Starting tomorrow, Harbourfront Centre will be transformed into a book lover’s paradise for the kickoff of the Toronto International Festival of Authors. Plenty of your favourite authors will be in attendance this year, including Canadians Sarah Polley, Martha Wainwright and Vivek Shraya.
As the largest literary festival in Canada, TIFA is offering 200+ events this year! In addition to author appearances, you can take in music and poetry performances, attend a writing masterclass, or get a copy of your favourite book autographed. Here’s our guide to this year’s festival, with some of the events and women authors we think you’ll want to see. TIFA runs until October 2.
We read Sarah Polley’s page-turning memoir in 48 hours, and then urged our mother and sister to read it too. Following, we all had several conversations about the complicated and painful chapters in Polley’s life, from missing out on childhood due to long hours on the set of Road to Avonlea to losing her mother at a young age, moving out as a young teenager, and a sexual assault that has haunted her for years. In Run Towards the Danger, Polley also shares about debilitating physical conditions she’s suffered, and how they’ve affected her life, from severe scoliosis to endometriosis to a brain injury that derailed her life for over a year. It’s a fascinating and emotional read, and we recommend it as a prerequisite to watching Women Talking, her film based on Miriam Towes’ bestselling book that is generating Best Picture buzz. No doubt this event will fill up fast.
Martha Wainwright’s daringly honest memoir is another book that we gulped down ferociously. Wainwright shares what it was like to grow up in a family full of successful musicians (mother Kate MacGarrigle, father Loudon Wainwright III and brother Rufus Wainwright) describes a challenging adolescence, split between life in Montreal with her mother and time in New York City with her father. In her twenties, Wainwright partied hard, numbing herself with drugs and alcohol, as she constantly tried to find her footing as an artist. Tumultuous relationships, divorce, the immense challenges of motherhood and self-love are all themes that Wainwright explores courageously. Gripping and gut-wrenching, it reads like a diary of a best friend, and had us in tears more than once. Martha doesn’t hold back and we can’t wait to see her in person on Oct 2.
This Thursday, sit back for an intimate conversation between two poets who each write so powerfully about women’s lives and sexuality. Toronto author Farzana Doctor will discuss her recent poetry collection You Still Look The Same, an intimate deep dive and a humorous glance at the tumultuous decade of her forties, looking at the oddness of sex and love, and navigating mid-life breakups, dating, racism and misogyny. She’ll be joined by Britain’s Hollie McNish, author of Slug, a collection of prose and poetry boldly examining the human condition from birth to death and everything in between.
Canadian author Heather O’Neill’s latest, When We Lost Our Heads mixes social commentary with compelling historical fiction. Set in an affluent area of nineteenth-century Montreal, the novel centres on an intense friendship between two young women that threatens to change the course of history. O’Neill explores dynamics of class, gender, desire and femininity through this page-turning story—hear her dive deeper during her talk at TIFA on September 27.
Following up with the long-awaited sequel to Rachel’s Holiday, Irish author Marian Keyes returns with Again, Rachel — picking up after Rachel’s time in rehab as she goes on a journey of recovery, forgiveness and compassion. Tune in for this conversation with Keyes on September 30.
Toronto’s 3rd Poet Laureate Dionne Brand will share her newest collection at the festival on October 1. With work spanning from 1982 to the present day, Nomenclature: New and Collected Poems is an intense, intimate and profound reflection on wars and revolutions. Join the award-winning Canadian author as she shares this window into her imagination.
The latest book from multidisciplinary Canadian artist and author Vivek Shraya is described as “a radical embracing of change, and a meditation that challenges Western concepts of identity.” Citing both Hinduism and Madonna as inspirations, in People Change Shraya will reflect on what re-invention means in our lives, and what is both fearful and alluring about the concept of change. The book sounds like an excellent opportunity for some introspection, and we can’t wait for this liberating conversation with Shraya on October 1.
If you think romance novels aren’t for you, these two Toronto authors might be able to change your mind. Lily Chu and Sonya Singh have both crafted romantic stories that balance light-hearted storytelling with hard-hitting themes of culture and identity. See them chat about The Stand-In and Sari, Not Sari on October 2.
For the Kids
Head over to Harbourfront Centre on Saturday for a day full of indoor and outdoor reading-related activities for the whole family. Kids can dress up as their favourite book character and strike a pose at the Book Jacket Photobooth, or watch an audio-immersive storytelling performance by The Happiness Collectors. Children’s authors Kenneth Oppel, Nancy Vo, and Barroux will make appearances throughout the day to talk about their latest books.
If you’re planning a visit on another day, Toronto drag queens Fay and Fluffy will be hosting several storytimes throughout the festival, sharing picture books that discuss “sharing, self-esteem, loss and sadness, and expressing one’s uniqueness.” Or, celebrate the best of children’s literature at the 2022 CCBC Book Awards ceremony on September 29, where some of Canada’s best writers will be in attendance to receive awards for gorgeous picture books and compelling YA novels.