Our top picks for the Toronto In­ter­na­tional Fes­ti­val of Au­thors

NOW Magazine - - BOOKS - By SU­SAN G. COLE

TORONTO IN­TER­NA­TIONAL FES­TI­VAL OF AU­THORS at Har­bourfront Cen­tre and other venues, Thurs­day (Oc­to­ber 18) to Oc­to­ber 28. $18-$65. Some events free. fes­ti­val­o­fau­

With its 39th edi­tion, the Toronto In­ter­na­tional Fes­ti­val of Au­thors is ap­proach­ing mid­dle age with spec­tac­u­lar en­ergy and a slate loaded with the world’s deep­est thinkers and lit­er­ary giants, in­clud­ing some of Canada’s best. But it’s the cu­ra­tion that re­ally mat­ters. A pack of pan­els and con­ver­sa­tions bring to­gether au­thors for what prom­ises to be a se­ries of fas­ci­nat­ing in­ter­ac­tions. Here’s a sam­pling of what will rock your lit­er­ary world.

THURS­DAY, OC­TO­BER 18 in con­ver­sa­tion: roddy doyle with EMMA donoghue 7:30 pm, Wal­ter Hall, Uni­ver­sity of Toronto (80 Queen’s Park) This should be one fab­u­lous gabfest. Two ebul­lient Ir­ish au­thors talk about their lives, writ­ing and their most re­cent work. Both com­pose ex­hil-arat­ing fic­tion – in­clud­ing for chil­dren – and are mul­ti­ple award win­ners. And wow, can they talk.

Fri­day, Oc­to­ber 19 in con­ver­sa­tion: Miriam toews 7 pm, Bri­g­an­tine Room, Har­bour-front Cen­tre In the #Metoo mo­ment, Miriam Toews’s Women Talk­ing looks at the im­pact of a group sex­ual as­sault that chal­lenges its Men­non­ite sur­vivors – and the au­thor her­self – in pro­found ways. Strangely ab­sent from the Giller list this year, the book has been nom­i­nated for the Gov­er­nor Gen­eral’s fic­tion award. Alissa York, who’s com­mit­ted to fe­male his­tor­i­cal rebels of all kinds, han­dles the in­ter­view du­ties.

Satur­day, Oc­to­ber 20 Man Booker Prize 50th an­niver­sary: Fea­tur­ing Mar­lon James 7 pm, Fleck Dance The­atre This ir­re­sistible event cel­e­brates the im­pact of the Man Booker Prize. Win­ner Mar­lon James (2015 win­ner for A Brief His­tory Of Seven Killings) takes the stage with other win­ners and nom­i­nees – no de­tails yet on names, but there are lots close to home and on the fes­ti­val’s slate – to dis­cuss how the prize changed their lives.

Sun­day, Oc­tO­ber 21 on lo­ca­tion and dis­Place­Ment 1 pm, Lake­side Ter­race, Har­bourfront Cen­tre A panel deal­ing with how place can af­fect char­ac­ters, cul­tures and fam­ily is es­pe­cially timely in this era of refugee cri­sis. Sri Lankan-born, New Zealand­based Bran­na­van Gnana-lingam’s Sod­den Down­stream tracks the tra­vails of a fe­male refugee. Another New Zealan­der, Maori Witi Ihi­maera (best known for The Whale Rider) of­fers a mem­oir about his child­hood and Ira­nian au­thor and poet Maryam Mad­jidi demon­strates art­ful am­biva­lence about her roots with Marx And The Doll.

MOn­day, Oc­tO­ber 22 a cel­e­Bra­tion oF the gov­er­nor gen­eral’s award 8 pm, Fleck Dance The­atre The GGs don’t have the glitz of ei­ther the Giller or Writ­ers’ Trust Prize and, with­out a fancy awards cer­e­mony in Toronto, they tend to fly un­der the radar. But these awards have the heft of longevity go­ing for them and, even bet­ter, an ex­cel­lent list of nom­i­nees this year. Hear the nom­i­nated au­thors, in­clud­ing Rawi Hage (Beirut Hell­fire So­ci­ety), Joshua White­head (Jonny Ap­ple­seed), Paige Cooper (Zoli­tude), Sara Hen­stra (The Red Word) and Miriam Toews (Women Talk­ing). The event cul­mi­nates with cel­e­brated au­thor Lee Mar­a­cle re­ceiv­ing the $10,000 Har­bourfront Fes­ti­val Prize.

tueS­day, Oc­tO­ber 23 colo­nial geno­cide, his­tory and rec­on­cil­i­a­tion 6 pm, Lake­side Ter­race, Har­bourfront Cen­tre While it’s al­ways ex­hil­a­rat­ing to hear from lit­er­ary giants from the U.S. and UK, pay at­ten­tion to the writ­ers from smaller coun­tries – not nec­es­sar­ily English-speak­ing – who keep the fes­ti­val truly in­ter­na­tional. Por­tuguese writer Dulce Maria Car­doso, who grew up in An­gola, comes with The Re­turn. Wu He, a Tai­wanese author­ity on cul­ture, ar­rives with Michael Berry, his trans­la­tor for Re­mains Of Life. And New Zealan­der Tina Mak­ereti dis-cusses Maori and Pasi­fika ex­pe­ri­ence in a panel sure to shed light on an in­creas­ingly im­por­tant theme thr-ough­out the world.

Wed­neS­day, Oc­tO­ber 24 cel­e­Brat­ing Poland 6 pm, Lake­side Ter­race, Har­bourfront Cen­tre As Poland marks its 100th an­niver­sary of in­de­pen­dence, three stel­lar and out­spo­ken au­thors weigh in on Poland’s com­plex his­tory and its cur­rent con­tro­ver­sial gov­ern­ment. This timely panel fea­tures Jakub Małecki, Dorota Masłowska and Jakub Zul­czyk in con­ver­sa­tion with Eva Stach­niak. in con­ver­sa­tion: eden roBin­son with cherie diMaline 8 pm, Fleck Dance The­atre Cana­dian Haisla/Heilt­suk writer Eden Robin­son has de­liv­ered the sec­ond in her Trick­ster tril­ogy – the first in­stall­ment, Son Of A Trick­ster, was short­listed for the Giller Prize. Trick­ster Drift is even bet­ter. It’s an en­light­en­ing, en­ter­tain­ing and very funny novel that’s get­ting too lit­tle buzz, prob­a­bly be­cause Son Of A Trick­ster got so much. Gov­er­nor Gen­eral Award-win­ning Cana­dian Métis writer Cherie Dimaline talks to Robin­son about, among other things, Indige­nous au­thor­ship.

thurS­day, Oc­tO­ber 25 sto­ry­telling in diF­Fer­ent ForMs 8 pm, Bri­g­an­tine Room, Har­bour-front Cen­tre Four great writ­ers dis­cuss why they choose their gen­res and styles in a panel about lit­er­ary craft. Dionne Brand, whose The­ory gives new mean­ing to the word sub­jec­tiv­ity, ap­pears with Isa Ka­mari (Tweet) who blends tra­di­tional and mod­ern styles, Maltese Pierre J. Me­jlak (Hav­ing Said Good­night), whose sto­ries move from the past to the fu­ture and African magic re­al­ism spe­cial­ist Ond­jaki. Could be the smartest panel at the fest. Fri­day, Oc­tO­ber 26 randy Boy­agoda and rawi hage 8 pm, Bri­g­an­tine Room This dream team spe­cial­izes in sto­ries that blend com­edy and tragedy, but they also have in com­mon sharp wits that make for very snappy on-stage ban­ter. Boy­agoda’s Orig­i­nal Prin tells the story of a uni­ver­sity pro­fes­sor in cri­sis both per­son­ally and po­lit­i­cally while Hage re­turns with Beirut Hell­fire So­ci­ety, a book about sur­viv­ing un­der dev­as­tat­ing, war-torn cir­cum­stances.

Satur­day, Oc­tO­ber 27 alex les­lie and sayaka Mu­rata 4 pm, Lake­side Ter­race, Har­bour-front Cen­tre Can’t help but tout this event in which I’m fa­cil­i­tat­ing a dis­cus­sion be­tween two au­thors pas­sion­ate about how women re­sist so­cial stric­tures. Alex Les­lie’s un­set­tling sto­ries in We All Need To Eat cen­tre around a woman’s at­tempts to cope with the pres­sure to con­form when it comes to her sex­u­al­ity and life in gen­eral. Ja­panese au­thor Sayaka Mu­rata won the pres­ti­gious Aku­ta­gawa Prize for Con­ve­nience Store Woman, which ex­am­ines in deep de­tail how a job as a con­ve­nience store clerk gives mean­ing to an un­mar­ried woman’s life.

esi edugyan and Meg wolitzer 6 pm Lake­side Ter­race, Har­bourfront Cen­tre This could be the tough­est ticket of the fes­ti­val. Edugyan’s Wash­ing­ton Black has al­ready been short-listed for both the Booker and Giller prizes and Wolitzer, flush from the re­cent open­ing of the movie The Wife, based on her novel, has been caus­ing a stir with her lat­est fic­tion The Fe­male Per­sua­sion. Both books deal with the way pow­er­ful per­sonal in­flu­ences can be both pos­i­tive and neg­a­tive and, ei­ther way, life-chang­ing. The two writ­ers have dif­fer­ent vibes – Edugyan quiet and in­tro­spec­tive, Wolitzer ef­fu­sive and some­times very funny – but that should make the con­ver­sa­tion all the more in­ter­est­ing. BuFFy sainte-Marie and an­drea warner 8 pm, Fleck Dance The­atre The CBC’s Raina Douris talks to both the au­thor and sub­ject of Buffy Sain­teMarie: The Au­tho­rized Bi­og­ra­phy. Mu­sic icon Sainte-Marie (note: she will not per­form) is fas­ci­nat­ing on her own – mu­si­cally gifted, fiercely in­dep-en­dent, point­edly po­lit­i­cal – but it’s the mak­ing of the book that’s the key here. The mu­si­cian and Warner (We Oughta Know: How Four Women Ruled The ’90s And Changed Cana­dian Mu­sic, none of them Sainte-Marie, by the way) talk about their part­ner­ship and how it fos­tered the bio’s open­ness and au­then­tic­ity Sun­day, Oc­tO­ber 28 on gen­der, Mas­culin­ity and Power 6 pm, Bri­g­an­tine Room, Har­bour-front Cen­tre Three di­verse writ­ers, mod­er­ated by Ri­naldo Wal­cott, ad­dress is­sues of fem­i­nism, sex­u­al­ity and gen­der on a pow­er­house panel sure to pro­voke de­bate. Rachel Giese deals with mas­culin­ity in Boys: What It Means To Be­come A Man from her per­spec­tive as both a cul­tural com­men­ta­tor and a mother. Sarah Hen­stra’s The Red Word, nom­i­nated for the Gov­er­nor Gen­eral’s Award, takes a clear-eyed look at rape cul­ture and col­lege life. And the mul­ti­tal­ented Vivek Shraya (I’m Afraid Of Men) ex­plores how the pres­sure to be mas­cu­line when she pre­sented as a boy con­tin­ues to play a role in her life. All three are great talk­ers. su­ | @su­sang­cole

Mar­lon James

Buffy Sainte-Marie

Esi Edugyan

Eden Robin­son

Rawi Hage

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