Thursday, April 28, 2011

Book News Vol. 6 No. 17


Incite @ VPL

Coming up in May, we are offering two installments of Incite in one week! A special Incite on May 9 features Bernhard Schlink, author of The Reader, reading from his new novel The Weekend, and on Wednesday, May 11 Zsuzsi Gartner discusses her latest book, Better Living Through Plastic Explosives, and singer-songwriter Sylvia Tyson reads from her debut novel, Joyner's Dream.

Reviews from the recent Incite event with Joyce Carol Oates and Johanna Skibsrud:
Remarkable, courageous and generous reading. Thank you!
A wonderful evening in every way.
A true thrill to hear Joyce Carol Oates-a rare treat. Thank you.

Admission is free
Alice MacKay room, Central Library

Let us know you're coming by registering here, Please note that registration is so that we know how many people to expect. Admission on the night is always on a first-come-first-served basis.


Elizabeth Hay & Miriam Toews - May 5, 2011
Two of Canada's most acclaimed and beloved writers will discuss their new books, Alone in the Classroom and Irma Voth. Details:

Elaine Kalman Naves, writing of Miriam Toews's Irma Voth, says that in this compelling and beautiful novel, an authentic voice shows increasing range and maturity.

Kelly Patterson says that Elizabeth Hay's new novel, Alone in the Classroom is a multilayered tale, the novel at once a love story, a murder mystery and a journey into the darkest chambers of the human heart.

Steven Brown writes that Alone in the Classroom is a rich story of human relationships.

A Dram Come True - May 13, 2011
There are still tickets available for A Dram Come True but they are going fast! Join us for a scintillating evening of scotch whisky sampling and enjoy a variety of rare and distinguished single malts. "The light music of whiskey falling into a glass - an agreeable interlude." - James Joyce

Mellissa Fung - May 28, 2011
CBC Journalist Mellissa Fung will discuss her soon to be released memoir, Under an Afghan Sky, with Kirk LaPointe. Details:


Established writers and first-timers alike—including Gurjinder Basran, Stephen Collis, John Vaillant, Dan Savard, Maggie de Vries, Julie Flett, and Grant Lawrence, were honoured at a Vancouver gala for the 27th annual BC Book Prizes last week. Vancouver poet George Bowering was presented with the Lieutenant-Governor's Award for Literary Excellence.

Shelagh D. Grant's Polar Imperative: A History of Arctic Sovereignty in North America is one of the five titles nominated for the J.W. Dafoe Book Prize for outstanding non-fiction writing about Canada, Canadians and the nation's role in international affairs.

Pigeon English by Stephen Kelman is among 10 first books longlisted for the £10,000 Desmond Elliott award.

Science fiction has historically been viewed as a male-dominated genre, but four out of five novels in line for this year's Hugo best novel award are by female authors.

Alison Pick's Far to Go and Charles Foran's Mordecai: The Life and Times are among the winners of the 2011 Helen and Stan Vine Canadian Jewish Book Awards.

In an arrangement with The Globe and Mail, the authors of the five books nominated for the 2010/2011 Donner Prize have written short essays touching on the issues they raised in their books.


British Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy has brought together a collection of wedding vows written by leading poets, including one of her own.

Canadian mountain climber and film-maker Pat Morrow is in Greg Mortensen's corner. "No foreign-aid project (I have) documented over the years impressed me more than Mr. Mortenson's efforts," says Morrow.

There are three articles in the New Yorker about l'affaire Mortensen and the building of schools. Peter Hessler, with a Peace Corps background, and a number of thoughtful comments attached to Hessler's article identify a range of issues.

Irish debut novelist Kathleen MacMahon has landed a £600,000 advance from Little, Brown Book Group for So This Is How It Ends, a love story between an American banker and an out-of-work Irish architect. The book will be published next year.

A year ago, an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig killed 11 men and sent millions of gallons of oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico. The Guardian asked eight authors to give their fictional takes on oil.

"Writers should feel guilty for not telling the truth," says Yan Lianke, author of Dream of Ding Village, in an in-depth interview with Clarissa Sebag-Montefiore.

What kind of literature appeals to a global audience and can "direct, unmediated contact" between a writer and their reader survive translation? asks Tim Parks.

The difficulty of translating fiction isn't finding the correct equivalent for each word, writes Helen Stevenson. It is about finding the voice. Translators must read with their ears.

Nobody becomes a writer because of his or her tremendous ease with social interactions and the spontaneity of the spoken word, says Elif Batuman in her reflection on how life changed when she published the hit book, The Possessed.

In an interview with Vit Wagner, Libyan author Hasham Matar insists his novels are not autobiographical, no matter how many apparent parallels exist. And he welcomes the ambiguity now possible in Libya.

Emma Donoghue has written an essay on the need to put a stop to the Mummy Wars. "When it comes to motherhood, our culture can be hugely judgmental."

The author of more than 20 novels, Philip Kerr is best known for the ones featuring his series character Bernie Gunther. Kerr talks to Mark Feeney about Gunther, his alter ego.

How does a poet ensure his work lives forever? It comes down to the durability of your material. Experimental poet Christian Bök is using a 'chemical alphabet' to translate a short verse into a sequence of extremophile DNA.

A young Michael Chabon read that someone had so loved a book he penned his name on the flyleaf—in blood. Chabon at once undertook the same procedure in The Phantom Tollbooth. An anniversary edition will be published this fall.

The literary betrayal of one of Robert Louis Stevenson's fairytales is to be avenged in the first collected edition of the great Scottish writer's little-known Samoan fairytales—which will be out in 2013.


Stella Clarke says, of Geraldine Brooks' new book Caleb's Crossing, "With great empathy and poignancy, a shadowed piece of the past is turned into the light."

Julie Wheelwright explores the long and adventurous life of her distant relative in Esther: Puritan Child, Native Daughter, Mother Superior, in a fascinating portrait of 18th century New England and New France, and the battles over land, religion and hunting.

Mark Medley says that in the Canadian poetry community, Ken Babstock is a rising star, if not a supernova. Some observers are proclaiming Methodist Hatchet, Babstock's latest collection, the frontrunner for next year's Griffin Prize.

Julia Pascal writes that as soon as she had read Janet Malcolm's Iphegenia in Forest Hills, she felt impelled to read it again.

Through the prism of an unhappy marriage, Jane Smiley's Private Life looks at a period from the end of the American Civil War to Pearl Harbour. Its evocation of late 19th-century American domestic life is superb, says Emma Hagestadt.

John Berger tells an anecdote in his new book Bento's Sketchbook which, at face value, is emblematic of his career as combative art critic, radical writer and consistent challenger of institutional power.

The author's father, grandfather, uncle and aunt were assassinated. Fatima Bhutto's Songs of Blood and Sword, says John Dugdale, is more than a detective inquiry into the events of a Jacobean tragedy in which a dynasty is inexorably eliminated.

In her review of Kathleen Winter's Annabel, Leyla Sanai writes "Winter has a strikingly mellifluous voice, and she has created a potent story exploring gender categorisation and humanity."

Francine Prose‘s My New American Life is a twist on the immigrant's tale, with anxiety transformed into compassion, says Susan Salter Reynolds.,0,3121699.story

Earth could use a biography, says Geoffrey Mohan. Tim Flannery has delivered a provocative one in Here on Earth.,0,4826577.story

Lisa Appignanesi's All About Love: Anatomy of an Unruly Emotion is an ambitious dissection of the most intangible human emotion, writes Salley Vickers.

Rudy Wiebe is best known for his historical novels, but he has also been writing short stories. His Collected Stories 1995-2010 is an impressive record of a life of intelligent craftsmanship and moral engagement, says Tom Sandborn.

Anuradha Roy's An Atlas of Impossible Longing convinces us that bold sagas with larger-than-life characters are still possible in a post-modern world, says Marie Arana.

Randy Boyagoda's Beggar's Feast is a rags-to-riches picaresque about the clash of worlds and the revenge of empires. Mark Anthony Jarman says the book is a satirical feast.


Crime Writers of Canada announce the short lists for the Arthur Ellis Award for Canadian Crime Writing, including Best Novel and Best First Novel. Thursday, April 28 at 7:00pm, free. Alma VanDusen room, lower level, Central Library, 350 W. Georgia Street. For more information please contact VPL - Popular Reading Library at 604-331-3691.

Discussion of current issues in crime writing features panelists and authors Kay Stewart, Debra Purdy Kong, David Russell, Melanie Jackson, and Robin Spano. Thursday, April 28 at 7:00pm, free. Alma VanDusen room, Central Library, 350 W. Georgia St. More information at

Writers' event features mini-manuscript consultations, roundtable discussions, professional skills workshops, and guest author readings by Brian Payton, Evelyn Lau, and Gregory Scofield. Friday, April 29. From 10am to 830pm. Free admission. Carnegie Community Centre, 401 Main Street. More information at

Readings by Lee Maracle and Wayde Compton. Friday, April 29 at 7:00pm, free. Rhizome Cafe, 317 East Broadway. More information at

The Vancouver Society of Storytelling presents an evening of storytelling featuring performances by storytellers Sheila Clark, Jane Slemon, Max Tell, and musician Adrian Dyck of the North Shore Sinfonia Orchestra. Sunday, May 1 at 7:00pm. Tickets: $8/$6. Silk Purse Arts Centre, 1570 Argyle Ave., West Vancouver. More information at

Betsy Warland, author of Breathing the Page: Reading the Act of Writing, will discuss her collection of essays about the language and craft of writing. Wednesday, May 4 at 7:00pm, free. Ardea Books & Art, 2025 4th Ave. W. More information at 604-734-2025.

Readings by poet Helen Guri, author of Match and Alan Reid, author of Isobel & Emile. Thursday, May 5 at 7:00pm, free. UBC Library/Bookstore at Robson Square, Plaza Level, 800 Robson St. More information at

Poet launches her new volume Demeter Goes Skydiving. With host Liz Bachinsky and soprano Rachel Landrecht. Saturday, May 7 at 7:00pm. Canadian Memorial Centre for Peace, 1825 W. 16th Ave., Vancouver. More information:


Peggy Herring reads from her debut novel set in Bangladesh and Salt Spring Island. The reading will be accompanied by a slide show by international development photographer Shehzad Noorani. Tuesday, May 10 at 7:00pm, free. Alma VanDusen room, lower level, Central Library, 350 West Georgia Street. More information at 604-331-3691.

Author launches his debut collection of poetry, The Other Side of Ourselves. Saturday, May 14 at 7:00pm, free. Rowan's Roof Restaurant and Lounge, 2340 4th Ave. W.

Two Vancouver authors will give dynamic presentations from historical novels set 1000 years apart. Monday, May 16 at 7:00pm, free. Alma VanDusen room, lower level, Central Library, 350 West Georgia Street. More information at 604-331-3691.

Award-winning science and history writer Robert Whitaker reads. Monday, May 16 at 7:00pm, free. Peter Kaye room, lower level, Central Library, 350 W. Georgia Street. For more information please contact Vancouver Public Library at 604-331-3603.

The author will read from his book On Potato Mountain: a Chilcotin Mystery. Wednesday, May 18 at 6:30pm, free. Firehall Meeting Room, Firehall Branch, 1455 10th Ave. W. For more information please contact Firehall Branch at 604-665-3970.

Author Bob Ross discusses his book The Cucumber Tree: Memories of a Vancouver Boyhood in celebration of the 14th Annual Dunbar Salmonberry Days festival. Wednesday, May 18 at 6:30pm, free. Dunbar Branch, 4515 Dunbar Street, Vancouver. More information at 604-665-3968.

Author reads from his new graphic novel, Paying For It, a contemporary defense of the world's oldest profession. Wednesday, May 18 at 7:00pm, free. Alice MacKay room, lower level, Central Library, 350 W. Georgia St. For more information please contact Vancouver Public Library at 604-331-3603.

Six Orca authors celebrate the release of their books for young readers. Wednesday, May 18 at 7:00pm, free. Ardea Books & Art, 2025 4th Ave. W. More information at 604-734-2025.

Join Shari Graydon and other contributors to the new anthology, I Feel Great About My Hands, a collection of stories from remarkable women who revel in the joys of aging. Wednesday, May 18 at 7:00pm, free. Alma VanDusen room, lower level, Central Library, 350 W. Georgia St. For more information please contact Vancouver Public Library at 604-331-3603.

The CBC Studio One Book Club presents three of B.C.'s hottest garden bloggers with new books - Andrea Bellamy with Sugar Snaps and Strawberries and Christina Symons & John Gillespie with Everyday Eden. Thursday, May 19th, 6:30 pm, at the CBC Broadcast Centre. Free tickets

Reading and discussion by the author of First Contact. Thursday, May 19 at 7:00pm, free. Alma VanDusen & Peter Kaye Rooms, Lower Level
Central Library, 350 West Georgia Street. For more information please contact Vancouver Public Library at 604-331-3603.

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