Trillium Book Award Author Readings June 16

IFOA Ontario Interview Series: Farzana Doctor

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Farzana Doctor (Photo Credit: Vivek Shraya)

The 36th Annual IFOA Festival officially kicks off on October 22, but the cross-Ontario portion is already underway. In 2006, IFOA introduced its travelling programme, IFOA Ontario, which brings IFOA literary events to numerous cities throughout Ontario, presented by a consortium of organizations across the province known collectively as Lit on Tour. In celebration of the festival, Open Book will be speaking with four of the participating authors.

Farzana Doctor is the author of Stealing Nasreen and Six Metres of Pavement, which won the 2012 Lambda Literary Award. Her latest book All Inclusive (Dundurn Press) tells the story of Ameera, who works at an all-inclusive resort in Mexico and enjoys the swingers' scene there. When someone begins spreading rumours about Ameera's pastime, despite her discretion, Ameera could face losing her job. On top of all that, and unknown to Ameera, her father whom she has never met is looking for her.

Farzana will be reading from All Inclusive on October 21 as part of IFOA Woodstock, presented in partnership with the Woodstock Public Library.

Today she speaks with Open Book about encouraging feedback, finding lakeside reading spots and the intimidation and gratification that comes with presenting your own creative work.

Open Book:

Tell us about what you’ll be reading at this year’s festival.

Farzana Doctor:

I’ll be reading from All Inclusive, my third novel. It’s a story about a daughter and father finding themselves and one another. With adumbrations of the Air India bombing lingering in the background, this is a story about unknown fathers, swingers and the tragedies we can’t forget.


Have you attended IFOA in the past? If so, what is your favourite memory? If not, what are you most looking forward to?


A few years ago, I attended a panel about the state of publishing in India. During the Q&A, I asked for advice about how to approach my upcoming India tour, about which I was very nervous. “Just enjoy yourself” and “They’ll love you” was just the encouraging feedback I needed from these more experienced authors.


Tell us about a favourite spot or area in Ontario.


My partner lives in Etobicoke, near the lake. I’ve recently fallen in love with this barely known part of our city. I’ve found many quiet lakeside reading spots there.


How do you manage the shift between being a solitary writer and a public reader? Is there a learning curve?


One of my past day jobs involved teaching about counseling (I’m a Registered Social Worker), so I have practice standing in front of a room and talking to people. The learning curve came not with the process, but the content. It’s both more gratifying and intimidating to present my own creative work.


What is your favourite part about going on tour with a book?


At the All Inclusive Toronto launch, I met a young woman who told me that she has read Stealing Nasreen nine times. Nine times! It’s wonderful to learn that my work has had such meaning to someone.


What are you reading right now?


I’m currently reading Andre Alexis’ Fifteen Dogs. It’s very smart and funny. I feel closer to my pooch and a tad embarrassed to be human.

Farzana Doctor is the author of Stealing Nasreen and Six Metres of Pavement, which won the 2012 Lambda Literary Award and was short-listed for the Toronto Book Award. Farzana is one of CBC Books’ Ten Canadian Women Writers You Need to Read Now and the recipient of the Writers’ Trust of Canada’s Dayne Ogilvie Grant. She co-curates the Brockton Writers Series and lives in Toronto.

For more information about All Inclusive please visit the Dundurn Press website.

Buy this book at your local independent bookstore or online at Chapters/Indigo or Amazon.

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