Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Meeting the world’s best writers in Canada

By Alex P. Vidal

MONTREAL, Quebec – I had the privilege to meet some of the world’s most prominent and best writers of contemporary literature brought together for 11 days of readings, interviews, lectures, round table discussions, and public book signings during the 33rd Toronto Annual International Festival of Authors (IFOA) at the Harbourfront Centre in Toronto, Ontario on October 18-28.
Among them were: Ekiwah Adler-Belendez, whose first book, Soy (I am), was published when he was just 12 years old. 
His work has received an honorable mention for the Premio Nacional de la Juventud (National Prize for the Youth) and has twice been granted a six-month scholarship by the FONCA (the National Institute for Support of the Arts). 
Adler-Beléndez has been battling cerebral palsy since birth and offers workshops in Mexico and the USA on different aspects of disability and how to use it as a creative force. Adler-Beléndez’s latest book, Love on Wheels, deals with coming to grips with the richness and complexities of life in a wheelchair.
Canada’s Siri Agrell is the author of Bad Bridesmaid: Bachelorette Brawls and Taffeta Tantrums, which was published in 2007; Tom Allen, host of Shift on CBC Radio 2. He is a passionate music lover, storyteller, accomplished trombonist, writer and broadcaster. 
Allen has written three books: Toe Rubber Blues, Rolling Home: A Cross-Canada Railroad Memoir and The Gift of the Game; Kamal Al-Solaylee, assistant professor and undergraduate program director at the School of Journalism at Ryerson University and was previously a distinguished writer at the Globe and Mail. 
He has worked at Report on Business magazine and written features and reviews for the Toronto Star, National Post, The Walrus, Toronto Life, Chatelaine and several other publications. Al-Solaylee holds a PhD from the University of Nottingham and has taught at the University of Waterloo and York University. Al-Solaylee’s Intolerable is part memoir of an Arab family caught in the turmoil of Middle Eastern politics over six decades, part personal coming-out narrative and part cultural analysis.

Iran’s Anita Amirrezvani, author of the novel The Blood of Flowers, which was longlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction. 
She is also a former dance critic. As part of her dance criticism career, she earned fellowships from the National Arts Journalism Program at Columbia University and the National Endowment for the Arts. 
She is currently an adjunct professor at the California College of the Arts in San Francisco. Amirrezvani’s Equal of the Sun tells the story of a powerful princess who must take over her father’s throne until her brother returns from exile to take over as shah. Upon his return, power struggles and epic battles of the heart and mind ensue.
India’s Dr. Anamika, a writer, translator and teacher of English literature at Satyawati College at the University of Delhi. She completed her doctorate on Donne Criticism and has been widely published on the topics of feminist poetics, contemporary poetry and gender issues. She has written six poetry collections and has won several awards in India including the Kriti Samman and the Sahityasetu Samman. Dr. Anamika also writes a column for the daily Hindi paper, Jansatta. She presents a selection of her poetry.
Canada’s Larissa Andrusyshyn, a poet who received an MA in English and creative writing at Concordia University. She lives and writes in Montreal, and coordinates creative writing workshops for at-risk youth. Her work has appeared in Headlight, Soliloquies, Versal and in the anthologies Running With Scissors and The Future Hygienic. Andrusyshyn shares her first book, Mammoth, an exciting and wide-ranging collection of poems about family and memory in the context of human bio-intervention, which was longlisted for the ReLit Award.

Canada’s Bert Archer, a writer for the Toronto Star, Toronto Life, Yonge Street Media and the Toronto Standard. He was a full-time book reviewer and literary journalist in Canada and the USA for the better part of a decade. He has written one book and contributed to half a dozen others.
Canada’s Barbara Arrowsmith-Young, whose work is one of the first examples of the extensive applications of neuroplasticity. Born with severe learning disabilities, Arrowsmith-Young used her extraordinary memory and work ethic to build herself a better brain and to create a brain training program to help others. She is the director of the Arrowsmith School and Arrowsmith Program, and holds a Master’s degree in school psychology from the University of Toronto. The Woman Who Changed Her Brain offers a groundbreaking alternative to letting our brains shape us.
Canada’s Mark Askwith, a producer, writer and interviewer for SPACE, Canada's national science-fiction channel. He has also written graphic novels, including Silencers and The Prisoner.
Canada’s Nathalie Atkinson, who is a contributing reviewer to The Globe and Mail and writes regularly for Chatelaine, Flare, Report on Business Magazine, House & Home and The National Post, among others.

United States’ Paul Auster, an acclaimed author of Sunset Park, Invisible, The Book of Illusions and the New York Trilogy, among many other works. His work has been translated into 43 languages. Auster has received numerous awards, including the Prince of Asturias Award for Literature. Auster presents Winter Journal, an unconventional and highly personal memoir exploring the life and death of his mother, the weight of memory and the pleasurable and painful sensations of the body.
Garvia Bailey, host and producer of CBC Radio One’s Big City, Small World. For the past few years at CBC, Bailey’s path has veered towards the cultural end of storytelling, covering the vibrant arts and music scene for both CBC Radio and TV.
Shauna Singh Baldwin, born in Montreal and grew up in India, her novels include The Tiger Claw, a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, and What the Body Remembers, longlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction and awarded a Regional Commonwealth Writers' Prize. Baldwin’s short stories have won literary awards in Canada, India and the USA. Set in India, The Selector of Souls tells the stories of two strong-willed women: Damini, a Hindu midwife, and Anu, who flees an abusive marriage for the sanctuary of the Catholic Church.

Erin Balser, a writer, producer and columnist for the CBC. On air, her work has appeared in several CBC shows, including Radio One's As It Happens, Q, The Next Chapter and Here and Now. Online, she produces CBC Books and the Canada Reads website. She has published two books about television and tweets @booksin140 as well as @cbcbooks.
Toronto-based writer and critic Steven W. Beattie is the review editor for Quill & Quire, Canada’s publishing trade magazine. His reviews and criticism have been published in the Vancouver Sun, Edmonton Journal, National Post, Canadian Notes and Queries, Maisonneuve, and elsewhere. He maintains the literary blog That Shakespearean Rag.
United Kingdom’s Ned Beauman who has written for Dazed & Confused, AnOther and The Guardian. His debut novel, Boxer, Beetle, was shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award and the Desmond Elliot Prize, and won the Writers' Guild Award for Best Fiction Book. Beauman was picked by The Culture Show as one of the 12 Best New British Writers in 2011. Longlisted for the 2012 Man Booker Prize, Beauman’s The Teleportation Accident, is about sex, violence, space, time and how the best way to deal with history is to ignore it.

Mario Beauregard, PhD, an associate research professor in the departments of psychology and radiology at the Neuroscience Research Centre, Université de Montréal. He is the author of more than 100 publications in neuroscience, psychology, and psychiatry, and a number of books, including The Spiritual Brain. In 2000, he was selected by the World Media Net as one of the “One Hundred Pioneers of the 21st Century.” In Brain Wars, Beauregard reveals new evidence that the mind and consciousness are transmitted and filtered through, but not generated by the brain.
United Kingdom’s Mark Billingham, who worked as an actor, TV writer and stand-up comedian before becoming a bestselling crime fiction writer with his first crime novel, Sleepyhead, in 2001. Billingham has since written a series of children’s thrillers, a standalone novel, In The Dark, and nine additional novels about the London-based detective Tom Thorne. In Billingham’s latest thriller, Rush of Blood, three couples meet on vacation only to have their last night take a tragic twist when the body of a teenage girl is found floating in the mangroves.
Jared Bland (Canada/USA) is a senior editor at House of Anansi Press.

Argentina’s Mariel Borelli, whose passion for languages began at a young age while growing up in Argentina. She learned English on a scholarship in the USA, got a graduate degree in journalism, and worked in radio and TV in Argentina. Borelli came to Canada in 1999 and has been with the CBC in Toronto since 2001, working with national radio programs translating for network programs including the fifth estate. She hosted the program Babel on CBC Radio One in 2012 and currently helps produce CBC Radio's Fresh Air.
Roo Borson, who has published 11 books of poetry, including Short Journey Upriver Toward Ôishida, which won the Griffin Poetry Prize, the Governor General's Literary Award for Poetry and the Pat Lowther Memorial Award. She is currently working on a collaborative book project, Box Kite, with Kim Maltman under the pen name Baziju. Borson presents Rain; road; an open boat, a poetry collection that explores form, tone, musicality and content, drifting back and forth between the present and the past.

Gail Bowen, an award-winning author of the widely popular Joanne Kilbourn series, which includes A Colder Kind of Death, winner of the Crime Writers of Canada Arthur Ellis Award. In June 2008, Reader’s Digest named Bowen “Canada’s Best Mystery Novelist.” She has also written several plays produced across Canada and on CBC Radio. Now retired from teaching at First Nations University, Bowen lives in Regina. Bowen presents the latest in the Kilbourn series, Kaleidoscope, where Joanne finds herself beginning to understand what it's like to live in a world where she can count on nothing.
Tim Bowling, an author of 10 collections of poetry, four novels, and two works of non-fiction. His works include the poetry collection Tenderman, winner of the 2012 Stephan G. Stephansson Award for Poetry, and In the Suicide’s Library: A Book Lover’s Journey, a work of non-fiction. Bowling's writing has earned him a Canadian Authors Association Award, two Governor General’s Literary Award nominations, a fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, and five Alberta Book Awards. Partially set in 1862 during the Battle of Antietam, Bowling's The Tinsmith tells the story of a Union Army surgeon deeply affected by a mysterious soldier who, 20 years after their first meeting, disappears.

Sigmund Brouwer, an author of 20 novels for adults, seven works of non-fiction and more than 70 books for children. Brouwer divides his time between Nashville, Tennessee and Red Deer, Alberta. Brouwer presents Devil’s Pass (Seven: The Series), where a teenage boy visits the Canol Trail in Canada's Far North and is forced to confront terrible events in his grandfather's past while dealing with the pain and confusion of his own life.
Graphic novelist Chester Brown is perhaps best known for his 2003 book, Louis Riel: A Comic-Strip Biography, and Paying for It: A Comic-Strip Memoir About Being a John. He lives in Toronto, where he ran for Parliament in the general election as a member of the Libertarian Party of Canada. Brown shares Ed the Happy Clown, a hallucinatory tale that functions simultaneously as a dark roller-coaster ride of criminal activity and a scathing condemnation of religious and political charlatanism.
Catherine Bush is the author of three novels, Claire’s Head, The Rules of Engagement and Minus Time. Her fourth novel, Accusation, will be published in fall 2013. Bush has held a variety of writer-in-residence positions and writing fellowships, and taught creative writing at a number of universities. She’s worked as an arts journalist, been a dance columnist and written two young adult biographies. She is coordinator of the creative writing MFA programme at the University of Guelph.

Liam Card studied writing at the University of Iowa and the University of North Carolina. After graduation, Card returned to Canada and was licensed as an investment advisor, but left the field to pursue a career in writing and acting. His screenplay, Textuality, hit theatres in 2010 starring Jason Lewis, Eric McCormack, Carly Pope and Card himself. Exit Papers from Paradise is about a Michigan plumber who dreams of becoming a surgeon, exploring the gap between the person we are and the person we desperately want to be.
Marjorie Celona was born and raised in Victoria, B.C. and lives in Cincinnati. She holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she was an Iowa Arts Fellow and recipient of the Ailene Barger Barnes Prize. Her stories have appeared in The Best American Nonrequired Reading, Harvard Review, Glimmer Train and Crazyhorse. Celona’s debut novel, Y, tells the unforgettable story of a newborn baby dropped on a YMCA doorstep, and that of her mother, who is just a girl herself.

United States’ Michael Chabon, the bestselling and Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, Wonder Boys, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay and The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, among many other books. He lives in Berkeley, California, with his wife, the novelist Ayelet Waldman, and their children. His most recent novel, Telegraph Avenue, explores American racial and class politics through the story of two friends who own an independent Berkeley record shop threatened by a megastore.
India’s Ayesha Chatterjee, born and raised in Kolkata, she has lived in England, the USA and Germany, and currently resides in Toronto. Her work gained notice when one of her poems was shortlisted in the Guardian Unlimited Poetry Workshop in October 2004. Her poetry has appeared in nthposition, Autumn Sky Poetry and BluSlate. In 2010, she read at the Poetry with Prakriti Festival in Chennai, India. Her first poetry collection, The Clarity of Distance, is a meditation on the complexity of existence and the search for moments of truth within it.

UK’s Lee Child is the author of 17 Jack Reacher thrillers, including the bestsellers Persuader, The Hard Way, The Affair and Nothing to Lose. He has received the Anthony and the Barry awards for Best First Mystery, and the Barry and Nero awards for Best Novel. Foreign rights have sold in more than 40 territories. Child’s latest novel in the Jack Reacher series, A Wanted Man, follows the elite military cop as he hitchhikes to Virginia only to find out that by accepting a ride, he has tied himself to a massive conspiracy.
UK’s Stuart Clark is a former editor of the UK’s bestselling popular astronomy magazine Astronomy Now and a visiting fellow of the University of Hertfordshire. He divides most of his time between writing books and writing for the European Space Agency as senior editor for space science, alongside producing features for the BBC. He has written 17 books to date, which have been translated into 12 languages. Clark’s The Sensorium of God is the second in a trilogy of novels inspired by the dramatic struggles and key historical events in man’s quest to understand the universe.
James Clarke is the author of seven books of poetry, including Dreamworks and How to Bribe a Judge, and a memoir about his wife’s suicide, A Mourner’s Kaddish. He lives in Guelph, Ontario. In his latest work, a moving Second World War-era memoir entitled The Kid From Simcoe Street, Clarke recalls growing up in the poor and alcohol-ridden neighbourhood of a small Ontario town.

Adrienne Clarkson became Canada’s 26th Governor-General in 1999 and served until September 2005. In a multi-faceted career as an accomplished broadcaster and distinguished public servant she has received numerous prestigious awards and honorary degrees, both in Canada and abroad. In 2005, she founded the Institute for Canadian Citizenship. A Privy Councillor and Companion of the Order of Canada, she lives in Toronto.
UK’s Chris Cleave, a columnist for The Guardian. His first novel, Incendiary, was published in 20 countries, won the Somerset Maugham Award and was shortlisted for a Commonwealth Writers' Prize. His second novel, Little Bee, was a Canadian and New York Times bestseller and was shortlisted for the Costa Book Award and a Commonwealth Writers' Prize. Cleave’s most recent book, Gold, tells the story of Zoe and Kate, friends and athletic rivals in elite cycling, as they compete against each other for the last remaining spot on the Olympic team.

Susan G. Cole is an author, editor and playwright, and longtime on-stage interviewer at the IFOA. She is the entertainment and books editor at NOW Magazine and can also be heard on the Media and the Message panel every Thursday on Radio Talk 640. Follow her on Twitter @susangcole.
Trevor Cole is among the very few Canadian writers whose first two novels, Norman Bray in the Performance of His Life and The Fearsome Particles, were shortlisted for the Governor General's Literary Award. Both novels also garnered a place on the longlist for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. His third novel, Practical Jean, was shortlisted for the Rogers Writer's Trust Fiction Prize and won the 2011 Leacock Medal for Humour. Most recently Trevor contributed to the Good Reads literacy project with the short novel Tribb's Troubles for adult learning readers.
Tim Conley’s short fiction, poetry, essays, reviews and translations have appeared in journals in eight countries. His most recent books are the poetry collection One False Move and the anthology Burning City: Poems of Metropolitan Modernity. He teaches English and comparative literature at Brock University.

Lynn Crosbie was born in Montreal and is a cultural critic. She holds a PhD in English literature with a background in visual studies and teaches at the University of Toronto and the Art Gallery of Ontario. Her books include Pearl, Queen Rat and Dorothy L'Amour. She is also the author of the controversial book Paul's Case and the editor of The Girl Wants To. She is a contributing editor at Fashion and a National Magazine Award Winner who has written about sports, style, art and music.
As a journalist and travel writer, Hilary Davidson has explored the cemeteries of New Orleans, Pompeii’s brothels and Bangkok’s seedy night markets. Originally from Toronto, she lives in New York. Her debut novel, The Damage Done, won the 2011 Anthony Award for Best First Novel and the Crimespree Award for Best First Novel. Davidson shares The Next One to Fall, the sequel to The Damage Done, featuring protagonist Lily Moore as she travels to Peru only to find herself entangled in a case involving a pattern of dead and missing women.

Christopher Dewdney is the author of four books of non-fiction and 11 books of poetry. A four-time nominee for the Governor General's Literary Awards, he won first prize in the CBC Literary Competition for poetry and was award the 2007 Harbourfront Festival Prize. His non-fiction book, Acquainted with the Night; Excursions into the World After Dark, was nominated for both a Governer General's Literary Award and the Charles Taylor Prize for Non-Fiction. His most recent work is Soul of the World; Unlocking the Secrets of Time. Dewdney teaches creative writing and poetics at York University in Toronto.
USA’s Junot Díaz’s first novel, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, won the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Pulitzer Prize. Díaz is the recipient of a PEN/Malamud Award and the Dayton Literary Peace Prize. Born in the Dominican Republic, he is a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The short stories in Díaz’s new collection, This is How You Lose Her, lay bare the infinite longing and inevitable weaknesses of our all-too-human hearts.

Tamas Dobozy received his PhD in English from the University of British Columbia. His work has been published in journals throughout North America, and in 1995 he won the annual subTerrain short fiction contest. His first collection of short fiction, When X Equals Marylou, was shortlisted for the Danuta Gleed Award. Dobozy teaches at Wilfrid Laurier University in Ontario. Dobozy’s Siege 13 is a collection of 13 linked stories tracing the ripple effect of the Second World War on characters directly involved, and on their friends, associates, sons, daughters, grandchildren and adoptive countries.
Cory Doctorow is a co-editor of Boing Boing and a columnist for multiple publications including The Guardian, Locus and Publishers Weekly. He was named one of the web’s 25 influencers by Forbes magazine. His award-winning novel Little Brother was a New York Times bestseller. Doctorow presents The Rapture of the Nerds, co-written with Charles Stross, a science fiction novel set at the dusk of the 21st century.

Emma Donoghue (Canada/Ireland) is the award-winning author of the internationally acclaimed and bestselling historical drama Slammerkin, and Room, winner of the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize and a regional Commonwealth Writers’ Prize among others. She is also the author of four books of short stories, two works of literary history, two anthologies and two plays. Donoghue’s latest collection of short stories, Astray, spans four centuries and visits several corners of the globe, telling the stories of emigrants, runaways, drifters, gold miners, counterfeiters, attorneys and slaves.
Jeff Douglas is the co-host of As it Happens on CBC Radio One. He starred in the documentaries Making History and Things That Move and hosted the award-winning series Ancestors in the Attic. Douglas has won numerous awards including three Gemini nominations and a Kari Award for his commercial work, which includes playing Joe Canadian in the now legendary "I Am Canadian" campaign.
Lise Downe lives in Toronto, where she writes and makes jewellery and art, which she has exhibited across Canada. She has studied printmaking at the Beal Art Annex, sculpture in England and jewellery at George Brown College and Ontario College of Art and Design. Downe has three previously published books of poetry: A Velvet Increase of Curiosity, The Soft Signature and Disturbances of Progress. The poems in This Way are an alternative take on the genre of detective fiction.

Naomi Duguid is a traveller, writer and photographer, and is often described as a culinary anthropologist. She is the co-author of six award-winning cookbooks, including Seductions of Rice and Beyond the Great Wall. Duguid is a consulting editor for Saveur magazine. She currently teaches a course on “Foods that Changed the World” at the University of Toronto. Her latest book, Burma, features Duguid’s stunning photographs interspersed with Burmese histories and recipes.
Modris Eksteins is professor emeritus of history at the University of Toronto. His bestselling Rites of Spring was published in nine countries and won the Wallace K. Ferguson Prize and the Trillium Book Award. Walking Since Daybreak was also a national bestseller and won the Pearson Writers’ Trust Non-Fiction Prize. Eksteins presents Solar Dance, which takes us from the eve of the First World War through the rise of Hitler and the fall of the Berlin Wall to the present, using the cult of celebrity that first grew up around Vincent van Gogh.

USA’s Louise Erdrich is the author of 13 novels as well as volumes of poetry, short stories, children’s books and a memoir of early motherhood. Erdrich is the recipient of the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, and has been a finalist for the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize. She lives in Minnesota and is the owner of Birchbark Books, an independent bookstore. Erdrich shares The Round House, a novel about family and memory, injustice and vengeance, friendship and growing up, illuminating the harsh realities of a community where Ojibwe and white live uneasily together.
Nominated for both an IMPAC Dublin Award and a Commonwealth Writers Prize, and a three-time winner of the Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour, Will Ferguson’s work has been published in more than 20 languages around the world. His memoirs include Beyond Belfast, Hitching Rides with Buddha, and most recently the humour collection Canadian Pie. His novels include Happiness and Spanish Fly. Ferguson's latest book, 419, is a tale of heartbreak and suspense that takes readers behind the scene of the world’s most insidious internet scam.

Charlie Foran is the current president of PEN Canada, a world-wide organization of writers and readers committed to defending and promoting freedom of expression. He is the author of 10 books, including the Charles Taylor Prize-winning book, Mordecai, a biography of Mordecai Richler, and the novels Carolan's Farewell and House on Fire.
USA’s Richard Ford has published six novels and four collections of stories. He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize and the PEN/Faulkner Award for Independence Day and the PEN/Malamud Award for excellence in short fiction. His latest novel, Canada, follows a 15-year-old Montana boy who finds himself in Saskatchewan after his parents are incarcerated for armed robbery.
UK’s Dan Friedman is the managing editor of the Forward, a legendary voice in American Jewish journalism, and founder of Zeek, a Jewish journal of thought and culture. Formerly the award-winning arts and culture editor of the Forward, he has also written for the New York Times, Financial Times, Wall Street Journal and Da Ali G Show. Friedman has a PhD in comparative literature from Yale and an MA in English literature from Cambridge, and is currently writing a book about the rock band Tears for Fears.
Bill Gaston is a novelist, short story writer and playwright. His short story collection Gargoyles was nominated for a Governor General's Literary Award and the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize, and won the ReLit Award and the City of Victoria Butler Prize. Gaston has also been shortlisted for the Giller Prize and was awarded the Writers' Trust’s inaugural Timothy Findley Award for a body of work in 2002. In his latest book, The World, Gaston weaves together five heartbreaking stories tied to a book of the same name, which tells the story of a historian who unearths a cache of letters written in Chinese.
Italy’s Fabio Geda writes for several Italian magazines and newspapers, and teaches creative writing in Scuola Holden, the famous Italian school of storytelling. He has published several novels in Italian as well as the monologue La bellezza nonostante. Translated from the Italian by Howard Curtis, Geda presents In the Sea There are Crocodiles, the story of an Afghan boy who undergoes a five-year journey from Afghanistan to Italy where he finally manages to claim political asylum, based on the true story of Enaiatollah Akbari.
Jian Ghomeshi is an award-winning broadcaster, writer, musician and producer. He is the host and co-creator of the national daily talk programme Q on CBC Radio One and CBC TV, and hosts Canada Reads, CBC’s annual battle of the books. Before his broadcasting days, Ghomeshi was a member of the popular ’90s folk-rock group, Moxy Früvous. In his memoir, 1982, Ghomeshi shares his adolescent obsession with David Bowie and his Nick Hornbyesque journey to make music the centre of his life.
Douglas Gibson worked as an editor and publisher from 1968 until he retired from McClelland & Stewart in 2009. His Douglas Gibson Books was Canada’s first editorial imprint and lives on today. His most recent book is Stories About Storytellers.
Graeme Gibson is the acclaimed author of Five Legs, Communion, Perpetual Motion, Gentleman Death, The Bedside Book of Birds and The Bedside Book of Beasts. Gibson is a long-time cultural activist and co-founder of the Writers’ Union of Canada and the Writers' Trust. He is a past president of PEN Canada, the recipient of both the Harbourfront Festival Prize and the Toronto Arts Award, and a Member of the Order of Canada.
Rachel Giese is a senior editor at The Walrus. Formerly, she was a columnist for the Toronto Star, a writer and editor at CBC.ca’s Arts Online, a senior editor at Chatelaine and a journalism instructor at Ryerson University.
Jonathan Goldstein’s writing has appeared in The Walrus, New York Times, GQ and National Post. He is a frequent contributor to Public Radio International’s This American Life and The New York Times Magazine and hosts the CBC’s WireTap. Goldstein is the recipient of a Canadian National Magazine Award for Humour. He is the author of the novels Ladies and Gentlemen, The Bible! and Lenny Bruce Is Dead. Goldstein presents I’ll Seize the Day Tomorrow, a series of hilarious short stories recounting the highs and lows of his last year in his thirties.
Germany’s Nora Gomringer is award-winning writer whose work includes both page-bound poetry and spoken word performances. Her poetry is centered on themes of orality and memory. Beyond the page, she has performed in musical and theatrical performances with percussive jazz legend Baby Sommer and others. Gomringer is a member of PEN and since 2010 has served as head director of the International Artist Residency Künstlerhaus Villa Concordia at Bamberg, Germany. Gomringer presents a selection of poems and essays from her latest publications, including Ich werde etwas mit der Sprache machen.
Ted Goossen teaches Japanese literature and film at York University. He is the co-editor of Monkey Business International, the general editor of The Oxford Book of Japanese Short Stories, and has published translations of works by Haruki Murakami, Hiromi Kawakami, Yukio Mishima and Yoko Ogawa among others.
Hiromi Goto (Canada/Japan) was born in Chiba-ken, Japan, and immigrated to Canada with her family in 1969. Her first novel, Chorus of Mushrooms, won a regional Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and was co-winner of the Japan-Canada Book Award. Goto is also the author of The Kappa Child and Half World, winner of the 2010 Sunburst Award and longlisted for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, as well as a children’s novel and a short story collection. Goto’s follow-up to Half World is Darkest Light, about an adopted boy who struggles to control the dark feelings growing inside him during his journey of self-discovery.
Taras Grescoe is the author of five books including the bestselling Bottomfeeder, which won the Writers’ Trust Non-Fiction Prize and the Mavis Gallant Prize for Non-Fiction. Two other titles, Sacré Blues and The End of Elsewhere, were shortlisted for Writers’ Trust awards. His work has appeared in a variety of major publications including The New York Times, National Geographic Traveler, Gourmet, Globe and Mail, Canadian Geographic and more. He lives in Montreal. Grescoe’s Straphanger offers a global tour of alternatives to car-based living.
France’s Hubert Haddad, a poet, novelist, art historian, playwright and essayist and was born in Tunis and followed his parents into exile to France. His work includes the poetry collection Le Charnier déductif (Deductive Mass Grave), the short story collection Vent printanier and the novels Un rêve de glace (A Dream of Ice), L’Univers (The Universe) and the award-winning Palestine and Opium Poppy. Haddad presents Nouvelles du jour et de la nuit: le jour and Nouvelles du jour et de la nuit: la nuit, two collections of short stories that toe the line between dreams and reality.
Born in Beirut, Lebanon, Rawi Hage lived through nine years of the Lebanese civil war. His debut novel, De Niro’s Game, won the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and was a finalist for numerous prestigious awards, including the Scotiabank Giller Prize and a Governor General’s Literary Award. His second novel, Cockroach, won the Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction. In Hage’s latest novel, Carnival, we meet Fly, the taxi-driving son of a trapeze artist and a flying-carpet man, as he encounters criminals, prostitutes, madmen, magicians, clowns, revolutionaries and ordinary people.
Phil Hall’s first book, Eighteen Poems, was published in 1973. His works include Old Enemy Juice and The Bad Sequence. He has taught writing at several universities and colleges and been a poet-in-residence at Sage Hill Writing Experience, The Pierre Berton House and elsewhere. Killdeer, winner of the 2011 Governor General's Literary Award for Poetry and the Trillium Book Award, is Hall’s most recent publication and was partially inspired by the Eastern Ontario landscape.
Claudia Hammond is an award-winning broadcaster, writer and psychology lecturer. She is the author of Emotional Rollercoaster: A Journey through the Science of Feelings. She won the 2011 Mind Media's Making a Difference Award and the British Psychological Society's 2012 Public Engagement and Media Award. Time Warped shows us how to manage our time more efficiently, speed time up and slow it down at will, plan for the future with more accuracy and, ultimately, use the warping of time to our own advantage.
Pakistan’s Mohammed Hanif graduated from the Pakistan Air Force Academy as a pilot officer, but pursued a career in journalism. He has also written plays for stage and screen, including a critically acclaimed BBC drama and the feature film The Long Night. A Case of Exploding Mangoes was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award and won a Commonwealth Writers' Prize. Set in Karachi, Pakistan, Hanif’s latest novel, Our Lady of Alice Bhatti, follows a junior nurse with a gift for healing as she navigates the social and religious hierarchies around her.
Deborah Harkness is a professor of history at the University of Southern California. The recipient of numerous awards and fellowships, her publications include works on the history of science, magic and alchemy. In her first novel, A Discovery of Witches, Harkness offered an unexpected answer to the question, “If there really are vampires, what do they do for a living?” Harkness’ second novel, Shadow of Night, picks up where A Discovery of Witches left off, journeying through a world of alchemy, time travel and magical discoveries.
Joanne Harris has published several novels including the Costa Book Award-shortlisted Chocolat—which was made into an Oscar-nominated film starring Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp—Blackberry Wine, Five Quarters of the Orange, Gentlemen and Players and blueyedboy. A teacher for 15 years, Harris has also published a collection of short stories and two cookbooks. Harris presents Peaches for Monsieur le Curé, the third novel in a trilogy about Chocolat’s Vianne, who receives a letter from the dead that calls her back to her hometown.
Jasmine Herlt has been the director of Human Rights Watch Canada since the office opened in 2004. Before joining Human Rights Watch, Herlt was the executive director of the Canadian Foundation for AIDS Research and prior to that she was in-house counsel for Crown Life Insurance Company, specializing in employment law. Herlt has served on numerous non-profit boards, including St. Michael's Hospital and the food bank Stop 103.
Miranda Hill won the 2011 Journey Prize for her story, "Petitions to Saint Chronic." Hill holds a degree in drama from Queen's University and an MFA in creative writing from the University of British Columbia. She is the founder and executive director of Project Bookmark Canada. She lives in Hamilton, Ontario with her husband, writer Lawrence Hill. In her debut collection of short stories, Sleeping Funny, Hill presents a wide range of characters from a world that is both recognizable and askew.
Jesse Hirsh is a Toronto based broadcaster, researcher and strategist, operating the firm Metaviews.ca. He has a nationally syndicated radio column on CBC Radio examining the impact of technology upon our lives. Educated at the McLuhan Program at the University of Toronto, Hirsh likes to play with words.
Linda Holeman is the author of 13 works of fiction and short fiction, including the international bestsellers The Linnet Bird, The Moonlight Cage and The Saffron Gate. A world traveller, she grew up and was educated in Winnipeg and was a teacher for 10 years before beginning to write. Her work has been translated into 12 languages. Holeman shares The Lost Souls of Angelkov, an intricately woven story of revenge, deception, love and redemption set against the turbulent social upheavals of 1860s Russia.
Italy’s Simonetta Agnello Hornby’s bestselling debut novel, La Mennulara, first published in Italy and subsequently published in 12 languages, was the recipient of the Forte Village Literary Prize, Stresa Prize for Fiction and Alassio Prize. Awarded the 2011 Italian PEN Prize for the Novel, Hornby’s fifth novel, The Nun, is a 19th century tale of a young woman divided between her yearnings for purity and religiosity, and her desire to be part of the world.
Critically acclaimed author Robert Hough has written four novels including The Final Confession of Mabel Stark which was nominated for the Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Best First Book and for the Trillium Book Award, The Stowaway, and The Culprits. Hough shares his latest novel Dr. Brinkley’s Tower, a sensational, passionate story of jealousy and greed set against the backdrop of Mexico in the 1930s.
Chris Howden is the host of CBC Radio's Living Out Loud and the writer for As It Happens, where he's worked since 2003. If you heard a pun while listening to the latter, he probably wrote it, and he's sorry. He lives in Toronto with his wife, Jennifer Canham — who is the group publisher of OwlKids — and his daughter.
Jennifer Hunter has worked at the Montreal Gazette, Globe and Mail, Maclean’s and Chicago Sun-Times. She has been a political writer, a sports reporter and a business journalist. She joined the Toronto Star in 2008, first as foreign editor, and now has a weekly column focusing on Canadian writers.
Japan’s Hiromi Ito is one of the most important and dynamic poets of contemporary Japan, deemed one of the foremost voices of the wave of "women’s poetry" that swept Japan in the 1980s. To date, she has published more than a dozen critically acclaimed collections of poetry, several novels and numerous books of essays. She has won many Japanese literary prizes including the Takami Jun Prize, Hagiwara Sakutaro Prize and Izumi Shikibu Prize. She currently lives outside of San Diego. Translated from the Japanese by Jeffrey Angles, Ito presents Killing Kanoko a powerful poetry collection, which explores the dark, emotional underside of motherhood.
An award-winning writer and broadcaster, Howard Jacobson is the author of the Man Booker Prize-winning novel The Finkler Question. He is a columnist at The Independent and a writer and presenter of Channel 4 television documentaries. Jacobson’s other books include The Mighty Walzer, winner of the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize; Kalooki Nights, longlisted for the Man Booker Prize; No More Mr. Nice Guy; and The Act of Love. Jacobson presents Zoo Time, a novel about love — love of women, love of literature, love of laughter.
Jane Johnson is the publishing director at HarperCollins UK, working with authors including George R.R. Martin and Dean Koontz. She works remotely for part of the year from a Berber village in the mountains of Morocco, where three of her novels have been set, The Tenth Gift, The Salt Road and her latest work, The Sultan’s Wife. She also writes children’s books. Johnson’s The Sultan’s Wife is a tale of international intrigue set in the 17th century when a lowly scribe framed for murder tries to evade punishment alongside a young Englishwoman held prisoner by Barbary pirates.
Rachel Joyce has written over 20 original afternoon plays for BBC Radio 4 and a TV drama adaptation for BBC2. Joyce moved to writing after a 20-year career in theatre and television. She has won the Tinniswood Award for Best Radio Play, a Time Out Best Actress Award and the Sony Silver Award. Longlisted for the 2012 Man Booker Prize, Joyce’s debut novel, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, follows the journey of a recently retired, emotionally numb man who is jolted out of his passivity by a letter he receives from an old friend he hasn't heard from in 20 years.
Sweden’s Mons Kallentoft grew up in a working-class household in the provincial town of Linkoping, Sweden, where his popular Malin Fors detective series is set. He worked in journalism before becoming a writer, and is also a food critic. His debut novel, Pesetas, was awarded the Swedish equivalent of the Whitbread Award. In Kallentoft’s latest novel in the Malin Fors series, Autumn Killing, an Internet billionaire is discovered floating face down in the moat surrounding his home and Fors is forced to delve into the victim’s past.
Hiromi Kawakami, one of Japan's leading novelists, is a master of sometimes surreal yet always psychologically acute prose. She is the recipient of numerous literary prizes including the Akutagawa Prize. English translations of her work include the novels Manazuru and The Briefcase, as well as numerous short stories in Monkey Business, March Was Made of Yarn and other journals. Kawakami’s Manzuru moves back and forth from past to present exploring the relationships between lovers and family members while painting a portrait of a woman on the brink of her own memories and future.
A.L. Kennedy is the author of six novels, two books of non-fiction and five collections of short stories. Her last novel, Day, was the 2007 Costa Book of the Year. Kennedy has twice been selected as one of Granta’s Best of Young British Novelists and has won a host of other awards. She is a part-time lecturer at the University of Warwick. In Kennedy’s The Blue Book, shortlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction, Elizabeth Barber is crossing the Atlantic on a cruise ship with her boyfriend when she encounters her former partner, with whom she lived a life of deception.
Mark Kingwell is an award-winning professor of philosophy at the University of Toronto and a contributing editor of Harper’s Magazine. He is the author or co-author of 17 books of political, cultural and aesthetic theory, including the national bestsellers Better Living, The World We Want, Concrete Reveries and Glenn Gould, and the essay collection Unruly Voices. His writing has appeared in more than 40 mainstream publications, including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The Walrus and Toronto Life. Liza Klaussmann worked as a journalist for the New York Times for over a decade. She received a BA in creative writing from Barnard College, where she was awarded the Howard M. Teichmann Prize for Prose. Klaussmann lived in Paris for 10 years and recently completed an MA in creative writing at Royal Holloway, in London, UK, where she now lives. Klaussmann’s debut novel Tigers in Red Weather takes place at a Martha's Vineyard family estate known as Tiger House, where a family tries to recapture the sense of possibility that came with the end of the Second World War.
Chan Koonchung (Canada/Hong Kong) is a novelist, journalist and screenwriter. Born in Shanghai and raised and educated in Hong Kong, he studied at the University of Hong Kong and Boston University. He has published more than a dozen Chinese-language books and in 1976 founded the magazine City, of which he was the chief editor and then publisher for 23 years. He has been a producer on more than 13 films. Banned in China, Koonchung’s politically charged novel The Fat Years tells the story of the search for an entire month erased from official Chinese history.
Arno Kopecky is a journalist and travel writer whose dispatches have appeared in The Walrus, Foreign Policy, Globe and Mail, Maclean's, The Tyee and Reader's Digest. He has covered civil uprisings in Mexico, cyclones in Burma, Zimbabwe's 30-year dictatorship and election violence in Kenya. Kopecky’s debut work, The Devil's Curve, untangles the real life story of soldiers sent to dislodge 3,000 Awajun natives camped at Devil's Curve in Peru’s northern Amazon and the subsequent clash that followed, exposing the devastating impact of globalization.
Physician and author Vincent Lam is from the expatriate Chinese community of Vietnam, and was born in Canada. He is a lecturer with the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the University of Toronto and has worked in international air evacuation and expedition medicine on Arctic and Antarctic ships. Lam's first book, Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures, won the Scotiabank Giller Prize and has recently been adapted for television and broadcast on HBO Canada. Lam’s The Headmaster's Wager tells the story of Percival, a gambling, womanizing, corrupt headmaster at a prestigious English school in Saigon.
David Layton has had articles and short fiction published in the Daily Telegraph and Globe and Mail among other publications. He is the author of Motion Sickness, a memoir, and the novels The Bird Factory and Bloodlines.
Max Layton is the singer-songwriter son of Irving Layton. He has worked in a B.C. lumber camp, laid track in Saskatchewan, picked tobacco and apprenticed as a car mechanic. He also owned a bookstore, managed a subsidiary of McClelland & Stewart and ran his own publishing house. In his first collection of poetry, When The Rapture Comes, Layton takes the post apocalypse to new heights, bringing together memories of family, trips to fantasy lands and outrageous humour.
Dennis Lee is the author of more than 20 books, including Civil Elegies, which won the Governor General's Literary Award for Poetry, and the children’s classic Alligator Pie. He is also a noted essayist, song lyricist and editor, and was the co-founder of House of Anansi Press in 1967. He was also the recipient of the inaugural Harbourfront Festival Prize. Lee presents his most recent collection of poems, Testament, which explores the dilemma of contemporary existence and reminds us of the catastrophic reality we have made of our planet, while simultaneously insisting on a particular kind of hope for the future.
JJ Lee is the menswear columnist for the Vancouver Sun and broadcasts a weekly fashion column for CBC Radio in Vancouver. He spent a year as an apprentice at Modernize Tailors and was featured in the award-winning film about the shop, Tailor Made: The Last Tailor Shop in Chinatown. In 2007, he wrote and presented an hour-length radio documentary on the social history of suits, entitled The Measure of Man, for CBC Radio's Ideas. Lee lives in New Westminster, where he works as a creative consultant for a design firm. Part personal memoir, part social history, The Measure of a Man follows Lee’s decision to finally make his father’s last suit his own.
John B. Lee is the Poet Laureate of Bradford and the recipient of over 70 prestigious awards for his writing, including the $10,000 CBC Literary Award for Poetry and the Milton Acorn Memorial People’s Poetry Award, which he won twice. His work has appeared internationally in over 500 publications and has been translated into French, Spanish, Korean, Hungarian and Chinese. In Dressed in Dead Uncles, Lee negotiates our interactions with life and death with poems that are both deeply emotional and reflectively humorous.
Rebecca Lee is the author of the critically acclaimed novel, The City is a Rising Tide. Her short stories have appeared in The Atlantic and Zoetrope. She holds an MFA from the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop and teaches at the University of California at Wilmington. Lee shares Bobcat and Other Stories, an acutely observed and scaldingly honest debut short story collection.
Sook-Yin Lee is a musician, actor, filmmaker and producer, and the host of DNTO on CBC Radio One. She first garnered national attention as the lead singer of the influential Vancouver alternative band Bob's Your Uncle, and later as a MuchMusic VJ. Lee has released several solo albums and performed in a wide range of theatre, film and television projects.
Matt Lennox first pursued a military career, becoming a captain in the Canadian army, where he was posted to Afghanistan between 2008 and 2009. While there, he wrote many of the stories in his first short story collection, Men of Salt, Men of Earth, shortlisted for the 2010 ReLit Award. He lives in Toronto and is completing his MFA at Guelph-Humber. Lennox's debut novel, The Carpenter, explores the back alleys and dark corners of small-town life and of the human heart.
Ben Lerner is the author of three books of poetry: The Lichtenberg Figures, Angle of Yaw and Mean Free Path. Lerner has been a finalist for the National Book Award, a Fulbright Scholar in Spain, the recipient of a Howard Foundation Fellowship and the first American to win the Münster State Prize for International Poetry. He teaches at Brooklyn College. In Lerner’s debut novel, Leaving the Atocha Station, a young poet on a prestigious Madrid fellowship begins to wonder if his relationships, his reactions and his entire personality are just as fraudulent as his poetry.
Martin Levin is books editor of the Globe and Mail and an irregular reviewer as well. He has co-written a play about the world’s worst film director and contributed personal essays to a number of anthologies, most recently Great Expectations: Twenty-four True Stories about Childbirth. He is presently at work on a project that may prove too challenging.
Former Baltimore Sun reporter Laura Lippman , has won the Edgar Award, Anthony Award, Agatha Award, Nero Wolfe Award, Shamus Award and Quill Award. Her New York Times bestseller What the Dead Know was chosen as one of the best books of the year by critics at the New York Times, Washington Post and Publishers Weekly, among other publications. Based on her multi-award-nominated short story “Scratch a Woman” Lippman presents And When She Was Good, which follows a suburban madam and a convicted killer as they engage in an emotional fight to keep the child they both love.
Lesley Livingston is the award-winning author of the Wondrous Strange trilogy ((Wondrous Strange, Darklight and Tempestuous) and Once Every Never. Her most recent project, Starling, is the first book in a new YA urban fantasy series. The second book in her Never series, Every Never After, will be out next year. Lesley is currently working on the first book of a middle-grade series The Wiggins Weird, co-written with Jonathan Llyr.
Norway’s Erlend Loe is the author of six novels and four children’s books, which have been translated and published in 21 countries. Born in Trondheim, Norway, Loe studied folklore, film studies and literature before working as a newspaper critic and teacher. A bestseller in Scandinavia, Loe’s Doppler is the story of a man who, after the death of his father, abandons his home, his family, his career and the trappings of civilization for a makeshift tent in the woods where he adopts a moose-calf named Bongo.
Annabel Lyon's story collection, Oxygen, and book of novellas, The Best Thing for You, were published to wide acclaim. Her first novel, The Golden Mean, won the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize and was nominated for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, Governor General’s Literary Award for English Fiction and a regional Commonwealth Writers’ Prize. Lyon’s second novel, The Sweet Girl, follows the intelligent 16-year-old Pythias, recently orphaned daughter of Aristotle, as she attempts to forge a path for herself in a superstitious and biased world.
Australian Wayne Macauley’s work includes the novels Blueprints for a Barbed Wire Canoe and Caravan Story, and the short story collection, Other Stories. His latest novel, The Cook, was listed as a fiction book of the year by ABC Radio National, The Australian and Sunday Herald Sun. It has been shortlisted for a West Australian and Victorian Premier’s Literary Award and for the Melbourne Prize Best Writing Award. The Cook tells the story of Zac, a teenage boy with a difficult past, who throws himself into the world and work of haute cuisine.
John Macfarlane is the editor and co-publisher of The Walrus.
Linden MacIntyre is one of Canada’s most distinguished broadcast journalists. The winner of nine Gemini Awards, he is the co-host of CBC Television’s the fifth estate and has been involved in the production of documentaries and stories from all over the world. His novel, The Bishop’s Man, won the Scotiabank Giller Prize, the Dartmouth Book Award and the CBA Libris Award. MacIntyre’s final instalment of the Cape Breton trilogy, Why Men Lie, follows Effie, a twice-divorced Celtic studies professor, as she begins a relationship with a man she hopes will be different from the others she has known.
A world authority in household management and butlering, Charles MacPherson is the founder of Charles MacPherson Associates Inc., North America's only registered school for butlers and household managers. He is the resident butler for CTV’s The Marilyn Denis Show, and a columnist for Metro News and the National Post. His book The Butler Speaks will be published in April.
Kyo Maclear was born in London, UK, and grew up in Toronto. Her debut novel, The Letter Opener, was a finalist for the Amazon/Books in Canada First Novel Award. She is also the recipient of the K.M. Hunter Artist Award in Literature. Maclear is a visual arts writer and the author of two children’s books, Spork and Virginia Wolf. Maclear presents Stray Love, the story of an artistic and ethnically ambiguous young man abandoned by his mother at birth and raised by a surrogate father in Vietnam and London, UK in the racially charged 1960s.
Beatrice MacNeil is the author of the Dartmouth Book Award-winning novels Where White Horses Gallop, Butterflies Dance in the Dark and The Moonlight Skater, and the children’s book There’s a Mouse in the House of Miss Crouse. Set in Cape Breton where MacNeil was born, The Box of the Dead centres on Ivadoile, who was widowed early and runs a boarding house in a home left to her by her doctor husband. As she approaches old age, Ivadoile muses over the turns her life has taken.
Stacey Madden holds a BA in English from the University of Toronto and an MFA in creative writing from the University of Guelph. His writing has appeared in the Globe and Mail, Toronto Review of Books, Broken Pencil, Front&Centre and Open Book: Toronto, among other places. His first novel, Poison Shy, tells the story of a 29-year-old nobody whose world is turned upside down when he meets a young wild child.
Iceland’s Andri Snær Magnason writes poetry, plays, fiction and non-fiction, and co-directed the documentary Dreamland, based on his book Dreamland: A Self-Help Manual for a Frightened Nation. Magnason is the winner of the 2010 Kairos Award. Magnason presents two of his latest works. His award-winning novel LoveStar is a surrealistic account of post-technological human experience. His children's book, The Story of the Blue Planet, follows a Utopian children’s society visited by a mysterious adult. It has been published or performed in 26 countries and received the Icelandic Literary Prize, the Janusz Korczak Honorary Award and the West Nordic Children's Book Prize.
Aga Maksimowska lives in Toronto. She is currently head of English at an independent day school for boys. She holds an MFA in creative writing from the University of Guelph, a bachelor of education from the University of Toronto and a bachelor of journalism from Ryerson University. Her work has appeared online and in print in Canada and Australia. Her first novel, Giant, is about an 11-year-old girl in an adult’s body whose coming of age in a country undergoing a revolution is interrupted by a sudden and cruel move to Canada.
Pasha Malla’s first collection of short stories, The Withdrawal Method, was shortlisted for a Commonwealth Writers' Prize and won both the Danuta Gleed Literary Award and the Trillium Book Award. A frequent contributor to The Walrus, Globe and Mail and CBC Radio, he is also the winner of an Arthur Ellis Award for Crime Fiction, two National Magazine Awards for humour writing and has twice had stories included in the Journey Prize Stories. Malla's novel People Park explores the variety of characters that make up an island community plunged into a series of unnatural disasters.
Born in British Columbia, Emily St. John Mandel (Canada/USA) lived briefly in Montreal before relocating to New York. She is a staff writer for The Millions and the author of Last Night in Montreal and The Singer’s Gun, which won an Indie Bookseller’s Choice Award and was a #1 Indie Next pick. Mandel’s third novel, The Lola Quartet, is a work of literary noir that begins in New York during the 2009 economic collapse and explores jazz, Django Reinhardt, friendship and love, Florida's exotic wildlife problem, fedoras and the unreliability of memory.
Alen Mattich (Canada/UK) was born in Zagreb, Croatia, and grew up in Libya, Italy, Canada and the USA. He went to McGill University for his undergraduate degree and did post-graduate work at the London School of Economics. A financial journalist and columnist, he’s now based in London and writes for Dow Jones and the Wall Street Journal. Mattich’s debut novel, Zagreb Cowboy, opens in the crumbling state of Yugoslavia in 1991, where in the midst of the chaos secret policeman Marko della Torre has been working both sides of the law.
Mystery writer Norah McClintock is a five-time winner of the Crime Writers of Canada’s Arthur Ellis Award for Best Juvenile Crime Novel. She grew up in Montreal, Quebec, and now lives with her family in Toronto. Although she works as a freelance editor, McClintock still manages to write at least one novel a year. In McClintock’s latest work, Close to the Heel (Seven: The Series), a boy sets out on a mission to fly to Iceland after the death of his grandfather and deliver a message from beyond the grave.
Bob McDonald is the host of CBC Radio One's Quirks and Quarks, a regular reporter for CBC Television’s The National and the Gemini-winning host and writer of the children’s series Head’s Up. McDonald has authored three science books and contributed to numerous science textbooks, newspapers and magazines.
Don McKay has published 11 books of poetry including Another Gravity, Camber: Selected Poems and Strike/Slip, all of which were shortlisted for the Griffin Poetry Prize, which he won for Strike/Slip. He lives in St. John's, Newfoundland, edits poetry, and has taught poetry in universities across the country. In his latest collection of poems, Paradoxides, McKay explores fossils and deep time.
Ben McNally is the proprietor of Ben McNally Books in downtown Toronto.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012



Signs of worker shortages 
seen in several professions

By Alex P. Vidal

MONTREAL, Quebec -- For many reasons immigration policies in Canada are a hot topic these days, but the fact remains that some of Canada's future success will have to be imported.
Studies in both the United States and Canada have shown that job creation increases and the economy improves as the number of immigrants swells. Immigrants are, as a group, better educated than Canadians and since 1967, when the government introduced its point system, the selection process favours those with marketable skills, according to writer Alison Ramsey,
"Is there a market here for skilled labour?" asked Ramsey.  "Actually, Canada is seeing signs of worker shortages in several professions – including engineers, doctors and nurses, to name a few. Added to this is the fact that the population in some provinces is shrinking, and employers are having difficulty filling their rosters with skilled help. Paul Darby, director of the Conference Board of Canada, estimates a shortfall of 3 million skilled workers by the year 2020."
Ramsey added boosting immigration could be a very effective way of helping to ease the shortage, but there are other impediments.


Immigrants often have difficulty working in their fields after they arrive, Ramsey explained. On average, she said, it takes 10 years for immigrants to get hired in jobs for which they have skills and, even then, they are not necessarily working at the skill level to which they have been trained. 
In March, Jeffrey Reitz of University of Toronto’s Centre for Industrial Relations, released a study showing that immigrants whose skills are underused cost the Canadian economy $2.4 billion yearly. He also estimated that they are underpaid to the tune of $12.6 billion every year. No type of job is exempt. "We used comparisons across the labour force," says Reitz.
Ramsey wrote that "some organizations are answering the growing demand by helping immigrants become licensed to work in Canada after they arrive. The Ontario Ministry of Education, for example, is spending $12 million over three years to help get more foreign-trained medical professionals – nurses, doctors and pharmacists – into their professions. The money is given to local professionals associations to recruit and retain personnel. Another $3.5 million is being spent by the province to train foreign professionals to ensure they meet Canadian standards."
Yet, at the same time, she added, experts are worried that the flow of immigrants is about to dry up, thanks to legislation coming into effect in June that changes the rules for people hoping to enter the county. 
Reitz says the proposed guidelines constitute a much more stringent selection criteria. He theorizes that the government hopes to eliminate a backlog of applicants, which numbers about 660,000 people. 


The Association of Immigration Counsel of Canada has run dozens of scenarios to determine how many of the 660,000 would be eligible under the new guidelines. "We anticipate that only five to eight percent will be allowed in," he says. The problem, adds Reitz, is when the backlog is gone but the need for skilled workers remains.
Growing demand for skilled labour is not limited to Canada. In India and China, for instance, the high-tech industry is developing. Workers from those countries who might have had to emigrate to ply their job skills in the past, now have a better chance of finding work at home. 
Even after skilled workers arrive, it can be a challenge to keep them here: the United States is also eager to attract the best and the brightest.


According to a survey by Canada’s Federation of Independent Business, one out of 20 jobs remains unfilled because of an inability to find suitably skilled labour. 
This represents about 250,000 to 300,000 vacant jobs in small- and medium-sized businesses alone. The lack is not just in professions that require higher education. The worst off are employers looking for skilled construction workers, who reported 7.7 percent of jobs went unfilled. 
They are followed closely by the business services and agriculture sectors. Hospitals and the personal service sector ranked tenth at 3.8 percent.
The article said the need is greatest in Manitoba, Ontario and Alberta.

208 writers join International Festival of Authors

208 writers join International 
Festival of Authors 

By Alex P. Vidal

MONTREAL, Quebec -- Some 208 book authors -- including hosts, moderators and interviewers --participate in the 33rd International Festival of Authors (IFOA) that unwrapped October 18 until October 28 at the Harbourfront Center in Toronto, Ontario. 
Meanwhile, celebrating 75 years in publishing, Doubleday Canada and Authors at Harbourfront Centre present a special anniversary reading featuring authors Chris Cleave, Miranda Hill, Jane Johnson, M.G. Vassanji and Karen Thompson Walker who all read from their latest works. Charles MacPherson hosts on Tuesday, October 23.
The event includes a door prize of a library valued at $500! Donated by Random House of Canada Ltd.
This year's IFOA participants, which brings together the world's best writers of contemporary literature for 11 days of readings, interviews, lectures, round table discussions, and public book signings each October,  are Ekiwah Adler-Beléndez, Siri Agrell, Tom Allen, Kamal Al-Solaylee, Anita Amirrezvani, Dr. Anamika, Larissa Andrusyshyn, Bert Archer, Barbara Arrowsmith-Young.
Others are Mark Askwith, Nathalie Atkinson, Paul Auster, Garvia Bailey, Shauna Singh Baldwin, Erin Balser, Steven W. Beattie, Ned Beauman, Mario Beauregard, Mark Billingham, Jared Bland, Mariel Borelli, Roo Borson, Gail Bowen, Tim Bowling, Sigmund Brouwer, Chester Brown, Catherine Bush, Liam Card, Marjorie Celona, Michael Chabon, Ayesha Chatterjee, Lee Child, Stuart Clark, James Clarke, Adrienne Clarkson, Chris Cleave, Susan G. Cole, Trevor Cole.
Also in attendance are Tim Conley, Lynn Crosbie, Hilary Davidson, Christopher Dewdney, Junot Díaz, Tamas Dobozy, Cory Doctorow, Emma Donoghue, Jeff Douglas, Lise Downe, Naomi Duguid, Modris Eksteins, Louise Erdrich, Will Ferguson, Charlie Foran, Richard Ford, Dan Friedman, Jonathan Galassi, Bill Gaston, Fabio Geda, Jian Ghomeshi, Douglas Gibson, Graeme Gibson, Rachel Giese, Jonathan Goldstein, Nora Gomringer, Ted Goossen, Hiromi Goto, James Grainger.
They are joined by Taras Grescoe, Hubert Haddad, Rawi Hage, Phil Hall, Claudia Hammond, Mohammed Hanif, Deborah Harkness, Joanne Harris, Jasmine Herlt, Miranda Hill, Jesse Hirsh, Linda Holeman, Simonetta Agnello Hornby, Robert Hough, Chris Howden, Jennifer Hunter, Hiromi Ito, Howard Jacobson, Jane Johnson, Rachel Joyce, Mons Kallentoft, Hiromi Kawakami, A.L. Kennedy, David Kent, Mark Kingwell, Liza Klaussmann, Chan Koonchung, Arno Kopecky, Vincent Lam, David Layton, Max Layton, Dennis Lee, JJ Lee, John B. Lee, Rebecca Lee, Sook-Yin Lee, Matt Lennox, Ben Lerner.
Also in attendance are Martin Levin, Laura Lippman, Lesley Livingston, Erlend Loe, Annabel Lyon, Wayne Macauley, John Macfarlane, Linden MacIntyre, Sarah MacLachlan, Charles MacPherson, Kyo Maclear, Beatrice MacNeil, Stacey Madden, Andri Snær Magnason, Aga Maksimowska, Pasha Malla, Emily St. John Mandel, Alen Mattich, Norah McClintock, Bob McDonald, Don McKay, Ben McNally, Mark Medley, China Miéville, Rohinton Mistry, Jacob McArthur Mooney, Kim Moritsugu, Donna Morrissey, Kate Mosse, Nick Mount, Alice Munro, Jo Nesbø, Craig Norris, Grace O'Connell, Carol Off, Alix Ohlin, Véronique Ovaldé.
They are joined by Shane Peacock, José Luís Peixoto, Alison Pick, Gordon Pinsent, Christine Pountney, Steven Price, Andrew Pyper, Vishnu Ramcharan, Mukunda Rao, Ron Rash, Corey Redekop, C.S. Richardson, Nancy Richler, Tanis Rideout, Sandra Ridley, Dianne Rinehart, Peter Robinson, Michael Robotham, Shelagh Rogers, Robert Rotenberg, Subodh Sarkar, John Ralston Saul, Candace Savage, Robert J. Sawyer, Anakana Schofield.
The event was also graced by Emily Schultz, Richard Scrimger, Seth, Leanne Shapton, Motoyuki Shibata, Antanas Sileika, Kjersti A. Skomsvold, Olga Slavnikova, Joey Slinger, Robin Sloan, Carrie Snyder, Morten Søndergaard, Linda Spalding, Eva Stachniak, Ted Staunton, Meaghan Strimas, Cordelia Strube, Susan Swan, Kristel Thornell, Kim Thúy, Joanne Tod, Miriam Toews, Lorna Toolis, Amor Towles, Becky Toyne, M.G. Vassanji, Eleanor Wachtel
Also in the festival are Karen Thompson Walker, Jess Walter, Eric Walters, Russell Wangersky, Claire Vaye Watkins, Irvine Welsh, Andrew Westoll, Nathan Whitlock, John Wilson, Benjamin Wood, Stuart Woods, Minky Worden, Kyle Carsten Wyatt, and Nora Young.
The IFOA presents a number of special events including readings by Scotiabank Giller Prize, Governor General’s Literary Awards, and Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize finalists, as well as the awarding of the Harbourfront Festival Prize.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Award-winning author Munro misses International Festival of Authors

Award-winning author Munro misses 
International Festival of Authors

By Alex P. Vidal

TORONTO, Ontario -- Like many writers and guests currently attending the 33rd International Festival of Authors (IFOA) at the Harbourfront Center, I was disheartened that Alice Munro failed to appear at this year's festival. 
Munro’s long-time friend and editor, Douglas Gibson, explained that: “Alice is 81 years old now, and her health is frail, making it impossible for her to attend this IFOA event, although she would very much like to be able to do so.”
Festival organizers were disappointed knowing how successful, enriching and entertaining her appearances at the IFOA have been in the past. Organizers worked to the eleventh hour to try and make the event possible however it was determined that this course of action was best. 
Winner of the 2009 Man Booker International Prize for her lifetime body of work, Alice Munro Haagensen was born in 1900 at Waquoit Bay on Cape Cod, where her family had a summer place, according to The Palisades Newsletter. Her father, a medieval historian, taught at the University of Pennsylvania, then at the University of Wisconsin in Madison (she remembered the lakes, the winter sports, walls of snow), and finally at Princeton as the head of the history department, always summering on the Cape.


The second youngest of five children in an "articulate family" (her words), Alice,  a three-time winner of Canada's Governor General's Award for fiction, and a perennial contender for the Nobel Prize,  attended Wellesley College and graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 1921. She knew that she wanted to be a writer. After a year at the Sorbonne, she worked in New York as a reporter on the Globe (making $5 a day) and then for awhile at Scribner's Press. 
She met her husband, Cushman Haagensen (whose family had come to North Dakota from Norway in the 1850s) on a transatlantic ship - he was the ship's doctor, newly qualified, and she was returning from Europe. She told how he saw her coming aboard and had her seated at his table. By the end of the voyage, they were engaged. 
Throughout their sixty-year marriage, she was his constant helpmate. She ran the house, entertained colleagues and students and visiting dignitaries, helped with the editing of his book, Diseases of the Breast (he was a foremost expert on breast cancer), taught herself Greek when he opened a clinic in Athens and needed an interpreter.


Historic Houses of Palisades, published by the Historical Committee in 2001, is largely based on Alice's encyclopedic knowledge of the village and its inhabitants. 
In the 1980s she helped with applications that resulted in two Palisades districts and several individual houses being placed on the National Register of Historic Places. 
She was consulted on Sneden family history by the Virginia Historical Society and received the Rockland County Historical Society's Zehner award for her work. She continued to collect material on the early twentieth century and her own period in Palisades, planning for a continuation of her book.
"We hope our audience joins us in wishing the best for Ms. Munro," organizers announced five days before the start of the festival.
This year’s International Festival of Authors includes more than 200 participants and over 70 events. Each October, the IFOA presents a wide range of readings, round table discussions, onstage interviews, book signings and a number of special events featuring the most exciting authors in contemporary literature. Administered by Authors at Harbourfront Centre, this year’s 33rd annual IFOA takes place from October 18 to 28, 2012.