Montreal's multilingual literary festival Blue Met opens Monday with high-profile guests ranging from Irish writer Colm Toibin to Libyan Hisham Matar to gay writer Edmund White.

Running April 22 to 28 in Montreal, the annual festival stages readings, interviews and panels in English, French, Italian, Spanish and other languages.

Toibin, whose most recent novel Brooklyn was winner of U.K.’s Costa Prize for the most readable novel, will be presented with the $10,000 Blue Met International Literary Prize. Also known as the Grand Prix, the award is one of three prominent prizes associated with Blue Met and has previously been presented to writers such as Joyce Carol Oates, Dany Laferrière, A.S. Byatt and Margaret Atwood.

Dublin author Toibin, who also wrote the IMPAC Award-winner The Master and The Testament of Mary, is currently Mellon Professor in the department of English and comparative literature at New York's Columbia University. His work will be celebrated Thursday and he'll also be interviewed by CBC's Eleanor Wachtel.

British-based Libyan author Hisham Matar, author of In the Country of Men and Anatomy of a Disappearance, will be presented with the Al Majidi Ibn Dhaher Arab Prize, given annually to an Arab writer in any genre.

The $5,000 Azul Prize will be awarded Saturday to Sergio Ramirez, a Nicaraguan writer who created a "fictionalized biography" of the life and death of Costa Rican writer Amanda Solana in La Fugitiva.

Other guests at Blue Met:

  • Edmund White, American author of The Joy of Gay Sex and A Boy’s Own Story.
  • Israeli superstar writer Etgar Keret.
  • Top-selling Italian writer Erri de Luca.
  • Former New York Times food writer Molly O'Neill.
  • Dinaw Mengestu, whose fiction explores the African refugee and immigrant experience in America.

Canadian writers at the festival include Vincent Lam, Pasha Malla, Alison Pick, Nicolas Dickner and Nancy Richler.

A children’s arm of the festival features authors Mario Brossard and Louise Desjardins and includes programs such as Storytime with Grandma and Grandpa, geared to fostering interest in reading.