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No shiitake: Burnaby author to explain how mushrooms are shaping the Earth

Here's why Burnaby's "fun-guy" Michael J. Hathaway is guest lecturing at the Whistler Writers Festival this month.
Burnaby resident, author and SFU professor Michael J. Hathaway is set to talk about mushrooms, and how they're shaping the Earth, at the Whistler Writers Festival on Oct. 14, 2023.

Just what does a mushroom live for?

For "fun-gi," perhaps? 

Regardless, the question will be pondered by Michael J. Hathaway as the Burnaby resident, author and SFU anthropology professor is hosting a segment at the 22nd annual Whistler Writers Festival this month.

The member of the Matsutake Worlds Research Group, published his second novel in April 2022, titled What a Mushroom Lives For: Matsutake and the Worlds They Make.

It's set to be the basis of his event at the writers festival, which, according to a news release, promises to be a "fascinating talk" about how this prized mushroom is silently and powerfully shaping worlds.

Hathaway, a BC and Yukon Book Prize finalist, will also guide patrons on a journey of science and human culture, and show how fungi shape the Earth and lives in strange, diverse, and often unimaginable ways.

"I've gotten lost in the woods searching for the famed Matsutake mushroom," said Rebecca Wood Barrett, Whistler Writers Festival artistic director.

"It's like a treasure hunt, searching for mushrooms and learning about them. They're incredibly fascinating organisms that behave in ways that break down life, but also help create it. They’re kind of mysterious and interesting, and I’m so thrilled we can have an expert like Michael come to the festival and really get into how fungi shape our world. We’re lucky he’s coming to share his knowledge with us."

Hathaway’s event is one of 19 reads and 10 workshops the Whistler Writers Festival is offering between Oct. 12 and 16.

His session is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 14 at 9 a.m. at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler. 

For more information on Hathway, you can check out his SFU professor profile.

You can visit the Whistler Writers Festival's website for tickets, information and session details.

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