Stories have been shared on this land for thousands of years, and the land Toronto International Festival of Authors operates on is home to many diverse First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. During the 43rd edition of the Festival, we are proud to have many Indigenous authors joining us on stage.
Check out the list of 15 books by Indigenous authors to read below, and be on the look out for links to Festival events still to come. In honour of National Day for Truth and Reconciliation in Canada on September 30, we’ve chosen to spotlight Strong Nations, an Indigenous-owned bookstore in British Columbia where you can purchase the titles.
Tainna: The Unseen Ones, Short Stories by Norma Dunning
Drawing on both lived experience and cultural memory, Norma Dunning brings together six powerful new short stories centred on modern-day Inuk characters in Tainna: The Unseen Ones, Short Stories. Norma Dunning’s masterful storytelling uses humour and incisive detail to create compelling characters who discover themselves in a hostile land where prejudice, misogyny and inequity are most often found hidden in plain sight. Tainna won the 2021 Governor General’s Award for literature. Also be sure to pre-order Dunning’s next book, Kinauvit?: What’s Your Name? The Eskimo Disc System and a Daughter’s Search for her Grandmother.
See Norma Dunning in the following event:
Critical Conversation: Continuing to Act: Reconciling, Not Reconciliation
October 2 at 7pm, Studio Theatre
A Mind Spread Out on the Ground by Alicia Elliot
In an urgent and visceral work that asks essential questions about the treatment of Native people in North America while drawing on intimate details of her own life and experience with intergenerational trauma, Alicia Elliott offers indispensable insight into the ongoing legacy of colonialism in A Mind Spread Out on the Ground. She engages with such wide-ranging topics as race, parenthood, love, mental illness, poverty, writing and representation, and in the process makes connections between the past and present, the personal and political. With deep consideration and searing prose, Elliott provides a candid look at our past, an illuminating portrait of our present and a powerful tool for a better future.
See Alicia Elliot in the following event:
The Re-Read: Tomson Highway on Indigenous Mythology
September 28 at 8pm, Harbourfront Centre Theatre
Laughing with the Trickster by Tomson Highway
Laughing with the Trickster provides brilliant, jubilant insights into the glory and anguish of life from one of the world’s most treasured Indigenous creators. Trickster is zany, ridiculous. The ultimate, over-the-top, madcap fool. Here to remind us that the reason for existence is to have a blast and to laugh ourselves silly.
See Tomson Highway in the following event:
The Re-Read: Tomson Highway on Indigenous Mythology
September 28 at 8pm, Harbourfront Centre Theatre
Mighty Muskrats by Michael Hutchinson
Sam, Otter, Atim and Chickadee are four inseparable cousins growing up on the Windy Lake First Nation. Nicknamed the Mighty Muskrats for their habit of laughing, fighting, and exploring together, the cousins find that each new adventure adds to their reputation. In the midst of community conflict, family concerns, and environmental protests, the four get busy following every lead. From their base of operations in a fort made out of an old school bus, the Mighty Muskrats won’t let anything stop them from solving their case!
See Michael Hutchinson in the following event:
Mighty Muskrats: Michael Hutchinson
October 1 at 4:30pm, Word Lab (Tent A)
Our Voice of Fire by Brandi Morin
A wildfire of a debut memoir by internationally recognized French/Cree/Iroquois journalist Brandi Morin set to transform the narrative around Indigenous Peoples. Morin is also a survivor of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls crisis and uses her experience to tell the stories of those who did not survive the rampant violence. Our Voice of Fire chronicles Morin’s journey to overcome enormous adversity and find her purpose, and her power, through journalism.
See Brandi Morin in the following event:
Critical Conversation: Continuing to Act: Reconciling, Not Reconciliation
October 2 at 7pm, Studio Theatre
Moon of the Crusted Snow by Waubgeshig Rice
A daring post-apocalyptic novel from a powerful rising literary voice, blending action and allegory, Moon of the Crusted Snow upends our expectations. Out of catastrophe comes resilience. And as one society collapses, another is reborn. Moon of the Crusted Snow was the winner of the 2019 OLA Forest of Reading Evergreen award.
See Waubgeshig Rice in the following events:
A Different Page: Open Creation
September 30 at 12pm, South Lawn Tent
A Different Page Presented by Pratibha Arts
September 30 at 8pm, Lakeside Terrace
Rehearsals for Living by Leanne Betasamosake Simpson & Robyn Harding
When the world entered pandemic lockdown in spring 2020, Robyn Maynard, influential author of Policing Black Lives, and Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, renowned artist, musician, and author of Noopiming: The Cure for White Ladies, began writing each other letters which grew into a powerful exchange about where we go from here. By articulating to each other Black and Indigenous perspectives on our unprecedented here and now, Maynard and Simpson create something new in Rehearsals for Living: an urgent demand for a different way forward, and a poetic call to dream up other ways of ordering earthly life.
See Leanne Betasamosake Simpson in the following event:
Leanne Betasamosake Simpson in Concert
October 1 at 7:30pm, Concert Stage
Half-Bads in White Regalia by Cody Caetano
Capturing the chaos and wonder of a precarious childhood, Cody Caetano delivers a fever dream coming-of-age garnished with a slang all his own. Half-Bads in White Regalia is an unforgettable debut that unspools a tangled family history with warmth, humour, and deep generosity.
Màgòdiz by Gabe Calderón
Magodiz (Anishinabemowin, Algonquin dialect): a person who refuses allegiance to, resists, or rises in arms against the government or ruler of their country.
Everything that was green and good is gone, scorched away by a war that no one living remembers. The small surviving human population scavenges to get by; they cannot read or write and lack the tools or knowledge to rebuild. The only ones with any power are the mindless Enforcers, a formless spiritual entity that has infiltrated the world to subjugate the human population.
With themes of resistance, of ceremony as the conduit between realms, of transcending gender, Magodiz is a powerful and visionary reclamation that Two-Spirit people always have and always will be vital to the cultural and spiritual legacy of their communities.
The Walrus and the Caribou by Maika Harper
When the earth was new, words had the power to breathe life into the world. But when creating animals from breath, sometimes one does not get everything right on the first try! Based on a traditional Inuit story passed forward orally for generations in the South Baffin region of Nunavut, The Walrus and the Caribou shares with young readers the origin of the caribou and the walrus—and tells of how very different these animals looked when they were first conceived.
Celia’s Song by Lee Maracle
Mink is a witness, a shape shifter, compelled to follow the story that has ensnared Celia, a seer, and her village, on the West coast of Vancouver Island in Nuu’Chahlnuth territory. Celia’s Song relates one Nuu’Chahlnuth family’s harrowing experiences over several generations, after the brutality, interference, and neglect resulting from contact with Europeans.
Blood by Tyler Pennock
Conceived in the same world as their acclaimed debut, Bones, Tyler Pennock’s Blood follows a Two-Spirit Indigenous person as they navigate urbanity, queerness, and a kaleidoscope of dreams, memory, and kinship. Pennock weaves longing, intimacy and Anishinaabe relationalities to recentre and rethink their speaker’s relationship to the living-never forgetting non-human kin. It is a reminder that Indigenous people carry the impacts of colonial history and wrestle with them constantly, exploring the relationships between spring and winter, ice and water, static things and things beginning to move, and what emerges in the thaw.
The Misewa Saga by David A. Robertson
Morgan and Eli are Indigenous children who discover a portal at their foster home to another world, Askī; there they discover talking animal beings who connect them to traditional ways, as well as help them deal with the challenges in the real world. A fantasy for readers aged ten and up, the Misewa Saga (“misewa” is Cree for “all that is”) series reflects stories of the sky and the constellations held within its great canvas. Get your copy of Barren Grounds, Great Bear and Stone Child.
All Our Relations: Finding the Path Forward by Tanya Talaga
Based on her Atkinson Fellowship in Public Policy series, All Our Relations is a powerful call for action, justice, and a better, more equitable world for all Indigenous Peoples. In this urgent and incisive work, bestselling and award-winning author Tanya Talaga explores the alarming rise of youth suicide in Indigenous communities in Canada and beyond. The Indigenous experience in colonized nations are marked by the violent separation of Peoples from the land, the separation of families and the separation of individuals from traditional ways of life. But, Talaga reminds us, First Peoples also share a history of resistance, resilience, and civil rights activism.
Whitemud Walking by Matthew James Weigel
Whitemud Walking is a genre-bending work of visual and lyric poetry, non-fiction prose, photography, and digital art and design. Using photos, documents, and recordings that are about or involve his ancestors, but are kept in archives, Weigel examines the consequences of this erasure and sequestration.
View the full festival reading list here!
The 43rd Toronto International Festival of Authors runs September 22 to October 2, featuring over 200 events taking place live and in person at Harbourfront Centre. Whether you are a beloved reader of poetry, non-fiction or fiction, there is so much to see and do.
Even if you are an avid TIFA fan, there are new offers in store, so be sure to check out the tips below to make the most of our biggest Festival yet.
With conversations, performances, readings, masterclasses and much more happening throughout the 11 days, don’t miss this chance at hearing world-class authors share their love of storytelling. Get your tickets early so you don’t get caught up in the last-minute rush and lose out on attending any events. Buy tickets online or call the Harbourfront Centre box office at 416-973-4000 (choose option #1).
Box Office Hours:
September 22–23: 12–9 pm
September 24 to October 2: 10:30am – 9pm
Satellite box offices will open at the Fleck Dance Theatre and Harbourfront Centre Theatre one hour before events begin at those locations.
With each day packed with a dozen or more events, get yourself a day, weekend or all-access pass for the opportunity to see as many events as you can. Once you get your pass, all you have to do is stop by the box office to pick it up starting September 21, and the schedule becomes yours to explore. Get passes here.
Passes exclude access to masterclasses, TIFA Kids workshops, The Moth, the CCBC 2022 Awards Ceremony, walking tours and Freedom to Write and to Read: Standing with Salman Rushdie.
Take advantage of discounts
If you are planning within a tight budget, make sure you don’t miss out on important discounts. Students and youth (aged 25 and under) can attend TIFA events for only $12. Some exceptions do apply, so be sure to check the box office for details.
As well, if you are part of a book club or reading group, make a plan to visit the Festival together to make the most of the Book Club discount. Book clubs can save 25% on ticket prices when booking five or more tickets to the same event by calling the Harbourfront Centre Box Office 416-973-4000 (choose option 1).
As Canada’s largest literary festival, we are thrilled to bring back favourite event series like Critical Conversations, The Re-Read, Masterclasses and Ask the Expert, as well as new formats like walking tours, exhibits and free readings. Additionally, the Festival features the second annual PEN Canada Graeme Gibson talk, The Moth, Theater of War: The Waste Land Project and Dreams in Vantablack: Film Screening. Don’t miss these events and more by browsing the full schedule here.
Don’t get lost! Plan your way to Harbourfront Centre early so you know how to get here without any trouble. You can find directions for getting here by train, TTC, car and foot here.
Once you get to Harbourfront Centre, you can use the 2022 Festival map to find tents, venues and installations. Check out the map here.
Keep up-to-date on Festival news
Be the first to know what’s going on by following @FestofAuthors on:
Or get information right to your inbox by signing up for our enews here.
Don’t forget to share your Festival experience on social media with #FestofAuthors22.
Explore the free activities and performances
There will be free events and activities taking place all over the Harbourfront Centre campus during #FestofAuthors22. From a pop-up coffee shop in the Marilyn Brewer Community Space to Stage in the Park readings, don’t miss the variety of free offerings throughout the 11 days. Browse free events here.
Check your email for your tickets
Once you have purchased tickets to one (or many more) of the events, keep a watchful eye on your email. All tickets will be sent via email. You will need your e-ticket to access the event. If you don’t see it in your inbox, be sure to check your spam or junk folder.
If you have any questions about tickets, reach out to Harbourfront Centre’s box office at 416-973-4000 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
From memoirs to YA, and thrillers to literary fiction, our official booksellers Rakuten Kobo and Indigo have you covered for all your Festival book needs. See the full list of #FestofAuthors22 books here.
If you prefer ebook and audiobooks, you can browse Kobo’s online catalogue at any time here. If hardcover and paperbacks are more your style, be sure to drop by the Marilyn Brewer Community Space inside Harbourfront Centre to pick up books at the Indigo Bookstore.
Have a question? See if it is answered on our FAQ page.
Browse the full #FestofAuthors22 schedule here.
As the official presenter of MOTIVE Crime & Mystery Festival, Kobo Plus is offering Toronto International Festival of Authors guests, friends and supporters an opportunity to try Kobo’s all-you-can-read subscription service.
Choose from hundreds of thousands of popular, classic and original titles for only $9.99 a month.
Opportunities are ripe for aspiring crime and mystery writers at MOTIVE Festival, presented by Kobo Plus. The newest literary celebration from the Toronto International Festival of Authors offers many ways to meet like-minded booklovers and learn from the world’s best authors.
From insightful conversations to hands-on classes, MOTIVE audiences can gain award-winning advice on how to take their next step in the publishing process. Here is a collection of activities worth considering to further your writing career.
Sit down with acclaimed authors and industry experts for a MOTIVE Masterclass, where hands-on lessons dive into crafting compelling stories and perfecting the art of editing. Each leading their own class, Torontonian Marissa Stapley, Scottish author Doug Johnstone and UK publisher Karen Sullivan will share a facet of their expertise in an intimate 90-minute session in Harbourfront Centre’s Main Loft. Whether you sign up for all or just one, be sure to bring your questions about plotting, writing and publishing for these experts to tackle. All writing levels are welcome.
Masterclass: Marissa Stapley on the Heart of Character Development (Friday, June 3 at 6pm ET)
Masterclass: Doug Johnstone on Killer Editing (Saturday, June 4 at 4pm ET)
Masterclass: Karen Sullivan on the Path to Published (Sunday, June 5 at 4pm ET)
Pictured: Doug Johnstone.
Crime-writing experts Margaret Cannon and Sarah Weinman will take the MOTIVE stage to field your questions about writing tools and trends and Canadian reading recommendations. Don’t miss this chance to ask the experts your biting crime-genre queries at these free, outdoor presentations.
Pictured: Sarah Weinman.
Ever wonder what it’s like to pitch a book idea? TIFA and the Crime Writers of Canada invite you to be a fly on the wall to witness a live pitch session in action. Pitch Perfect is a showcase of writers pitching their ideas to a panel of judges. Be prepared to jot down some notes as the panel of publishing experts provide constructive feedback on their ideas. This event is free with registration.
Pictured: Pitch Perfect judge Carolyn Forde, Partner, Senior Literary Agent and International Rights Director at Transatlantic Agency.
What better way to become a great writer than to learn from the classics? TIFA’s Re-Read series is back for MOTIVE, featuring award-winning writers , Kurdo Baksi, Mark Billingham and Val McDermid taking a look at famous books and authors who have captivated readers for decades and made a substantial impact on the crime and mystery genre. From Agatha Christie to Stieg Larsson, you’ll learn how prolific authors broke the rules to make the genre their own.
The Re-Read: Val McDermid on Agatha Christie (Saturday, June 4 at 1pm ET)
The Re-Read: Kurdo Baksi on Stieg Larsson (Saturday, June 4 at 1:30pm ET)
The Re-Read: Mark Billingham on Dashiell Hammett (Sunday, June 5 at 1pm ET)
Debut authors were aspiring writers not too long ago, and are a great resource for learning about the publishing industry right now. Join debut authors Ramona Emerson, Wanda Morris and Nita Prose at MOTIVE to learn about their books and publishing process, and get advice on how to jump from aspiring to published.
Secrets & Lies: Wanda Morris & Chris Pavone (Sunday, June 5 at 6:30pm ET)
The Maid: Nita Prose (Sunday, June 5 at 7pm ET)
Paranormal Plotlines: Ramona Emerson & Stuart Neville (Sunday, June 5 at 7:30pm ET)
Pictured: Ramona Emerson.
Meet your favourite authors in person throughout the weekend at MOTIVE book signings, which take place after most ticketed events and at the Crime Writers of Canada tent. It’s an opportune time to interact one-on-one and ask that quick burning question. Be sure to check individual event pages for details on book signings.
Looking for more? Browse the full MOTIVE schedule here.
The Toronto International Festival of Authors (TIFA) today announced the author lineup and programming for MOTIVE presented by Kobo Plus, Canada’s newest and largest crime and mystery writing festival, taking place June 3 to 5, 2022 based at Harbourfront Centre. Marking TIFA’s return to in-person programming after two years of digital presentations, the inaugural edition of MOTIVE features nearly 100 authors from Canada and around the world, with over 40 ticketed events, 13 free digital events, plus free outdoor events and activities all weekend long. Tickets are now on sale online and through the Harbourfront Centre Box Office by phone at 416-973-4000.
“This Festival is the realization of a two-year dream: when I arrived in Toronto I was struck by how passionate Canadian readers were for crime and mystery books. So it feels fitting to return to live, in-person events with the launch of MOTIVE, and to share this exceptional lineup of authors with audiences,” said Roland Gulliver, Director, Toronto International Festival of Authors. “From cozy crime to police procedural, psychological thriller to Nordic Noir, the crime and mystery genre has created some of the world’s best storytellers who offer perspectives on the world and explore contemporary social issues through captivating narratives.”
“We are thrilled to work with TIFA to bring the MOTIVE Crime & Mystery Festival to life. As one of the most popular genres on the Kobo Plus all-you-can read subscription service, we have experienced first-hand how passionate readers are for the genre,” said Bart Roberts, Director, Kobo Plus. “Readers who get hooked on mystery want to read everything they can uncover and we’re pleased to offer stories from the best criminal minds in the world for one low monthly fee. Kobo Plus makes it easy to read as many books as you want, to explore new mysteries risk-free, and discover international authors you may not otherwise have found.”
MOTIVE is generously supported by Presenting sponsor Kobo Plus, International sponsor Icelandair and Official booksellers Rakuten Kobo and Indigo.
Ticket prices for MOTIVE start at $16.50+HST ($12.50 for students and youth aged 25 and under). Digital events, The Hidden, and a selection of outdoor activities will be free.
In February, the Toronto International Festival of Authors announced a new series of events called The New Embassy. Featuring spoken word, poetry, fiction and non-fiction, theatrical readings, music and dance performed by a roster of influential Canadian artists, the five digital events provide an incredible opportunity to watch an array of artists speak their truth and push the boundaries of storytelling.
To get insight into their work, we asked The New Embassy artists about how they challenge themselves and break the mould of what’s expected. Read what they had to say below.
“I challenge myself by trying to always deepen my own relationship to my artistic practice. The notion of risk and risk-taking, for me, is first and foremost a relationship to myself, a relationship I hold with my work, with my artistic voice, where I strive to go deeper into my research, into my inquiry and in the artistic forms that this inquiry can take. There lies the challenge for me.
I try not to think or focus on what is happening “in the field.” I turn to the field as a way of inspiring myself, to keep my ear to the ground, to be engaged with the work of my peers. But when it comes to challenging myself, it is always in relation to my own practice. It is about expanding my own mould, the one within which I am working, so I never get too comfortable.”
“I don’t necessarily think of challenging myself as an impetus, more so I am interested in sharing a truth about myself that deeply resonates with me, and literally feels like it’s moving me, by rattling my bones and setting my heart and spirit free.
Breaking the mould is not something I consider when creating work, but I am aware that the mould of what is expected of me is very narrow. So, in a sense existing in this world the way I do already breaks the mould. When I say I am nonbinary, people often think it is referring to gender only, but there are so many binaries (race, sexuality, body type, class), and boxes that cannot contain the truth of who I am, & I no longer wish to abide by them. When creating I think mostly of my unique truth and humanity, and let the boxes shatter where they may.”
“I believe I challenge myself as an artist by tackling topics that would generally be uncomfortable to discuss publicly, within my art. Expressing myself has always come with some difficulty, and art has been a way to move past that.
Generally, I don’t ever really consider it as breaking the mould of what’s expected. Rather my intention when touching on these topics is to let others within my communities know that they are not alone.”
“I’m continually challenging myself as a performer and writer by asking myself: am I telling a whole story, a story that includes contradictions and multiplicity, and makes space for grief, pain and joy and hope?
I am not interested in breaking the mould, that has nothing to do with me or my work and I can’t let myself get distracted by that.
I am interested in making my own singular and authentic contribution to culture and storytelling.”
“I challenge myself by learning things that are just too difficult for me to do. I am obssesed with form, absence, context and emptiness. The vastness of space and how to capture it in art. I challenge myself mostly by learning the works of great masters of the past, and they teach me various lessons about the creation of the sublime.
I think understanding the mould in great depth is a pre-condition for breaking it, and I do not presume such a depth of understanding. While it is amusing to thwart the expectations of the audience I am more concerned with verisimilitude and divinity. Many of the existing moulds and structures are very fine for creating sublime and uncanny effects, but in truth I do break rules where it is natural or within the logic of the work to do so. But I take no special pride in trailblazing, I view myself as a continuation of many other greater artists than myself and find my practice a humbling one.”
Learn more about The New Embassy digital series, running from February to April, 2022, here.
Today, the Toronto International Festival of Authors (TIFA) announced the Spring 2022 Season of Toronto Lit Up, a joint initiative with Toronto Arts Council to spotlight Toronto writers, and also opened the call for submissions for the programme’s next season. The Spring Season, taking place now through to June, will feature digital and in-person events that celebrate the launch of eight new books by nine local authors/illustrators.
The selected authors and books for the Spring 2022 Season are:
- Mahak Jain and Anu Chouhan (Illustrator), Bharatanatyam in Ballet Shoes (Annick Press)
- Robert McGill, Suitable Companion for the End of Your Life (Coach House Books)
- Neil Besner, Fishing With Tardelli: A Memoir of Family in Time Lost (ECW Press)
- Terri Favro, The Sisters Sputnik (ECW Press)
- Adrienne Todd, City of Sensors (Now Or Never Publishing)
- S.L. Klassen, Menno-Nightcaps: Cocktails Inspired by that Odd Ethno-Religious Group You Keep Mistaking for the Amish, Quakers Or Mormons (TouchWood Editions)
- Margaret DeRosia, Eight Strings (Simon & Schuster)
- Sonya Singh, Sari, Not Sari (Simon & Schuster)
July 2022 – March 2023 Season Call For Submissions
As of today, the call for submissions is open for the next season of Toronto Lit Up, which will take place between July 2022 and March 2023. This is an extended season, taking into account that many book launches were delayed during the past two years as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Torontonians who will be published authors within the season dates, and their publicists, are invited to apply to the programme for book launch support. Submissions will be accepted between April 1 and 30, 2022.
All submissions will be reviewed by the Toronto Lit Up Committee, composed of Ayesha Chatterjee (past president, League of Canadian Poets), Alison Jones (Quill and Quire) and Hazel Millar (Literary Press Group).
Black Futures Month, celebrated in conjunction with Black History Month, takes place every February to encourage a more nuanced understanding of Black existence. Through events, readings, performances and more, it’s an opportunity to highlight the work being created by Black artists all year long, and consider the roles we all play in paving new, equitable futures.
The Toronto International Festival of Authors has selected six Black writers creating remarkable work in the Canadian literary scene today. Through their poetry, books and essays, these authors are sharing unique perspectives and experiences. Learn more about these authors below, and be sure to add their work to your reading list.
Scarborough, Ontario’s Randell Adjei has made a name for himself inspiring communities through his passion for poetry. He is an author, spoken word artist and motivational speaker whose debut poetry collection, I Am Not My Struggles, is a powerful exploration challenges and triumphs, and a reminder that an individual’s struggles should not define them. In addition to becoming Ontario’s first-ever Poet Laureate (a role he’s held since 2021), Adjei is also well-known for his extensive work with BIPOC youth through R.I.S.E. Edutainment.
Romance readers might already know Jane Igharo. Her first two books, Ties That Tether and The Sweetest Remedy, are fan favourites owed to the strong and beautifully flawed Nigerian women portrayed at their core. These characters are reflective of Igharo’s own experiences immigrating to Canada from Nigeria at the age of 12, and the women she’s encountered in her life. Her third novel, Worth Having, is will be released in September.
Even before the pandemic, author and freelance journalist King Perry was fascinated by the way local sports brought communities together. From basketball to cricket, Perry witnessed how groups of people gathered all around Toronto, celebrating and strengthening their neighbourhoods. When the pandemic restricted these gatherings, King was optimistic and penned Rebound: Sports, Community and the Inclusive City. The book celebrates the importance of inclusive local spaces, such as community centres and parks, and explores the many ways to reimagine neighbourhoods.
While readers eagerly wait for Canisia Lubrin’s debut fiction book, Code Noir, to be released in 2023, the award-winning author’s poetry continues to impress. Her collection The Dyzgraphxst, was the winner of the OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature, the Derek Walcott Prize and the 2021 Griffin Poetry Prize. To celebrate the new generation of artists inspiring Canada’s ever-evolving literary scene, Lubrin is curating a special performance of poetry, music and theatre as part of TIFA’s The New Embassy series this February, available to watch digitally for free.
Robyn Maynard’s national bestselling book Policing Black Lives: State Violence in Canada from Slavery to the Present is a staple in reading lists nation-wide. An honest portrayal of anti-Blackness, racism and slavery in Canada’s history, Maynard lifts the veil of ‘multiculturalism’ that Canada promotes. Her work as a writer demands a new way forward, and she isn’t stopping with Policing Black Lives. In Maynard’s new book Rehearsals for Living, set to release in June, she teams up with Leanne Betasamosake Simpson for an honest conversation about Black and Indigenous perspectives on what’s happening now, and how slavery and colonization brought us here.
YA author Louisa Onomé’s book Like Home is an enthralling coming-of-age story set in a beloved neighbourhood threatened by gentrification. From navigating common teenage emotions and complicated friendships to fighting for a place to call home, Onomé finds a unique and thoughtful way to explore what many marginalized races and socioeconomic classes face every day. Drawn from her own experiences of being a Nigerian-Canadian, her writing provides much-needed representation in the YA genre. Her second novel, Twice as Perfect, will be released in July.
If you are looking for more opportunities to learn from Black authors, artists and performers, be sure to check out Kuumba, a month-long programme of stimulating and thought-provoking discussions and performances.
A digital mini-series spotlighting a new wave of CanLit influencers
The Toronto International Festival of Authors (TIFA) is thrilled to announce The New Embassy: a new five-part digital series spotlighting artists who are shaping Canada’s literary futures. The events will stream for free between February and April, 2022. Events will be curated by Yousef Kadoura, Canisia Lubrin, Jen Sookfong Lee, Kai Cheng Thom and Syrus Marcus Ware; and feature spoken word, poetry, fiction and non-fiction, theatrical readings, music and dance performed by a roster of influential artists, including Sze-Yang Ade-Lam, Britta B., Courage Bacchus, Aedan Corey, Rodney Diverlus, Beau Dixon, Jaz Fairy J, Aisha Sasha John, Kama La Mackerel, Joy Lapps, Janice Jo Lee, Erica Violet Lee, Kim Ninkuru, Dainty Smith, Zoey Roy and others.
The New Embassy is a celebration of Canadian voices in the 21st century, presented in the spontaneous and innovative spirit of Toronto’s iconic Bohemian Embassy: the iconic 1960s coffee house that helped cultivate the careers of many storytelling legends, such as Margaret Atwood, bpNichol, Gordon Lightfoot, Gwendolyn MacEwen, Lorne Michaels, Michael Ondaatje and Al Purdy. The Bohemian Embassy is considered to be the foremother of the Harbourfront Reading Series, which has grown into the Toronto International Festival of Authors we know today. Prompted by the renowned Ai WeiWei quote “Everything is Art, Everything is Politics”, The New Embassy will bring forward diverse perspectives and lived experiences through artistic works that explore the intersections of race, class, gender, sexuality and identity.
Events will be available to watch at their designated release times and 72 hours thereafter. As always, TIFA’s donating Friends and Patrons will have extended viewing access (to learn more, visit festivalofauthors.ca/donate).
We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts.
Whether you are looking to complete a reading challenge, or just seeking an enjoyable way to pass the time, Canadian authors have a lot to offer your 2022 TBR (To Be Read) pile. From thrillers to memoirs, and poetry to stories for young readers, the Toronto International Festival of Authors has selected 10 books that showcase some of the incredible diversity and talent being published by Canadians this year. Read on, for our suggested new releases.
Canadian storyteller Vivek Shraya has embraced many roles throughout her work in music, literature, visual art, theatre and film. In People Change, Shraya explores this desire to change, the impulses behind doing something new, and the many ways people are drawn to change. Through the lens of her own life experiences, Sharya presents a new perspective, one that encourages you to celebrate the past, and to look forward to what will come next.
The Other Ones, written by Jamesie Fournier & illustrated by Jared Boggess (Inhabit Media Inc., March)
Featuring two stories that blend the elements of traditional Inuit mythology with the modern horror genre, debut author Jamesie Fournier’s The Other Ones is a dark, thrilling exploration into the monstrous forces awakened in a secluded cabin. How does a simple game with leftover string turn into a visit from the horrifying Inuunngittut? Be forewarned, this heart-pounding book is not for those easily spooked.
Burning Questions: Essays and Occasional Pieces, 2004–2021 by Margaret Atwood (McClelland & Stewart, March 1)
Margaret Atwood is back with even more powerful insight. This time, it’s an expansive collection of essays full of humour and curiosity. From asking why people everywhere tell stories to what zombies have to do with authoritarianism, Atwood explores a wide range of burning questions throughout the 50+ pieces published in this new book.
And a Dog Called Fig: Solitude, Connection, the Writing Life by Helen Humphreys (HarperCollins, March 8)
Canadian poet and novelist Helen Humphreys’ latest work is a celebration of the loyal four-legged companion of writers everywhere. Through Humphreys’ own stories about her dog Fig, and additional tales from other writers like Virginia Woolf, Gertrude Stein and Thomas Hardy about the impact of their own dogs, And a Dog Called Fig mixes important lessons about the craft of writing and a life shared with a loving friend.
Zarqa Nawaz, the creator of the hit CBC series Little Mosque on the Prairie, is back with another book called Jameela Green Ruins Everything. This time it’s a hilarious satire about an American Muslim woman named Jameela as she gets caught up in a chain of absurd and unfortunate events. From the simple wish of getting her memoir on The New York Times bestseller list, Jameela suddenly finds herself on a rescue mission involving the CIA and an international terrorist organization. It’s promising to be full of adventure, humour and heart.
Poetry enthusiasts are in luck with Shani Mootoo’s new collection, Cane | Fire. After a long-awaited return to poetry, Mootoo explores the past and present, going on a journey through Ireland, San Fernando, Canada and many more places along the way. The deeply personal poems challenge the idea of self, and how life can be shaped and reimagined.
What Is Written on the Tongue is a new transportive historical novel by Saskatchewan-based author Anne Lazurko. Fans of her first novel, Dollybird, a winner of the WILLA Award for Historical Fiction, will be immersed in the throes of war and colonization as a drafted soldier recently released from Nazi forced labour finds himself lost between love and the horrors of battle.
East coast author Lisa Moore is known for creating incredibly complex and rich characters, and her latest book, This is How We Love, delivers in spades. Through the story of 21-year-old Xavier’s brutal attack during a snowstorm in Newfoundland, Moore showcases the sacrifice, pain and joy of family. As the events of Xavier’s night unfold, so do the stories of the generations before him that led to that unthinkable moment.
Martin and the River, written by Jon-Erik Lappano & Illustrated by Josée Bisaillon (ages 3–6) (Groundwood Books, March 1)
A perfect book for young kids, Martin and the River is about a young boy’s experience having to move to a new home in the city, away from his favourite river in the country. While it’s a big change for Martin, he learns along the way that big changes also come with new places to explore. With beautiful illustrations, the book celebrates the wonderful connection kids can have with nature wherever they live.
Set during a humid summer in the mid-2000s, Alexandra Mae Jones’s debut novel follows 16-year-old Dell as she takes a much-needed escape at the family cabin. But with a lake filled with trash and having to navigate the suffocating expectations of everyone around her, Dell finds herself struggling with new feelings, family secrets and troubling dreams.