Tag Archives: Gary Barwin

International Festival of Authors’ Lit On Tour Returns to Communities across Ontario This Fall

For the eleventh year, Lit On Tour, an initiative of Toronto’s International Festival of Authors (IFOA), partners with libraries, bookstores, universities and community organizations across the province to present the world’s best writers of contemporary literature. Events include readings, interviews, round table discussions and public book signings.


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IFOA Ontario On The Road Playlist

IFOA’s Transportation Coordinator, Matt King, created a playlist for his travels across Ontario with Lit On Tour. Check it out here:


For the 10th year, the International Festival of Authors has partnered with libraries, bookstores, universities, and community organizations across the province of Ontario to present the world’s best writers of contemporary literature as part of its touring program, IFOA Ontario. Events include readings, interviews, roundtable discussions, and public book signings throughout the province.

As a driver for many of these events, I got to meet the authors, engage in conversation, watch their readings, as well as getting to play car DJ. Sometimes setting the tone, filling in spaces, or just providing background noise to ideas and laughter. Here is a collection of songs that reflect the authors, their books and our adventures driving throughout Ontario in these last 4 months.

Err Humanum Est “Mistakes are Human.” Alyssa York’s book, The Naturalist, is a story of loss, discovery, and love in the Amazon of the 1860’s which I relate with this 1960’s Brazilian track by Jorge Ben in which he speaks of our cosmic inheritance and of the gods exploring new worlds.

Before that, we heard “The Boy with the Arab Strap by Belle and Sebastian. One of many musical references made in Jamie Tenants debut novel The Captain of Kinoull Hill.

Takashi Hiraide’s The Guest Cat is a tale of a couple’s encounter and impermanent relationship with a cat. In his song Bird’s Lament Moondog does his signature exploring tiny musical forms, much like a cat pawing at some interesting piece of string until it ceases to move, at which time they continue on for their next encounter.

A story of family looking back through old worlds and previous generations with a new set of eyes is what Nina Bunjavec did with her most recent graphic novel, Fatherland. That’s what this 1970’s Yugoslavian electronic composition by Silvio Foretic does. Here he takes an old melody and relates it through the most current technology of the time, analog synthesizers, which are now relics to be ruminated upon themselves.

Steven Price’s book takes place in Victorian England. I don’t have any Victorian music to play you, but on our drive to the airport one October morning we spoke about the German band, Kraftwerk. So here they are with a song about a scientist who would have been in France studying at the same Steven’s book takes place.

A lot of authors at the IFOA this year were crime fiction and suspense novelists. Robert Rotenberg, Lotte Hammer, Iain Reid, Ben Sanders, and Shari Lapena amongst others. Though I’ve been told it wasn’t intentional, I remain suspicious. In our travels there was some conversation about being a “genre” artist and whether this is time for it to elevate itself past that title, or whether it will remain a fertile breeding ground for on screen adaptations. But regardless, that last noir song about double indemnity is by Rodd Keith. The track before it was by Nina Simone from her album Nina Simone and Piano, an album I definitely played on every IFOA Ontario trip.

Moving along, here is a song by Toronto’s Bad Bad, Not Good that I think could inspire a screen adaptation itself to their song, Timewave Zero.

That was of course Leonard Cohen with the song Everybody Knows.

Though the trip up to Thunder Bay and Oliver Paipoonge may have been on a plane, I send this chilly song for Karen Connelly’s tale of politics and love in Myanmar. I am choosing a track Lover of the Winter and Snow by Burmese singer Ton Tay Thien Than. Though it may not be the most overtly political song, it’s the notion of snow in a mostly tropical country like Myanmar that can harken ideas of impermanence and loss, mirroring some of the complex themes brought up in Karen’s newest book Burmese Lessons.

IFOA Midland event happened to be on the day Bob Dylan won the Nobel Prize, so much of our trip with Jowita Bydlowska, Jamie Tennant and Emily Saso was spent discussing the many confounding and potentially affirming arguments for his selection. Jowita’s book Guy is a story of a record exec with an insatiable thirst for average women. In honour I thought I’d play a Bob Dylan song that Guy might put on as he is coldly ensnaring his prey, but chose the sacrilegious wordless muzak cover by Claude Dejean. Now here is a song by Andy Schauf about a party.

With our last song, I think back to our first trip of the season to the Stephen Leacock Museum in Orillia Ontario with Gary Barwin and Lynn Kutsukake. What song did I choose? Gary’s own experimental electronic compositions, a yiddish sea shanty if one exists? Gary set the tone of his reading with some circular saxophone music. I think our talk about translation and fitting in matches both Gary’s and Lynn’s novels. For this warm summer drive, I’m playing a composition from a man who found his own unique voice living both inside and outside of the surroundings in which he was placed. Here is Ulysses at the Edge by Harry Partch.

Thank you for taking this ride with me, and thanks to all the authors for stimulating conversation about the world inside and outside of our minivan. For more information on the IFOA Ontario program check out litontour.com or our main site, IFOA.org.


By guest blogger Matt King. You can follow Matt on Twitter @FreeAbsolutely

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