Two literary festivals host famous names and emerging talents this week

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Marcello Di Cintio wanted to tell a different story with his latest book. The Alberta author, who has traveled extensively, has written about people in far away places, but had the idea to write about those who moved closer to home.


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Di Cintio spent months interviewing and profiling taxi drivers for his new book, Driven: The Secret Lives of Taxi Drivers. She will share her stories of process and publication at LitFest, the literary festival dedicated to non-fiction that begins Thursday and runs through October 24.

It is reserved for two appearances at this year’s festival. Presented by Omar Mouallem, the first will make you talk about your inspiration for the book and why you wanted to document the lives of taxi drivers.

“I was curious to know what I was missing by sitting quietly in the back seat,” says Di Cintio. “We sit in the back seat, we blurt out a destination, and most of the time, we dissolve into our phones, not acknowledging that there is a human being in our intimate space.”


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Di Cintio will also host one of the festival’s masterclasses where authors speak about their craft, an opportunity for new writers to gain wisdom from seasoned ones as they open the curtain on the writing process.

Edmonton author Richard Van Camp will offer a masterclass on storytelling, while Di Cintio will talk about the art of profiling, using his recent book to provide lessons.

“Most of it comes over time, it’s about being a good listener,” says Di Cintio. “You have to be a good audience for the people you are sitting with. You laugh at their jokes even if they aren’t funny. It’s not about being insincere, it’s about being committed. “

After 15 years, LitFest has found a special place on the literary scene. It is one of the few festivals focused on non-fiction where the public can go to see poets and authors working on the genre. The organizers also strive to bring in a diverse range of authors, including up-and-coming writers.


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Former Federal Cabinet Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould will share her new book, “Indian” in the Cabinet, and Mouallem expands his writing skills from his latest title, Praying to the West, to his new film about hamburger royalty. The Last Baron.

“I like to post authors that Edmonton people may not have heard of before,” says Fawnda Mithrush, CEO of LitFest. “The festival can be a great platform to raise voices that many readers may not have encountered before.”

Executive Director of LitFest Fawnda Mithrush.
Executive Director of LitFest Fawnda Mithrush. Photo by David Bloom. /Postmedia

LitFest will have a combination of virtual and face-to-face events. Schedules and tickets can be found at


North of the city, fans of literature will have the opportunity to meet old favorites and meet new authors from several different genres. The St. Albert Readers Festival, also known as STARFest, welcomes such luminaries as the poet and author of two spirits Oji-nêhiyaw Joshua Whitehead, the comedy writer Morgan Murray and, making their second appearance at the festival in October, Omar Mouallem.


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Uzma Jalaluddin is speaking as part of a round table of romantic authors. The Toronto Star columnist and high school English teacher began pursuing a writing career about five years ago. Since then, she has built an impressive career in the genre beginning with her debut title, Hana Khan Carries On, which Amazon is turning into a movie.

His latest, Ayesha at Last, is loosely based on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, but told through the eyes of a Muslim family and protagonist. It won several awards, including Cosmopolitan magazine’s Book of the Year in 2019.

Local author Uzma Jalaluddin will speak at STARFest, which runs from October 12 to November 2.
Local author Uzma Jalaluddin will speak at STARFest, which runs from October 12 to November 2. Postmedia

As an avid reader and Austenite, it made sense for her to adapt a favorite story for a visible minority audience.

“The idea of ​​giving my first or second generation immigrant characters a happy ending really caught my eye,” says Jalaluddin. “When I look back at Austen, it’s not just the social commentary and satire that brings me back, she was one of the first writers to come up with the idea of ​​the romance novel.”


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Jalaluddin will share a panel with Courtney Milan and Farah Heron, speaking about the romance genre and answering questions from the audience. STARFest Acting Director Michelle Steinhusen says it’s important to have a wide variety of content for audiences to choose from.

“I was determined to incorporate that because I’m a big believer that genre fiction is valid,” says Steinhusen.

This year’s festival was originally scheduled to have a mix of virtual and face-to-face events, but the organizers made the final decision to move all but one event online. The St. Albert Public Library, which hosts STARFest, has been slowly increasing its capacity to host online sessions for the public and could be something to add to STARFest even in pandemic-free years.


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“A few years ago we did a live feed on Facebook of one of our events and it worked well. Now that we have even more knowledge and are prepared, I can see ourselves doing something like this, ”says Steinhusen. “Taking advantage of the possibility of bringing an author virtually”.

The only physical event will be a screening of the film Bye Bye Blues with the presence of director Anne Wheeler, interspersed with a tribute concert to the film’s music by local jazz musicians. You can find more information about STARFest at

All in-person events at both festivals will require proof of vaccination, documentation of a medical exemption, or proof of a private pay rapid or negative PCR test within 72 hours.

[email protected]


When October 14-24

Where Metro Cinema (8712 109 St.), Latitude 53 (10242 106 St.) and online.

Tickets Events range from free to $ 12 per, all access passes cost $ 16 and are available at


When Oct 12-Nov. 2

Where Online, Arden Theater, 5 St. Anne St., St. Albert

Tickets $ 5 online, $ 25 for Arden’s in-person event, available at



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