IFOA XXX: October 23
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IFOA XXX: October 23

Every morning during the International Festival of Authors we’ll be previewing the day’s events and making our picks for the ones that seem most promising.

Peek-a-boo! Hal Niedzviecki’s Peep Show lets you get meta. Illustration by Sasha Plotnikova/Torontoist.

Today’s Events
8 p.m. — Reading: Nicholson Baker, Kyle Buckley, Iain Pears, Kathy Reichs (Fleck Dance Theatre)
8 p.m. — Reading: Sarah Dunant, Paul Durcan, Andrew O’Hagan, Joyce Maynard, Boualem Sansal (Lakeside Terrace)
8 p.m. — Round Table: The Shape of Literature in the 21st Century (Studio Theatre)
10 p.m. — The Peep Show: Licensed Event (Brigantine Room)
Though the IFOA has expanded its scope over the last few years, its heart still lies in literary fiction. Several of tonight’s events are straight from the festival’s classic playbook: place established novelists on a roster with newer, less familiar names, relying on the former to pull in the crowds and the latter to add a bracing dash of the unknown. The reading featuring Nicholson Baker and Iain Pears will be likely be today’s biggest draw, as those are the two authors with the best name recognition. It’s an interesting combination; Baker is known for introspective, psychological novels which use everyday minutia as a way into a character’s inner life, while Pears’s thrillers and detective novels rely on more traditional plot devices and narrative structures. We tend to relish the heady brew, and like that authors may share no obvious similarities even while they share the stage. It’s just what a book festival should do, in fact—expose us to new writers, and juxtapose various kinds of writing, forcing us each out of our hidebound literary shells.
The IFOA isn’t hewing entirely to tradition though. Broken Pencil founder Hal Niedzviecki is hosting a literary peep show that wouldn’t have gotten any traction in pre-reality television days. We have to confess that we don’t entirely understand what the event will consist in, but are fairly sure that it will include observing observers, and then reflecting on the fact that we are observing observers. Smart phones will apparently be involved. (There will also, helpfully, be a bar—always useful in social situations where you aren’t quite sure what you’re supposed to be doing.)