Geoffrey Taylor will carve out time to vote in Monday’s municipal election but it won’t be easy. The Director of Toronto’s International Festival of Authors will be in the thick of IFOA’s 35th anniversary season and he’ll be busy putting out fires and welcoming world famous authors.
“Ninety five per cent of the festival will go exactly as planned,” assures Taylor, left. “The other five per cent takes up 80 per cent of our time. Whatever you can imagine going wrong — books not being printed in time, authors missing flights — that’s what goes on.”
IFOA is one of the world’s most highly-regarded reading festivals, although Taylor concedes that it’s difficult to compare them. The Jaipur Literary Festival draws the biggest audiences, while the Edinburgh International Book Festival tallies the most authors. Still, Toronto punches above its weight: beginning tomorrow and for the ensuing 11 days, 150 of the world’s best writers will participate in readings, interviews, round table discussions and public book signings. This year’s big names include James Ellroy, Karl Ove Knausgaard, Ann-Marie MacDonald, Eimear McBride, David Nicholls, Marilynne Robinson, Miriam Toews, Colm Tóibín, Rudy Wiebe and many more.
The 2014 Toronto Book Award was handed out last night at the Toronto Reference Library’s Bram & Bluma Appel Salon but the winner, Charlotte Gray, was 1,000 kilometers away in New Brunswick. Receiving the news via telephone that her book (The Massey Murder: A Maid, Her Master and the Trial that Shocked a Country) had won, Gray said she was “over the moon.”
The Massey Murder tells the story of a domestic servant who shot and killed her employer, Albert Massey (of the famed Massey family), on Toronto’s Walmer Road in 1915. Acting City Librarian Anne Bailey congratulated Gray saying the author had drawn “an unforgettable portrait of Toronto’s social life at the beginning of the 20th century. In telling the true story of Carrie Davies, the maid who shot a Massey, Charlotte Gray captures the class conflict and societal upheaval that marked our city’s reinvention of itself at the onset of the Great War.
The awards ceremony was very well attended with the audience cheering its favorites as champions of each book spoke with MC Gill Deacon (CBC) about why their book should capture the top prize. Gray’s champion, Murdoch Mysteries author Maureen Jennings said, “With elegant prose, and fascinating research, Gray illuminates the important issues of the time: virginity, loyalty, class differences and the development of the Canadian identity. A great read.”
Each of the finalists was awarded $1,000. Pictured above from left are Nick Saul and Andrea Curtis (The Stop), Carrianne K.Y. Leung (The Wondrous Woo), Gray’s editor Jennifer Lambert, Shyam Selvadurai (The Hungry Ghosts) and Anthony De Sa (Kicking the Sky). Congratulations to all.
Finalists for this year’s Toronto Book Award came together at the Toronto Public Library‘s Yorkville branch last night : authors (from left to right) Carrianne K.Y. Leung (The Wondrous Woo), Charlotte Gray (The Massey Murder), Andrea Curtis and Nick Saul (The Stop), Shyam Selvadurai (The Hungry Ghosts) and Anthony De Sa (Kicking the Sky) indulged an attentive audience with engaging readings from their nominated books. The big winner will be named next Thursday (October 16) at the Toronto Reference Library’s Bram & Bluma Appel Salon (789 Yonge Street, reception at 6 pm, award presentation at 7 pm, free). The winner takes home $10,000 and each runner-up pockets $1,000. See the authors talk about their books here.
Current Toronto Poet Laureate George Elliott Clarke (above right) was behind an entertaining evening at UofT’s Robert Gill Theatre Wednesday night (October 8) featuring former TO Laureates Dennis Lee (far left) and Pier Giorgio di Cicco, and Owen Sound Poet Laureate Terry Burns. The poets were backed by house band Aurochs and supplementary musicians who wove improvisational soundscapes around the words. The results were often spellbinding. Greg Gatenby, former host of the Harbourfront International Festival of Authors, was master of ceremonies for the United Way Toronto fundraiser.
Margaret Atwood was in Rome yesterday but Canadian visual artist Charles Pachter (left) and Toronto Poet Laureate George Elliott Clarke both summoned her spirit at the new Fort York Library branch where Atwood’s poems and Pachter’s art come together in a subtle new public artwork.