Toronto’s International Festival of Authors Returns with a Stellar Lineup of Celebrated and Emerging Authors!

ifoa 2017 authors banner

Toronto’s International Festival of Authors is proud to announce the authors participating in the 2017 festival!  The  IFOA takes place from October 19 to the 29th at the Harbourfront Center.  These eleven days are packed with readings, one-on-one interviews, thought-provoking panel discussions, special events and free book signings. Tickets go on sale on September 16th!

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The many faces of IFOA

How quiet the office seems now, a few weeks post-IFOA—such a contrast from the blur of famous faces and inspiring conversations. The Festival was a huge success thanks to the authors and their publishers, the hardworking staff and volunteers, our partners and sponsors and, of course, all of the book lovers who came down to the Harbourfront Centre to soak it all in.

We’re still sifting through the photos taken during the Festival, but in the meantime here are a few.


Thanks also to our fabulous bloggers and everyone who followed the Festival from afar! We’re on to planning IFOA 2013…

– Nicole

The Novel as a Window on Society: from nuns to pythons and beyond

By Janet Somerville

Tuesday night four fabulous women novelists appeared in a round table conversation in the Brigantine Room to discuss the Novel as Window on Society as it related to their most recent books. Simonetta Agnello Hornby, Emily St. John Mandel, Emily Schultz and Linda Spalding revealed their singular intelligence and commitment to their craft throughout the discussion moderated by David Layton.

Hornby, whose most recent novel is The Nun, began with the caveat “I have no faith, so it was difficult for me to become a nun.” In terms of offering her readers a way of engaging with her protagonist she suggested that “change could happen within yourself from reading. There’s the power of literature. And, change came for this 19th century nun through the books she is gifted from an admirer.”

Mandel’s noir, The Lola Quartet,  grounded in the recent financial collapse, is “about a disgraced journalist who flames out spectacularly in New York City and ends up selling foreclosed real estate in Florida for his sister.” Commenting on the menacing burmese pythons that slither through the Florida wetlands in her narrative, Mandel said she realized they served as a metaphor for “creeping civilization and the idea of borders: the way the world should be versus the way it is.”

Schultz’s dystopian satire, The Blondes, found its genesis in a Gucci ad in Vanity Fair in which four blonde women in safari wear, their eyes heavily lined, “looked like vampires that were going to ravage you and not in a good way.” And, although there is plenty of gore, it is a socially conscious novel, informed by the paranoia and panic created in the days, weeks and months surrounding the SARS and avian flu epidemics.

Spalding’s historical fiction, The Purchase—shortlisted for the Governor General’s Award and the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize—is the most personal of the four, inspired as it is by a relative who was a Quaker who happened to be a slaveowner, a shocking revelation about which she became obsessed since “the Quakers were the great abolitionists of the 18th century.” What could possibly have made that great great grandfather abandon society and “regressively become something almost feral?”

About getting to the chair and writing each offered the following advice: Hornby insisted, “You must want to do it. Respect for the reader has got to be fundamental.” Mandel said, “Do the work. Put the hours in.” Schultz suggested that each subsequent manuscript she hoped “was like a lover, each new one better than the last.” Spalding concluded, “If you keep challenging yourself, it shouldn’t get easier.”

Wise words, indeed.

Visit for more event listings. Follow Janet Somerville on twitter at @janetsomerville or on her blog Reading for the Joy of It.

Five Questions with… Linda Spalding

Linda Spalding, author of the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize and Governor General’s Award-nominated novel The Purchase, will participate in several IFOA events.

© Michael Ondaatje

IFOA: Who are you most looking forward to seeing at the Festival?

Spalding: I’m keen to hear Michael Chabon read. He’s a friend of mine and I like his work but have never heard him read. Ditto Louise Erdrich. It’s all going to be fantastic.

IFOA: When and where do you prefer to read?

Spalding: To myself? I love to read myself to sleep, but then that’s just what it is! The best reading time for me is in the morning, sitting up straight with all the attention I can muster and a cup of coffee in hand.

IFOA: The Purchase is inspired by stories of your own ancestors. What made you decide to write about them now?

Spalding: I’ve been working on this book for several years and thinking about it longer than that. Ideas fester like wounds and then they either heal or require amputation. This one healed.

IFOA: You write both fiction and non-fiction, and The Purchase is a bit of a blend of both. What genre will you be working in next, and why?

Spalding: I’ll start another novel one of these days, but it may be slightly interrupted if Maryann Acker gets out of prison. When that happens, I’d like to do a little reprise of her story.

IFOA:  Finish this sentence: I can’t write unless I….

Spalding: But I can! When I was a girl I made myself write with my eyes closed on the city bus. It has served me well.

IFOA: Bonus question: International Festival of Authors in one word:

Spalding: Interconnectedness.