A new feature at the 2018 Festival will be a “Book Club” session. For the first time, we will ask one of our authors – Emily St John Mandel – to be present while her novel Station Eleven is discussed as if it is a selection in a book club. Since there are at least seven book clubs on Denman Island alone, the idea of getting into a lively discussion about a book is familiar to quite a few Denmanites. Many of our off-island Festival attendees are members of book clubs too.
That’s what will happen at this year’s Festival in this new approach to engaging author and audience. The hope is that participants will be able to engage in the kind of give and take that normally goes on in a book club. For example, some people love a book, some not so much, some are drawn to the characters, some are left cold by the protagonists. Some members have questions, such as why did the author include a particular scene? Why was the conclusion so ambiguous? Did the story really need that many pages to be told? And so on.
With the author in the room, there will be an extra frisson of excitement and challenge. Feedback is always important to a writer, and many authors have told us they love going to book clubs. We hope Emily will feel the same way!
Station Eleven won both popular and critical acclaim when it was published two years ago. It’s a vivid tale of the future in which a mysterious plague has decimated the population, and a band of actors and musicians are bringing Shakespeare plays and songs to remaining pockets of people scattered across rural America. Hopeful, prophetic and gripping, the novel tends to provoke discussion, and this is what is expected at the book club at the Denman Festival.
Luckily this concept has been tried at the Whistler festival, and we have an experienced facilitator in Caroline Adderson, a renowned novelist herself and Denman’s leader of The Writing Week. Caroline led the book club session at Whistler and reports it was very popular, both with the audience and the author (in that case, Frances Itani). Caroline has agreed to work with Emily to make this session a rewarding and stimulating experience for the attendees. Given the nature of what is hoped to be an interactive session, we will be limiting the attendance to 20 registrants, who will be expected to have read the book before the Book Club session.
Registration for this workshop, as well as other sessions at the Festival, will open May 1.