A Warm Reception for CanLit in China

11th Bookworm Literary Festival in Beijing, China. (L to R): Shari Lapena, Ronna Bloom, Christine Saratsiotis, Sylvain Neuvel and Geoffrey E. Taylor. March 2018.

11th Bookworm Literary Festival in Beijing, China. (L to R): Shari Lapena, Ronna Bloom, Christine Saratsiotis (Festival Deputy Director), Sylvain Neuvel and Geoffrey E. Taylor (Festival Director).

Last month Geoffrey E. Taylor (Director) and Christine Saratsiotis (Deputy Director) of the Toronto International Festival of Authors took three Canadian writers—Ronna BloomShari Lapena and Sylvain Neuvel— to the 11th Bookworm Literary Festival in Beijing, China, as part of our international touring programme. We asked the writers what they thought about the the reception of Canadian literature in China and more.

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Between Words and Worlds with Soraya Peerbaye

Woman sits upon a mountain and gazes at the landscape

Next week, the Toronto International Festival of Authors will present Between Words and Worlds: New Canadian Women’s Writing. To give readers a preview of what the event hopes to explore with regards to the stories we tell, we reached out to the event’s moderator, Soraya Peerbaye.

The panel discussion will feature Inanna Publications authors Ami Sands Brodoff, Connie Guzzo-McParland, Mariam Pirbhai and Mehri Yalfani, and is billed as a unique opportunity to explore foreground characters and experiences that are still rarely attended to in mainstream publishing in Canada. We asked Peerbaye what specific themes she hopes to cover on stage:

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5 Questions with Mayank Bhatt

Mayank Bhatt 5 Questions banner

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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5 Questions with Michael Mirolla

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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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Page and Flesh

By David Bradford

Delegates banner David Bradford

The Delegate Programme is an opportunity for local authors and journalists to enrich the level of discussion at select events throughout the International Festival of Authors. David Bradford—author of Call Out and contributor to The Unpublished City—wrote about his experience as an IFOA 2017 delegate and for him, it turned the reader-writer relationship into a tangible experience.


“Every time I failed at something,” Eileen Myles told the Brigantine Room audience over Skype, “I could write.” It’s an old, truthful thing Andre Alexis and Kia Corthron seemed to recognize, one which I know well from my better nights, as well as my worst ones.

In a room full of honest-to-God readers, though, I found myself wondering how well they may have recognized Myles’s sentiment for themselves. I wondered how they might connect it with their own failures, and their own reach for that personal thing that wouldn’t let them down—how often that something might have been in the words of others. It reminded me that we writers all started, and hopefully remain first and foremost, readers. That often what we write begins with something we read—out of an impulse to look in a book for something we’ve failed to find elsewhere.

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