Atwood, Whitehead to bookend the Toronto International Festival of Authors

The annual literary festival is going virtual again this year


Margaret Atwood, Omar El Akkad, Colson Whitehead and Randy Boyagoda are among the authors set to appear at this year’s Toronto International Festival of Authors (TIFA).

The annual literary festival is going virtual again, and will warm up with the inaugural Graeme Gibson Talk, which is named after the the late Canadian writer and will feature his partner Atwood.

The Handmaid’s Tale author will chat about dystopian literature with Egyptian-Canadian author and journalist El Akkad and CBC Radio Ideas host Nahlah Ayed. The virtual panel is free and will streamable for 72 hours.

The talk takes place on September 22 – prior to the main festival – and is a partnership between PEN Canada and CBC Radio. According to an event description, the authors will discuss “themes in dystopian literature, as well as bright spots – the freedoms and limitations of our era and their implications – all through the lens of their fiction.

El Akkad’s latest novel is What Strange Paradise, about the global refugee crisis. Atwood is due to publish an essay collection in 2022 called Burning Questions.

Post-festival, two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Whitehead will chat about his latest book, Harlem Shuffle, with Toronto-based writer and critic Boyagoda. The virtual talk takes place on November 17 and will also stream for 72. Tickets are $38 and include a copy of the book.

Whitehead is the author of The Nickel Boys and The Underground Railroad, which Barry Jenkins recently turned into a miniseries for Amazon Prime Video. Harlem Shuffle is billed as a “love letter” to New York in the 1960s and is part family saga/crime novel that touches on themes of morality, power and race.

Attendees can register for both events via festivalofauthors.ca. The 42nd annual event runs October 21–31.

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