The Toronto International Festival of Authors, Canada’s oldest and largest festival of words and ideas, welcomes icon and activist Buffy Sainte-Marie this year.

One of the most revered folk artistes of all time and famous  for her anti-war song Universal Soldier, Sainte-Marie, who has also spent her career advocating for and protecting Indigenous rights and freedoms, joins Esi Edugyan, Vikas Swarup, Miriam Toews and others at this year’s line-up.

Geoffrey Taylor, director, Toronto International Festival of Authors; and Meenakshi Alimchandani, curator, Safar: Journeys to South Asia, share details of the special programming this year at the Festival.

DATELINE DESI 1 (Picture Caption Geoffrey Taylor).jpg

Geoffrey Taylor: The 39th edition of the Toronto International Festival of Authors will take place October 18-28. Most events will be held at Harbourfront Centre (235 Queens Quay West, Toronto), conveniently located and a short walking distance from Union Station. Our opening night event on October 18, In Conversation: Roddy Doyle with Emma Donoghue, will take place at Walter Hall at the University of Toronto (80 Queen’s Park).

The Festival has a long history of finding the best writers from around the world and bringing them here to meet Toronto audiences. This isn’t the first year we’ve included voices from the South Asian community. We’ve welcomed such authors to our stages as Salman Rush-die, Khaled Hosseini, Samrat Upadhyay, Mohsin Hamid and many more.

The idea to curate a special event with South Asian authors this year developed out of an exchange I had with Meenakshi Alimchandani at the Jaipur Literature Festival this past January. While discussing the high quality of writing being generated by the South Asian community and Toronto’s growing thirst for international voices, it became evident that what we were talking about could be material for a special event – and Safar: Journeys to South Asia was born.

DATELINE DESI 2 (Pic Caption Meenakshi Alimchandani).jpg

Meenakshi Alimchandani: The goal of the event is to expose the Festival attendees to the wealth and diversity of literature from South Asia, as well as to share the knowledge of the rich cultural heritage that they can experience through attending panels with South Asian authors. Joining Vikas Swarup on the Safar panel are authors Amulya Malladi, Arif Anwar, Manjushree Thapa and Rahul Varma.

The Festival will host a number of South Asian authors and events this year, including Brannavan Gnanalingham, Witi Ihimaera and Maryam Madjidi who are set to take part in a panel discussing the themes of location and displacement in their works on October 21. Next, Canadian authors Randy Boyagoda and Rawi Hage will join the stage for a double interview on October 26, followed by Vivek Shraya, sitting down with Rachel Giese and Sarah Henstra on October 28 to discuss her novel I’m Afraid of Men.

When and where Oct. 21: Safar: Journeys to South Asia.  3-5 pm at Lakeside Terrace, Harbourfront Centre.

At 3 pm, authors Arif Anwar, Amulya Malladi, Manjushree Thapa and Rahul Varma talk about their writing and how the South Asian community inspires their stories.

At 4 pm, author Anirudh Bhattacharyya interviews  the High Commissioner of India to Canada, Vikas Swarup. Swarup is an Indian writer and diplomat who formerly served as the spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs of India. He wrote the book Q&A, which inspired the movie Slumdog Millionaire. Both programmes are hosted by CBC Radio’s Teenaz Javat and curated by Meenakshi Alimchandani. 

Oct. 18 - 28: The Toronto International Festival of Authors.  Most events at Harbourfront Centre. Tickets at

Desi News