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Frye Festival throws 100th birthday bash for Northrop Frye

Frye Festival

As Northrop Frye’s 100th birthday is recognized across Canada this week, the Frye Festival is commemorating its namesake by hosting a community event in honour of the literary critic. The free event takes place on July 13 at the Moncton Public Library.

The celebration will feature the unveiling of a life-sized bronze sculpture of Frye, depicted sitting on a park bench with an open book in his lap. The event will also include a barbecue and birthday cake, live music, and a reading by local poet Serge Patrice Thibodeau, whose poem, to be read in French, was originally published in a special edition of the University of Toronto Quarterly dedicated to Frye.

“There isn’t much public art in Moncton so we thought this would be a great way to enhance the downtown area while celebrating Frye’s legacy,” says Danielle Leblanc, the festival’s executive director.

Designed by local artists Darren Byers and Fred Harrison, in collaboration with Janet Fotheringham, the sculpture was funded through the Department of Canadian Heritage, private donors, and local fundraisers. CBC reports that officials at the University of Toronto have expressed interest in having a copy created for its campus, where Frye taught.

Along with the unveiling of the sculpture comes the announcement that leading Frye scholar Dr. Robert D. Denham has donated his personal collection of Frye memorabilia to the library. Appraised at $40,000, the donation includes signed editions of Frye’s works, plus paintings and caricatures, audio-visual materials, and Frye’s writing desk, chair, and typewriter.

The donation will be housed in the library’s Heritage Room, though some pieces will be displayed in its lobby for viewing at the party.

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Canadian fiction editor Melanie Little steps down at Anansi

House of Anansi Press president and publisher Sarah MacLachlan has announced several changes to its editorial department.

Melanie Little, who joined the firm two years ago as senior editor of Canadian fiction, is stepping down to pursue her own writing, the company announced in a press release. She will continue to edit the work of Lisa Moore, Lynn Coady, Saleema Nawaz, and Théodora Armstrong.

Little is the former editor-at-large for Annick Press and the founding editor of Broadview Press’s literary imprint, Freehand Books. She is also the author of the short story collection Confidence (Thomas Allen Publishers) and the YA novel The Apprentice’s Masterpiece (Annick).

Little’s departure has led to a slew of promotions within Anansi. Former managing editor Jared Bland, who joined the firm a year ago, has been promoted to senior editor, and will now be responsible for acquiring both poetry and Canadian fiction.

Former assistant editor Kelly Joseph has been promoted to managing editor, responsible for acquiring French Canadian literature for translation. Former editorial assistant Meredith Dees (responsible for both Anansi and Groundwood Books) has been promoted to editor.

The press release notes that senior editor Janie Yoon remains responsible for acquiring non-fiction, crime fiction, and foreign titles for Anansi International.

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Wilfrid Laurier, Toronto, McGill-Queen’s university presses recognized at Canada Awards

Authors published with Wilfrid Laurier University Press, University of Toronto Press, and McGill-Queen’s University Press are among the recipients of the 2012 Canada Awards.

The Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences presented the annual prizes, which recognize the best English- and French-language scholarly works published through the Aid to Scholarly Publications Program, at a ceremony in Montreal last week. Each winning author was awarded $2,500.

The winners, described by CFHSS president Graham Carr as “valuable contributions to the body of knowledge about Canada,” are:

Social Sciences
Veronica Strong-Boag, Fostering Nation? Canada Confronts Its History of Childhood Disadvantage (WLUP)
Michel Ducharme, Le concept de liberté au Canada à l’époque des Révolutions atlantiques, 1776–1838 (MQUP)

Humanities
Susan R. Fisher, Boys and Girls in No Man’s Land: English-Canadian Children and the First World War (UPT)
Louise Vigneault, Espace artistique et modèle pionnier: Tom Thomson et Jean-Paul Riopelle (Hurtubise)

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Author to spend six days in bookstore window

Isabel Losada has just wrapped another day sitting in the window of a Parisian bookstore. That’s four down and two to go for the U.K. author, who’s in town to promote the release of the French-language translation of her 2001 book, The Battersea Park Road to Enlightenment/Mes Tribulations sur le chemin de l’éveil (Presses du Châtelet).

It isn’t the first time Losada has been “author in residence in window” (as she refers to the experience on her website). Last year, the author — who also wrote the 2004 bestseller For Tibet, with Love — set up shop for a week in the window of a London Waterstones to mark the SW11 Literary Festival. This time around, she’s parked her publicity/merchandising stunt from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. in the window of W.H. Smith, the largest English-language bookshop in Paris. If a recent status update on Losada’s Facebook page is any indication, the setting hasn’t been ideal for selling a French-language title:

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Book links roundup: 500 new fairy tales, Scholastic enters the app market, and more

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Robert Lepage’s creative alchemy

This feature by Sarah Greene appeared in the November 2011 issue of Q&Q.

Robert Lepage’s impressive artistic career spans theatre, film, and opera, and includes stints as designer and director for Cirque du Soleil and a Peter Gabriel world tour. The prolific Quebec actor, writer, and director has now added graphic novelist to his list of achievements. The Blue Dragon, first published in French earlier this year by Quebec’s Éditions Alto, appears this month from House of Anansi Press.

Adapted from the play of the same name, the book reunites co-writers Lepage and Marie Michaud, both of whom performed in the original 2008 production. The idea for the graphic novel, first suggested by Lepage’s sister and assistant Lynda Beaulieu, seemed natural given the influence on the play of Hergé’s The Blue Lotus, about TinTin’s adventures in Shanghai; the use of Chinese calligraphy, video, and comic panel-like squares in the set design; and the fact that the central character, Pierre Lamontagne, is a graphic artist and calligrapher.

“We thought a graphic novel would be more faithful, do more justice to the piece,” says Lepage. “We saw it as an opportunity to extend the themes of The Blue Dragon.”

A follow-up to the mid-1980s production The Dragons’ Trilogy, the story is set in modern-­day China and revolves around three characters in a love triangle: Lamontagne, a middle-aged Quebecois artist who lives in Shanghai and runs a contemporary art gallery; his ex-wife, a Montreal-based ­advertising executive hoping to adopt a baby; and Lamontagne’s younger Chinese lover. Just as there are three characters interacting in three languages (French, English, and Mandarin), there are three possible endings to the play and the book. Éditions Alto played on the number by printing a first run of 3,333 copies.

To adapt the highly visual play into print, Lepage and his production company, Ex Machina, imagined how they would present the story as a film. They auditioned a number of Quebecois artists for the project, eventually choosing Fred Jourdain, a young illustrator known for his portraits of rock stars and celebrities. Jourdain’s fluid, vivid illustrations of a rainy Shanghai are conveyed by mixing comic-book art with more painterly images. “He was very strong at expressing emotions on his characters’ faces,” says Lepage.

Anansi publisher Sarah MacLachlan fell in love with this combination of graphica and fine art. “I thought that was an extraordinary thing,” she says. The Blue Dragon is Anansi’s first graphic novel for the adult market (its children’s imprint, Groundwood Books, published the YA title Skim by Jillian and Mariko Tamaki in 2009). Canadian fiction editor Melanie Little met Éditions Alto president Antoine Tanguay last January, at the Canada Council for the Arts’ inaugural translation rights fair in Ottawa, and presented an offer within days.

The graphic novel has also had an effect on the theatrical version of The Blue Dragon, which will be remounted by Toronto’s Mirvish Productions in January. “Our work with Fred had a big influence on the piece,” Lepage says. “Both to make it stronger by simplifying some of the storylines, but also by complexifying some things that needed to be more [complex]. A lot of that came from some of the very rich, effervescent exchanges we had with Fred.”

Lepage says the adaptation was so successful it’s changed his approach to publishing: “Whatever play we come up with we should try to find a format – not necessarily another graphic novel – that is as faithful to our visual approach to the stage as it is [to] the written word.”

Éditions Alto and Ex Machina have continued their partnership, producing a limited-­run souvenir book for Lepage’s production of Stravinsky’s opera The Nightingale and Other Short Fables and collaborating on a nine-volume box set for his epic nine-hour opera Lipsynch.

“[Lepage] is a central cultural figure in Quebec right now,” says Tanguay. “Everything he does turns to gold.”

Illustrations by Fred Jourdain, courtesy of Anansi

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Atwood to mentor emerging writer in Rolex arts program

Thanks to Rolex, one lucky writer will get the chance to become Margaret Atwood’s protege. On Monday, the Rolex Mentor and Protege Arts Initiative revealed its list of arts professionals who will serve as mentors to emerging artists in the fields of literature, theatre, film, dance, music, and visual arts for the next year.

The luxury watchmaker started the Arts Initiative in 2002 to support “highly talented young artists from around the world and [bring] them together with great masters, for a year of creative collaboration in a one-to-one mentoring relationship.” Through the program, mentor and mentee spend a minimum of six weeks working together. The Arts Initiative provides the protege with US$25,000 for travel costs and living expenses throughout the program, and another US$25,000 at the end of the initiative to finance a project. (No word on whether any watches are involved in the deal, but what young author couldn’t use a diamond-encrusted timekeeper to tick away the writing hours?)

Proteges are selected by a panel of international experts in the six artistic categories who put together a list of potential participants, though the mentor has final say on who they’re paired with.

For 2011–2012, Atwood’s fellow mentors are Chinese choreographer Lin Hwai-min, American film editor and sound designer Walter Murch, Brazilian musician Gilberto Gil, French director Patrice Chéreau, and South African visual artist William Kentridge. Past Rolex literary mentors include Toni Morrison, Hans Magnus Enzensberger, and Wole Soyinka. From 2006–2007, Quebec-based writer Edem Awumey was protege to Moroccan novelist Tahar Ben Jelloun.

(In other Atwood news, the author turns 72 today. She got an early start celebrating at Laurentian University’s seventh annual Margaret Atwood Birthday Dinner in Sudbury, Ontario, on Thursday.)

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15 TIFF films for the literary-minded

You’re not going to get close to Brad Pitt, in town this weekend for the premiere of Moneyball, the adaptation of Michael Lewis’s baseball book of the same name, but if you’re attending the Toronto International Film Festival this week, here are 15 more book-to-screen adaptations or literary-minded films to keep in mind.

Albert Nobbs: Glenn Close stars in the adaptation of George Moore’s 19th-century short story about an Irish woman who disguises herself as a man to work as a butler.

Almayer’s Folly: In 2000, director Chantal Akerman adapted the fifth volume of Proust’s À la recherche du temps perdu for the big screen; this time it’s Joseph Conrad’s debut novel.

Anonymous: Director Roland Emmerich travels back to the court of Queen Elizabeth I in this drama, which suggests Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford, may have written Shakespeare’s greatest plays.

Chicken with Plums: Marjane Satrapi reunites with her Persepolis co-director Vincent Paronnaud to adapt the second graphic novel in the trilogy.

A Dangerous Method: David Cronenberg’s period piece is adapted from screenwriter Christopher Hampton’s play, which was based on John Kerr’s non-fiction work A Most Dangerous Method: The Story of Jung, Freud, and Sabina Spielrein.

The Eye of the Storm: Charlotte Rampling plays an aging matriarch to Geoffrey Rush and Judy Davis in this adaptation of Australian author Patrick White’s novel of the same name.

The First Man: A French film by Italian director Gianni Amelio, based on Albert Camus’ unfinished autobiographical novel Le premier homme, which the author was working on when he was killed in a car accident.

Habibi: A modern retelling of the ninth-century classical poem Majnun Layla (Mad for Layla), set in the Gaza Strip.

Hard Core Logo II: The sequel (or companion film) to the Canadian cult classic, based on the novel by Michael Turner, stars director Bruce McDonald.

Killer Elite: Jason Statham, Clive Owen, and Robert De Niro pull out the action for this film, adapted from Sir Ranulph Fiennes’ 1991 bestseller.

The Moth Diaries: Mary Harron takes on the complexities of female adolescence in this horror film, based on Rachel Klein’s vampire novel.

Monsieur Lazar: Set in a Montreal elementary school, Philippe Falardeau’s new film is expanded from a one-character play by Evelyne de la Chenelière.

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen: Ewan McGregor stars as a scientist in Lasse Hallström’s adaptation of Paul Torday’s best-selling novel.

Trishna: It’s not the first time Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the d’Urbervilles has been made into a film, but this one is directed by Michael Winterbottom and set in India.

UFO in Her Eyes: Contemporary Chinese culture is explored in this adaptation of a novel by Xiaolu Guo, who also directed the film.

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Marion Cotillard to star in film adaptation of Craig Davidson’s Rust and Bone

Marion Cotillard in La Vie en Rose

Academy Award–winning actor Marion Cotillard will star in a French-language adaptation of Craig Davidson’s short story collection, Rust and Bone (Penguin Canada).

According to The Playlist, Rust and Bone will be directed by Jacques Audiard, who co-wrote the screenplay with Thomas Bidegain, his collaborator on A Prophet, which won the Grand Prix prize at the 2009 Cannes International Film Festival. At a budget of $22 million, Variety calls it one of the biggest films to come out of France this year. Shooting begins at the end of September.

Q&Q‘s 2005 review of Rust and Bone describes each story as “based around either a macho sport or a wacky job. Boxing, basketball, dog fighting, stage magic, and, yes, porn all inspire treatment in the collection.”

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Fall preview 2011: Canadian fiction

In the July/August issue, Q&Q looks ahead at the fall season’s biggest books.

NOVELS

One of the most anticipated releases of the fall season is surely the new novel from internationally acclaimed author Michael Ondaatje, his first since 2007 Governor General’s Literary Award winner Divisadero. Set in the early 1950s, The Cat’s Table (McClelland & Stewart, $32 cl., Sept.) tells the story of an 11-year-old boy crossing the Indian Ocean on a liner bound for England, and the mysterious prisoner shackled on board. • Also from M&S is Guy Vanderhaeghe’s first novel in eight years. Set in the late 19th-century Canadian and American West, A Good Man ($32.99 cl., Sept.) is the third book in a loose trilogy that also includes The Last Crossing (2003) and The Englishman’s Boy, which won the 1996 Governor General’s Literary Award. • A third GG winner has a new novel out this season: David Gilmour, who won in 2005 for his previous novel, A Perfect Night to Go to China. Gilmour returns with The Perfect Order of Things (Thomas Allen Publishers, $26.95 cl., Sept.), the story of a man who revisits traumatic and life-changing incidents from his past.

Marina Endicott follows up her Scotiabank Giller Prize–shortlisted 2008 novel Good to a Fault with The Little Shadows (Doubleday Canada, $32.95 cl., Sept.), about three sisters who become vaudeville singers following the death of their father. • Acclaimed novelist Helen Humphreys returns with an historical novel set in France during the Napoleonic period. The Reinvention of Love (HarperCollins Canada, $29.99 cl., Sept.) is about a French journalist whose affair with Victor Hugo’s wife causes a scandal (as it might be expected to do).

Brian Francis’s debut novel, Fruit, was a runner-up in the 2009 edition of CBC’s battle of the books, Canada Reads. His second novel, Natural Order (Doubleday Canada, $29.95 cl., Aug.), tells the story of a mother who is forced to confront the secrets she has kept about her son when her carefully constructed life is overturned by a startling revelation. • Kevin Chong returns to fiction with his first novel in a decade. Beauty Plus Pity (Arsenal Pulp Press, $17.95 pa., Sept.) follows an Asian-Canadian slacker in Vancouver whose incipient modelling career is derailed by the death of his father and the sudden departure of his fiancée.

Requiem (HarperCollins Canada, $32.95 cl., Sept.), the third novel from Frances Itani, is about a Japanese-Canadian who embarks upon a cross-country journey of discovery following the death of his wife. • Anita Rau Badami follows her best-selling novels Tamarind Mem and The Hero’s Walk with Tell It to the Trees (Knopf Canada, $32 cl., Sept.), about the Dharma family – the authoritarian Vikram, the gourmand Suman, and the old storyteller Akka. When the Dharmas’ tenant, Anu, turns up dead on their doorstep, the family’s long-buried secrets begin to boil over. • Gayla Reid returns with her first novel since 2002’s Closer Apart. Set during the Spanish Civil War, Come from Afar (Cormorant Books, $32 cl., Aug.) tells the story of an Australian nurse who falls into a relationship with a Canadian soldier from the International Brigade.

Haitian expat Dany Laferrière is back with his third novel in translation in three years. The Return (Douglas & McIntyre, $22.95 pa., Aug.) tells the story of a 23-year-old Haitian named Dany who flees Baby Doc Duvalier’s repressive regime and relocates to Montreal. Thirty-three years later, Dany learns of his father’s death in New York City, and plots a return to his native country. David Homel translates. • Another Montreal resident, poet Sina Queyras, has a novel out this fall, the author’s first. Autobiography of Childhood (Coach House Books, $20.95 pa., Oct.) is about one day in the lives of five siblings haunted by the death of a brother years before. • Infrared (McArthur & Company, $29.95 cl., Sept.), the new novel by Nancy Huston, is about a photographer who travels to Tuscany with her father and stepmother. Employing internal dialogues with the photographer’s mental doppelgänger, Huston opens up her hero for exposure and provides an intimate picture of her interior life.

CanLit mainstay David Helwig returns with a novella, his first since 2007’s Smuggling Donkeys. Killing McGee (Oberon, $38.95 cl., $18.95 pa., Oct.) tells the story of a professor’s dual obsessions with the assassination of D’Arcy McGee and the disappearance of one of his students. • Toronto-based poet Dani Couture returns with her first novel, a surreal and iconoclastic take on that perennial CanLit staple: the family drama. Algoma (Invisible Publishing, $19.95 pa., Oct.) tells the story of a family attempting to cope with the aftermath of a young child falling through the ice and drowning. • Shari Lapeña also has a novel about a perennial CanLit concern: raising money to allow one time to write poetry. Happiness Economics (Brindle & Glass, $19.95 pa., Sept.) tells the story of a stalled poet who takes a job writing advertising copy to start a poetry foundation.

Jamaican-born novelist, poet, and non-fiction author Olive Senior returns to long-form fiction with Dancing Lessons (Cormorant, $22 pa., Aug.), about a woman looking back on her life after a hurricane destroys her home. • Memoirist Frances Greenslade (A Pilgrim in Ireland, By the Secret Ladder) has a debut novel out this August. Shelter (Random House Canada, $29.95 cl.) is a coming of age story about two sisters searching for their mother, who abandoned them after their father was killed in a logging accident.

Not one, but two novels this season extend the burgeoning CanLit focus on towns that have been/are about to be flooded (after Johanna Skibsrud’s The Sentimentalists, Anne Michaels’ The Winter Vault, and Michael V. Smith’s Progress). Tristan Hughes’s Eye Lake (Coach House, $19.95 pa., Oct.) is about the town of Crooked River, Ontario. Named for a river that was diverted to make way for a mine, the town harbours secrets that surface when the river reclaims its original course. • And in September, Goose Lane Editions will publish Riel Nason’s The Town that Drowned ($19.95 pa.), about the suspicions, secrets, and emotions that flare up when the township of Haverton is scheduled to be flooded to allow for the construction of a massive dam.

Edward Riche follows up his Thomas Head Raddall Award winner The Nine Planets with Easy to Like (House of Anansi Press, $29.95 cl., Sept.), a satire about a screenwriter and oenophile who dreams of travelling to Paris, but is trapped in Canada by an expired passport and a growing Hollywood scandal. Relocating to Toronto, he bluffs his way into the upper echelons of the CBC. • Former president and CEO of Penguin Canada, David Davidar was forced out of his position under a cloud of scandal after accusations of sexual harassment. Davidar’s new novel, Ithaca (M&S, $29.99 cl., Oct.), is, perhaps not coincidentally, about the rise and fall of a publishing star.

Canadian literary icon Michel Tremblay returns with a new novel, the first in a trilogy. Set in 1913, Crossing the Continent (Talonbooks, $18.95 pa., Oct.) takes the author’s characters out of Quebec for the first time, to tell the backstory of the people who populate his Chroniques du Plateau-Mont-Royal series. Long-time Tremblay collaborator Sheila Fischman translates.

A resident of St. John’s, Newfoundland, lately one of the most fertile spots for Canadian writing, Michelle Butler Hallett crafts genre-busting stories and novels that frequently experiment with gender and perspective. Her new novel, Deluded Your Sailors (Creative Book Publishing, $21.95 pa., Sept.), focuses on the culture industry from the perspective of Nichole Wright, who makes a discovery that puts a government-funded tourism project in jeopardy, and a shape-shifting minister named Elias Winslow. • Another Newfoundland native, Kate Story, has a novel out with Creative this season. The follow-up to 2008’s Blasted, Wrecked Upon This Shore ($21.95 pa., Sept.) tells the story of Pearl Lewis, an emotionally damaged, charismatic woman who is seen at different stages in her life.

In 1972, Christina Parr returns to her hometown of Parr’s Landing, a place she fled years earlier. The dirty secret of Parr’s Landing? A 300-year-old vampire resides in the caves of the remote mining town. Christina learns why she should have stayed away in Michael Rowe’s Enter, Night (ChiZine Publications, $17.95 pa., Oct.). • English literature professor Janey Erlickson struggles to make headway in her academic career while caring for a tyrannical toddler in Sue Sorensen’s comic novel A Large Harmonium (Coteau Books, $21 pa., Sept.). • Paul Brenner, a Vancouver lawyer, dines with his son, Daniel, one Friday evening. The next day, Brenner receives word that his son has been murdered. Hold Me Now (Freehand Books, $21.95 pa., Oct.), the first novel from Stephen Gauer, examines a father’s grief and a lawyer’s faith in the legal system.

SHORT FICTION

Anyone who has ever wondered what might transpire if the author of Bigfoot’s autobiography were to illustrate a story collection by Canada’s reigning postmodern ironist can stop wondering. October sees the publication of Highly Inappropriate Tales for Young People (Random House Canada, $24 cl.), the first collaboration between author Douglas Coupland and well-known illustrator Graham Roumieu.

D.W. Wilson currently lives in London, England, but is a native of B.C.’s Kootenay Valley. The winner of the inaugural Man Booker Prize Scholarship from the University of East Anglia, Wilson’s debut collection, Once You Break a Knuckle (Hamish Hamilton Canada, $32 cl., Sept.), is a suite of stories about good people doing bad things.

Novelist Anne DeGrace has her first collection of short stories on tap for September. Flying with Amelia (McArthur & Company, $29.95 cl.) spans the 20th century and crosses vast swathes of territory. Wireless telegraphy, German POWs in Manitoba, the Great Depression, and the FLQ crisis all crop up in her stories. • David Whitton’s story “Twilight of the Gods” was included in the 2010 sci-fi anthology Darwin’s Bastards. The story also appears in Whitton’s first solo collection, The Reverse Cowgirl (Freehand, $21.95 pa., Oct.), which sports the most sexually suggestive title for a collection of CanLit stories since Pasha Malla’s The Withdrawal Method.

Toronto writer Rebecca Rosenblum follows up her Metcalf-Rooke Award–winning debut collection Once (a Q&Q book of the year for 2009) with The Big Dream (Biblioasis, $19.95 pa., Sept.), a collection of linked stories about the lives of workers at Dream, Inc., a lifestyle-magazine publisher. • The Maladjusted (Thistledown Press, $18.95 pa., Sept.), Toronto writer Derek Hayes’ debut collection, focuses on people who run afoul of the dictates of polite society. • Also from Thistledown, Britt Holmström’s Leaving Berlin ($18.95 pa., Sept.) examines contemporary women in both Canadian and European settings.

The fine print: Q&Q’s fall preview covers books published between July 1 and Dec. 31, 2011. All information (titles, prices, publication dates, etc.) was supplied by publishers and may have been tentative at Q&Q’s press time. • Titles that have appeared in previous previews do not appear here.

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Eva Stachniak's Empress of the Night

Eva Stachniak poses with a copy of her book, Empress of the Night

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Eva Stachniak talks to the audience about the best and worst of Catherine the Great's favourites

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