Yesterday at a ceremony in Toronto, Thomas King was presented with the $25,000 RBC Taylor Prize for his non-fiction title The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America (Doubleday Canada).
Click on the thumbnails to see photos of the event.
The shortlisted titles for the 2014 Basil Stuart-Stubbs Prize for Outstanding Scholarly Book on British Columbia were announced today. Now in its second year, the annual award for Canadian authors is presented by the UBC Library and the Pacific BookWorld News Society. The winner, who will be announced at a reception in Vancouver on June 5, receives $1,000.
The shortlisted books are:
- Arthur Erickson: An Architect’s Life, David Stouck (Douglas & McIntyre)
- Charles Edenshaw, Robin Kathleen Wright, Daina Augaitis, Robert Davidson, and James Hart (Black Dog Publishing)
- Inventing Stanley Park: An Environmental History, Sean Kheraj (UBC Press)
- George Saunders’ Tenth of December takes inaugural U.K. Folio Prize
- Five new books reflect on the Boston Marathon bombing
- Nixon campaign journalist Joe McGinniss dies at 71
- U.K. study shows class divide affects reading habits
- The Paris Review features five vignettes from David Mamet
- A House of Cards reading list
The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America (Doubleday Canada) was awarded the RBC Taylor Prize (formerly the Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-fiction) at a ceremony in Toronto today. The $25,000 prize comes just weeks after King was awarded the $40,000 B.C. National Award for Canadian Non-fiction.
“I couldn’t [write this book] as a normal historian; I couldn’t be that distant third person voice as though I’m impartial. I wasn’t,” King told Q&Q after accepting the award. “I was angry at points, happy at points, I laughed at points, I was really pissed off at points.”
King said that while the government has been slow to address native issues, Canadian readers are having serious conversations thanks to authors such as Boyden and the Idle No More movement.
“As a native person, that’s all I really want – for that serious conversation to begin and continue,” he says. “I hope that, because of this, there’s a kind of charisma or energy that goes out to all the reserves across the land.”
A jury comprising literary critic Coral Ann Howells, editor and author James Polk, and 2012 Taylor Prize champ Andrew Westoll selected the winner.
As this year’s winner, King will select one writer under 35 to receive the inaugural RBC Taylor Prize Emerging Writer’s Award. The winner, to be announced March 17, will receive $10,000 and be mentored by King.
Westoll, who was 34 when he won in 2012 for The Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary, says this is his favourite innovation in book prizes.
“It just makes everyone aware of how long it can take to learn how to write a book,” he says. “There are so many people in their twenties in this country who are potentially doing great work, so this prize will bring one of them to prominence.”
Howells noted King’s ability to take on “a really serious history through satire with a very intimate conversation and tone.”
“It struck us as a bricolage, a new definition of fine writing,” she said.
The other shortlisted authors, who each received $2,000, were:
- The Massey Murder: A Maid, Her Master and the Trial that Shocked a Country, Charlotte Gray (HarperCollins Canada)
- The Once and Future World: Nature As It Was, As It Is, As It Could Be, J.B. MacKinnon (Random House Canada)
- The Dogs Are Eating Them Now: Our War in Afghanistan, Graeme Smith (Knopf Canada)
- Arthur Erickson: An Architect’s Life, David Stouck (Douglas & MacIntyre)
Hunger Games producers take on The Goldfinch, major makeover for Boston central public library, and more
- Hunger Games producers sign on for film adaptation of Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch
- Boston’s central public library renovating for public space and digital technology
- Climate fiction or “cli-fi” an emergent genre?
- Augmented reality redefines books and video games
- Lindsay Lohan rumoured to be signing seven-figure contract for rehab memoir with HarperCollins
The 20-title list also includes Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam (McClelland & Stewart) and Eleanor Catton’s The Luminaries (M&S). The five-person jury will narrow down the list to six titles, with the winner announced June 4.
Formerly known as the Orange Prize for Fiction, the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction celebrates “excellence, originality, and accessibility in writing by women in English from throughout the world.” The winner receives £30,000 ($55,000.)
The Canadian Library Association has announced the shortlists for its three annual children’s book awards.
The finalists for the the CLA Book of the Year for Children Award, the Amelia Frances Howard-Gibbon Illustrator’s Award, and the CLA Young Adult Book Award were selected by CLA librarians from across the country. The winners will be announced the week of April 14 and presented at the CLA’s National Conference and Trade Show in Victoria on May 29.
Here are the shortlists:
CLA Book of the Year for Children Award
- Bones Never Lie: How Forensics Helps Solve History’s Mysteries, Elizabeth MacLeod (Annick Press)
- Curse of the Dream Witch, Allan Stratton (Scholastic Canada)
- Driftwood, Valerie Sherrard (Fitzhenry & Whiteside)
- How to Curse in Hieroglyphics, Lesley Livingston and Jonathan Llyr (Puffin Canada)
- The Legend of Lightning and Thunder, Paula Ikuutaq Rumbolt; Jo Rioux, illus. (Inhabit Media)
- Me and Mr. Bell, Philip Roy (Cape Breton University Press)
- The Metro Dogs of Moscow, Rachelle Delaney (Puffin Canada)
- Prince Pugley of Spud and the Kingdom of Spiff, Robert Paul Weston; Victor Rivas Villa, illus. (Puffin Canada)
- The Spotted Dog Last Seen, Jessica Scott Kerrin (Groundwood Books)
- The Stowaways, Meghan Marentette; Dean Griffiths, illus. (Pajama Press)
Amelia Frances Howard‐Gibbon Illustrator’s Award
- A Long Way Away, Frank Viva (HarperCollins)
- The Dark, Jon Klassen; text by Lemony Snicket (HarperCollins)
- Francis the Little Fox, Katty Maurey; text by Véronique Boisjoly (Kids Can Press)
- Jane, the Fox and Me, Isabelle Arsenault; text by Fanny Britt (Groundwood)
- The Legend of Lightning and Thunder, Jo Rioux; text by Paula Ikuutaq Rumbolt (Inhabit)
- Little You, Julie Flett; text by Richard Van Camp (Orca Book Publishers)
- Loula Is Leaving for Africa, Anne Villeneuve (Kids Can)
- The Man With the Violin, Dušan Petričić; text by Kathy Stinson (Annick)
- Northwest Passage, Matt James; text by Stan Rogers (Groundwood)
- Once Upon a Northern Night, Isabelle Arsenault; text by Jean E. Pendziwol (Groundwood)
CLA Young Adult Book Award
- Audacious, Gabrielle Prendergast (Orca)
- The Color of Silence, Liane Shaw (Second Story Press)
- Graffiti Knight, Karen Bass (Pajama Press)
- The Gypsy King, Maureen Fergus (Razorbill)
- Little Red Lies, Julie Johnston (Tundra Books)
- Nix Minus One, Jill MacLean (Pajama Press)
- Not Your Ordinary Wolf Girl, Emily Pohl-Weary (Razorbill)
- The Oathbreaker’s Shadow, Amy McCulloch (Doubleday Canada)
- The Silent Summer of Kyle McGinley, Jan Andrews (Great Plains Publications)
- The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B, Teresa Toten (Doubleday Canada)
- Harlequin struggles with digital publishing sales
- Touchstone cancels publication of Goldman Sachs elevator gossip book
- Joseph Boyden discusses plans for companion novel to The Orenda
- Let Books Be Books campaign calls publishers on to end gendered packaging
- Windham Campbell literary award surprises authors with $150,000 prize
Paper theatre, light-box illustration, illuminated papercraft – call it what you will, the images that Elly MacKay creates using paper, pen-and-ink figures, an open-sided “theatre,” and the manipulation of light are stunning.
Based in Owen Sound, Ontario, MacKay began making Victorian-style tunnel books and dioramas as a teen, and now combines those paper-art skills with photography to produce her images. Her first picture book, If You Hold a Seed, published by Running Press last February, showcases her unique photographs and quietly lyrical text. A second title, Shadow Chasers, is due out this May. Both books reflect on what MacKay calls the “fleeting, wonder-filled moments” of childhood when “something magical happens,” and are inspired by the author’s memories of growing up on the shores of Georgian Bay and the experience of seeing the world anew through the eyes of her two young children.
It was the birth of her daughter in 2008 that lured MacKay back into the studio after an unproductive period that came on the heels of her graduation from NSCAD University, where she studied illustration and printmaking. “I think women get a sort of creative energy when they have a kid, and also need something for themselves that’s just time alone,” she says.
MacKay put that solitary time to good use, creating so many images she decided to open an Etsy store, called Theater Clouds, which just hit sale number 5,000. In addition to clearing out her studio space, Theater Clouds attracted the attention of a U.S. agent at the Bright Agency (which arranged the two-book deal with Running Press) and various publishers. MacKay’s images grace a new edition of Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch’s The Best Gifts, published by Fitzhenry & Whiteside last August, and Fall Leaves by U.S. author Loretta Holland, due from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt later this year. And – a coup for any good Canadian girl – MacKay is producing cover art for the Anne of Green Gables and Emily of New Moon box sets forthcoming from Random House. “I read them all as a kid,” says MacKay. “The 12-year-old me is so excited.”
It would be fair to call MacKay’s output prolific, if not downright speedy. The author estimates that, on top of her publishing commitments, she produces two standalone pieces per week. A complete picture book might take two to three months to illustrate, but comes with its own particular challenges, given the inherently intuitive nature of her process. “It’s really playing, I just play in the theatre,” she says. “But when I’m working on a book, I have to get the shot I promised I would get.”
That doesn’t always happen, but MacKay says that, so far, publishers have been happy with her work. Given how many projects she has lined up or is currently working on (including the early stages of her third picture book for Running Press, tentatively titled Butterfly Park), it’s a safe bet that it won’t be just MacKay’s Etsy shop picking up more fans in the coming months. Consider this her breakout year.
Click on the thumbnails to take a peek at MacKay’s process.
This story appeared in March 2014 issue of Q&Q.
It’s pleasant enough for a writer to hear that one of his books has landed on someone’s Christmas shopping list. But there are shopping lists, and then there’s the shopping list of the most powerful man in the world.
Back in late November, kidlit author Kenneth Oppel’s name popped up in stories about President Obama’s pre-holiday book-buying spree. Among the nearly two dozen titles nabbed by the president last year were novels by Willa Cather, Jhumpa Lahiri, and E.L. Doctorow, an Oprah-approved memoir, some sports books, and a crateful of children’s books – including Oppel’s 2010 novel, Half Brother, about a family’s failed attempt to raise a chimp as human.
A few months later, in a small café near his Roncesvalles Village home in Toronto, Oppel tells me he half-jokingly suggested the book’s U.S. publisher market it as “Obama’s Christmas Pick.” Half Brother, with its realistic storyline, heartbreaking ending, and humane critique of scientific hubris, is in many ways a perfect book to interest a liberal and relatively earnest American president.
It’s also something of an anomaly among the best-selling author’s books. Since publishing his first novel, Colin’s Fantastic Video Adventure, right after graduating high school in 1985, Oppel has written nearly 30 works of fiction – most of them packed with freewheeling adventure and borrowing heavily from sci-fi, fantasy, and horror. He writes books that are made to be gobbled up in a couple of marathon reading sessions then passed on to friends, not the kind destined to end up looking all respectable on a White House bookshelf.
Oppel’s newest novel, The Boundless (to be published in April by HarperCollins Canada), is a perfect example of the sort of story he tells best (it received a starred review in the March issue of Q&Q). It is a literally propulsive tale: most of the action takes place on an immense, moving super-train called the Boundless, which is more than 11 kilometres long, with multi-story luxury cars, a cinema, a swimming pool, and whole communities of people inhabiting its 987 carriages.
The finalists were announced today for the 26th annual Lambda Literary Awards, which honours LGBT books published in 2013. Out of more than 700 submissions in 24 categories, at least 11 Canadian publishers and authors made the list. The winners will be announced in New York on June 2.
The Canadian finalists include:
- Wanting in Arabic, Trish Salah, TSAR Publications (transgender fiction)
- The Desperates, Greg Kearney, Cormorant Books (gay general fiction)
- Jane and the Whales, Andrea Routley, Caitlin Press (LGBT debut fiction)
- Blood, Marriage, Wine & Glitter, S. Bear Bergman, Arsenal Pulp Press (transgender non-fiction)
- Meet Grindr: How One App Changed the Way We Connect, Jaime Woo, self-published (LGBT non-fiction)
- Foxed, Garry Ryan, NeWest Press (gay mystery)
- The Wild Beasts of Wuhan: An Ava Lee Novel, Ian Hamilton, Picador/Spiderline (lesbian mystery)
- How Poetry Saved My Life, Amber Dawn, Arsenal Pulp (lesbian memoir/biography)
- What I Love About Being Queer, Vivek Shraya, ed., George Brown College (LGBT anthology)
- What Makes a Baby, Cory Silverberg; Fiona Smyth, illus., Seven Stories Press/Triangle Square (LGBT children’s/YA)
- Tom at the Farm, Michel Marc Bouchard, Talonbooks (LGBT drama)
- Last Salute, Tracey Richardson, Bella Books (lesbian romance)*
- In His Secret Life, Mel Bossa, Bold Strokes Books (bisexual fiction)
- Light, Nathan Burgoine (LGBT SF/F/horror)
*Update Mar. 7: An earlier version of this story has been updated to include Tracey Richardson, who was nominated in the lesbian romance category for Last Salute, Mel Bossa, who was nominated in the bisexual fiction category, and Nathan Burgoine in the LGBT SF/F/horror category for his novel Light.
As international attention focuses on the Ukraine, the winner of the Shevchenko Foundation’s biennial Kobzar Literary Award, which celebrates Canadian literature with a “Ukrainian theme,” was announced last night at a ceremony in Toronto.
Playwright Diane Flacks, in collaboration with Andrey Tarasiuk and Luba Goy, took home the $25,000 prize for Simply Luba (Scirocco Drama). The production was first staged in 2012 at Toronto’s Berkeley Street Theatre.
In a press release, Shevchenko Foundation president Andrij Hladyshevsky says, “Ms. Goy’s views on Ukrainian and Canadian politics, her aspirations as a female Canadian actor, her views on motherhood, aging and meeting Viktor Yushchenko, president of an independent Ukraine, create a memorable and inspiring dramatic narrative.”
Jurors Joe Kertes, Frances Itani, Annabel Lyon, and Olive Senior selected Simply Luba from a shortlist of five titles. The four finalists, who each received $1,000, are: Erín Moure for her poetry collection The Unmemntioable (House of Anansi Press); Michael Mucz for his compendium of Ukranian-Canadian folk history Baba’s Kitchen Medicines (University of Alberta Press); Barbara Sapergia for her historical novel Blood and Salt (Coteau Books); and Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch for her middle-grade novel Making Bombs For Hitler (Scholastic Canada).
- Joseph Boyden’s The Orenda takes top spot in Canada Reads 2014
- Jonathan Lethem tells NYC mayor to protect city’s libraries
- Marketing company buys books onto bestseller lists
- Watch: New music video from David O’Meara and Hilotrons
- 10 YA reads for U.K.’s World Book Day
- George Saunders wins $20,000 Story Prize
Counter to the various “slow” movements that have become trendy over the past few years, there’s a new app that boasts it will dramatically speed up ebook reading.
Boston-based tech company Spritz has developed a technology that replaces digital pages with quick-streaming text, thereby eliminating time-consuming “inefficient eye movements.” According to the company’s website, some test subjects were tracked reading 900 words per minute, thanks to a process referred to as “spritzing.” At that pace, the company claims Atlas Shrugged could be read in a day.
For the past two years, Spritz has been quietly licensing the technology via a beta program with “some pretty big players” in the digital-book market. In late February, the company announced an email integration with two models of Samsung smartphones.
World Read Aloud Day has come to Canada for the first time, by way of the Children’s Writers & Illustrators of British Columbia Society. The group has partnered with LitWorld, a New York–based non-profit literacy organization that launched WRAD four years ago, to organize today’s events in Vancouver.
With the help of Skype’s classroom initiative, CWILL B.C. president Lori Sherritt-Fleming, along with B.C. authors and illustrators Silvana Goldemberg, Lee Edward Födi, Cynthia Nugent, Suzanne de Montigny, and Robin Stevenson, will read aloud to students across the world.
Tonight, Christianne’s Lyceum of Literature and Art, a popular space for Vancouver literary events, will play host to a pajama party and bedtime-story reading with 10 local authors including Tiffany Stone, Kallie George, and Darlene Foster.
“This is something we’re all passionate about,” says Sherritt-Fleming. “Having our books read aloud [to] encourage literacy and a lifelong love of stories.”
In 2013, the grassroots campaign reached 65 countries and more than one million participants. Sherritt-Fleming wants to get the rest of Canada involved next year, with hopes to use Skype to connect authors with classrooms in remote communities.
- CBC Canada Reads contenders down to Cockroach, The Orenda
- Local booksellers upset by L.A. Times Festival of Books’ partnership with Amazon
- Anne Rice signs petition protesting “anti-author” Amazon bullies
- Women writers to watch in 2014
- Vasilly Aksyonov’s 1979 novel predicted Russia’s invasion of Crimea
- 2014 PEN/Faulkner Award shortlist announced
Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize finalist Krista Bridge and prolific non-fiction author and translator Wayne Grady are among the nominees for the 2013 Amazon.ca First Novel Award, announced this morning.
Selected by Q&Q editor Stuart Woods, the five finalists are:
- Kenneth Bonert, The Lion Seeker (Knopf Canada)
- Krista Bridge, The Eliot Girls (Douglas & McIntyre)
- Susan Downe, Juanita Wildrose: My True Life (Pedlar Press)
- Wayne Grady, Emancipation Day (Doubleday Canada)
- D.W. Wilson, Ballistics (Hamish Hamilton Canada)
The winner, who receives $7,500, will be announced at a gala in Toronto on April 30.
In her 2013 memoir Projection: Encounters with My Runaway Mother (Dundurn Press), Toronto poet Priscila Uppal shares painful details about reuniting with her film-obsessed mother, who abandoned the family 20 years earlier. The book was nominated for the Governor General’s Literary Award for Non-fiction and the Hilary Weston Prize for Non-fiction (and named a Q&Q Book of the Year.)
Toronto theatregoers will have an opportunity to explore another dimension of Uppal’s personal story with a new play, 6 Essential Questions. Written by Uppal and directed by Leah Cherniak, the production premieres at Toronto’s Factory Theatre on March 6.
Q&Q spoke to Uppal about her first experience writing for the stage.
How did this production come to be? I go to the theatre every week – it’s been my refuge – and I’d been thinking of writing a play for a while. Iris Turcott, the dramaturge at the Factory Theatre, was going through one of my books and stumbled upon the poem “I’m Afraid of Brazilians or Visiting the Ancestral Homeland Is Not the Great Ethnic Experience Promised by Other Memoirs.” She said she’d wanted to see a play about this. When I told her I was already writing a memoir, she suggested I write a play at the same time. So, for the last three years while I was writing the memoir I was also writing the play.
How did you find the experience? It was really freeing. With the memoir I wanted to keep to the facts of what really happened. It’s such an emotionally wrought and difficult story because the reunion doesn’t go very well with my mother. I wanted to analyze exactly why that happened, and the reader needs to trust that I’m giving them all the facts.
With this theatrical adaptation I was encouraged to be as surreal and absurd and poetic as I wanted to be. It ended up being a wonderful counterpoint: I could go into one universe and fully explore the metaphysical and visual vocabulary of what this emotional experience felt like.
How is the play surreal and absurd? The opening scene features a purse that opens up and a lullaby comes out with my mother’s voice. There are four characters, and to emphasize that this is not a realistic universe, the lead character, Renata, doesn’t have my actual name. The other characters are my mother, grandmother, and Uncle Fernando, who in the play is known as Dr. Garbage. He is the maestro who controls the universe.
Everywhere the family eats and sleeps and talks is on a pile of garbage. It’s really about dealing with the garbage in your past and your mind, and how when you come face to face with 20 years ago, the subconscious comes to the forefront.
What’s different about dealing with editors versus directors? I’m used to dealing with editors. I like to write a complete draft and then pair up with the person I think is the right editor for the book.
With the play, you don’t get the director until the production has been approved and so it’s an entirely different process, but one that’s really exciting. I have a very established director, Leah Cherniak, and she’s been generous explaining all the decisions she’s making and asking my opinion.
We just spent three days locking in every sound, lighting, and blocking cue. The play includes quite a bit of music and dance, and there are projections and special effects. Leah has to think of all of it, and how it all works together.
What is it like watching other people perform your story? I want to offer my opinion, but I also have to hold back from saying, “I would never do it like that” because someone’s playing me. Other times, I have to say, “I didn’t really do that, maybe we can have a discussion about what actually happened” and see how we can reinterpret it on stage.
The woman who plays my mother, Elizabeth Saunders, is so good I have trouble looking at her sometimes. She makes my mother appear incredibly sympathetic, and so there are times I get quite choked up looking at her. She’s found so many depths to my mother’s character.
Are there any other mediums you’d like to try writing for? I’d love to do a libretto for an opera.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
Two authors and a poet have been nominated for this year’s BMO Winterset Award, which celebrates excellence in Newfoundland writing.
The nominees are: Lisa Moore, for her novel Caught (House of Anansi Press); Paul Bowdring, for his novel The Strangers’ Gallery (Nimbus Publishing); and Carmelita McGrath, for her poetry collection Escape Velocity (Goose Lane Editions).
The winner, who receives $10,000, will be announced March 20.
From Halifax to Gabriola Island, more than 60 Freedom to Read Week events took place across Canada last week. The annual event encourages Canadians to reaffirm their commitment to intellectual freedom and consider the battles against censorship still taking place around the world.
Click through the slideshow below to see how readers and writers celebrated the occasion.