The staff members at Toronto International Festival of Authors can’t wait to dig in to new books for 2021. We’ve been scoping out upcoming releases and seeing our personal reading lists grow, as more and more books are announced for the months ahead. From suspenseful fiction to the extraordinary lives of real people and more, here’s a taste of what we’ll be reading in 2021, and what we think should be on your list too. We hope these titles inspire some optimism and entertainment for a bright new year.
Amy, Head of Marketing
Return of the Trickster by Eden Robinson (March 2021, Knopf Canada)
As one of the most highly anticipated Canadian books of the season, I’m not the only one looking forward to Return of the Trickster. It’s the third book in Robinson’s Trickster trilogy, which inspired the new CBC TV series of the same name, and made waves on the CBC Canada Reads List of 2020. The story takes off again with our hero, Jared Martin, who finally knows for sure that he’s the only one of his biological dad’s 535 kids who’s a Trickster, too. Adventure is sure to ensue!
Surviving the White Gaze: A Memoir by Rebecca Carroll (February 2021, Simon & Schuster)
Black culture critic Rebecca Carroll is well known for sparking crucial and thoughtful dialogue about race, through the prism of many issues. Now that the Editor of Special Projects at WNYC has announced a memoir, I can’t wait to learn more about her. Growing up the only black person in rural New Hampshire, having been adopted at birth by white parents, Carroll recounts her painful struggle to overcome a completely white childhood. This stirring portrait of belonging is at the top of my must-read list.
Women of the Pandemic: Stories from the Frontlines of COVID-19 by Lauren McKeon(April 2021, Penguin Random House)
Like so many others, I’ve been glued to news coverage about the COVID-19 pandemic, and am particularly fascinated by the social, cultural and economic effects it’s had on the world around us. Gender inequality has been a popular topic as of late, with many reports demonstrating how women are bearing the brunt of this pandemic. With women holding disproportionate roles as primary caregivers at home, and riskier public-facing positions in the workplace, the pandemic seems to be eroding a lot of progress. McKeon’s book promises hopeful real life accounts of frontline female workers during COVID-19, to remind us of women’s leadership and resilience, through the eyes of the doctors, cashiers, long-haulers, cooks and more, who have survived it.
Luisa, Executive Coordinator
We Run the Tides by Vendela Vida (February 2021, HarperCollins)
I love a good coming-of-age story and was particularly drawn to this book because of comparisons with Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels (which I absolutely adored), which similarly deal with the trials and joys of female friendship. Vida’s intriguing and suspenseful new book takes place in pre-tech boom San Francisco, giving readers a look into the lives of two teenage best friends, Eulabee and Maria. When Maria starts telling a story that Eulabee knows is not true, it pulls the two friends apart. Things take a turn when Maria suddenly disappears, and a potential kidnapping threatens to expose unspoken truths.
Whereabouts by Jhumpa Lahiri (April 2021, Knopf Canada)
I have read a few books by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jhumpa Lahiri and was excited to hear that she has a new novel coming out this year, her first in nearly a decade. Fun fact: she wrote the novel in Italian (first published in 2018) and translated it into English. Lahiri’s unique novel paints a portrait of a complex woman living in a beautiful Italian city as she struggles with the need to belong and her refusal to form lasting ties. Though she remains nameless, the book provides an intimate view of her life through short chapters, giving a look at some of her most frequented places, such as parks, train stations, stores and home; showing readers both the struggle and enjoyment of her solitude. This character-driven novel will let readers immerse themselves in her world and see it all through a new perspective.
The Soul of a Woman by Isabel Allende (March 2021, Ballantine Books)
I am ashamed to admit that I have never read a book by Isabel Allende, but this meditation on what it means to be a woman – and a feminist – seems like it will be a good place to start! Isabel Allende, a Chilean novelist, feminist and philanthropist, has quite the legacy. As a recipient of the American Presidential Medal of Freedom, she is well known for her TED Talks about leading a passionate life and the work she does for the charitable foundation she established in her daughter’s honour, which has awarded grants to more than 100 non-profits worldwide that deliver life-changing care to hundreds of thousands of women and girls. Adding to her roster of over 23 books, Allende’s latest book tackles feminism and shares her personal experiences in the movement with the hopes of encouraging the younger generation to continue fighting for women’s rights and make life better for all women.
Rania, Administrative Coordinator
The Committed by Viet Thanh Nguyen (March 2021, Grove Press)
Nguyen’s debut novel, The Sympthizer, was described to me as a work of war literature, which is not my favourite genre, but I went for it. It turned out to be so much more than that – rich and intense and a pleasure to read. I wasn’t expecting a sequel, but here it is! The Committed follows the same character as he makes a new life for himself as a refuge in Paris. The Sympathizer and his brother try to overcome their pasts and create a future by turning to drug dealing. There are struggles as he navigates his new world that will require all his wits, resourcefulness and moral flexibility to succeed.
Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro (March 2021, Knopf Canada)
In 2017, Kazuo Ishiguro was awarded the Novel Prize in Literature to celebrate his memorable and impactful novels, The Remains of the Day (1989), The Unconsoled (1995), When We Were Orphans (2000), Never Let Me Go (2005) and The Buried Giant (2015). His latest novel, Klara and the Sun, tells the story of Klara, an Artificial Friend, observing the world around her while she waits on the shelf for someone to buy her. Through her story, Ishiguro delves into questions about humanity, love and connection. I already know that this is going to be a very emotional and heartbreaking book, but I’m ready for it.
Maxwell’s Demon by Steven Hall (February 2021, HarperCollins)
I loved Steven Hall’s first novel, The Raw Shark Texts. It was unpredictable and original with many references to film and literature, as well as aesthetically interesting with a lot of visual poetry in it. So, I can’t wait to read his second one. If you like a good mystery, his latest novel will put you right in the middle of the action! It follows Thomas Quinn’s as he tries to track down an old friend that suddenly disappeared five years earlier. He has questions that need answers and with a blend of detective fiction, ghost story and philosophical quest action, you will be on the edge of your seat waiting to find out how the story ends.
Stephanie, Content and Community Coordinator
Gutter Child by Jael Richardson (January 2021, HarperAvenue)
There is something about dystopian fiction that I find so intriguing, and when I read about Jael Richardson’s debut novel, I knew it had to be on my reading list. Gutter Child explores a nation where people are segregated and the most vulnerable are forced to buy their freedom by working off a debt to society. As part of a social experiment, Elimina Dubois is provided the opportunity to be raised in the privileged Mainland, but her life is changed as a teenager when her Mainland mother dies and she is left to navigate being thrust back into a world of servitude.
The Centaur’s Wife by Amanda Leduc (February 2021, Penguin Random House)
After having Amanda Leduc at the 41st edition of the Toronto International Festival of Authors this past fall, to talk about her book Disfigured: On Fairy Tales, Disability and Making Space, her latest work is definitely on my to-read list. The Centaur’s Wife follows a new mother, Heather, as her world is shaken up when meteors destroy the city, leaving only a few survivors. The mountain that looms over the city remains unscathed, but Heather knows who is up there and struggles with what it could mean for those that are left.
My Mother’s Daughter: A Memoir of Struggle and Triumph by Perdita Felicien (March 2021, Doubleday Canada)
My shelf is filled with memoirs as I love learning about new people and the relationships that had a profound impact on their lives. When I read the summary for Perdita Felicien’s book, I knew it was one I wanted to get my hands on. The World Championships and Pan American Games medalist’s memoir celebrates the inspiring story of her mother and the love that carried them forward. Her mother Catherine’s move to Canada to be a nanny for a wealthy white family brought many opportunities but also suffering. With an honest look at the racism, domestic abuse and homelessness they faced, the book shows readers how the love of her mother guided the Olympic athlete to great success.
Looking for the right holiday gift for the avid reader in your life? The Toronto International Festival of Authors is here to help! From award-winning titles to debuts and stories for young people, we’ve curated an assortment of unique options to surprise your favourite readers this holiday season.
Autographed Bookplates Paired with #FestofAuthors20 Titles
Gift the book lover in your life their next read, but make it extra special with an autographed bookplate from their favourite author! Many of the books featured at this year’s Festival are still in stock at the University of Toronto Bookstore, and many come paired with autographed bookplates by the authors themselves. Books with signed bookplates include titles by authors Catherine Bush, Farzana Doctor, Emma Donoghue, Francesca Ekwuyasi, Catherine Hernandez, John Elizabeth Stintzi and Jesse Thistle,. Browse offered books with bookplates here while supplies last.
Any Night of the Week Prints
During #FestofAuthors20, indie musician and writer Jonny Dovercourt took readers on an audio walking tour through several Toronto neighbourhoods in the Any Night of the Week podcast. The five-episode journey, based on his book Any Night of the Week: A DIY History of Toronto Music 1957-2001 (Coach House Books, 2020), highlights milestone events in Toronto’s music history and how, over time, the music scene migrated through different neighbourhoods throughout the city. To accompany the podcast, artist Daniel Rotsztain created three beautiful maps of the Yonge Street, Urban Villages and Queen Street West corridors discussed in the podcasts. You can now order these incredible maps as limited edition prints here.
Friend of the Festival
Share the gift of the Toronto International Festival of Authors with your friend, family or colleague. Your gift will support TIFA in providing even more free events and activities to book lovers year-round, while also unlocking specific Friends of the Festival personal benefits for your giftee, from complimentary tickets to retail discounts and access to exclusive offers.
How to Pronounce Knife by Souvankham Thammavongsa
Souvankham Thammavongsa’s How to Pronounce Knife explores the immigrant experience through a collection of short stories, giving readers an intimate look at several characters’ struggle, hopes, disappointments, love affairs, acts of defiance and pursuits of finding a place to belong. As the winner of the 2020 Scotiabank Giller Prize, How to Pronounce Knife is the perfect gift for those looking for beautiful prose and heartfelt moments. Autographed bookplates are available with a book purchase from the University of Toronto Bookstore while supplies last.
Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart
Winner of the 2020 Booker Prize, Douglas Stuart’s novel Shuggie Bain is a heartbreaking story of addiction, sexuality and love. The book tells the story of Shuggie’s life growing up in public housing in Glasgow during the 1980s. This intimate look at his coming of age in a dysfunctional family as the bad gets increasingly worse is a perfect gift for the book lover seeking an unflinching look at the bonds that tie us together.
The Skin We’re In: A Year of Black Resistance and Power by Desmond Cole
This book gives a vital and unapologetic look at the struggle against racism, by chronicling one year of racist activities in the city of Toronto. The Skin We’re In brings to light the entrenched, systemic inequality in Canada that continues to plague our social systems, communities and actions. As the winner of the 2020 Toronto Book Award, Desmond Cole’s book is a great gift for the reader looking for strong Canadian voices, and has the courage to deeply examine the social constructs that create and uphold oppression.
Ridgerunner by Gil Adamson
Ridgerunner is the follow-up to Gil Adamson’s first novel, The Outlander, and reconnects readers with William Moreland as he returns to the life of stealing, this time to secure financial stability for his son Jack. When William heads off, Jack is left semi-orphaned in the care of a nun and doesn’t take kindly to this new life. The historical novel, winner of the 2020 Writers Trust Fiction Prize, is a notable gift for readers looking for adventure. Autographed bookplates are available with book purchase from the University of Toronto Bookstore while supplies last.
The Cyborg by Lindsay B-e
Consider giving the poetry and sci-fi lovers in your life a copy of this new and innovative collection of poems by Lindsay B-e. The Cyborg Anthology is set in a hypothetical future after a disastrous event has wiped out all Robot and Cyborg life. Organized as an anthology, this book introduces readers to a range of poets within a futuristic world, where humans had recently lived peacefully with machines. Through the eyes of these technological beings, the anthology explores themes of personhood through beautiful prose and understanding.
I Overcame My Autism and All I Got Was This Lousy Anxiety Disorder by Sarah Kurchak
In this moving, yet cheeky, memoir, Sarah Kurchak gives readers a glimpse at her experience growing up with undiagnosed Autism and the effect her coping habits had on her mental health. I Overcame My Autism and All I Got Was This Lousy Anxiety Disorder examines Autism, and the stereotypes and preconceptions we have of the people living with it. The book is a must-read for those looking to support Canadian rising talent.
Nobody Talks About Anything but the End by Liz Levine
“I feel like I might be a terrible person to be laughing in these moments. But it turns out, I’m not alone.”
In Nobody Talks About Anything but the End, award-winning screen producer Liz Levine explores the feelings of grief and mourning that we often shy away from sharing and often keep to ourselves. By sharing the experience of the death of her sister and best friend, Levine provides a memorable account of life and loss that reminds us that even in the hardest times, life must be celebrated.
Bones by Tyler Pennock
Tyler Pennock’s debut book of poetry explores how we process the trauma of our pasts and move through personal shadows toward strength and awareness. Bones is a must-read for poetry lovers looking to celebrate the human spirit in all of us. Autographed bookplates from the Cree/Métis author are available with book purchase from the University of Toronto Bookstore while supplies last.
For the Young Reader in Your Life
Moving can be difficult, so when a young girl named Katherena moves from the country to a small town, she is thrilled to find a new friend in Agnes, the elderly woman next door. The two bond over art and nature, and as Agnes’ health starts to decline, Cree-Métis author/illustrator Julie Flett gently guides young readers through the process of loss while celebrating the beauty of friendship and memories. Birdsong was the winner of the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award that was presented during the 2020 Children’s Book Centre Awards, and was a finalist for the 2019 Governor General’s Literary Awards for Young People’s Literature – Illustrated Books. Recommended for ages 3–8.
Inspired by the series The Chronicles of Narnia and Indigenous storytelling, David A. Robertson’s The Barren Grounds follows Morgan and Eli, two Indigenous children forced away from their families and communities, then brought back together in a foster home in Winnipeg, Manitoba. As they struggle in this new place, feeling disconnected from everything they know, they find a secret place that transports them into a whole new world that they must work together to save. Recommended for ages 10 and up.
Sydney Smith’s gorgeous picture book follows a small child as he explores the big city during a snowy day. Throughout Small in the City, the thoughtful child navigates the city’s tall buildings, busy streets and unfamiliar faces to find his way back home. Winner of the 2019 Governor General’s Literary Awards for Young People’s Literature – Illustrated Books. Recommended for ages 4–7.
With a garden full of produce, a joyfully chaotic kitchen and a friendly meal shared at the table, Jillian Tamaki takes readers on an illustrated cooking adventure with a fun crew of neighbours. The book includes recipes that are easy to try at home. Recommended for ages 4–8. Autographed bookplates are available with book purchase from the University of Toronto Bookstore while supplies last.
The Toronto International Festival of Authors’ Delegate Programme gives writers, creators, journalists and bloggers the opportunity to engage in conversation and share their unique perspectives throughout our Festival events. Delivered virtually this year, our Delegate Programme gave participants the opportunity to attend the Festival from home, participate in Q&As and share their favourite moments online. 2020 Delegate Terese shares her thoughts about the opportunities literary events bring into her life.
Literary events were, to me, as much event as they were literary. They would very easily become a part of my week. I’d go to work from 9am to 5pm, then head downtown for an event with a 6pm or 7pm start time, and chat with friends afterward till past 11pm. Sometimes I’d go to two events in one night. I’d go to reading series, book launches, author talks/interviews and more. And while watching and listening to people read—close friends or not—was exciting and fulfilling, the events after the events were just as fun. After a reading or a launch, many of the writers and attendees would move to a nearby bar or restaurant for more social hangs. Here, you could talk to writers in a more informal, laidback environment, not separated by a stage or a mic stand. And while it was a good place to chat to work off the nerves, it was also an opportunity to meet various people.
The writing community in Toronto (where I live), as far as I know, is quite small. This means that quite a number of people wear many hats—they’re not just writers, but also editors, publishers, professors, publicists, agents, booksellers, administrators, assistants and so on. I vaguely keep this fact in the back of my mind when I say hello to someone I don’t know—that they could be part of a broader network, have some role I don’t know about it. In any case, I’m always excited to introduce myself. I don’t know if I consider it networking.
The word networking has somewhat of a bad taste. It implies that you’re not talking to new people because you’re interested in getting to know them and their work—you’re talking to them because you think they can be useful to you, or you think they can help you get ahead. Actions matter here, as well as intentions. People don’t like to be used, generally, but they do like to be supported. Part of being in a community means leaning on others for support.
I am interested in getting to know other writers mainly because they are writers, like me, and I know I can always learn something from them even when I’m not paying attention. At the very least, I’ll learn of new books to read, new perspectives. I know that, automatically, these people will be interested in literature, they will be somewhat invested in the community we’re both in, and, if they’re really generous, we can find ways to help each other, not necessarily as work, but as acquaintances and friends. But I also know these writers as people, who exist wholly outside of their writing, who have rich, complex inner lives and their own business to hold close and attend to. And this fact, is really what’s going to highlight whether meeting new people is simply networking or making a new friend. We like our friends outside of their jobs, and outside of what they can do for us. We take a genuine interest in their lives.
I do think getting to know people this way—whether or not you want to call it networking—is beneficial. I have heard that it really is true that who you know matters (in addition to talent), but I’m doubtful this is truer in writing than any other occupation. It’s beneficial to have a community, even if it’s a small one of just two or three people, to support, encourage, critique and guide. It’s also helpful for things like writing circles, or having a buddy to go to events with. I don’t believe there is a need to embark on carving a spot in the broader communities and systems of “CanLit,” if you don’t think you need to. Having your chosen few is good enough. Additionally, I don’t believe it’s beneficial to “network,” if you don’t want to, if it’s uninteresting, or if it’s tiring.
I have met other emerging writers who have asked me “how I know so many people.” And I mainly say that I go to events. While this is true, I also know that it’s also the after-event social hangs where I get to introduce myself—and other people—to new faces, to “network.” These events, I know, aren’t always accessible to a number of people, and not beneficial at all. They might happen in an inaccessible building, they might be too far away, they might occur too late at night, alcohol might be present, the spaces might be too overstimulating, or any other factors. And the fact that networking, and getting to know these multi-hatted writers, happens in these spaces, means many people don’t have access to that kind of social capital. I’m interested, in my work with my own journal, in expanding this sort of access. Because, while I think that it’s important for writers and artists to be able to socialize with each other outside of formal spaces like events, launches and classrooms, more people should get that opportunity, even if they don’t take it.
Ultimately, what’s more important to me is supporting people I love and admire, and their work, as much as I am able—especially if we have things in common, if they share the same goals and sentiments and ideologies as me. The word “networking,” isn’t so much on my mind as, broadening my community, and showing up for people. When you make acquaintances and friends, they will help you if they can, regardless. Networking, I feel, on some level, should be considered something kinder, something hopeful, something solid.
Terese Mason Pierre is a writer and editor. Her work has appeared in Canthius, The Puritan, Quill and Quire and Strange Horizons, among others. She is currently the Senior Poetry Editor of Augur Magazine, a Canadian speculative literature journal. Terese has also previously volunteered with Shab-e She’r poetry reading series, and facilitated creative writing workshops. She is the author of chapbooks Surface Area (Anstruther Press, 2019) and Manifest (Gap Riot Press, 2020). Terese lives and works in Toronto.
From December 3 to 10, the 9th annual Human Rights Film Festival (HRFF+) will connect audiences with social justice-focused art, films, workshops and more. This year, the Toronto International Festival of Authors is proud to co-present two incredible HRFF+ events, JAYU STAGES: Poetic Talk & Performance Showcase and JAYU SLAMS: Individual Poetry Slam, on December 5. We asked Gilad Cohen, the Founder and Executive Director of JAYU (the organization behind the film festival), to discuss the power the arts have on connecting audiences to human rights issues.
By: Gilad Cohen
In 2008, I was living in South Korea and signed up for a day trip in North Korea. I decided to go because it was an opportunity to visit a place that few people ever get to see. For me, it was as close an experience as I’d ever get to visiting Mars.
As far as sightseeing goes, the trip was mostly unremarkable, but from a logistics standpoint, it was unlike anything I had ever experienced. My passport was taken away from me, and I didn’t get it back until the trip was over. I was instructed on what I could and couldn’t photograph, and to make matters more intense, armed agents that accompanied us throughout the trip went through each of my photos making sure I had listened to their rules.
When I got home, I felt more confused than informed and after Googling “what the heck is North Korea?” I was horrified to learn that millions had starved to death since the 1990s, it was illegal to access the internet or leave the country, and there were severe restrictions on people’s basic human rights. As a Jewish person whose family barely survived the Holocaust, what hit me hardest was learning that hundreds of thousands of North Koreans were currently detained in concentration camps. How did I not know about this?
This experience led me to working with North Korean refugees both in Toronto and South Korea and despite the successes that came along with that work, I could never convince my family to care about it as much as I did until one day my mom and I sat down to watch a film on North Korea and she broke down in tears and said, “Wow, I had no idea. What can I do?”
I understood in that moment that there is no better tool we can use to address human rights issues than the arts. It has a unique ability to build empathy, initiate difficult but necessary conversations, and inspire us to reimagine a more equitable world that we all deserve to live in. For thousands of years, we’ve used the arts to protest, challenge power structures, and share our collective stories.
That experience with my mother inspired what is now the Human Rights Film Festival (HRFF+) and in a few days, we will be celebrating our 9th annual 8-day event. This year’s virtual Festival will feature premiere films as well as a live spoken-word poetry slam, workshops, a comedy night, a youth-led photography exhibition, panels, talks, awards, and also a keynote from Black Lives Matter Toronto co-founder, Syrus Marcus Ware. Best of all, the whole Festival is free this year! I encourage you to check out hrff.ca to learn more.
Since 2008, Gilad Cohen has worked as an artist, public speaker and community mobilizer with a focus on connecting audiences to urgent and compelling stories through multimedia arts. In 2012, Gilad founded JAYU, a charity that serves the arts community through the annual Human Rights Film Festival, The Hum, a human rights podcast which he produces and co-hosts, as well as the iAM Program, an initiative that provides arts and social justice mentorship to more than 200 underserved youth from across the GTA each year.
During #FestofAuthors20, 11 artists were challenged to take part in a collaborative jam on a unified theme: Bringing a New World Into Focus. This challenge, in partnership with Toronto Comic Arts Festival (@torontocomics), started from a single-story panel that planted the seed for a larger story to grow. Take a look below to see the finished comic:
Panel by Hana Shafi (@frizzkidart)
Panel by Keet Geniza (@makeshiftlove)
Panel by Sanya Anwar (@sanya_anwar)
Panel by Lis Xu (@lissshu)
Panel by Jason Loo (@rebel_loo)
Panel by Paris Alleyne (@parisalleyne)
Panel by Kat Verhoeven (@verwho)
Panel by Cleopatria Peterson (@cleopatriia)
Panel by Cole Pauls (@tundrawizard)
Panel by Olivia Kim (@oliviamkim)
Panel by Jen Woodall (@funeralbeat)
Award winning illustrator, animator and filmmaker Axel Kinnear adapts an excerpt from Janie Brown’s Radical Acts of Love: How We Find Hope at the End of Life into a short, animated video accompanied by narration from the audiobook. This short premiered as part of the 41st edition of the Toronto International Festival of Authors.
About Radical Acts of Love: How We Find Hope at the End of Life by Janie Brown:
In this profound and moving book, oncology nurse Janie Brown recounts twenty conversations she has had with the dying, including people close to her. Each conversation uncovers a different perspective on, and experience of death, while at the same time exploring its universalities. Offering extremely sensitive and wise insight into our final moments, Brown shows practical ways to facilitate the shift from feeling helpless about death to feeling hopeful; from fear to acceptance; from feeling disconnected and alone, to becoming part of the wider, collective story of our mortality.
A weekend of adventure awaits you, with virtual ventures fit for the whole family! The Toronto International Festival of Authors is thrilled to introduce its first TIFA Kids! Weekend, taking place as part of the 41st Festival edition. From the educational to the imaginative, escape with us to the world of words this October 30 to November 1, 2020. Don’t miss these seven highlights:
TIFA Kids! Weekend will kick off with the presentation of the 2020 Canadian Children’s Book Centre Awards (CCBC) to celebrate the best Canadian books of the year for young people. After Friday’s award presentation, hosted by Tony Kim of CBC Kids, tune in again on Saturday and Sunday at 1pm, 2pm and 3pm to meet the winners of the children’s literary, historical fiction, non-fiction, mystery, picture book and teen award categories. Winners will present sweet and snappy 15-minutes presentations of their award-winning stories.
Enjoy a virtual family vacation to the great outdoors, without leaving the comfort of your home. Poet Robert Macfarlane will guide you on a nature expedition, punctuated by immersive illustrations by Jackie Morris, through this presentation of the book The Lost Spells. This sequel to the internationally bestselling The Lost Words, gives young readers an opportunity to interact with nature through their imagination, through realistic red foxes, jackdaws and more. (Recommended for ages 10 and up.)
Award-winning author Deborah Ellis will present her new book for young readers, The Greats. This story takes a compassionate look at some of the tough issues that young people face today, including anger, desperation and suicide. Readers will be transported to the country of Guyana, to meet Jomon, a teenaged boy battling depression with the unexpected help of ghostly grandfathers and a giant prehistoric sloth. (Recommended for ages 12 and up)
Prepare for adventure with award-winning author David A. Robertson, as he reads from his newest children’s book, The Barren Grounds. Inspired by The Chronicles of Narnia and Indigenous storytelling, The Barren Grounds tells the plights of several charismatic characters as they transport into another world to try to save it. (Recommended for ages 10 and up.)
Each year, the Governor General’s Literary Awards recognize Canada’s best books, promote homegrown literature and encourage reading. Although the 2020 Awards have been postponed, we are delighted to bring you several past shortlisted and winning authors in conversation about young people’s literature in Canada and beyond. Join authors Jillian Tamaki, David A. Robertson and Marie-Louise Gay for an informative exchange about the past and present states of young people’s literature, and their hopes for its future. This event is organized in collaboration with the Canada Council for the Arts.
Join cartoonist Jillian Tamaki for breakfast, with a morning reading and Q&A from her lively food and community picture book, Our Little Kitchen. When a crew of neighbours come together to cook a meal, fun, adventure and new lessons ensue. (Recommended for ages 4-8.)
Meet three brothers: Finn, Leo and Ooly, who love reading stories about animals living in forests, on mountains or in the arctic. Marie-Louise Gay invites you to join the brothers on a quest in search of wild animals in a changing climate, in this presentation of her book Three Brothers. Gay’s gentle story explores the real-life consequences of climate change through the lens of an adventurous trio, and ends on a note of hope. (Recommended for ages 4 and up.)
Interested in more? Check out the full TIFA Kids! schedule here.
You may not be celebrating Halloween your usual way this year, but don’t despair; the Festival has a frightening final weekend in store for you! From the mysterious to the macabre, here are five upcoming #FestofAuthors20 events to haunt your itinerary this Halloween weekend.
Like most of us, Portuguese writer Gonçalo M. Tavares spent much of 2020 stuck at home due to COVID-19 restrictions. During his time in lockdown, the acclaimed writer documented his days in a daily “Plague Diary” that was translated into several languages for publication around the world. Join Tavares in conversation with Anabela Mota Ribeiro learn more about this latest work, and how the peculiarity of real-life nightmares can sometimes be stranger than fiction. The event will be presented in Portuguese. (Photo credit: Alfredo Cunha)
Dive into the case folders of several grisly true crime stories with “master of narrative journalism” Mark Bowden. The bestselling author of Black Hawk Down will present his latest books, The Case of the Vanishing Blonde: And Other True Crime Stories and The Last Stone: A Masterpiece of Criminal Interrogation, in conversation with Carmine Starnino. Don’t miss this chance to uncover Bowden’s unique approach to telling these chilling true tales, and find out what he plans to write next. (Photo credit: Pascal Perich)
Forget zombies this Halloween, join author and director of the Centre for Death and Society John Troyer for a discussion on the preservation of real dead bodies and society’s fascination with them throughout history. From the embalming machines of the 19th-century, to death-defying modern technologies, Troyer will present some fascinating findings from his latest dissertation, Technologies of the Human Corpse. This captivating conversation will be led by Joanna Ebenstein.
Settle in for a classic country house mystery with a contemporary twist, as multi-award-winning British crime author Ann Cleeves brings you The Darkest Evening. This Diamond Dagger of the Crime Writers’ Association recipient will discuss this latest winter thriller, the ninth instalment in the Detective Vera series, with interviewer Janet Smyth.
Suspend reality by cracking the cover of Ian Rankin’s latest Rebus thriller, A Song For the Dark Times. The Edgar Award-winning Scottish crime writer will join fellow Scotsman and Festival Director Roland Gulliver for an evening of gripping conversation about enemies, crime, redemption and the dark world of the human soul.
All events are viewable for free and will remain viewable for 72-hours after they premiere. Event times on October 31 are listed in eastern daylight time and in eastern standard time on November 1.
The 41st edition of the Toronto International Festival of Authors starts today! We’re bringing you an expanded lineup of over 200 free virtual events and activities throughout the Festival’s 11-day run. Here are just some of the opening day events you won’t want to miss.
Launching Between the Shorelines: Storytelling Indigenous Presence in Toronto
Learn about Toronto’s Indigenous history through a virtual storytelling tour across the contemporary shorelines of the city. In partnership with First Story Toronto and the University of Toronto, join TIFA for a look at the city of Toronto through the lens of Indigenous storytelling.
Skin Hunger: Francesca Ekwuyasi
Join Francesca Ekwuyasi as she reads an original piece created for TIFA’s Skin Hunger series. The series was named after the Dutch concept of “skin hunger” capturing the longing of many people around the world to connect with each other once again in person. The series will feature numerous international authors sharing a new original piece of writing reflecting the times we are living in right now.
An Evening with Margaret Atwood
Get up close and personal with literary great Margret Atwood from the comfort of your own home. Join The Handmaid’s Tale author as she spends an evening with TIFA Director Roland Gulliver talking about the inspirations of her highly acclaimed work. Audience members will also be given a special treat when she introduces her new poetry collection, Dearly.
Critical Conversations: China Relations
As China seemingly accelerates its path to becoming the world’s largest economy, and the Canadian government continues to navigate several diplomatic disputes, join TIFA for an exploration of the complexities of this rising superpower. Featuring panelists Nathan Law, Jonathan Manthorpe and Margaret McCuaig-Johnston as part of TIFA’s Critical Conversations series.
Poetry on the Front Lines
Screening daily at Union Station Oct. 22–Nov. 1
TIFA has partnered with A.F. Moritz, Toronto’s sixth Poet Laureate, and the Toronto Writers Collective to bring a video installation highlighting TWC’s newest anthologies: Front Lines: Bent, Not Broken and Front Lines: Until the Words Run Pure. The video installation will be showcased at Toronto’s Union Station in the West Wing during the entirety of the Festival.
The 41st edition of the Toronto International Festival of Authors kicks off in just a few days. With over 200 free virtual events and activities to experience over the Festival’s 11-day run, we’ve created this handy guide to help you navigate and make the most of #FestofAuthors20. Here are our insider recommendations:
1) Register in Advance
Get ready to attend the 41st Festival edition from the comfort of your own home. Start by signing up on our website to create your FREE account. If you already have a Harbourfront Centre account, use that to log in.
2) Create your Digital Itinerary
Find your events and activities in the Festival Calendar or by browsing the full Event Listing or Participant Listing. When you see an event you’d like to watch, add it to your personal Itinerary by clicking the yellow button to register. Your registered events will appear on your personal Itinerary page. Most events will be available to view for up to 72 hours after they launch, so feel free to double up on overlapping events.
3) Keep an Eye on your Email
All Festival event reminders and notices will be communicated to you through email, so please be sure to add us to your safe senders list (firstname.lastname@example.org). Otherwise, these alerts might go to your spam folder.
We will also be emailing you an event reminder notice one day prior to each registered event. Although most events will be streamed directly on the TIFA website, some select events will require a special link to view them on an external platform. If an event requires a special link, we will indicate this on the event detail page, and we will email you the link one day prior to the event.
4) Tune in On Time – Or not!
We will make our best efforts to start all events on time, so if you wish to experience an event at its launch time, please give yourself enough time to log in to the website and click your way to the event video stream (from your Itinerary page) before the event’s scheduled start time, so you don’t miss a thing. If you can’t make an event when it launches, have no fear, most events will also be available for viewing for up to 72 hours after they launch, so they can be enjoyed at your convenience. Exceptions to this rule will be indicated on the event details page.
5) Join us Daily
In addition to daily author talks and interviews, this year, we’re also proud to present a series of special Performances happening each day of the Festival. Each evening will offer a dose of creative storytelling expressed through theatre, music, film or dance. A series of Critical Conversations, covering the hot topic social and political events of the day.
6) Listen to a Podcast
Take a break from your screen during the Festival and plug in to a new original podcast. TIFA has commissioned several new limited edition podcast series this year, including Any Night of the Week: A Walking History of Toronto Music, produced by indie musician and writer Jonny Dovercourt; and Write in the Neighbourhood: Audio Walking Tour, featuring Toronto authors discussing the local neighbourhoods that inspired their writing. After they launch, podcasts will stay live on the website for the duration of the Festival.
7) Invite the Entire Family
The new TIFA KIDS! Weekend will take place October 31 – November 1, with special events and activities catered towards young audiences and the children’s publishing community. Don’t miss these family-friendly events, which include readings by the Canadian Children’s Book Centre Awards winners, a panel discussion between the nominees of the 2020 Governor General Literary Awards for Young People’s Literature, and much more.
8) Experience a New Language
Several Festival events this year will take place in languages other than English. Tune in to experience storytelling in Bengali, French, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish.
9) Follow Us on Social Media
Interact with us on social media for the full Festival experience!
Don’t forget to use #FestofAuthors20 on social media to join the conversation.
10) Buy a Book
No Festival experience is complete without the addition of a new book (or more!) to your bookshelf. TIFA’s official Bookseller, the UofT Bookstore, is ready to take your online orders, and is offering free shipping on domestic orders of over C$100. All purchases will include a free TIFA bookmark (while supplies last). There is also a limited selection of signed copies. Support the writers participating in this year’s Festival with a visit to the virtual book store.
For more details and Festival support, please visit our FAQ page.
We look forward to giving you a warm, virtual welcome to #FestofAuthors20!