Bookmarks: IFOA Edition

IFOA is starting off with a bang this year with Stephen King and Owen King headlining PEN Canada’s annual benefit. Tickets for the event are $100 and all the proceeds go to PEN Canada. It’s a wonderful cause, and a chance to meet some legendary authors.

There are so many events going on, it may get overwhelming. Or perhaps you have never been to IFOA and wonder what to do and where to go? Well here are a few suggestions:


Dennis Bock teaches at the University of Toronto when he isn’t winning awards and acclaim for his writing. He’s reading from Going Home Again, a Giller Prize-shortlisted novel! Going Home Again explores the fine line between relationships, falling in and out of love, and tenderness and violence. More info here.

Two for one special: Colum McCann has not only won multiple literary awards for Let the Great World Spin, but his short film Everything in this Country Must received an Oscar nomination. Wow! He will be reading from his latest novel TransAtlantic, which was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize. Fiction Pulitzer Prize winner, Paul Harding, is presenting Enon, the story of a father who is trying, and often failing, to cope with the death of his 13-year-old daughter. Bring a box of tissues with you to this one! Both authors will be doing a reading at the Fleck Dance Theatre.


If you’re a fan of Giller nominees, Lauren B. Davis was longlisted for the 2012 Giller Prize. She will be reading from The Empty Room, a novel that will break your heart and resonate long after you finish. More info here. OR, you could go to IFOA Markham and see Lauren B. Davis and Janie Chang during an author meet and greet. Janie Chang writes historical fiction, and her newest novel Three Souls revitalizes Chinese history and the memory of her own grandmother.

Charlotte Gray has won numerous awards for historical writing, and is an active member of the Order of Canada. She will be reading from The Massey Murder, a true account of Carrie Davies and the murder she executed in 1915. She is a delight to listen to, and I highly recommend checking out some of her cultural commentaries. More info here.

Anyone watching the tv show The Borgias? I can’t get enough of that family and their drama. Sarah Dunant’s novel Blood & Beauty ventures deep into the Borgia family, which is rich with secrets, deception, and lust. If you haven’t read it, this is the perfect time to see what all the hype is about. And lucky for you, this reading event also includes Margaret Atwood! More info here.

How about something recent? Francine Prose’s My New American Life is a satirical screenshot of contemporary American society and the American dream. This is a great event to learn about what it’s like for someone to be new to a culture, not just a country. Thought-provoking and heartfelt, you’ll want to laugh and cry.  More info here.


Helen Humphreys will be doing readings at at IFOA Thunder Bay and IFOA Midland. She will be presenting The Reinvention of Love, a fascinating love story between Victor Hugo’s wife and his friend, the writer Charles Sainte-Beuve. If you’re a big fan, I recommend going to Midland because there will be an author Q&A afterwards and a period for book signings!


Alice McDermott is a master of manipulating time and place in her novels. She will be discussing her techniques and inspirations during Adventures in Storytelling: Tools of Time and Place alongside Janet E. Cameron, Fiona Kidman, Mary-Rose MacColl, and host, Stuart Woods. More info here.

Ann Dowsett Johnston and Jowita Bydlowska will discuss writing about addiction and alcohol abuse in Messages from The Bottle, hosted by Siri Agrell. Ann Dowsett Johnston’s latest book Drink is a combination of her personal struggle with recovery and research that suggests we should look more closely into the drinking patterns of women. This panel promises to be an intimate look into Ann’s and Jowita’s lives and how they have used those life lessons in their writing.  More info here.


IFOA is a great time to discover authors (and become lifelong fans), so here are three authors that we’re excited to hear:

Philipp Meyer’s, whose novel promises to send you to another time. The Son spans the American West from the Comanche raids to the 20th century oil booms, and chronicles the rise and fall of the McCullough family. This reading session includes authors such as Andrew Pyper and C.K. Stead. Be prepared to be left in suspense! More info here.

The ultimate emotional experience, Tom Barbash, Jami Attenberg, Catherine Bush, Beatriz Hausner, and Kim Scott will be reading from the heart. We’re particularly excited for Tom Barbash, who will be presenting from Stay Up With Me. These short stories will make you love thy neighbour and even forgive people during rush hour traffic. More info here.


On a really fun note, Frank Viva, children’s author and illustrator extraordinaire, will be doing a double header with Eric Walters! Frank Viva’s books A Long Way Away and Along a Long Road are never-ending pages of amusement. I can also personally attest to Eric Walters’ storytelling abilities. He is phenomenal and you will beg him to read aloud every book he’s ever written! This event is special because not only will you hear the authors read from their work, but you can participate in a bookplate-making workshop afterwards. More info here.

If you’re a fan of YA, Lesley Livingston‘s event is where you want to be. She will be reading from Descendant, her latest book and thrilling sequel to Starling. Lesley Livingston is hilarious and charming and so very easy to love. At the end of her reading with Evan Munday, there will be a bookplate making workshop as well! So, if children’s books aren’t your thing, then this is one event you need to check out. More info here.

Let us know which events you’re going to on twitter @SavvyReader! (Hint, we love pictures).

Happy IFOA, Toronto!

#FF me at @notquiteanitwit and, @SavvyReader of course!

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Canadian publishing professionals and bloggers. Looking for savvy readers to talk books with us!

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