Random House of Canada is expanding on its efforts to create a literary festival, which began last year. Named after one of its major media sponsors, the second edition of The Globe and Mail Open House Festival officially launches on Friday evening in Toronto, and this year's event will now spotlight authors from other publishing houses as well.
"We're always thinking about ways to bring readers and writers together, and so one of the ideas we came up with was to sort of look at The New Yorker Festival model ... and to try something like that here in Toronto, on a very different scale, of course, but that was the idea," says Scott Sellers, vice-president and director of marketing strategies at Random House of Canada, praising the New Yorker Festival's eclectic programming.
One of the other aims of the Toronto festival is to raise money for three charities - PEN Canada, the Toronto Public Library Foundation, and the Frontier College Foundation, which raises money for the college as a national literacy organization. Last year, the event raised $65,000, and Sellers says they hope to raise at least that much again this year.
The first version of the Open House in 2009, however, was almost exclusively a Random House of Canada and McClelland & Stewart event. M&S is a separate publisher, but Random House of Canada owns a 25% share of the company. A couple of authors from Penguin Group (Canada) participated, but Sellers said then that the intention was always to include other publishers more extensively. Following through on that, this year's festival has more participation from Penguin Group (Canada), as well as authors from Vancouver-based Douglas & McIntyre and Coach House Books.
Penguin Group (Canada) author Donna Morrissey, as well as Calvin Trillin will both be featured authors at literary brunches organized at the Bonnie Stern School of Cooking. While some of the events have room for 450 people, the brunches are intimate. Groups of no more than 26 people will gather at the cooking school to meet the authors and to hear a 30 to 40 minute presentation about their work. Then everyone will eat a four-course meal inspired by the book and prepared by Stern and her team
Sellers says organizers also wanted incorporate music into the festival. Author and musician Dave Bidini suggested featuring authors from an independent press each year and asking singer-songwriters to read their books and write and perform songs inspired by each book, And that is exactly what will be happening with Coach House Press books at a Toronto club on Saturday night. Authors will read from the chosen books and that will be followed by performances of the songs inspired by the books. "I think it is great that they are expanding and reaching out to other publishers," said Coach House publicist Evan Munday, adding that he hopes the festival will continue to grow.
International authors coming into Toronto for the event include Camille Paglia, Barbara Coloroso, Ishmael Beah, Pico Iyer, Colm Tóibín and Joanna Trollope. Ian McEwan kicked off a preliminary event on April 18, selling out the 450-