The Canadian Writers’ Summit in Toronto kicked off Wednesday night at Harbourfront. My dear friend Carol Shaben presented journalist Mohamed Fahmy with the Writers’ Union of Canada Freedom to Read Award. Fahmy, of course, is the Canadian journalist, formerly of Al Jazeera, who was held in an Egyptian prison for a year. He is currently working on a book about his experience, which Random House Canada will publish this fall.
Lawrence Hill gave the keynote address, speaking in part on refugees and the rise of hatred in the world, seemingly embodied by Donald Trump. I didn’t know that Larry had worked as a political speechwriter for much of his career, but it showed here: what a terrific talk.
Yesterday I went to Book Summit, an all-day series of panels and workshops on the future of the book. I asked a question of our keynote speaker, Chitra Anand, the head of communications at Microsoft Canada, about how we can change the story we usually tell about publishing: that these are “tight financial times” and publishing “has never been more challenging.” That I was wearing a bright pink jumpsuit when I asked the question helped people identify me after so we could chat.
Today I am heading back to Harbourfront to speak on a panel about “first pages” in adult fiction and non-fiction. What aspects of the sample pages will keep me reading, as an editor? Tomorrow I am moderating a panel with Anne Giardini and Nicholas Giardini about editing Startle and Illuminate: Carol Shields on Writing.