More than 150 authors are slated to participate in the 30th annual International Festival of Authors, which kicks off in Toronto on Wednesday with the rare literary matchup of Alice Munro and Diana Athill.

Munro, 77, an award-winning and reclusive short fiction author, is making a rare public appearance to promote her newest collection, Too Much Happiness.

She will be in conversation with 92-year-old Athill, who began a successful career writing memoirs in her 80s after a lengthy career as the influential book editor who brought the likes of Philip Roth, Norman Mailer and Mordecai Richler to U.K. audiences.

Moderated by CBC Radio's Bill Richardson, the sold-out event was organized by PEN Canada as a benefit for oppressed writers.

IFOA events will span readings, panel discussions, book signings and on-stage interviews and conversations.

Many established Canadian writers will be among those to appear, including Margaret Atwood, Anne Michaels, Miriam Toews, Paul Quarrington, Kathy Reichs and Linwood Barclay.  Other notable figures bringing new books include Liberal Party Leader Michael Ignatieff and musical icon Anne Murray.

Among the special programs this year is a focus on Scottish and Scottish-Canadian writers, thanks to an IFOA partnership with the Edinburgh Book Festival.

International names in town for the 2009 event include John Irving, Orhan Pamuk, Kathy Reichs, Sarah Waters, Paul Theroux, Garrison Keillor and Eoin Colfer, who is presenting his just-released new instalment in the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series.

The IFOA continues at Toronto's Harbourfront Centre through Oct. 31.