By: J. Patrick Boyer
The celebrated “gift to see ourselves as others see us” requires gaining an objective distance to appraise qualities hard to recognize from too close up. It can be sobering, and instructive. In 2017, Canadians are celebrating a century and a-half of Confederation under 1867’s Constitution by focusing overwhelmingly on ourselves, a self-referencing paradigm, a mirror not a window.
That’s why it’s doubly good to have a dose of realism about how others see us.
In my book, Foreign Voices in the House, those “others” offering such a vantage point are the five dozen presidents, prime ministers, monarchs, and transnational leaders who’ve addressed the Canadian House of Commons, from their perspective on this country, over the past hundred years.
These exceptionally diverse leaders, speaking at intervals ever since Rene Viviani of France and Arthur Balfour of Britain began the tradition in 1917, offer a kaleidoscopic view on a country evolving from colonial status to independent nationhood, in a world constantly remaking itself in geopolitical, economic, and technological ways.
We asked French author, Sylvain Prudhomme, five questions about what inspired The Greats and his research process. You can find him at IFOA 2017, and IFOA Etobicoke on October 17th.
We asked Drew Hayden Taylor five questions about his love of science fiction and how Take Us To Your Chief addresses the challenges faced by modern indigenous communities. You can find him at IFOA 2017.
by Antanas Sileika
Aspiring writers dream not only of publication, but of standing on the stage at Harbourfront Centre, and then, maybe best of all, sharing drinks with other authors in the Hospitality Suite.
That was part of the dream I wrote about in my memoir, The Barefoot Bingo Caller.
When I returned to Toronto from Paris, where we’d run a literary journal called Paris Voices out of the bookstore (Shakespeare and Company), the International Festival of Authors (IFOA) down at Harbourfront Centre was like a literary Manhattan compared to the grubby literary digs at S.&Co.
High profile writers came through there, the likes of Tobias Wolff and Guy Vanderhaeghe. Anybody could go down to listen to them at the Festival, but every aspiring writer wants to do more than sit in the audience. In my overheated literary imagination, I envisioned a hospitality suite that included a Canadian version of the Algonquin Round Table. Who would be our Dorothy Parker? Can a Canuck even be Dorothy Parker?
We asked Emily Schultz five questions about her relationship with border-cities and researching the Prohibition era. You can find her at IFOA 2017.