& occasionally about other things, too...

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Open House Festival

I heard Miriam Toews at Humber School for Writers’ Summer Workshop in 2009. Then, I read her much-acclaimed novel A Complicated Kindness – one of those books that stay with you for a long time.

I signed up for the Open House Festival’s Great Fiction Writers event on April 30 when I read that she was one of the readers at that evening.

She alone would’ve been good enough for the ticket price. But there were other interesting writers, too, that I hadn't heard about before.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie from Nigeria, Justin Cronin from the US and Irvine Welsh from Scotland. Martin Levin, the books editor of the Globe and Mail was the moderator for the evening.

The Bram and Bluma Appel Salon at the Toronto Reference Library – an ideal venue for such a global event – was filled to capacity.

The Open House Festival started three years ago and is a “Random House of Canada production in partnership with the Globe and Mail.”

According to Louise Dennys of Random House of Canada, the festival’s objective is, “to offer our Toronto community the pleasure of a weekend-long involvement in literature and ideas.” In addition, the festival raises funds for literacy, freedom of expression, and author-related charities.

Toews read from her new novel Irma Voth, which has been widely acclaimed (read the novel's review in Walrus magazine. Click here: Irma Voth review in Walrus.

You immediately like some people. Justin Cronin is one such example.

Although I heard him for the first time that evening, I instantly began to like him when he described his essence of relationship with his teenage daughter thus: “14 is the new 30.”

I’d change that to “14 is the new 45,” for sons.

In his poem Rainbow, William Wordsworth wrote ‘Child is the father of Man.’ My 14-year-old son hasn’t read that poem but has reached the same conclusion.

I constantly seek his approval for everything I do, but seldom meet his expectations.

Cronin read a disturbing passage from his work about a desperate young mother staving off abuse and trying to survive with her daughter.

Irvine Welsh’s reading was riveting because of his stage presence and his booming voice.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
In my opinion, the evening, however, clearly belonged to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie from Nigeria. She read from her short story Shivering from the collection Things Around Your Neck

Adichie is author of two novels Purple Hibiscus (2003) and Half of a Yellow Sun (2006), and is the recipient of innumerable literary awards.

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