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A Warm Welcome to the 41st edition of TIFA

I am delighted to welcome you to the 41st Edition of the Toronto International Festival of Authors, my first as Director. Creating a literary festival is always special, always different, with each journey of creation a response to the world. This year has been a year like no other, challenging us all. The COVID-19 pandemic brought the world to a halt, leading to immense trauma and loss, and a new way of life that we are cautiously working our way through. The wave of protests in response to George Floyd’s death brought racism and discrimination into stark focus, demanding that the time for change is now, that we all must work better and harder to create real social and cultural change.

The literary and publishing communities have had to adapt and respond as our traditional spaces for live events and activities have been lost, and we have discovered new digital spaces. And we as readers have turned to books even more to give us solace and strength, inspiration and understanding, entertainment, and escapism. Authors are who we turn to to find meaning, about where we are and where we go next; they enable us to feel rooted in our sense of place while showing us the rest of the world.

The power of reading and the need for connection and community has inspired the creation of this year’s Festival. We have brought together an incredible 11 days of Canadian and international authors for this year’s programme. You will find many of your favourites, and you will discover exciting new voices from Toronto, Canada and around the world – all of which will be presented to you through our Festival website.

You can watch authors in conversation, discussing the issues of the day, presenting performances, sharing their favourite books or leading a writing masterclass. Like any literary event, you will be able to ask questions and buy a book. Plus we have created a special programme of digital content and commissions with podcasts, walking tours, maps and animations for you to experience and enjoy.

We are excited to be able to offer our digital programme for free so you can experience the wealth of stories in the Festival safely! If you are able, we hope you can support and donate to the Festival to help us to keep bringing the best stories to our audiences, live and online.

My thanks go to my TIFA team who have responded brilliantly to create and deliver this year’s Festival, to the fantastic support of the Festival Board and to Harbourfront Centre colleagues; to the publishers and partners who have helped inspire our programme; and to all our friends and supporters who have made me feel very welcome and believed in what we are doing. And finally, to the authors and to you dear readers, long may we continue to share in the celebration of books and stories as we bring our new world into focus.

Roland Gulliver