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IFOA 2012: Q&Q staff make their picks

With Toronto’s International Festival of Authors (Oct. 18“28) fast approaching, and with 10 days of readings, interviews, parties, and round-table discussions to chose from, it can be difficult to make decisions about whom to see. If you need a little help, here are 15 events where you’ll find Q&Q staff.

Naomi Duguid (Photo: Laura Berman)


Michael Chabon and Junot Díaz (interviewed by Siri Agrell)
While the cancellation of Alice Munro’s scheduled appearance at this year’s festival is a big disappointment, there remain plenty of options for short-story connoisseurs. For my money, one of the most electrifying practitioners of the form is Dominican-born* U.S. author Junot Díaz, who, like Munro, has a close affiliation with The New Yorker. If you haven’t snagged a ticket to Friday’s sold-out double bill with blockbuster literary novelist Michael Chabon, you can catch the Pulitzer Prize“winning author reading from his new collection, This Is How You Lose Her, the following afternoon. Friday, Oct. 19, 8:00 p.m., Fleck Dance Theatre, SOLD OUT/Saturday Oct. 20, 12:00 p.m., Studio Theatre

Naomi Duguid, Rachel Joyce, and Arno Kopecky (hosted by Ben McNally)
Naomi Duguid is unlike most cookbook writers. The Toronto author does not have her own TV show or run a swank restaurant, but instead takes a globe-trotting approach to her craft, travelling far and wide to uncover the cuisines of remote and overlooked cultures. On Oct. 21, Duguid will discuss her new book, Burma, alongside journalist and fellow adventurer Arno Kopecky and U.K. novelist Rachel Joyce. (As an added bonus, the reading will be hosted by the Toronto bookseller Ben McNally, who is sure to have some adventure stories of his own.) Sunday, Oct. 21, 12:00 p.m., Studio Theatre

Tamas Dobozy
Like Díaz, multi-award nominee Tamas Dobozy is also receiving lots of attention for his sophomore short-story collection. The Ontario-based author, who won the 2011 O. Henry Award, will read from Siege 13 as part of the finalists’ showcase for both the Governor General’s Literary Awards (Oct. 22) and the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize (Oct. 24). Monday, Oct. 22, 8:00 p.m., Fleck Dance Theatre/Wednesday, Oct. 24, 8:00p.m., Brigantine Room

Phil Hall

STEVEN BEATTIE, reviews editor

Reading/Round table: Roo Borson, Phil Hall, Don McKay, Sadiqa de Meijer
Three of Canada’s best poets “ Roo Borson, Phil Hall, and Don McKay “ join this year’s English-language winner of the CBC Poetry Prize, Sadiqa de Meijer, for a reading and round-table discussion about the importance of poetry in today’s society. CBC’s Garvia Bailey moderates the conversation. Saturday, Oct. 20, 4:00 p.m., Studio Theatre

Scotiabank Giller Prize finalists
Carol Off hosts readings by this year’s Scotiabank Giller Prize quintet: Will Ferguson, Alix Ohlin, Nancy Richler, Kim Thúy, and Russell Wangersky. But at least as significant is the presentation of the $10,000 Harbourfront Festival Prize, which this year goes to one of Canada’s best writers, Austin Clarke, himself a former recipient of the Giller Prize. Saturday Oct. 27, 8:00 p.m., Fleck Dance Theatre

Found in Translation: Japan @ IFOA
From Haruki Murakami to Natsuo Kirino, some of the quirkiest, most cutting-edge world fiction is being produced in Japan. Ted Gossen, professor of Japanese literature and film at York University, moderates a panel about the twin poles of realism and surrealism in Japanese fiction. The featured writers are poet Hiromi Ito, novelist Hiromi Kawakami, and Motoyuki Shabata. Sunday, Oct. 28, 4:00 p.m., Studio Theatre

Shane Peacock (Photo: Kevin Kelly)

DORY CERNY, Books for Young People editor

Round table: Where I’m Writing From with Amor Towles, Anita Amirrezvani, and Joanne Harris (moderated by Nathalie Atkinson)
One of the great joys of reading fiction is immersing yourself in a time or place (or both) that is other than your everyday existence.  The excitement of 1930s New York, as in Amor Towles’ Rules of Civility, the quaint but complicated French village in Joanne Harris’s Peaches for Monsieur le Curé, and the exotic, politically charged drama of a 16th-century Iran in Anita Amirrezvani’s Equal of the Sun all appeal to my imagination’s wanderlust. Hearing the authors speak to why and how they chose their settings should prove enlightening and entertaining. Sunday, Oct. 21, 11:00 a.m., Lakeside Terrace

Young IFOA: Seven: The Series, with Sigmund Brouwer, Norah McClintock, Shane Peacock, John Wilson, Richard Scrimger, Ted Staunton, and John Wilson (hosted by Lesley Livingston)
Having had the pleasure of moderating a Word on the Street panel with four of the Seven series authors, I’m looking forward to hearing what the full complement has to say about the series “ especially Eric Walters, the mastermind behind the whole shebang. Moderator (and YA author) Lesley Livingston has great stage presence, so I’m sure it will be fun for all. Friday, Oct. 26, 10:30 a.m., Brigantine Room

Round table: Zombies, Witches, Killers, and Cowboys with Deborah Harkness, Alan Mattich, Jo Nesbø, and Corey Redekop (moderated by Andrew Pyper)
Maybe it’s all the YA dystopian and supernatural fiction I’ve been reading, but witches and zombies appeal to me of late. I’ve always been a sucker for a good mystery as well, so this panel discussion is right up my alley. Deborah Harkness’s All Souls trilogy is a guilty pleasure of mine, and I can’t wait to hear what Corey Redekop thinks the future of the novel looks like through the nature of his zombie protagonist. Saturday, Oct. 27, 12:00 p.m., Brigantine Room

Tanis Rideout


Ned Beauman, Wayne Macauley, Jo Nesbø, and Anakana Schofield (hosted by Stuart Woods)
One of the joys of IFOA is discovering new writers, and judging from the accolades Ned Beauman received for his Booker Prize“longlisted novel The Teleportation Accident, I’ll be slapping down my credit card to buy a copy in the IFOA shop.  Saturday, Oct. 27, 2:00 pm, Fleck Dance Theatre

Leanne Shapton (interviewed by Seth)
I had the pleasure of speaking to artist and writer Leanne Shapton earlier this year about her new memoir, Swimming Studies, which dips into her past as a competitive swimmer, layering personal essays with photos and watercolour paintings. Comics artist Seth, who did a brilliant job interviewing Daniel Clowes at last year’s IFOA, is the ideal person to question Shapton about her unique creative process. Saturday, Oct. 27, 3:00 pm, Studio Theatre

Novelists for a New Age with Matt Lennox, Stacey Madden, Aga Maksimowska, Grace O’Connell, Tanis Rideout (interviewed by Catherine Bush)
Authors are soon going to surpass veterinarians as the University of Guelph’s top export. A group of talented MFA grads from the school’s creative-writing program discuss their recent debut novels and the challenges they face establishing themselves in Canadian publishing. Sunday, Oct. 21, 4 p.m., Lakeside Terrace

Pasha Malla

SAFA JINJE, intern

Junot Díaz, Christine Pountney, Ron Rash, and Amor Towles
IFOA gives fans of Junot Díaz a second chance to hear him read from his short-story collection This Is How You Lose Her. Díaz is joined by three other writers, who share similar roles in the creative sphere of academia, to discuss their latest bodies of work. Saturday, Oct. 20, 12:00 p.m., Studio Theatre

DNTO reading/interview: Jian Ghomeshi, Jonathan Goldstein, Nora Young (interviewed by Sook-Yin Lee)
Four CBC Radio personalities come together for a night of live readings and (hopefully) even livelier conversations. You won’t want to miss the chance to see these interviewers become the interviewees. Saturday, Oct. 20, 9 p.m., Lakeside Terrace

Ekiwah AdlerBeléndez, Chris Cleave, Pasha Malla, Robin Sloan, and Claire Vaye Watkins (hosted by Bert Archer)
This reading brings together young writers from very different backgrounds: two American first-time novelists, a Mexican poet, a British writer and journalist whose latest novel was inspired by the 2012 Olympics, and Canada’s own Pasha Malla, who will read from his first novel, People Park. Wednesday, Oct. 24, 8 p.m., Fleck Dance Theatre


CORRECTION, Oct. 18: An earlier version of this story stated Díaz was Haitian-born.