2019 Events

Welcome to the 34th annual Cherie Smith JCC Jewish Book Festival 2019!

If ever we could choose an actual theme for each festival, this year would be New Timeline, New Energy! We’ve made the leap to February and are planning to warm up your winter nights with this extended literary treat, an exciting line-up of writers from Canada, the US, Israel and New Zealand. This guide tells their story best. Take your time and savour the ideas , then please join thousands of your fellow book lovers to listen, meet, and interact with those outstanding authors. I think you will be inspired by their energy and conversations!

Amongst the many prominent names, we can detect overarching, universal themes: aspects of feminism and focus on women as central characters stand out this year; memoirs where the Holocaust is never too far away, even in third generation; joyful book launches by local authors and… we’ll end by celebrating Valentine’s with a side-splitting humourist! And following our cherished tradition, we are reaching out to the Jewish day schools and to the outlying Jewish communities with exciting author events, for children and adults.

The JCC Jewish Book Festival is a labour of love and teamwork. A heartfelt thank you to the group of true believers, the committee of lay leaders. But above all, we are thankful for the enthusiasm of readers like you, who come to the events, buy the books, spread the word and donate generously – you deserve the best!

DANA CAMIL HEWITT – Festival Director

Sponsor and Patron Reception

Saturday, February 9, 6:00–7:00pm

In the Norman & Annette Rothstein Theatre lobby
Book Festival patrons ($180+) are invited to join a gathering of Festival authors and special guests in a wine and cheese reception.

For information on becoming a patron of the JCC Jewish Book Festival please call Dana Camil Hewitt 604-257-5156.


The Betty Averbach Foundation Author Series

Saturday, February 9, 7:30pm

JOSHUA COHEN in conversation with MAUREEN MEDVED
Moving Kings – a Novel
ATTENTION – Dispatches From a Land of Distraction

In the Norman & Annette Rothstein Theatre

Buy Tickets or by phone 604-257-5111   |   $24


Joshua Cohen

Joshua Cohen inspires with his characteristic intelligence, boundless energy and humour in his latest novel Moving Kings – a propulsive, incendiary story that interweaves the housing crisis in America’s poor neighbourhoods with the world’s oldest conflict, the Middle East.

The year is 2015 and David King brings over two Israeli relatives – young military veterans Yoav and Uri who are taking a year off after the army service – to work in his New York moving company. This is a powerful and provocative novel about displacement, aging, and the compromises of being part of an occupying force—whether it’s in an army in Gaza or a gang of evictors in Queens.

ATTENTION is Cohen’s first non-fiction book, a wide-ranging, rule-bending collection reclaiming the power of attention in an age of constant distraction. ATTENTION is ‘a guide for the perplexed’ – a handbook for anyone hoping to bring the wisdom of the past into the culture of the future.

JOSHUA COHEN’S virtuosity is well known in the literary world. Born in 1980 and recently named to Granta’s Best American Novelists, he is considered “one of the most prodigious at work in American fiction today.” Cohen has published five novels, four collections of short stories and numerous essays.

MAUREEN MEDVED is a Vancouver novelist, screenwriter and playwright and an Associate Professor in the Creative Writing Department at UBC. Her novel Black Star was published in 2018 by Anvil Press.

Literary Quickie

Sunday February 10 |  10:00–11:00am

Which author will you curl up with tonight?

By donation – includes a light brunch

Modeled on the prestigious NYC Jewish Book Council author pitches, but adapted to the relaxed Vancouver pace, this event gives each author exactly 5 minutes to make the audience fall in love with their book and bring it home to meet mother.

DR. MARILYN BELOFF / Moving Forward

Following many years in practice as a psychotherapist working with families going through separation and divorce, Dr. Beloff, for her doctoral research, mined the GET, for its wisdom in healing the wounds of divorce in the secular world. Like so many of her personal friends and clients, she found the journey from one phase of life to the next to be solitary and immeasurably painful. Returning to her own tradition, she found profound healing as a result of going through the ancient, archetypal Jewish ritual of divorce, the GET.

DR. MARILYN BELOFF, PhD, is a psychotherapist who has been working with families of separation and divorce for over thirty years as a family mediator, Collaborative divorce coach, and child specialist.

LEO BURSTYN & WILF HURD / Testaments from Kiev: A Family in the Shadow of the Iron Curtain

The story of one’s family will to survive and build a better tomorrow for their future generations.In the aftermath of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor meltdown, Leo Burstyn embarked on writing about his family history. It started with a series of taped interviews about life in Kiev and expanded to include letters, journals, photographs and artifacts from the entire Burstyn family history in the 20th Century.

LEO BURSTYN is a semi-retired computer scientist living in Vancouver.

WILF HURD is an author, blog-writer and government affairs specialist. Testaments from Kiev is his second collaborative book project.


clavirMIRIAM CLAVIR / Fate Accompli: Murder in Quebec City

A murder mystery about archaeology and preservation, a vibrant city at the heart of clues from the past and unspeakable crime in the present. Fate Accompli is a literary mystery where the development of complex characters and a storyline going beyond the plot puzzle combine with the pleasure of words and style. It is largely concerned with the concept of justice when emotion demands personal revenge and is set in the real streets, buildings and history of Quebec City.

MIRIAM CLAVIR is the Vancouver-based author of Insinuendo: Murder in the Museum (2012), and mystery short stories in anthologies: The Whole She-Bang 2 and 3.



It is 1944. There is hope that the war will soon come to a victorious end for America and its allies. Adam Saperstein, an idealistic thirteen-year-old from a small New Jersey town, has a particular stake in the war. A band of school bullies has convinced him the conflict in Europe is his fault. Why? Because he is a Jew. Were it not for his kind, he is told, there would be no Hitler to menace the world and “kill our boys over there.” He eventually embarks on an incredible journey that takes him to Normandy on D-Day, where he learns the true horrors of war and becomes an accidental hero in the process.

ARNOLD GROSSMAN is the author of several fiction and non-fiction books, feature pieces in magazines and screenwriting. He lives in Denver, Colorado.


DAVID KIRKPATRICK / Neither Married Nor Single: When Your Partner Has Alzheimer’s or Other Dementia

When Dr. David Kirkpatrick’s wife was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, their lives—and their marriage—would change forever. In an honest, uplifting, and sometimes heartbreaking account of loving a partner with dementia, he creates a clear guide for others in similar circumstances. He shares his perspective both as a loving and grief-stricken husband as well as a geriatric psychiatrist doing everything he can for his wife while learning throughout that experience.

Dr. DAVID KIRKPATRICK worked for 40 years as a psychologist, psychiatrist and psychotherapist. Born and raised in Yellow Springs, Ohio, he now lives in West Vancouver.


JANET WEES / When We Were Shadows

Walter is a young child when his parents decide to leave their home in Germany and start a new life in the Netherlands.
As Jews, they know they are not safe under the Nazi regime. From one day to the next, Walter’s world goes from safe and predictable to full of uncertainty. The book—based on a true story—shines a light on this part of WWII history and the heroes of the Dutch resistance, particularly those involved in the
hidden village.

JANET WEES has been writing since she was 9 years old. A retired teacher, she spends her time writing, reading, walking, cycling, and traveling. She lives in Calgary.


HELEN WILKES / The Aging of Aquarius

Live your passion and purpose and change the world as an empowered elder. In your youth, you cared about people and planet earth, and you had grand visions of changing the world. At some point, those passions and that sense of purpose got buried under diapers and the 9-5. Still, that old you remains alive. Now, your career has wound down, the kids have moved, and your schedule is clear…for the next 30 years. With the rest of your life ahead, you can be the change and make this next stage of your life the most powerful yet. The Aging of Aquarius takes readers on a journey to find passion and purpose in retirement.

HELEN WALDSTEIN WILKES, PhD is an energized octogenarian who hopes to continue living a rewarding life for years to come. She spent 30 years teaching and researching cross-cultural understanding, language acquisition, and neurolinguistics.


FOR CHILDREN ages 10-13

Sunday February 10 |  11:00am-12:00pm   FREE
Also at Burquest Jewish Community Centre at 5:00pm  FREE
ANNE DUBLIN / A Cage Without Bars

Joseph, a Jewish slave boy, survives by a combination of luck, quick wits, and the hope of freedom.

In 1492, Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand of Spain signed the Edict of Expulsion, giving all Jews three months to leave the country. In the aftermath, twelve-year-old Joseph escapes to Lisbon, Portugal with his parents and younger sister, Gracia. After only eight months of safety, Joseph and Gracia, along with hundreds of other Jewish children, are kidnapped from the port in Lisbon and put on a ship. They then make a dangerous journey to the island of São Tomé, off the coast of West Africa. Now slaves, they are forced to work on a sugarcane plantation. Joseph must work in the fields, his life repeatedly saved by a combination of luck, strength, and quick wits. While Gracia tries to accept their circumstances, Joseph holds on to the hope that, one day, they will be free.

ANNE DUBLIN is a former teacher-librarian and award-winning author living in Toronto. She is the author of several books for young people, including June Callwood: A Life of Action, Bobbie Rosenfeld: The Olympian Who Could Do Everything, Dynamic Women Dancers, The Orphan Rescue and 44 Hours or Strike!.



Sunday February 10 |  11:00am-12:30pm  FREE
MARJORIE INGALL / Mamaleh Knows Best: What Jewish Mothers Do To Raise Successful, Creative, Empathetic, Independent Children


IngallMarjorie Ingall is such a winning writer that as you tear through her laugh-out-loud, warm-hearted book, you might not notice the deep wisdom it delivers — not just on how to raise a mensch, but how to be one.” -Gayle Forman, #1 New York Times bestselling author of If I Stay

We all know the stereotype of the Jewish mother: hectoring, guilt-inducing, clingy as a limpet. In Mamaleh Knows Best, Tablet Magazine columnist Marjorie Ingall smashes this tired trope with a hammer. Blending personal anecdotes, humour, historical texts, and scientific research, Ingall shares Jewish secrets for raising self-sufficient, ethical, and accomplished children. She offers abundant examples showing how Jewish mothers have nurtured their children’s independence, fostered discipline, urged a healthy distrust of authority, consciously cultivated geekiness and kindness, stressed education, and maintained a sense of humour. Ingall will make you think, she will make you laugh, and she will make you a better parent. You might not produce a Nobel Prize winner (or hey, you might!), but you’ll definitely get a great human being.

MARJORIE INGALL is a columnist for Tablet magazine, the National Magazine Award-winning journal of Jewish culture and ideas, and a regular contributor to The New York Times Book Review. For seven biblical years she wrote the “East Village Mamele” column for The Jewish Daily Forward. She lives in New York City.

FREE Childminding will be provided by JCC Camp Shalom counselors. There will be parallel JCC and PJ Library children’s activities during this event.



Sunday February 10 |  12:00-2:00pm


Sunday February 10

11:00am -12:00pm Richmond Public Library (youth)  FREE
ELLEN SCHWARTZ / The Princess Dolls

2:00–3:00pm Congregation Har El, North Shore (adults) by donation
4:30–5:30pm White Rock South Surrey JCC(adults) by donation
TILAR J. MAZZEO / Irena’s Children – The Extraordinary Story of the Woman Who Saved 2,500 Children from the Warsaw Ghetto
Winner of the 2018 Western Canada Jewish Book Award for Non-Fiction (the Pinsky Givon Family Prize)

5:00–6:00pm Burquest Jewish Community
ANNE DUBLIN / A Cage Without Bars   (youth)   FREE
GABRIELLA GOLIGER / Eva Salomon’s War  (adults)   FREE



Sunday, February 10 | 2:00–3:30pm
MARGOT SINGER / Underground Fugue  


Buy Tickets or by phone 604-257-5111   |   $18


Esther has left New York for London, partly to escape her buckling marriage, and partly to care for her dying mother; Lonia, Esther’s mother, is haunted by memories of fleeing Czechoslovakia on the eve of WW II; Javad, their next-door neighbour and an Iranian neuro-scientist, struggles to connect with his college-aged son; and Amir, Javad’s son, is seeking both identity and escape in his illicit exploration of the city’s forbidden spaces.

But when terrorists attack the London transit system in July 2005, someone goes missing, and the chaos that follows both fractures the possibilities for the future and reveals the deep fault lines of the past. With nuanced clarity and breathtaking grandeur, Margot Singer’s Underground Fugue is an elegant, suspenseful, and deeply powerful debut.

MARGOT SINGER is winner of the Edward Lewis Wallant Award for American Jewish fiction; her collection of short stories, The Pale of Settlement won the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction. She is a professor of English at Dennison University.

HELEN PINSKY is the librarian of the Isaac Waldman Library at the JCC and a former lawyer.




Sunday, February 10 |  3:30–4:30pm
DAVID BERGELSON / Judgment A Novel, translated from the Yiddish by Harriet Murav and Sasha Senderovich

Buy Tickets or by phone 604-257-5111   |   $16


Never before available in English, Judgment is a work of startling power by the most celebrated Yiddish prose writer of his era. Set in 1920 during the Russian Civil War, Judgment (titled Mides-hadin in Yiddish) traces the death of the shtetl and the birth of the “new, harsher world” created by the 1917 Russian Revolution. Ordinary people, depicted in a grotesque, aphoristic style—comparable to Isaac Babel’s Red Cavalry—confront the overwhelming, mysterious forces of history. Murav and Senderovich’s new translation expertly captures Bergelson’s inimitable modernist style.

DAVID BERGELSON (1884–1952), a Jewish novelist, short-story writer, and literary editor, was born in Ukraine. He moved throughout Europe and the US until Hitler came to power in Germany, then returned to the Soviet Union where he was eventually executed under Stalin’s orders.

SASHA SENDEROVICH is an Assistant Professor of Russian, Jewish, and International Studies at the University of Washington, Seattle. He is currently writing his first monograph, How the Soviet Jew Was Made: Mobility and Culture after the Revolution.


Sunday, February 10 |  5:00–6:00pm
MICHÈLE SMOLKIN / Silence, je tombe – un roman

Manhattan, Kansas. Tania et Paul, fraîchement débarqués du Canada, se déchirent. Ils s’appliquent pourtant à réussir leur intégration au pays des évangélistes et des carnivores assumés. Tout pourrait encore suivre son cours normal quand, sans rime ni raison, à la faveur de l’ennui et de la géographie des parkings, le drame se produit.

MICHÈLE SMOLKIN, architecte née à Paris, vit depuis 1983 à Vancouver, où pendant une trentaine d’années elle a été réalisatrice à Radio-Canada. Aujourd’hui, elle écrit et réalise des documentaires. Ceci est son deuxième roman.

Manhattan, Kansas. Tania. Paul.
Two Canadians travel through the heart of middle America, at once lulled by the boredom of highways and the stagnation of parking lots. They are unprepared for the drama that hits them between the eyes. Suddenly, the land of carnivores and evangelists threatens to tear them apart.

MICHÈLE SMOLKIN, a Parisian-born architect, has lived in Vancouver since 1983 and has worked at Radio-Canada for over 30 years. This is her second novel.




Sunday, February 10 | 6:45-7:30pm  FREE

Presented by BEN LEVY (in English)

The entire community is invited to take part in a memorial tribute to Amos Oz, the great Israeli writer who died recently.
BEN LEVY is a Hebrew poet residing in Vancouver, with a BA and an MA in Hebrew Literature from Tel-Aviv University.



Sunday, February 10 |  7:30pm
MOSHE SAKAL /The Diamond Setter (translated by Jessica Cohen)

Buy Tickets or by phone 604-257-5111   |   $18


“Lush, imaginative, and seductive, Moshe Sakal’s book offers a perfect combination of passion, suspense, insight, and beauty. Jessica Cohen’s brilliant translation only further enhances the reading experience, making it into a true literary treat.” —Ruby Namdar, author of The Ruined House

Inspired by true events, this best-selling Israeli novel traces a complex web of love triangles, homoerotic tensions, and family secrets across generations and borders, illuminating diverse facets of life in the Middle East.

Sakal employs a nested folktale device for this semi-autobiographical tale of the uneventful life of a jeweler from Tel Aviv that changes abruptly after Fareed, a handsome young man from Damascus crosses illegally into Israel making his way to the ancient port city of Jaffa in search of his roots and carrying a legendary blue diamond named “Sabakh”. We learn the story of his family’s past — a tale of forbidden love beginning in the 1930s — and its entanglement with the Israelis he connects with on his journey.

Following Sabakh’s winding path, The Diamond Setter ties present-day events to a forgotten time before the establishment of the State of Israel divided the region. Moshe Sakal’s poignant mosaic of characters, locales, and cultures encourages us to see the Middle East beyond its violent conflicts.

MOSHE SAKAL was born in Tel Aviv into a Syrian-Egyptian Jewish family. He is the author of five Hebrew novels, including the best-selling Yolanda, which was shortlisted for the Sapir Prize. He was awarded the title of Honorary Fellow in Writing by the University of Iowa, the Eshkol prize for his work and a Fulbright grant.



Sunday, February 10 | 11:00am -12:00pm Richmond Public Library  FREE
Wednesday, February 13 | 8:45am -09:45am
Vancouver Talmud Torah  FREE

ELLEN SCHWARTZ / The Princess Dolls
Illustrated by: MARIKO ANDO


The Princess Dolls is a gentle story about friendship, set against the backdrop of 1942 Vancouver. The faraway war in Europe casts deep shadows into the lives of two best friends, Esther and Michiko, whose favourite game to play is royal princesses. One day, two magnificent dolls appear in the local toy-shop window: Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret. Not surprisingly, Esther and Michiko long for these dolls.

But in wartime Vancouver there’s not much money for such luxuries. Bad things are happening: Esther’s grandmother is worried about the fate of her Jewish relatives in Germany, and Japanese families in the girls’ neighbourhood are being sent to internment camps. So when Esther receives the doll and Michiko doesn’t, their friendship starts to unravel. With enormous historical and political barriers between them, Esther and Michiko are left to their own devices as to how to mend their friendship.

ELLEN SCHWARTZ was born in Washington, DC, and now lives with her family near Vancouver. She is the author of 17 children’s books, including Abby’s Birds and Mr. Belinsky’s Bagels.

MARIKO ANDO was born and raised in Osaka, Japan. She is an artist and illustrator and has exhibited widely in Japan and Canada, to wide critical acclaim. She has lived in Vancouver for many years.


Monday February 11  |  12:00-1:00pm
TILAR J. MAZZEO / Irena’s Children – The Extraordinary Story of the Woman Who Saved 2,500 Children from the Warsaw Ghetto

Buy Tickets or by phone 604-257-5111   |   $8
Nava’s boxed lunch $14. Pre-order only, by noon Feb 7. To select entree option, contact Lisa Quay at 604-638-7283, lisa@jccgv.bc.ca


Winner of the 2018 Western Canada Jewish Book Award for Non-Fiction (the Pinsky Givon Family Prize)

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Widow Clicquot comes an extraordinary and gripping true account of Irena Sendler—the “female Oskar Schindler”—who took staggering risks to save 2,500 children from death and deportation in Nazi-occupied Poland during World War II.

In 1942, one young social worker, Irena Sendler, was granted access to the Warsaw ghetto as a public health specialist. While there, she began to understand the fate that awaited the Jewish families unable to leave. She reached out to the trapped families, going from door to door and asking them to trust her with their young children. She started smuggling children out of the walled district, convincing her friends and neighbours to hide them. Driven to extreme measures and with the help of a network of local tradesmen, ghetto residents, and her star-crossed lover in the Jewish resistance, Irena ultimately smuggled thousands of children past the Nazis and made dangerous trips through the city’s sewers, hid children in coffins and snuck them under overcoats at checkpoints. In the book, Tilar Mazzeo shares this incredible and heroic tale of survival, resilience, and redemption.

TILAR J. MAZZEO is the author of numerous works of cultural history and biography, including the New York Times bestselling The Widow Clicquot, The Secret of Chanel No. 5 and many other books, articles, essays, and reviews. She is the Clara C. Piper Associate Professor of English at Colby College and divides her time between Maine, New York City, and Vancouver Island.


Also presenting on Sunday, Feb 10
2:00-3:00pm HarEl Congregation North Shore – by donation
4:30-5:30pm White Rock South Surrey JCC – by donation



King David high school    FREE
Monday February 11 | 
TILAR J. MAZZEO / Irena’s ChildrenThe Extraordinary Story of the Woman Who Saved 2,500 Children from the Warsaw Ghetto



Monday February 11 |  6:00-7:00pm
KENNETH BONERT / The Mandela Plot

Buy Tickets or by phone 604-257-5111   |   $16

bonnertFrom the winner of the National Jewish Book Award comes another bold and riveting novel stemming from South Africa and exploring migration, terrorism, revolution, identity and memory.

As the 1980s draw to a close, apartheid is in its death throes and South Africa is a maelstrom of political violence. Young Martin Helger has problems of his own. Out of place at an elite private school for Jewish boys, he is the son of a rough-handed scrap dealer and lives in the shadow of his enigmatic brother, a neighbourhood legend. When an irresistible young American, Annie Goldberg, boards at the Helger home, a transfixed Martin soon finds himself wrenched out of the isolated bubble of his suburban Jewish existence in Johannesburg and thrust into the raw heart of South Africa’s racial struggle. At the same time, secrets from the past begin to emerge and old sins long-buried return in terrifying new ways, tearing at the Helgers – a second-generation Jewish family originally from Lithuania – even as the larger forces of history and politics tear apart the country.

At once a riveting literary thriller, a moving coming-of-age tale, and an unforgettable journey through a fascinating world, The Mandela Plot entertains and terrifies in equal measure, and resonates profoundly in light of current affairs.

KENNETH BONERT’s first novel, The Lion Seeker, won a National Jewish Book Award, the Edward Lewis Wallant Award, and the Canadian Jewish Book Award. He was also a finalist for the Sami Rohr Prize and the Governor General’s Literary Award. Born in South Africa, Ken now lives in Toronto.



Monday February 11  | 
ANGELA HIMSEL / A River Could Be a Tree: A Memoir (foreword by Shulem Deen)

Buy Tickets or by phone 604-257-5111   |   $18


How does a woman who grew up in rural Indiana as a fundamentalist Christian end up a practicing Jew in New York? Angela Himsel is the seventh of eleven children from a family that belonged to an evangelical branch of Christianity – the Worldwide Church of God – which espoused a Doomsday philosophy. Only strict adherence to the church’s and its leader’s tenets could save them from the evils of American culture – divorce, television, makeup and even medicine. In search of the Holy Spirit, Angela decided at nineteen to study at The Hebrew University in Jerusalem. But instead of strengthening her faith, she was introduced to a thrilling new world with different people and perspectives. The thought that “maybe I’m wrong” set her on a completely different path, and, ultimately, she found her own form of salvation in the most unexpected place: a mikvah on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. This fascinating story is told with great warmth, humour and a multitude of religious and philosophical insights,

ANGELA HIMSEL is a New York based freelance writer whose work has appeared in The New York Times, The Jewish Week, The Forward, and Lilith. Angela holds a BA from Indiana University, which included two years at The Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and an MFA from City College of New York.

BEVERLEY KORT is a Vancouver psychologist, an avid reader and supporter of the JCC Jewish Book Festival.


Tuesday February 12 |  1:00–2:00pm

Buy Tickets or by phone 604-257-5111   |   $10


A program of the JCC ADULTS 55+ WOMEN’S CIRCLE OF FRIENDS – Open to everyone

At the age of twelve, Eva Salomon becomes disillusioned about all the “isms” raging through her world. Crushed by her father’s rigid Jewish orthodoxy and by the cruelties of a burgeoning Nazi regime, she renounces all belief systems, and even belief itself. Five years later, when she and her father leave Germany for Palestine, she’s still a skeptic, yet hopeful about a fresh start in an unborn country. But her yearning for unfettered freedom soon puts her at odds with collective pressures in the new-old homeland. Eva finds love with a man who is anything but “kosher.” Duncan Rees is a British constable in the Palestine Police Force. As a gentile, he’s taboo even in the secular circles of a society forging its new nationalist identity. What’s more, he represents the British Mandate government, a regime seen to increasingly impede Zionist dreams for a Jewish state in the contested country.

Set during the turbulent times of Mandate Palestine in the 1930s and ‘40s, Eva Salomon’s War tells of the struggle to find a faith that doesn’t blind, a love that doesn’t lie and solid human truths in the midst of ideological ferment.

GABRIELLA GOLIGER is a Jewish Canadian novelist and short story writer. She won the Journey Prize in 1997 for her short story Maladies of the Inner Ear, and has since published two books, Song of Ascent and Girl Unwrapped.

Also presenting on Sunday, Feb 10
5:00-6:00pm at Burquest Jewish Community – by donation



Tuesday February 12 |  5:30–6:30pm  FREE
DIANA WICHTEL / Driving to Treblinka: A Long Search for a Lost Father


“A stunning memoir… Wichtel weaves a complex, braided narrative that moves forward and backward in time and place … the book has a gripping detective thread, though what interested me equally, if not more, was the emotional suspense that builds as she confronts family skeletons” —MARION MCLEOD, Metro

Award-winning New Zealand journalist Diana Wichtel is best known for her acerbic wit and engaging writing style. Few know her extraordinary life story. As a young child Wichtel was raised in Vancouver. Her mother was a Catholic New Zealander and her father a Polish Jew who had miraculously survived the Holocaust. When she was 13, her life changed dramatically as her mother whisked her and her siblings to New Zealand. Their father was to follow. She never saw him again.

Many years later she sets to discover what happened to him. The search becomes an obsession as she painstakingly uncovers information about the large Warsaw family and their fate at the hands of the Nazis. Driving to Treblinka is a moving, powerful and unforgettable story. It’s also a reflection on the meaning of family, the trauma of loss and the insistence of memory.

DIANA WICHTEL is a journalist and winner of numerous awards. She has written for television and is also the winner of the E.H. McCormick Best First Book Award for General Non-Fiction.




Tuesday February 12  |  8:00pm (doors open at 7:15)   
NATALIE MORRILL / The Ghost Keeper

Buy Tickets or by phone 604-257-5111   |   $20


Winner of the 2018 Canadian Jewish Literary Award for Fiction
Winner of the HarperCollins/UBC Prize for Best New Fiction

MorrillThis powerful, sweeping novel set in Vienna during the 1930s and ’40s centres on a poignant love story and a friendship that ends in betrayal.

In the years between the two world wars, Josef Tobak builds a quiet life around his friendships, his beloved wife, Anna, and his devotion to the old Jewish cemeteries of Vienna. Then comes the Anschluss in 1938, and Josef’s world is uprooted. His health disintegrates. His wife and child are forced to flee to China. His closest gentile friend joins the Nazi Party—and yet helps Josef escape to America. When the war ends, back among his cemeteries in Austria’s war-shattered capital, Josef finds himself beset by secrets and darkness. The Ghost Keeper is a story about the terrible choices we make to survive and the powerful connections to communities and friends that define us.

NATALIE MORRILL holds an MFA in creative writing from UBC. Her fiction and poetry have been published in Canadian journals and included in The Journey Prize anthology. She lives in Ottawa.

MARSHA LEDERMAN is Western Arts correspondent for The Globe and Mail.


Just imagine a group of book lovers, sitting together with the writer, hearing the story behind the story. We provide the venue, the author, the host and the nosh – you provide the discussion and can add the wine! Purchase your tickets in advance and we’ll reserve a table for you and your friends. Whether your book club has only one member (you), or fifteen, is ‘real’ or ‘faux’, everyone is welcome. The Festival’s popular annual Book Club event is sure to heat up your literary season!



Wednesday February 13  |  4:00-5:00pm  FREE
Dr. MICHAEL C. KLEIN, MD / Dissident Doctor – Catching Babies and Challenging the Medical Status Quo

 “More than anything else, this is a testament to putting human health above conventional wisdom, no matter how supposedly expert. Sure I am biased – he’s my father – but I cannot recommend it highly enough.” —Naomi Klein, author of This Changes Everything and No Is Not Enough

In Dissident Doctor, Michael C. Klein intersperses fascinating tales of individual cases with formative elements of his personal life. As a young doctor, his refusal to serve as a military physician during the Vietnam War prompted his immigration to Canada. His determination in the face of great opposition, the strength of his convictions, and his humility and sense of humour drive this powerful story of a life and career dedicated to his patients and his principles.

DR. MICHAEL C. KLEIN is Professor Emeritus of family practice at the University of British Columbia, adjunct professor of family medicine at McGill University and senior scientist emeritus at the BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute in Vancouver.



CANCELLED due to flight cancellation

Wednesday February 13  | 6:00-7:00pm
RACHEL HERZ / Why You Eat What You Eat: The Science Behind Our Relationship With Food

HerzAcclaimed neuroscientist Rachel Herz examines the sensory, psychological, neuroscientific, and physiological factors that influence our eating habits. Herz uncovers the fascinating and surprising facts that influence food consumption—such as why bringing reusable bags to the grocery store encourages us to buy more treats, how our beliefs can affect how many calories we burn, why TV influences how much we eat, and how what we see and hear changes how food tastes.

Herz weaves curious findings and compelling facts into a narrative that tackles important questions, revealing how food alters the relationship we have with ourselves and each other.

RACHEL HERZ is a neuroscientist specializing in perception and emotion. She teaches at Brown University and Boston College. The author of The Scent of Desire and That’s Disgusting, she lives in Rhode Island.


Wednesday February 13  | 7:30pm
DR. BRIAN GOLDMAN, MD / The Power of Kindness: Why Empathy Is Essential in Everyday Life

Buy Tickets or by phone 604-257-5111   |   $18

GoldmanAs a veteran emergency room physician, Dr. Brian Goldman has a successful career setting broken bones, curing pneumonia, and otherwise pulling people back from the brink of medical emergency. He always believed that caring came naturally to physicians. But time, stress, errors, and heavy expectations left him wondering if he might not be the same caring doctor he thought he was at the beginning of his career. He wondered what kindness truly looks like—in himself and in others.

In The Power of Kindness, Goldman leaves the comfortable, familiar surroundings of the hospital in search of his own lost compassion. He circles the planet, from Ontario to Sao Paolo and Kyoto in search of the most empathic people alive, to hear their stories and learn their secrets. Powerful and engaging, The Power of Kindness takes us far from the theatre of medicine and into the world at large, and investigates why kindness is so vital to our existence.

For over thirty years, Dr. BRIAN GOLDMAN has been an active participant and keen observer of the culture of modern medicine. He is the host of White Coat, Black Art, an award-winning show on CBC Radio that reveals what goes on behind a hospital’s sliding doors. He is the author of the bestselling The Night Shift and The Secret Language of Doctors. He lives in Toronto.

BOOK LAUNCH in the Waldman Library

Thursday, February 14  |   1:30-2:30pm FREE
HARVEY B. RICHER / The Gold Coins of Newfoundland 1865-1888

How Newfoundland came to possess a spectacular mintage of gold coins

Newfoundland was the only British colony in North America to strike gold coins for general circulation. This was remarkable given that Newfoundland was one of the poorest of the British possessions in North America and with an economy largely based on the truck (barter) system. This book explores the history of Newfoundland through its coinage. It presents fascinating new details for each year that gold coins were minted, the existing distribution of these scarce coins, a survey of the greatest collections ever assembled, and the provenances of the rarest of the gold coins.

“Harvey B. Richer’s The Gold Coins of Newfoundland is a scholarly and accessible history of the development of coinage in Newfoundland. The uniqueness of Newfoundland’s gold coinage in contrast with Canada’s, and their relationship to the fish trade and to Newfoundland’s growing commitment to economic diversification, are fascinating topics in the history of coinage in the British Empire.” –Sean Cadigan, Professor of History, Memorial University

HARVEY B. RICHER is professor of astronomy at the University of British Columbia. He has published over 140 scientific papers in peer-reviewed journals.



Thursday, February 14 |   8:00pm
MIKE REISS / Springfield Confidential: Jokes, Secrets and Outright Lies From a Lifetime Writing for The Simpsons

Buy Tickets or by phone 604-257-5111   |   $20


ReissThe good is always rare. A truly great comic is rare. Mike Reiss, by definition, is a rarity.” – Conan O’Brien”

Four-time Emmy winner Mike Reiss—who has worked on The Simpsons continuously since episode one in 1989—shares stories, scandals, and gossip about working with America’s most iconic cartoon family ever. Reiss explains how the episodes are created, and provides an inside look at the show’s writers, animators, actors and celebrity guests.

In his freewheeling, irreverent comic style, Reiss reflects on his lifetime inside The Simpsons—a personal highlights reel of his achievements, observations, and favorite stories. Springfield Confidential exposes why Matt Groening decided to make all of the characters yellow; dishes on what it’s like to be crammed in a room full of funny writers sixty hours a week; and tells what Reiss learned after traveling to 71 countries where The Simpsons is watched (ironic note: there’s no electricity in many of these places); and even reveals where Springfield is located!

MIKE REISS has won four Emmys and a Peabody Award during his twenty-eight years writing for The Simpsons. He ran the show in Season 4, which Entertainment Weekly called “the greatest season of the greatest show in history.” In 2006, Reiss received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Animation Writers Caucus. He has written jokes for such comedy legends as Johnny Carson, Joan Rivers, Garry Shandling… and Pope Francis!

KYLE BERGER is the JCC Sports Coordinator, part-time stand-up comic and by far the funniest person in the building.