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TIFA Blog

Kobo’s Top Picks at #FestofAuthors21

Published on October 23, 2021

Banner with a selection of TIFA Festival book titles mentioned in the blog.

The 42nd edition of the Toronto International Festival of Authors (TIFA) is full of options. From over 300 authors and writers featured during the 11-day Festival, to a diverse selection of picture books, anthologies, nonfiction and novels to explore, there is a lot to watch, read and enjoy.

With the first two Festival days complete (but still available to watch!), we asked our friends at Rakuten Kobo, TIFA’s official Bookseller of ebooks and audiobooks, which authors they are most looking forward to checking out during #FestofAuthors21, and most importantly, why?


Lindsay Gray, Director of Brand & Product Marketing

The Death of Francis Bacon book coverWhich author are you most excited about?
Max Porter

Why?
Max’s books are full of depth, emotion and eerie magic—I’ve been both moved and haunted by Lanny and Grief is a Thing with Feathers. I had the privilege of seeing him do an original reading at Type Books in the Junction a few years back and would love to hear more. I can’t wait to read his latest.

What question would you ask the author?
What kind of music do you think pairs best with your books?

Max Porter will participate in the following events:

The Death of the Artist: Max Porter
Sunday, October 24 at 12pm ET

Can You Hear Me Now? Max Porter
Wednesday, October 27 at 12pm ET

Liz Hilborn, Director of Content Sales & Corporate Orders

Dearly by Margaret AtwoodWhich author are you most excited about?
Always Margaret Atwood.

Why?
I always show up for Peggy because of my wonderful English teacher, Ms. Carleton. She was obsessed (rightfully) with the works of Ms. Atwood and talked openly about her dreams of meeting her. She assigned Alias Grace as our group novel, and I loved it so much I wrote pages and pages (and pages) of analysis. I shared that analysis with a friend who was struggling in the class. That friendship we created ended up turning into a beautiful marriage. I probably owe a lot in my life to both of those women.

What question would you ask the author?
I’d probably ask her if a woman named Ms. Carleton has tracked her down yet!

Margaret Atwood will participate in the following event:

Bryan Doerries in Conversation with Margaret Atwood
Thursday, October 28 at 6:30pm ET

Deandra Lalonde, Content Sales Lead for North America

The Spectacular book coverWhich author are you most excited about?
Zoe Whittall

Why?
The Best Kind of People is one of those books that immediately landed on my “favourites” shelf as soon as I finished reading it, and I will find myself thinking about Holding Still For As Long As Possible just about any time an ambulance passes by (which, in Toronto, is frequently). Both novels have stuck with me long after finishing them, and I can’t wait to read The Spectacular soon.

What question would you ask the author?
Writing books and writing for television obviously pose different sets of challenges and rewards, do you enjoy one over the other or do you like getting a break from each when you move on to the next project?

Zoe Whittall will participate in the following event:

Breaking Free: Polly Samson & Zoe Whittall
Sunday, October 24 at 1:30pm ET

Nathan Maharaj, Director of Content Marketing

What Strange Paradise by Omar El Akkad book coverWhich author are you most excited about?
Omar El Akkad

Why?
He’s got such an interesting approach—American War was science fiction just far enough into the future that we can imagine living through it. What Strange Paradise is closer to our world now, but still sits just off-centre. I feel like he’s got a great sense of being able to step just outside the frame of now to get a better look.

What question would you ask the author?
I want to know if he thinks he’s a better novelist or journalist. Since he’s such a gifted writer, I’d love to hear him speak to where he thinks he lacks skill, and what he thinks he’s especially good at. Really, I don’t have a question to ask; but I’d love to just have a conversation. (Speaking of Omar El Akkad in conversation, here he is on Kobo in Conversation, which I now produce, back in 2019.)

Omar El Akkad will participate in the following event:

Humber Masterclass: What a Powerful Sentence Looks Like with Omar El Akkad
Sunday, October 24 at 4pm ET

Finding Humanity in Crisis: Rabih Alemeddine & Omar El Akkad
Tuesday, October 26 at 5:30pm ET

Tracy Nesdoly, VP communications

Cloud Cuckoo Land book coverWhich author are you most excited about?
Anthony Doerr, hands down.

Why?
All the Light We Cannot See is one of my favourite books of all time. It manages a magical alchemy of being utterly charming while at the same time depicting the horror of a horrible war. I also learned something about how terrifying it might have been to be a German child during the Second World War, something I’d never really thought about before.

What question would you ask of the author?
Oh, I don’t think I could ask anything, I’d be tongue-tied!

Anthony Doerr will participate in the following event:

Cloud Cuckoo Land: Anthony Doerr with Randy Boyagoda
Monday, October 25 at 7pm ET

Michael Tamblyn, CEO

Book Covers of Douglas Coupland's Binge and Anne Carson's Trojan WomenWhich author are you most excited about?
I’m going to stretch and try for two: Douglas Coupland & Anne Carson

Why?
One of my first jobs in bookselling was organizing an author reading for Douglas Coupland at an independent bookstore when he was touring with Microserfs. He showed up and announced that instead of doing a reading, he wanted to show a film he had produced that was mostly about bodybuilding. The audience was half-confounded/half-entertained, but I was just relieved that we found a 16mm film projector on 2 hours notice. That was when it first became clear that Doug isn’t “just” an author; he is pushing and pulling on ideas and picking whichever medium is best suited to that exploration.

Anne Carson is a poet whose work I have loved since her very first book, Short Talks. She was already a luminary professor in Ancient Greek and then emerging as a poet of astonishing clarity. Autobiography of Red and so many others followed. A new collection of poems by Carson is always a stop-everything moment for me.

What question would you want to ask them?
Coupland: What part of the future are you wishing you could be alive to see?
Carson: When speaking with a Greek god, are there rules to which one should always adhere?

Douglas Coupland will participate in the following event:

Bingeworthy Reading: Douglas Coupland
Saturday, October 30 at 6:30pm ET

Anne Carson will participate in the following event:

The Trojan Women: Rosanna Bruno & Anne Carson
Saturday, October 30 at 5pm ET

Michael Tamblyn will participate in the following event:

Kobo in Conversation with Shari Lapena
Monday, October 25 at 2:30pm ET


You can get your own digital copy of these books and other #FestofAuthors21 titles from Kobo here. Browse the full schedule of events here.

Banner with a selection of TIFA Festival book titles mentioned in the blog.

TIFA Blog

Kobo’s Top Picks at #FestofAuthors21

Published on October 23, 2021

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