia Grubisic to discuss her book Songs for Angel’s translation; this conversation is only available online. On Thursday, Nov. 18, playwrights Tomson Highway and Ann-Marie MacDonald discuss their respective books and successes; the event will take place at Centre St Jax, and will be available online as well. Books by the featured authors will be available for sale during all the events, and attendees will be able to have them signed if they desire.
Salon du livre LGBTQ2+ by Fierté Montréal
If you’re looking for a totally queer literary event, then head to the Salon du livre LGBTQ2+, organized by Fierté Montréal. The festival takes place on December 4 and 5 at Théâtre La Comédie de Montréal, with events also streamed on Facebook and YouTube. This is their first literary festival, and while most events will be taking place in French, there are still plenty of exciting people to meet, including drag queens Barbada de Barbade and Uma Ghad for two storytimes, as well as author Nicholas Dawson during a conversation about racial issues in Quebec’s queer literay community.
The famous Violet Hour reading sessions, hosted by author Chris DiRaddo, are also on the Salon’s programme, for a first time back in-person since the beginning of the pandemic. Featured authors include Helen Chau Bradley , Eli Tareq El Bechelany-Lynch and of course, the host, Christopher DiRaddo (The Family Way).
Billie Gagné-LeBel is a queer freelance writer and content creator who loves to explore questions of identity and mental health, alternative relationships and lifestyles, beauty, and all things pop/geek culture. She writes for her own blog and publications such as MSN and Screen Rant, and does copywriting and social media creation for a range of clients.
Illustration: D. Boyd