The best Toronto book events and literary festivals in fall 2019

The busiest time of year for book lovers includes the 40th annual Toronto International Festival of Authors, appearances by Naomi Klein, Zadie Smith, Jia Tolentino and more

Bi Arts Festival

The annual festival focused on bisexual and pansexual experiences and art includes a few lit events: an author showcase with Ben Berman Ghan, Syd Lazarus, Cleopatria Peterson, Jess Taylor and more (September 21) and a storytelling night (September 22).

September 19-23. Various venues. Free-$20.

Work! A Queer History Of Modeling

The fashion industry is behind shaping bland beauty norms, but University of Toronto history prof Elspeth H. Brown’s alternative history of the modelling world looks at the intersection between queerness, sexuality and mainstream beauty.

September 20. Glad Day Bookshop. 6 pm. Free.

Naomi Klein

The Green New Deal champion, who has been focused on American politics of late, turns her attention to Canada at the launch for her essay collection On Fire: The (Burning) Case For A Green New Deal.

September 20. Art Gallery of Ontario. 7 pm. $17 or $40 with copy of book.

Word On The Street

The 30th annual book fair runs over two days, with one full day devoted to conversations on writing and citizenship and the second featuring the marketplace, panels and author talks. Marquee events include ex-Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould talking about her memoir and the final Toronto performance by children’s entertainers Sharon and Bram.

September 21-22. Harbourfront Centre. Sat noon-8 pm, Sun 10 am-5 pm. Free.

Benjamin Moser

The author of the Susan Sontag biography, Sontag: Her Life And Work, chats with Sheila Heti about the cultural critic’s life. The authorized book is being billed as a “definitive” account and is receiving polarized reviews.

September 23. Bram & Bluma Appel Salon. 7 pm. Free.

Robyn Dolittle

The Globe And Mail journalist does a deep dive into the Canadian context of #MeToo with Had It Coming, in which she posits that lack of police enforcement and education, rather than existing laws, are creating a permissive environment for sexual assault to occur.

September 26. Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema. 6:30 pm. $11.50.

Jaipur Literature Festival

The inaugural Toronto edition of the global literary fest joins the city’s crowded fall literary schedule with some big names: André Aciman, Pico Iyer, MG Vassanji, John Ralston Saul, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni and Izzeldin Abuelaish.

September 27-29. The Distillery District. $10, opening gala $150.

Jia Tolentino

The New Yorker staff writer and author of the recent essay collection Trick Mirror has been dubbed the voice of the millennial generation and is an influential voice in shaping the way issues such as feminism are talked about online.

September 28. Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema. 1 pm. $11.50.

Avan Jogia

The Canadian actor and star of Gregg Araki’s sex comedy Now Apocalypse explores what it means to be mixed race in a world obsessed with identity in his debut book, Mixed Feelings. His Toronto reading features musical and visual accompaniment.

September 28. Indigo Bay &Bloor. 7 pm. Free.

Salman Rushdie

The literary giant chats with Candy Palmater about Quichotte, his Booker Prize-shortlisted Trumpian reimagining of the story of Don Quixote.

September 30. Art Gallery of Ontario. 7 pm. $12-$17.

Adnan Khan

The Toronto author launches There Has To Be A Knife, a novel exploring masculinity and societal expectations of Brown men, at a Dundas West bar with DJ Krish Dineshkumar and guest reader Khalida Venus Hassan.

October 2. Unlovable. 8 pm. Free.

Jonathan Safran Foer

The American author of Eating Animals tackles climate change by encouraging people to reduce the amount of meat and dairy they eat each day in his latest book, We Are The Weather: Saving The Planet Begins At Breakfast.

October 2. Indigo Bay & Bloor. Doors 6:30 pm, all ages. $23.73.

Antoni Porowski

The Queer Eye reboot’s resident foodie (and Canadian) will give you a reason to salivate at the launch for his new cookbook, Antoni In The Kitchen.

October 2. Isabel Bader Theatre. 8 pm. $50 (includes admission and one signed copy of book) VIP meet-and-greet $90.

Books & Ideas

The Koffler Centre’s fall series explores resistance narratives and their various forms – including memoir and poetry. Speakers include poet Wayde Compton, artist April dela Noche Milne, Indigenous writers Francine Cunningham and Helen Knott and trans activist and author Abby Stein.

October 6-November 21. Various venues. $30-$60.

Mohamed Abdulkarim Ali

The Toronto-based author of Angry Queer Somali Boy chats with Rinaldo Walcott about his “complicated memoir,” which encompasses kidnapping, immigration, partying in Toronto, addiction, racism and winding up homeless.

October 9. Another Story Bookshop. 7 pm. Free.

Emily Nussbaum

The Pulitzer Prize-winning American television critic with an affinity for shows made for and by women chats with Rachel Giese about her collection of previously unpublished essays, I Like To Watch: Arguing My Way Through The TV Revolution.

October 16. Bram & Bluma Appel Salon. 7 pm. Free.

Koyama Press fall launch

The indie comic publisher launches its final round of books before calling it quits. Releases include Michael DeForge’s Stunt, GG’s Constantly, Ben Passmore’s Sports Is Hell, Connor Wilumsen’s Bradley Of Him and Patrick Kyle’s The Death Of The Master.

October 17. The Beguiling. 7 pm. Free.

Toronto International Festival of Authors

The season’s biggest event marks 40 years with more than 60 events, including free readings and a retrospective exhibition at Union Station. Big events include American civil rights activist Angela Davis’s keynote talk (November 2), an Indigenous poetry night featuring Lee Maracle, Columpa Bobb and Tania Carter (October 26), an on-stage interview with German author Frido Mann (October 26), a tribute to the late Wayson Choy (October 26), the Toronto Book Awards (November 2), a conversation with An American Marriage author Tayari Jones (November 1) and the North American premiere of a theatrical show based on Miriam Toews’s book Women Talking (October 29).

October 24-November 3. Harbourfront Centre. $18.

Zadie Smith

The popular British novelist and essayist returns to town to chat with Eleanor Wachtel about her first short-story collection, Grand Union, which is a mixed of new and previously published stories.

October 30. Art Gallery of Ontario. 7 pm. $20.

Harold R. Johnson

The former crown prosecutor from Saskatchewan’s latest non-fiction book, Peace And Good Order, examines the ways the Canadian justice system is failing Indigenous people and makes a case against criminal law.

November 12. Toronto Reference Library (Atrium). 7 pm. Free.

Saeed Jones

The poet and Buzzfeed staffer discusses his memoir How We Fight For Our Lives, which recounts his youth in the South while exploring race and queerness.

November 21. Bram and Bluma Appel Salon. 6 pm. Free.

Naked Heart Fest

The annual LGBTQ literary festival – the largest fest of its kind – returns for a fifth year. Lineup and venue details have yet to be announced.

November 22-24.


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