Nordic authors at TIFA 2022

43rd Toronto International Festival of Authors

Toronto, Ontario

September 22, 2022 – October 2, 2022

Presented by
Toronto International Festival of Authors

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The Toronto International Festival of Authors (TIFA), Canada's largest and longest-running literary festival invites audiences to enjoy exciting, insightful and entertaining stories, conversations and performances from Canada and across the world.

With music, film, dance and exhibitions alongside readings, interviews and book signings, there is so much for audiences of all ages to experience. Taking place on its new dates September 22 – October 2, 2022 at Harbourfront Centre, bv Lake Ontario on a newly designed indoor and outdoor campus site, TIFA will have its largest festival to date with over 200 events and activities, many or them free, featuring artists from 30+ nations. Over 11 days, audiences can meet and hear from their favourite authors or discover their next new read: discuss vital issues of the day with a range of experts in Critical Conversations: explore classic books with the Re-Reads; hone their skills in a series of Masterclasses; enjoy tree exhibitions, interactive installations and the bookstore: and explore the TIFA Kids programme, the biggest yet, with accessible interactive events, workshops and activities across the campus. With a new range of day, weekend and festival passes, audiences can drop-in or enjoy the whole day down by the lake.

See below for full list of events and participants featured as part of Nordic Bridges.

September 22 at 8pm
Critical Conversation: Russia: Why Now and What Next?

We looked on with horror, distress and confusion as Russia defied international law and national sovereignty to invade Ukraine in early 2022. As the conflict painfully continues, many of us continue to ask why, and for what result? Is it an unprompted act of dictatorial ego or part of a long-term strategy for global change? Join our panel to discuss what happened and where we go next, including award-winning journalist Jessikka Aro, author of Putin’s Trolls: On the Frontlines of Russia’s Information War Against the WorldTimothy Frye, author of Weak Strongman: The Limits of Power in Putin’s Russia and Marshall D. Shulman, Professor of Post-Soviet Foreign Policy at Columbia University.

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September 23 at 7:30pm
Critical Conversation: The New West: Europe from the Nordic frontier

In the 21st century, the influence of global political alliances had been fading, but the conflict in Ukraine is reshaping alliances, reaffirming borders and forcing nations to reassess their governmental and military relationships. For the Nordic countries, Finland and Sweden in particular, geographic proximity to Russia now requires strategic proximity to NATO and the EU. What impact will this have in the digital age of borderless big tech? Is this a return to the deep divisions of East and West in the 20th century? What should Canada’s response and role be? Join our expert panel for insight and discussion, including Jessikka Aro, whose book Putin’s Trolls: On the Frontlines of Russia’s Information War Against the World exposes the Kremlin’s coordinated, military-style social media operations against the West.

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September 24 at 2pm
The Re-Read: Auður Jónsdóttir on Halldór Laxness

Join us as we explore the influential books and writers who defined genres and captivated readers for decades. Each session of The Re-Read features a contemporary writer discussing a favourite book or author, to offer their insight as an author and share their joy as a reader. In this session, Icelandic author Auður Jónsdóttir will explore the work of her grandfather: Nobel Prize Laureate Halldór Laxness. Laxness was a prolific writer and an outspoken socialist and defender of Iceland’s independence, which was achieved in 1944. Laxness’s Nobel Prize-winning novel, Independent People, is a blistering indictment of materialism, and is considered among the foremost examples of social realism in Icelandic fiction of the 1930s. Join Jónsdóttir for a deep dive into the long-lasting impact of Laxness’s work, and its relevance today both in Iceland and beyond.

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September 24 at 2pm
The Big Create & Make: Linda Bondestam

The Big Create & Make is a drop-in session where you can linger for 10 minutes or 2 hours, and be part of making something big, beautiful and creative! Get in on the Festival fun and meet a published picture-book illustrator, while flexing your own creative muscles. This session is led by illustrator Linda Bondestam.

Linda Bondestam is one of the most celebrated illustrators in the Nordic countries. She is the illustrator and author of dozens of children’s books that have been translated into more than ten languages, including Good Night, Earth (2021). She was awarded the Snöbollen for Swedish Picture Book of the Year in 2016 and the Nordic Council Children and Young People’s Literature Prize in 2017 for Djur som ingen sett utom vi (Animals that no one has seen except us). She lives in Helsinki, Finland.

Free event:

September 24 at 4pm
We Come Back Together: Auður Jónsdóttir

This event features a newly commissioned piece by acclaimed Icelandic author Auður Jónsdóttir, author of the wildly popular novel Quake, and winner of the Icelandic Literary Prize for The People in the Basement and the Icelandic Women’s Literature Prize for Secretaries to the Spirits.

The Jónsdóttir reading will be followed by a PEN Canada Writers in Prison Reading; you’ll hear Festival authors perform free readings of short prose and verse written by imprisoned writers from around the world including journalists, literary critics, filmmakers and a Nobel peace laureate. Curated in partnership with PEN Canada, an organization that defends freedom of expression and promotes global community through literature.

Free event:

September 24 at 6:30pm
Fragmentary Perceptions: Céline Huyghebaert & Auður Jónsdóttir

The human memory is fragile, unpredictable and unreliable, yet memories are vital to both our own emotional survival and our understanding of previous generations. In this fascinating conversation, Canadian author Céline Huyghebaert and Icelandic author Auður Jónsdóttir explore exactly how fallible memories can utterly change our perceptions of the world. Huyghebaert’s Governer General’s Literary Award-winning novel Remnants questions the value of life in its duration and passing: what is left of someone who was not important enough to be archived? Jónsdóttir presents Quake, a haunting novel about a woman who comes out of a seizure only to find her toddler missing. As her patchy memory begins to return, much about her life remains terrifyingly mysterious.

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September 25 at 10:30am
A Tribute to Children’s Books

Through all ages and in all cultures, we have used stories both as entertainment and in search of knowledge, to strengthen our ties with others – both those who are like us and those who are unlike us – and not least in order to understand our own existence. Children’s books are often the first contact we have with literature and art, and they make a powerful impression. Doubtless you recall one or the other of the first books you read. Do you still remember having the feeling of time and space having ceased to exist? The Swedish Academy for Children’s Books seeks to enable children to have access to powerful and enriching reading experiences and has produced this exhibition as a tribute to children’s literature.

Free event:

September 25 at 12:45pm
Whatl is an Axolotl?: Linda Bondestam

All the way from Finland to Toronto comes author and illustrator Linda Bondestam with a beautiful and fascinating picture book about the axolotl. Join her for the story of My Life at the Bottom about one of the world’s rarest sea creatures and have the chance to do some drawings of your own. Through Linda’s vivid pictures and lovely characters, you’ll learn more about the fragile world we all live in and why there’s still hope for a brighter future. Recommended for ages 5 and up.

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September 25 at 2pm
Histories of Resistance: Marie-Célie Agnant & Kim Leine

Acclaimed writers Marie-Célie Agnant and Kim Leine present their newest works of historical fiction, each set against tyrannical times in history. Haiti-born Quebec author Agnant crafts a rich testimony of feminist resistance in A Knife in the Sky (translated by Katia Grubisic), when a truth-seeking student and journalist are put in the crosshairs of Haiti’s first Duvalier regime, the traumatic effects of which reverberate 30 years later. Danish-Norwegian novelist Leine’s The Colony of Good Hope (translated by Martin Aitken) explores the first encounters of Danish colonists and Greenlanders in the early 18th century, and the brutal clash that followed between priests and pagans and the forces that drive each individual towards darkness or light.

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September 25 at 5pm
Ask the Expert: Taste of Iceland

Sit down with the experts to learn the “who, what, where, when and how” of literature. This series of free, outdoor events will satiate your curiosity about all things books! Who better than author, co-founder of the Iceland Writers Retreat and First Lady of Iceland, Eliza Reid to give you a literary tour of the wonders of Iceland – possibly one of the best read countries in the world! From the founding stories of the Sagas to their annual Jolabokaflod, discover more about some of the most exciting writers in the world.

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September 25 at 7pm
Secrets of the Sprakkar: Eliza Reid

For the past twelve years, Iceland has ranked first in the world of countries leading the charge for gender equality – but why? In part, the answer is found in the country’s sprakkar, an ancient Icelandic word meaning extraordinary or outstanding women. Meet one of those extraordinary women and join Canadian first lady of Iceland, Eliza Reid, as she discusses her new book Secrets of the Sprakkar. In the book, Reid deftly examines her adopted homeland’s attitude toward women: the deep-seated cultural sense of fairness, the influence of current and historical role models and the areas where there is still room for improvement. Don’t miss this unique chance to hear from one of today’s most influential women on the powerful ways in which a tiny country is paving a path forward for us all.

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September 25 at 8pm
Desire & Defiance: Laura Lindstedt & David Pevsner

This scintillating conversation between award-winning Finnish author Laura Lindstedt and long-time actor and writer David Pevsner will take a bold, close look at society’s suppression of gay-sex and female pleasure, alongside the miscomprehension of the ageing body, sex and sexuality. Lindstedt will present My Friend Natalia (translated by David Hackston), which follows sex-addict Natalia’s unorthodox therapy journey, narrated by an unnamed, ungendered therapist who leaps at the chance to employ experimental methods. David Pevsner offers up his funny, daring, honest memoir Damn Shame, a passionate and poignant look at Pevsner’s journey from thin, shy boy to defiant, fearless everyman. In his pursuit of self-esteem and validation, Pevsner fights against homophobia, body shaming and ageism.

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September 26 at 5pm
Island: Siri Ranva Hjelm Jacobsen

How much of our identity is rooted in family relationships and history? In Danish author Siri Ranva Hjelm Jacobsen’s acclaimed debut novel Island (translated by Caroline Waight), a young Danish woman explores her Faroe Islands ancestry across three generations. Rooted in the author’s own history, this is a tale of exile, homecoming and what it means to belong. Get ready to unpack the living impact of our relationships and the experiences of generations who came before us.

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September 26 at 5:30pm
The Re-Read: Linda Bondestam on The Moomins by Tove Jansson

One of the best Finnish artists of all time and also the most widely read Finnish author abroad, Tove Jansson is mostly remembered as the creator of the Moomins. In all, nine books were released in the Tales of Moomin Valley series, together with four picture books and a comic strip being released between 1954 and 1975. Created to escape the terror of the second world war, the books’ endurance is due, in part, to how they resonate strongly with current conflicts, the plight of refugees, and possess an uncanny presentiment of today’s environnmental crisis. The Moomins are famous for their gentleness, generosity and good humour, but lurking below the surface of the stories, for all the sunshine and picnics, is an unsettling darkness that Jansson describes as: “Daydreams, monsters and all the horrible symbols of the subconscious that stimulate me. . . I wonder if the nursery and the chamber of horrors are as far apart as people think.” Join contemporary children’s Finnish author and illustrator, Linda Bondestam for a fascinating re-read of these books and characters.

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September 28 at 5pm
We Come Back Together: Olga Ravn

This event features author Olga Ravn, one of Denmark’s most celebrated contemporary authors, known for her masterful way of combining several genres. Her most recent novel The Employees was a finalist for the 2021 International Booker Prize.

The Ravn reading will be followed by a PEN Canada Writers in Prison Reading; you’ll hear Festival authors perform free readings of short prose and verse written by imprisoned writers from around the world including journalists, literary critics, filmmakers and a Nobel peace laureate. Curated in partnership with PEN Canada, an organization that defends freedom of expression and promotes global community through literature.

Free event:

September 28 at 6:30pm
Do Androids Dream?: Victoria Hetherington & Olga Ravn

In their latest novels Canadian author Victoria Hetherington, and Danish poet and novelist Olga Ravn feature worlds struggling to harmonize human life with artificial intelligence (AI). Ravn’s The Employees is a critique of life governed by the logic of productivity, and was shortlisted for both The International Man Booker Prize and the first Ursula K. Le Guin Prize for Fiction. The story follows the crew of the Six-Thousand Ship, where humans and humanoids complain about their mundane work lives, until they discover mysterious objects that make them question what it means to be human, and to feel love. Heatherington’s Autonomy takes place in a dystopian future in which human bodies are either threatened or irrelevant; where the planet is threatened by climate change, where illness plagues humans and where AI is the only hope to get jobs done.

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September 29 at 5:30pm
The Re-Read: Michael Crummy on Tomas Tranströmer

In this session, Canadian poet and author Michael Crummey will present his latest poetry collection Passengers. Eclectic, unpredictable and strange, the first section of Crummey’s collection follows Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer on an imagined circumnavigation of Newfoundland. Among his many awards, including the Nobel Prize in Literature, Tranströmer was one of Sweden’s leading poets of his generation; known for his lyrical style, in which nature is the active, energizing subject. See Canadian landscape through a new lens as Michael Crummey takes you on a journey through Newfoundland from the perspective of the great poet Tranströmer.

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September 30 at 12:30pm
World in Other Words: Emerging Authors in Nordic Literature

Meet storytellers from unique communities around the world and across the local neighbourhoods of Toronto in the World in Other Words. The Åland Islands is an archipelago in the Baltic Sea of a remarkable 6,700 islands, Swedish speaking, autonomous to Finland. Åland Island author Sebastian Johans’ debut novel, Broarna (‘Bridges’) captures the story of its peoples from the First World War to the Finnish Civil War, their dreams of escape to the promised land of America. Published in Swedish, the book was nominated for the 2021 Nordic Council Literature Prize. Don’t miss this opportunity to discover more.

Free event:

September 30 at 3pm
Fishing with Father: Mark Hume & Patrik Svensson

Join authors Patrik Svensson and Mark Hume for a conversational fishing trip as they discuss their memoirs on fatherhood, finding solace in nature and the bonding experience that is fishing. Swedish Svensson examines the relationship with his father and their fascination with an elusive sea creature in The Gospel of Eels, while Canadian Hume’s Reading the Water explores how fly-fishing creates a bond between father and child, helps process loss and answer life’s questions.

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September 30 at 5pm
The Right to Great Stories: Celebrating the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award

The Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award was created in 2002 by the Swedish government to promote every child’s right to great stories. This global award is given annually to a person or organization for their outstanding contribution to children’s and young adult literature. With a prize of five million Swedish kronor, it is the largest award of its kind. Above all else, it highlights the importance of reading, today and for future generations. Join us for a fascinating conversation with two of this year’s Canadian Nominees, Deborah Ellis and Eric Walters, to explore their work beyond the pages of their writing as well as how vital access to books and stories are for every child. Swedish panelists include Christina Wahldén and Maria Lassén-Seger.

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October 01 at 6:30pm
Making HERstory: Manahil Bandukwala & Karolina Ramqvist

Join authors Manahil Bandukwala & Karolina Ramqvist in a discussion on their books revolving around female historical figures and what they leave behind. Pakistani-Canadian Bandukwala’s debut poetry collection, MONUMENT, is a conversation with Mumtaz Mahal, a 16th century Mughal Empress. Mumtaz Mahal’s story moves beyond the walls of Taj Mahal through time and space. Swedish author Ramqvist’s The Bear Woman retells the life of French noblewoman, Marguerite de la Roche who was abandoned on an island in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. Each author blends fact and fiction in timeless storytelling, relevant even after centuries.

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