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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.
- Lena Dunham to write Archie Comic mini-series
- Is big data analysis necessary for traditional publishers?
- Hilary Clinton to deliver keynote at Association of American Publishers AGM
- Vook introduces analytics tool to track ebook sales
- Berlusconi publishing house launches weekly Pope Francis-themed magazine
- John Lydon’s memoir sold in “hotly contested auction”
- Simon & Schuster launches publisher-agnostic website dedicated to book discovery
- Philip Roth on his life as a writer
- Penguin threatens to take author to court over satirical art book
- World Book Night to distribute special edition of Twelve Years a Slave
- Watch: book trailer for 15th edition of Dancing with Cats
Allen Ginsberg fans can get a littler closer to the late poet, thanks in part to discount retailer Dollarama.
The University of Toronto’s Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library has acquired the world’s largest collection of photographic prints by Ginsberg. According to Canadian Art, Dollarama CEO Larry Rossy purchased the prints from the Allen Ginsberg Trust through his Larry and Cookie Rossy Foundation and donated them to the university. As part of the donation, the University of Toronto Art Centre also received 236 photos with “diaristic captions.”
Ginsberg was a prolific photographer during the 1950s Beat heyday and again in the 1980s. The collection of 7,686 photos, which includes small-format portraits of Jack Kerouac and William S. Burroughs, is available to the public for viewing during library hours. A selection has also been posted to Flickr.
British Columbia poet Jeremy Stewart has won this year’s Robert Kroetsch Award for Innovative Poetry for his manuscript Hidden City. He receives a contract with Invisible Publishing’s Snare imprint and a $500 advance.
In a statement, award judge Ken Babstock says, “Hidden City could be any of our cities. It could be your town. It’s certainly one of the clattering, desperate voices we all carry around inside. This is a crackling, energetic, desperate suite of poems. Weird and worrying.”
Stewart was nominated for the prize in 2008 for his collection flood basement, which was published in 2009 by Caitlin Press.
Hidden City will be published in October.
U.S. college has funding cut for teaching Fun Home, Oscar-nominated short-story adaptations, and more
- South Carolina college sees funding cut for teaching Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home
- Alice Munro’s The Bear Came Over the Mountain among four other Oscar-nominated short-story adaptations
- New Orleans storytelling project preserves city’s history before and after Katrina
- Historical book on Monuments Men of WWII reaps publicity from George Clooney film
- Searching for creativity beyond anti-anxiety medication
- Little Britain’s David Walliams to star in Agatha Christie adaptation