International Festival of Authors

Saturday, November 22, 12:00 – 13:30 and 15:00 – 16:30
Muziekgebouw BAM Zaal

As part of Shift, the International Festival of Authors (IFOA) presents its first public event outside Canada: IFOA Amsterdam. IFOA has taken authors and the Festival name to London, New York and Tokyo in previous years, but never with a public event included. By curating the literary component of Shift, the Festival extends its mandate to present Canadian and international authors on an internationally recognized platform beyond the borders of Canada.

In two events at the Muziekgebouw on November 22, 2008, leading authors from Canada and The Netherlands exchange ideas and spark debate about issues of mutual interest to their respective cultures. Canadian and Dutch media personalities moderate the onstage discussions, which each feature a mixed panel of Canadian and Dutch authors, and draw upon the different perspectives with which literary peers view current issues, explore new writing from both nations, and spark discussion of larger issues in literature. In one event, Eleanor Wachtel, host of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's radio show Writers & Company leads a discussion of issues currently affecting our nations. The event will be taped for broadcast on the CBC in Canada.

Participants include:

From Canada: Dionne Brand (What We All Long For, Inventory); Richard Clewes (Finding Lily); Lewis DeSoto (A Blade of Grass); Helen Humphreys (Coventry, Wild Dogs); Andrew Pyper (Lost Girls, The Killing Circle); and, as event moderator, Eleanor Wachtel (host of CBC's Writers & Company).

From The Netherlands: Gerbrand Bakker (The Twin), Lieve Joris (The Rebels' Hour), Anja Sicking (The Silent Sin), Lucette Ter Borg (The Gift from Berlin).

Ontario Arts Council logoThese literary events are made possible in part by a grant from the Ontario Arts Council's Touring National and International Pilot Programme


Photo of Dionne BrandDionne Brand (Canada) is an award-winning poet, novelist, and essayist whose writing is notable for the beauty of its language, and for its intense engagement with issues of social conscience. She has written eight volumes of poetry, the last called Inventory. Her most recent novel, What We All Long For, was published to great acclaim in Canada, Italy, and Germany. Brand is also a professor in the School of English and Theatre Studies at the University of Guelph in Ontario. In 2006, she was awarded the Harbourfront Festival Prize in recognition of both her own body of work and of her contribution to Canadian letters through her work with the next generation of writers.

Photo of Richard ClewesRichard Clewes (Canada) is an acclaimed creative director whose work has won prizes internationally, including at the Cannes Advertising Film Festival. Finding Lily, Clewes' memoir about the continuation of life in the face of his wife's suicide, was published in 2006 to acclaim in Canada, U.S.A., and Korea. He is presently working on a novel entitled The Ghost of St. Eustatius. Clewes has been a member of Authors at Harbourfront Centre's Board of Directors since 2007.

Photo of Lewis DeSotoLewis DeSoto (Canada) was born in South Africa, and studied at what is now the Emily Carr College of Art. His paintings have been widely exhibited across Canada, and his novel A Blade of Grass was nominated for numerous prestigious awards including the Man Booker Prize. His most recent book, part of Penguin Canada's Extraordinary Canadians series, is a biography of Emily Carr, the 19th century painter from Canada's west coast whose work distinguishes her as the best-known female artist in Canada's history.

Photo of Helen HumphreysHelen Humphreys (Canada) was born in London, England, and now lives in Kingston, Ontario. She is the author of four previous novels: Leaving Earth, a New York Times Notable Book; Afterimage, winner of the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize; The Lost Garden, and Wild Dogs, an award-winning novel now adapted for the stage. She also wrote The Frozen Thames, a collection of vignettes about the river's frozen history and a #1 national bestselling non-fiction book. In her latest novel, Coventry, a national bestseller in Canada, Humphreys recreates the terror of the infamous and crippling WWII bombing raid on the city.

Photo of Andrew PyperAndrew Pyper (Canada) is the author of four novels and a collection of short stories. His debut novel, Lost Girls, was an international bestseller, and a Notable Book in the New York Times, Evening Standard (U.K.), and Globe and Mail. The Trade Mission and The Wildfire Season were similarly feted in Canada, the U.S. and U.K. Pyper's stunning new novel, The Killing Circle, is a suspenseful page-turner that explores the repercussions of that most dishonest of thefts: stealing someone else's story and calling it your own.

Photo of Eleanor WachtelEleanor Wachtel (Canada) is the host of CBC Radio's award-winning Writers & Company and The Arts Tonight. Her interviews have been published in Original Minds, Writers & Company and More Writers & Company, and her work is included in the collections Dropped Threads and Lost Classics, as well as numerous magazines and newspapers. Wachtel has received many honours for her contributions to Canadian cultural life, including the Jack Award. In 2005 she was appointed as a member of the Order of Canada.

Photo of Gerbrand BakkerGerbrand Bakker (The Netherlands) worked as a subtitler for nature films and a gardener before writing his prize-winning debut novel, The Twin, which Nobel Laureate J.M. Coetzee calls "a novel of restrained tenderness and laconic humour." The Twin, the story of a man who has just lost his twin brother in a car accident and is obliged to take his place at their small family farm, is translated from the Dutch by David Colmer and is set to be made in to a film in the near future.

Photo of Lieve JorisLieve Joris (The Netherlands), who was born in Belgium, is one of Europe's leading travel writers. She has written an award-winning book on Hungary, The Melancholy Revolution, and has published widely acclaimed reports of her journeys in the Middle East and Africa, notably the Congo. Her books about the Middle East include The Gulf and The Gates of Damascus, and her books about the Congo include Back to the Congo, The Leopard's Dance, and The Rebels' Hour. The account of her travels through Senegal, Mauretania and Mali, Mali Blues, gained Joris the 1999 Belgian Triennial Award for Flemish Prose and the French Prix de l'Astrolabe.

Photo of Anja SickingAnja Sicking (The Netherlands) is the author of The Keurisquartet, her awarding winning debut, and the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award-nominated novel The Silent Sin, which has been translated into both German and English. She has also taken part in several literary festivals, including the PEN World Voices in New York, the Young Writers Festival in Seoul, and most recently the Vancouver International Writers Festival. Sicking lives in Amsterdam with her family and is currently finishing her third novel, the story a group of students in The Hague in the 1970s, to be published in April 2009.

Photo of Lucette Ter BorgLucette Ter Borg (The Nethelands) studied Slavic languages and historical pedagogy at the University of Amsterdam. She works as an art critic for NRC Handelsblad and Hollands Diep, and is the editor of One Minute World: Video and Literature, a collection of short stories and poems by international writers. The Gift from Berlin, her debut novel, is the story of a widower from Bohemia who moves to Canada and finds himself overwhelmed by troubling reminiscences from WWII.