2024 Festival:
October 21–27

48. The Best of History

48. The Best of History

The past is always fertile ground for rich stories, expansive epics, and high-stakes drama, but the very best writers of historical fiction also remind us of the shared humanity of people across the centuries. Turn the pages of any of these writers’ works and we begin to comprehend how we may have been when living in a different place, a different era. In short, historical fiction not only expands our shelves, it expands our empathy. Four of the most celebrated writers of this genre—all of them bestsellers and award-winners—speak to just this within their latest works. Join Emma Donoghue (Learned By Heart), Paul Harding (This Other Eden), Janika Oza (A History of Burning), and Kai Thomas (In the Upper Country) for this illustrious evening. Moderated by Aislinn Hunter.

Please note: There is no ASL Interpretation for this event. We apologize for any confusion caused by the ASL designation in our Program Guide. We encourage you to check out ASL-interpreted event 45. Celeste Ng in Conversation at this time, or view the full list of ASL-interpreted events.

Event Participants:

Emma Donoghue

EMMA DONOGHUE was born in Dublin in 1969. She is a novelist, screenwriter and playwright. Room sold more than two million copies and won the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize and the Commonwealth Writers' Prize (Canada and the Caribbean), as well as being shortlisted for the Man Booker and Orange Prizes. Donoghue scripted the Canadian-Irish film adaptation, which was nominated for four Academy Awards, including Best Picture. The Wonder was shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, and Donoghue co-wrote the 2022 screen adaptation for Netflix. The Pull of the Stars was a finalist for the Trillium Book Award and was longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize. Donoghue's fiction ranges from the contemporary (Stir-Fry, Hood, Landing, Touchy Subjects, Akin) to the historical (Haven, Slammerkin, The Sealed Letter, Astray, Frog Music) and includes two books for young readers, The Lotterys Plus One and The Lotterys More or Less.

Paul Harding

PAUL HARDING is an American author whose debut novel Tinkers won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction among other honours. He now teaches in the MFA program in Creative Writing and Literature at Stony Brook University and lives on Long Island, New York. This Other Eden is his third novel.

Aislinn Hunter

AISLINN HUNTER is an award-winning novelist, poet, and educator, and the author of eight books including the novel The Certainties (Knopf 2020). She lives on the unceded lands of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh peoples.

Janika Oza

JANIKA OZA is the winner of the 2022 O. Henry Prize for Short Fiction and the 2020 Kenyon Review Short Fiction Award. A chapter of A History of Burning was longlisted for the 2019 CBC Short Story Prize and published in Prairie Schooner. She lives in Toronto.

Kai Thomas

KAI THOMAS is a graduate of McGill University and the University of Guelph’s Creative Writing MFA. Apart from writing, he works as a carpenter and a land steward. He is Afro-Canadian, born and raised in Ottawa, descended from Trinidad and the British isles. In The Upper Country is his first novel and was a national bestseller.

Emerging Authors presented thanks to the support of RBC