Writing Women’s History: An Interview with The Red Word’s Sarah Henstra

Women's March

Online movements like #MeToo have forced an important conversation on power, consent, sexual harassment and assault into the spotlight which has led to real world actions like the Times Up Legal Defense Fund.

As it’s the first day of Women’s History Month, we wanted to take the time to chat with author Sarah Henstra ahead of her Toronto Lit Up book launch on March 8th.

Henstra’s arresting novel, The Red Word, is set on an American campus where a Canadian sophomore, Karen Huls, deals with the conflict of dating a member of the Gamma Beta Chi fraternity while living with the radical feminists of the Raghurst house. We asked Henstra why she chose to write about rape culture, and campus culture, in her book:

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5 Questions with Mayank Bhatt

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Mayank Bhatt discusses how his novel, Belief, is very relevant today on the topic of immigration and settlement in Canada in our Five Questions series. He also talks about the standout moments in publishing his  debut novel and what he’s reading.

Bhatt will be participating in IFOA Weekly’s ‘What’s Life Got To Do With It?’ panel discussion on Wednesday, March 7th at 7:30 pm.

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A Remedy for Valentine’s Day Writer’s Block: Borrow Some Prose from the Pros


Valentine’s Day is approaching so the International Festival of Authors wants to help you with your writer’s block. For those special people in your life for whom a convenience store card just won’t suffice, look no further than to these poetic lines below. From poets both modern and classic, here is some prose to quote in your love letters, or to inspire verses of your own.

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10 Authors to Read This Black History Month (and Beyond)


The International Festival of Authors (IFOA) is proud to take part in Harbourfront Centre’s Kuumba 2018: the longest-running Black History Month celebration in Toronto. On Wednesday, February 7 we’ll host a thought-provoking discussion about writing and authorship, and opportunities and impediments to success in the book industry. The conversation will include authors Simone DaltonRinaldo Walcott and Whitney French, and will be moderated by CBC Toronto journalist Dwight Drummond, and hosted by David Bradford.

Be sure to explore the work of our featured authors before this special event:

Simone Dalton‘s short story “Undersigned” in The Unpublished City

Rinaldo Walcott‘s Queer Returns: Essays On Multiculturalism, Diaspora and Black Studies and Black Like Who? Writing Black Canada

Whitney French‘s short story “Glass” in Black Notes: Young Black Voices before

The IFOA has had the pleasure of featuring numerous voices that honour the heritage, traditions and culture of Black communities here in Canada and across the globe. In honour of Black History Month, we’ve selected ten Black authors from the IFOA archives whose work we invite you to read this February, and all year round.

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5 Questions with Michael Mirolla


Michael Mirolla discusses writers who’ve influenced him and why he enjoys writing short stories in our Five Questions series. Mirolla will be launching his new short story collection, The Photographer in Search of Death, on Tuesday, January 30th at 6:30 pm with fellow Exile Editions author Martha Bátiz (Plaza Requiem).

IFOA: In a recent interview with Christine Cowley, you referred to the collection as speculative fiction. Tell us a bit about how The Photographer In Search of Death fits the description?

Michael Mirolla: I see “speculative fiction” as a description that encompasses a number of fictions (magical realism, surrealism, meta-fiction, science fiction). What they have in common is the idea that they are creating worlds rather than simply inhabiting them. Thus we get “what ifs” rather than “whats”.

They are also fictions of ideas rather than simply interactions between humans. To me, the best of these are those that can combine ideas with human interactions. That is, thoughts with a heart. I hope that, in a small way, The Photographer works towards achieving that aim and thus can fit under the speculative fiction umbrella.
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