Books

Stephen King and Eleanor Catton Headline the 2013 International Festival Of Authors

A day-by-day guide to readings and events during the city's biggest literary festival.

2013 Man Booker Prize winner Eleanor Catton will be participating in four events at this year's International Festival of Authors. Photo by Robert Catto, courtesy of IFOA.

  • Harbourfront Centre (235 Queens Quay West)
  • Thursday, October 24–Sunday, November 3
  • FREE–$100 (most events $15–$25)

For its 34th birthday, the International Festival of Authors is actually getting younger. One of the themes this year is Brave New Word, a Huxleyan allusion referring not to the demise of books (a Brave New World scenario), but to the next generation of notable writers participating in the festival. Among this group is Canadian-born author Eleanor Catton, who last week, at age 28, became the youngest person ever to win the Man Booker Prize (for her second novel, The Luminaries).

This year’s schedule features almost 200 authors, including plenty of homegrown heavyweights: Margaret Atwood, Douglas Coupland, and Anne Carson will be participating in discussions, while George Elliott Clarke, Yann Martel, Lisa Moore, Joseph Boyden, and Miriam Toews will also be making appearances—among many others. There’s even a tribute to Alice Munro on November 2, featuring readings by other authors and friends of the newly minted Nobel laureate.

To help you hammer down some picks, here are some highlights by the day:

Thursday, October 24, 8 p.m.

The festival opens with the annual PEN Canada Benefit, featuring a discussion and book signing with Stephen King and his son Owen King. Back in September, the elder King released Doctor Sleep, a sequel to The Shining, while Owen’s first novel, Double Feature, came out earlier this year. The benefit is currently sold out, but who knows—maybe twin girls in matching blue dresses will leave a ticket under your pillow.

Friday, October 25, 8 p.m.

Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation, turns his attention from saturated fats to depleted uranium for Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident and the Illusion of Safety, his new book about the threat of accidental nuclear-weapon detonations. Schlosser will be interviewed by historian and author Tim Cook.

Saturday, October 26, 2 p.m.

Cartoonists Peter Bagge and Seth both released new books on October 15. Bagge’s Woman Rebel: The Margaret Sanger Story traces the life of Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger. And for a new edition of Stephen Leacock’s Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town, Seth brings the 1912 classic to life with some brilliant sketches of his own. CBC Radio’s Brent Bambury will lead the artists in a conversation on the first Saturday afternoon of the festival.

Sunday, October 27, 4 p.m.

For Japan@IFOA, Japanese writers Kazushige Abe and Mieko Kawakami will participate in a discussion about contemporary literature in their home nation. Abe and Kawakami both contributed stories to March Was Made of Yarn, an anthology about the earthquake and tsunami that ravaged the country in March 2011.

Monday, October 28, 8 p.m.

Finalists for the 2013 Governor General’s Literary Awards will be toasted at a celebratory event on Monday night. The GG fiction contenders this time around are Kenneth Bonert, Joseph Boyden, Eleanor Catton, Colin McAdam, and Shyam Selvadurai.

Tuesday, October 29, 8 p.m.

Five new-on-the-scene writers will give readings as part of The Avant-Garde, one of this year’s Brave New Word events spotlighting emerging young voices. Participating in the event are authors Joanna Kavenna, Marisha Pessl, Isabel Greenberg, and Xiaolu Guo, as well as Eleanor Catton, whose status was upgraded from “emerging” to “definitively emerged” with the announcement of her Man Booker Prize win last week.

Wednesday, October 30, 8 p.m.

The poetry crowd won’t want to miss this reading and discussion with Anne Carson, whose latest work, Red Doc, was released earlier this year.

Thursday, October 31, 8 p.m.

Have the brainiest Halloween ever by seeing Douglas Coupland chat about his latest satirical novel, Worst. Person. Ever. The conversation will be hosted by Toronto journalist Bert Archer.

Friday, November 1, 8 p.m.

Three east-coast authors—Michael Crummey, Lisa Moore, and Chad Pelley—participate in a discussion about their roots, moderated by the National Post‘s Mark Medley.

Saturday, November 2, 8 p.m.

The second Saturday of the festival will feature a tribute to Nobel laureate Alice Munro, hosted by Douglas Gibson. While the IFOA website says “a ‘who’s who’ of Canada’s literary community” will be there, the most important “who” will likely be absent: Munro’s attendance is unfortunately not confirmed.

Sunday, November 3, 11 a.m.

Toronto novelist Katrina Onstad hosts a reading with four acclaimed Canadian authors: Lauren B. Davis, Anthony De Sa, Don Gillmor, and Wayne Johnston.

The full schedule from this year’s IFOA can be viewed on the festival’s website.

What else is happening:

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