The Toronto International Festival of Authors (TIFA) returned to the Toronto Harbourfront this year, held September 21–October 1. The festival offered more than 200 events featuring a wide range of local and international authors, including such Canadian prize winners as Michelle Good, Casey Plett, Sarah Polley, and Patrick deWitt, and such international guests as Bill Buford, Anne Enright, Richard Ford, and Makoto Yukimura.
An international invitation program for publishing professionals also brought a dozen editors to Toronto to meet with publishers and visit publishing houses. Among the guests were Luke Brown, editorial director of Serpent's Tail in the U.K., and Esther Hendricks, editor of De Arbeiderspers in Amsterdam.
The festival has run for more than 40 years, and offers several additional events year-round, including Toronto Lit Up, a series of book launches celebrating new and emerging writers in the city; the MOTIVE Crime & Mystery Festival, launched in 2022, and held every June; TIFA Kids literary events; and a TIFA Book Club.
Here are some highlights from the event in photos:
Alana Wilcox, editorial director of Coach House Books in Toronto, was given the Ivy Award given annually to an individual who has made a substantial contribution to Canadian publishing. She was introduced by Coach House author Tamara Faith Berger, whose new novel, Yara, published this week.
Margaret Atwood, at the podium, introduces Ukrainian writer Andrei Kurkov, American-Russian writer Masha Gessen, and interviewer and Canadian-Palestinian author Nahlah Ayed for a panel discussion about the war in Ukraine, Putin, and the world's reaction. Atwood remarked that she was on the list of people who were not allowed into Russia. In discussing Putin's "stupid" war, Atwood recalled a comment once made to her by a Polish resistance fighter from the World War II: "Pray that you will never have the opportunity to be a hero. Such opportunities are catastrophes."
Both Kurkov and Gessen are concerned that the longer the war continues, the more it moves in Putin's favor. "There is a psychic cost to resistance," Kurkov said, noting that he'd committed all of his writing time since the start of the war to writing nonfiction because "writing fiction is a luxury." Kurkov then explained that the thing Putin hated most about Ukraine was its individualism and independent spirit: "In Ukraine, there's a reason we have 400 political parties—and in Russia, there is a reason there is just one." He added that Russians are fatalists—see Dostoevsky—and have no power to change anything.
Kurkov went on to remind the audience of the 30 writers who have been killed in the war, including some who were executed; the hundreds of libraries destroyed; the roughly five million Ukrainian citizens who have been forcefully relocated to Russia; and the roughly 10 million Ukrainian refugees who have been forced into exile abroad.
Gessen noted that what goes overlooked in the West is that tens of millions of Russians support the war. They said that one myth is that Russian mothers would stop the war once the bodies of their dead sons killed in Ukraine were returned home. "But there they have only two options," Gessen explained. "They can choose to believe that the war is wrong and their child died in vain, mostly likely putting them in opposition to the majority of their friends and neighbors. Or they can choose to believe that Putin is right and their son died a hero. What do you think they choose?"
Will Evans, publisher of Deep Vellum Books and Dalkey Archive, left, sits with Miquel de Palol, whose 888-page dystopian novel The Garden of Seven Delights, translated from the Catalan by Adrian Nathan West, was recently published by Dalkey Archive. It has already sold out the first printing of 5,000 copies. Palol spoke on a panel with author Jason Guriel and interviewer Steven Beatty.
Roland Gulliver, director of the festival, addresses an author reception sponsored by Penguin Random House.
Hazel Millar, co-publisher of Toronto's Book*hug Press, was one of two dozen vendors selling books during TIFA's small press fair.