What’s the Big Idea?

Every September, Winnipeg Public Library has the distinct pleasure of participating in Thin Air, the Winnipeg International Writers’ Festival. This year, we are excited to welcome ten incredible authors who will add a little literary spice to your life. Join us in the Carol Shields Auditorium – accessible right off the Skywalk! – all week long, from Monday, September 22 through Friday, September 26. Can’t wait? We’ve got all the featured titles, plus plenty of related works for you to check out.Logo for the Winnipeg International Writers' Festival

Looking for a little lunch time refresher? Join us for an author reading and signing at The Nooner from 12:15-12:45.

Or perhaps you want to sink your teeth into something a little more substantial? Join authors in a discussion on some of the day’s deepest topics in Big Ideas, from 4:30-5:30. If you want to be prepared for the talk, or find yourself intrigued afterwards, check out some of these related titles for a deeper look at the subject.


Corporal Leo Clarke, Sergeant-Major Frederick William Hall, and Lieutenant Robert Shankland all fought for Canada in World War I. They all received the Victoria Cross for acts of bravery. And they all lived on Pine Street in Winnipeg’s West End – renamed Valour Road in 1925 to honour the soldiers. John Nadler unfolds their story in his new book.

The Book: Valour Road by John Nadler

Read More: Symbol of Courage: A History of the Victoria Cross by Max Arthur; Valour Reconsidered: Inquiries into the Victoria Cross and Other Awards for Extreme Bravery by Hugh A. Halliday.

Cover image for The Winter We Danced.Tuesday:

The Winter We Danced is a collection of responses to Idle No More – a nation-wide movement geared to affect major change in the relationship between Canada’s federal government and indigenous peoples. Leanne Simpson, one of the editors who helped to conceive of the book, joins us to discuss this impressive and controversial topic.

The Book: The Winter We Danced: Voices from the Past, the Future, and the Idle No More Movement, edited by the Kino-nda-niimi Collective

Read More: Aboriginal Canada Revisited by Kerstin Knopf; Visions of the Heart: Canadian Aboriginal Issues by Olive Patricia Dickason

Cover image for Barle's Story.Wednesday:

Internationally renowned bear-rehabilitator Else Poulsen was on hand at the Detroit Zoo when Bärle, a 19-year-old female polar bear, arrived. Wild-born Bärle had been rescued from a Caribbean circus where she suffered years of abuse. Poulsen shares the story of Bärle’s rehabilitation and discusses how her success is tragically uncommon in cases of animal abuse.

The Book: Bärle’s Story: One Polar Bear’s Amazing Recovery from Life as a Circus Act by Else Poulsen

Read More: Polar Bears: The Natural History of a Threatened Species by Ian Stirling; Zoos and Animal Welfare by Christine van Tuyl

Cover image for Hope and Despair.Thursday:

In September 2002, Canadian citizen Maher Arar was wrongfully accused of having terrorist links and deported to Syria, where he was held in prison and tortured for over a year. His wife, Monia Mazigh, fought tirelessly to turn the tide of public opinion and spur the Canadian government to have her husband released and returned. Monia brings us the inspiring story of her struggle and ultimate success in restoring her family.

The Book: Hope & Despair: My Struggle to Free My Husband, Maher Arar by Monia Mazigh

Read More: Dark Days: The Story of Four Canadians Tortured in the Name of Fighting Terror by Kerry Pither; Rendition [film], directed by Gavin Hood.

Cover image for Counting Teeth.Friday:

Peter Midgely travelled Namibia with his teenaged daughter to show her the country in which he grew up. Together they encountered a cast of unforgettable characters and beautiful landscapes, saw how the country has been shaped by its war-torn history, and witnessed the lasting effects of apartheid. Midgely weaves the experiences together with the grace of a storyteller.

The Book: Counting Teeth: A Namibian Story by Peter Midgely.

Read More: Namibia Space by Chris Marais; Where Others Wavered: The Autobiography of Sam Nujoma by Sam Nujoma

For more Thin Air events, check out their website or pick up a program at your local library branch!


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