(L to R) Maxime Raymond Bock, Deputy Director Christine Saratsiotis, Alissa York and Shari Lapena
“From the taxi that brought me from the airport to Thessaloniki, I looked into the distance, in the heat, at dark, undulating mountains, at stocky houses under ochre sandstone shingles, wondering what surprises awaited me in a country of which I knew only a few philosophers, and the somewhat intricate families of its mythical gods. I looked for points of reference that might draw me closer to these unfamiliar parts, and I was excited to come speak about a literature that, I suspected, would be equally as unfamiliar.”
—Maxime Raymond Bock
This past May, our director, Geoffrey E. Taylor and deputy director, Christine Saratsiotis, took three Canadian authors to Thessaloniki, Greece for the Thessaloniki International Book Fair as part of our International Touring programme. Upon their return, we asked Maxime Raymond Bock, Alissa York and Shari Lapena about their most surprising travel experiences and general perceptions of Canadian literature in Greece.
11th Bookworm Literary Festival in Beijing, China. (L to R): Shari Lapena, Ronna Bloom, Christine Saratsiotis (Festival Deputy Director), Sylvain Neuvel and Geoffrey E. Taylor (Festival Director).
Last month Geoffrey E. Taylor (Director) and Christine Saratsiotis (Deputy Director) of the Toronto International Festival of Authors took three Canadian writers—Ronna Bloom, Shari Lapena and Sylvain Neuvel— to the 11th Bookworm Literary Festival in Beijing, China, as part of our international touring programme. We asked the writers what they thought about the the reception of Canadian literature in China and more.
Next week, the Toronto International Festival of Authors will present Between Words and Worlds: New Canadian Women’s Writing. To give readers a preview of what the event hopes to explore with regards to the stories we tell, we reached out to the event’s moderator, Soraya Peerbaye.
The panel discussion will feature Inanna Publications authors Ami Sands Brodoff, Connie Guzzo-McParland, Mariam Pirbhai and Mehri Yalfani, and is billed as a unique opportunity to explore foreground characters and experiences that are still rarely attended to in mainstream publishing in Canada. We asked Peerbaye what specific themes she hopes to cover on stage:
Mayank Bhatt discusses how his novel, Belief, is very relevant today on the topic of immigration and settlement in Canada in our Five Questions series. He also talks about the standout moments in publishing his debut novel and what he’s reading.
Bhatt will be participating in IFOA Weekly’s ‘What’s Life Got To Do With It?’ panel discussion on Wednesday, March 7th at 7:30 pm.
Michael Mirolla discusses writers who’ve influenced him and why he enjoys writing short stories in our Five Questions series. Mirolla will be launching his new short story collection, The Photographer in Search of Death, on Tuesday, January 30th at 6:30 pm with fellow Exile Editions author Martha Bátiz (Plaza Requiem).
IFOA: In a recent interview with Christine Cowley, you referred to the collection as speculative fiction. Tell us a bit about how The Photographer In Search of Death fits the description?
Michael Mirolla: I see “speculative fiction” as a description that encompasses a number of fictions (magical realism, surrealism, meta-fiction, science fiction). What they have in common is the idea that they are creating worlds rather than simply inhabiting them. Thus we get “what ifs” rather than “whats”.
They are also fictions of ideas rather than simply interactions between humans. To me, the best of these are those that can combine ideas with human interactions. That is, thoughts with a heart. I hope that, in a small way, The Photographer works towards achieving that aim and thus can fit under the speculative fiction umbrella.