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TORONTO, September 23, 2008 --- For the 29th year, the International Festival of Authors (IFOA) presents the most influential and talked-about authors currently being published in an eleven-day festival of readings, interviews, round-table discussions, and talks: Oct. 22–Nov. 1, 2008, at Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre. 135 authors from 15 countries are confirmed to take part, among them two currently shortlisted for the 2008 Man Booker Prize and nine currently longlisted for the 2008 Scotiabank Giller Prize.

Once again, high-profile events bookend the Festival, with Don McKellar interviewing Roddy Doyle on opening night (Oct. 22) at the annual PEN Canada Benefit; and authors shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize taking the final IFOA bow on closing night (Nov. 1). Governor General’s Literary Award and Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize shortlisted authors also read (Oct. 27 and 29 respectively).

In other notable events this year, contemporary art comes under the spotlight when Mark Kingwell interviews Don Thompson about The $12 Million Stuffed Shark, and Bill Douglas interviews Chip Kidd and Lynda Barry (both Oct. 26). Visual Arts take prominence off the stage too, with literary installations in two Harbourfront Centre fall exhibitions (by Robert J. Sawyer, and Andrew Westoll). 1,334 Words for 1,334 Students, an original short story by Colm Tóibín, and Tony Urquhart’s artwork from Rohinton Mistry’s The Scream are both exhibited in York Quay Centre for the duration of the Festival.

Nightwood Theatre provides a curtain-raiser for one reading event with an 8-minute segment of their production of Wild Dogs, based on the novel by IFOA author Helen Humphreys (Oct. 29). As part of Québec Now!, a city-wide focus on Québecois arts and culture, IFOA presents five authors from la belle provence: Neil Bissoondath, Pan Bouyoucas, Hélène Dorion, Rawi Hage, and Louise Penny, three of whom take part in a special Québec Now! round table (Nov. 1 – with thanks to the Government of Québec). Also on Nov. 1, IFOA presents reVERSible: a Canadian-German Poetry Encounter, a two-part free event featuring poets and short films from Germany’s annual Literaturwerkstatt Berlin and biennial Zebra Film Festival (with thanks to the Goethe-Institut Toronto).

Two Canadian landmarks will be reached when Josef Škvorecký appears at IFOA 30 years after his first Harbourfront Centre reading, and, after five decades of publishing, Farley Mowat is interviewed about a memoir that he says is his final book. Honouring our country’s past will be John Ralston Saul, Andrew Cohen, Lewis DeSoto, and Rudy Wiebe in a discussion of Extraordinary Canadians. Crime, mystery and thriller come courtesy of authors including Mark Billingham, Elena Forbes, Amara Lakhous, and Man Booker-longlisted debut author Tom Rob Smith. The bi-annual Ben McNally Travellers Series is presented at IFOA for the first time, with readings by Julie Angus, Dervla Murphy, and Andrew Westoll (Oct. 26). And a panel of New York Review of Books and Guardian journalists discusses the forthcoming U.S. election on (Oct. 25). Six authors for younger readers participate in YoungIFOA (Oct. 28, 30, 31), including Cornelia Funke, and Pulitzer winner Oscar Hijuelos.

The full lineup for IT’S IRISH!, IFOA’s previously announced focus on Irish writers and writing, guest curated by IMPAC winner Colm Tóibín, is now confirmed at 16 authors: Dermot Bolger, John Brady, Harry Clifton, John Connolly, Emma Donoghue, Roddy Doyle, Paul Durcan, Anne Enright, R.F. Foster, Victoria Glendinning (ed. Elizabeth Bowen’s letters), Diarmaid Ferriter, Eugene McCabe, Dervla Murphy, David Park, and, as Voice of the Festival, Maeve Binchy (who will not be in Toronto herself). IT’S IRISH! Events take place Oct. 25, 26, and Nov. 1, but the authors appear throughout the Festival.

After successful IFOA events in Hamilton and Burlington in 2007, the Festival goes back on the road this year, adding an extra stop in Parry Sound. IFOA Burlington (Oct. 28) is presented in partnership with Different Drummer Books; IFOA Hamilton (Oct. 30) is presented in partnership with Bryan Prince, Bookseller; IFOA Parry Sound (Nov. 2) is presented in partnership with Parry Sound Books. Tickets are available through the Harbourfront Centre Box Office or direct through the partner booksellers.

For the second year, Ben McNally Books is the official bookseller of IFOA.

Further IFOA participants include: Julie Angus - Nadeem Aslam - Stéphane Audeguy - Joan Barfoot - David Benioff - David Bergen - Joseph Boyden - Austin Clarke - Jeffery Deaver - Junot Díaz - Karen Fastrup - Rivka Galchen - Damon Galgut - Amitav Ghosh - Linda Grant - Aleksandar Hemon - Hari Kunzru - Dennis Lehane - Donna Morrissey - Richard Price - Francine Prose - Andrew Pyper - Peter Robinson - Anita Shreve - M.G. Vassanji - Sarah Vowell - Dan Vyleta - Meg Wolitzer - Ronald Wright -- A complete list of confirmed participants with biographical information is available on request, or at

Tickets to all events are now on sale, and the public may call the Harbourfront Centre Box Office at 416.973.4000, or purchase online at

Regular ticket price is $15 for the general public, $12 for members (certain events have special ticketing). For students with valid ID, tickets are free (subject to availability) and for members of the League of Canadian Poets, the Writers’ Union of Canada and the Playwrights’ Guild, IFOA is pleased to offer a 50% discount. Some exceptions for specific events apply.

Tickets to IFOA in Hamilton, Burlington, and Parry Sound are $10 (no member discount) and are available either through the Harbourfront Centre Box Office or direct from Different Drummer Books, Burlington: 905.639.0925; Bryan Prince, Bookseller, Hamilton: 905.528.4508; and Parry Sound Books, Parry Sound: 705-746-7625.

Tickets to YoungIFOA are $12 per student for a full book day including one author event and one book-making workshop. Tickets to the general public are $5 and include the author event only. Teachers and parents should call Harbourfront Centre’s School Visits Department for detail: 416.973.4091.

Since its inception in 1974, Authors at Harbourfront Centre has hosted more than 5,000 authors from 100 countries, including 15 Nobel Laureates. Our season includes a weekly reading series (September to June); the annual International Festival of Authors (IFOA) (October 22–November 1, 2008), including YoungIFOA (October 28, 30, 31, 2008); the annual ALOUD: a Celebration for Young Readers (May 4–6, 2009); and Forest of Reading® Festival of Trees™ (May 13–14, 2009).


Print: Becky Toyne: 416.973.5836; Lindsay Gulin: 416.973.4395
Broadcast: Shane Gerard: 416.973.4518; Althea Linton: 416.973.4644
General publicity requests can be emailed to

The 29th annual International Festival of Authors has a media website where you can download author photos and book covers and get biographical info. The IFOA media site has our media releases, festival backgrounders, and photos of select Festival events. The site is located at: This site is for internal and media information only. Please refer all public inquiries to
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