Hamilton’s premiere literary event kicks off officially Thursday, and with a bevy of great authors in the area, here’s a rundown of the weekend ahead:


At 7, gritLIT is hosts renowned Canadian poets Roo Borson and Brian Henderson. Borson is the author of such works as rain; road; an open boat and is the recipient of many awards, including the 2004 Governor General’s Literary Award and the Griffin Poetry Prize in 2005. Henderson was shortlisted for the Governor General’s Award for Poetry in 2007 for his book of poetry Nerve Language, and is currently the director of Wilfrid Laurier University Press.

And at 8:30, novelists Vincent Lam (The Headmaster’s Wager), Tanis Rideout (Above All Things) and Elizabeth Ruth (Matadora) take a fascinating look back at the 20th century with the “Century in Stories” panel. All three authors are highly lauded: Lam is a medical doctor and the author of Bloodletting and Other Miraculous Cures, for which he won the 2006 Scotiabank Giller Prize; Rideout has been short-listed for numerous awards, and has taken her poetry on the road with Canadian artists like Gord Downie and Sarah Harmer; and Ruth is a Toronto-born novelist whose debut novel Ten Seconds of Good Silence was nominated for a number of awards, and organizes a monthly reading series in her hometown for lesbian authors.


Only one Friday event, but you’d be remiss not to attend. Explore the world of the societal outcast with novelists Tamas Dobozy (Siege 13), Rawi Hage (Carnival) and Cordelia Strube (Milosz) for the “Voices from the Edge” panel. The panel has sterling credentials: Dobozy is a Laurier professor who won the Rogers Writers Trust Prize for Siege 13; Hage has been shortlisted for the Giller Prize and Governor General’s Award for his novel Cockroach and has had his work translated into 20 languages; and Strube is a novelist and playwright who has written nine plays for CBC Radio. The event starts at 7:30.


At 1 pm, two Canadian graphic novelists kick off a busy gritLIT Saturday and discuss their oft-under appreciated medium: Scott Chantler, the author of the book Two Generals, and Nina Bunjevac, the author of Heartless.

At 2:45, join two winners of last year’s gritLIT writing competition, JonArno Lawson and Stan Rogal, as they share excerpts from their winning works.

At 3, make sure to catch a no-holds-barred discussion about Canada’s changing military role in the 21st century with Noah Richler (What We Talk About When We Talk About War), Jamie Swift (Warrior Nation: Rebranding Canada in an Age of Anxiety) and Scott Taylor (Unembedded: Two Decades of Maverick War Reporting).

At 7:30, join acclaimed mystery writers Jill Downie (A Grave Waiting), Maureen Jennings (Beware This Boy) and Robert Rotenberg (Stray Bullets) for readings from their latest page-turners. Expect a few surprises along the way!


At 1 pm, celebrate the art of the short story with Cary Fagan (My Life Among the Apes), Miranda Hill (Sleeping Funny) and Carrie Snyder (The Juliet Stories) with the “Great Things Come in Small Packages” panel.

At 2:45, Rawi Hage converses with fans in a pay-what-you-want event. Hage is a Canadian writer and photographer whose debut novel De Niro’s Game won the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.

At 3:30, Grace O’Connell (Magnified World), Alice Petersen (All the Voices Cry) and  Madeleine Thien (Dogs at the Perimeter) present three gripping tales of tragedy, loss and survival.

At 7:30, gritLIT partners with LitLive for a gala closing night caberet, which promises to have a little something for everyone! This is a pay-what-you-want event.

Steven Spriensma is a journalist and former news editor at Ignite News. He has a degree in Geography from McMaster University and an advanced diploma in journalism from Mohawk College.

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