Fellow book nerds, rejoice! The Toronto International Festival of Authors (TIFA, for those in the know) is back with a lineup so well curated, we may pee ourselves with excitement. TIFA runs from October 22 through November 1st. Your favourite authors are coming together for over two hundred virtual events, and the best part is it’s all free!
Treat yourselves to eleven days of readings, author talks, poetry nights, and podcasts. All you have to do is register in advance.
We know a festival with so much to offer can be intimidating. Indeed, there are dozens of things we’d love to see. But for those who don’t have time to wade through the festival program, here’s a selection of ten TIFA events we can’t wait to attend!
In search of an awesome activity for your family? Well, look no further than this child-friendly (and free) TIFA Talk! A member of Norway House Cree Nation, David A. Robertson’s books are fantastic and help educate youth on indigenous history. The graphic novelist and writer established himself as a literary luminary in 2017, when Robertson received a Governor General’s Award for When We Were Alone, an illustrated children’s book about Canada’s residential schools. His latest book is called The Barren Grounds. Inspired by both CS Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia and indigenous storytelling, it follows the journey of characters who are transported to another world – one that is in danger and needs our heroes’ help to survive. Your kids will be enthralled when they hear Robertson talk!
Emily St. John Mandel is one of the most relevant authors in the game. Her 2014 novel Station Eleven is about a world ravaged by a pandemic (sound familiar?). An international hit, Station Eleven is being adapted into a miniseries for HBO. St. John Mandel has returned with her fifth novel, The Glass House. It chronicles the downfall of a Ponzi scheme and the aftermath of an incident involving offensive graffiti at a hotel on Vancouver Island. Okay, we’re hooked! If you are too, St. John Mandel’s talk will discuss the many ways life can be derailed in the modern world.
Lauren McKeon is fighting the good feminist fight. The acclaimed nonfiction writer is back with her second book, a feminist call to action titled No More Nice Girls. McKeon will be joined by iconic CBC podcaster Michelle Parise (Alone: A Love Story), as well as cutting-edge author and illustrator Hana Shafi (Kind of Dirty: Affirmations for The Real World). If you’re seeking a life-affirming feminist conversation, this event is ideal.
It goes without saying Margaret Atwood is a literary giant. During this opening night event, Atwood author will talk about what makes her tick. She’ll discuss her most famous works, from The Handmaid’s Tale to The Blind Assassin. Maybe we’ll learn how the always prescient author’s plots practically predict the future…
Fed up with our current reality? Well, how about spending a couple hours with an up-and-coming author of fantasy fiction? We recommend watching Evan Winter introduce the second book in his sensational series: The Fires of Vengeance. Winter’s work follows the journey of a deposed queen, who works with a young warrior to reclaim the throne. Winter read from his latest book. Winter will also discuss his seamless transition from self-published author to traditional publishing success. For those looking to self-publish their own novels someday, this is must-see programming!
In the market for a truly delightful evening? How about a fireside chat about taking the guilt out of pleasure with Cynthia Loyst? Full disclosure: I personally know the Canadian talk show host/sex educator/writer. Even Fuller Disclosure: I also write for her website. However, I would be remiss if I didn’t share this event with you, dear readers. Here’s why: I read Loyst’s book during the miserable last weeks of pregnancy, and it truly inspired me. Find Your Pleasure is full of gorgeous pictures and helpful advice for living a more pleasurable life (and not only in a sexual sense). If you’re been depleted by the dumpster fire known as 2020, I recommend hearing what Loyst has to say.
Leanne Betasamoksake is a woman of many talents. She is a writer, a scholar, and a musician. Her fifth book, Noopiming, is a bold retelling of Susanna Moodie’s 1852 memoir Roughing It In The Bush (You may have read Moodie’s racist tome in high school). Its full title is Noopiming: A Cure For White Ladies. The acclaimed Michi Saagig Nishnaabeg author will sit down for an essential conversation about decolonization, degentrification, and talking back to the problematic myths created by white settlers.
Catherine Hernandez is one of Toronto’s strongest literary voices. Author of the celebrated 2017 novel Scarborough, the queer-identified author’s latest book is Crosshairs, a cautionary tale about a dystopian future. Crosshairs is set in an oppressive regime, where those considered “Other” are rounded up and sent to concentration camps. The plot centres around a queer black performer who joins the resistance. Hernandez’ discussion will dive into similarities between her dystopia, and the world in which her readers live. This talk is ideal for anyone who fears we’re living in The Darkest Timeline.
Let’s not lose the momentum from earlier this past summer. Moderated by Toronto Star Journalist Angelyn Francis, this panel will bring together Canada’s top minds to discuss anti-Black racism and police brutality. Authors Rodney Diverlus, Dana R. Fisher and Robyn Maynard will look back at the history of anti-Black racism in North America, and examine the timeline that leads us to today. The discussion will take a critical look at what has or hasn’t changed in recent years, and where we energy must be directed to move in the right direction.
If you miss poetry readings at your favourite dive bar, TIFA’s International Spoken Word Night will be a balm. The epic evening will bring together poets from around the world. Attendees will be lucky enough to watch performances from some of the biggest names in spoken word poetry, including Zoey Roy, Desiree McKenzie, and Diksha Bijlani. It’s going to be our minds, and we can’t wait!