Thursday, February 9, 2012

Book News Vol. 7 No. 3




Pico Iyer will appear in a special Incite event on February 20 at the Improv Centre on Granville Island. Admission is by donation. Details:

Pico Iyer travels widely in his thoughtful and compelling The Man Within My Head, writes Ronald Wright. At once biography, memoir, travelogue, literary criticism and personal meditation, this is a tale of fathers and sons, real and assumed.

Pico Iyer once referred to himself as "a global village on two legs." It's a fitting description, writes Scott London in this engaging interview.

Artists are haunted by their mentors, writes Justin Moyer. For Pico Iyer, one forebear looms so large that he's written The Man Within My Head. "An adopted father can never die," says Iyer. "That's one of the great advantages he has over a real one."

At the next Incite on February 22, Ojibway author Richard Wagamese reads from Indian Horse, Anne DeGrace reads from Flying with Amelia and Robert Hough shares his latest work Dr. Brinkley's Tower. Details: Also appearing at Incite in the next few months are Linden MacIntyre, Will Ferguson, Anakana Schofield, Richard Stursberg, John Boyne, Yasuko Thanh and Buffy Cran, among others.

Richard Ford
Pulitzer Prize and PEN/Faulkner Award-winning author Richard Ford appears with his latest novel, Canada. Details:


Adam Mars-Jones has won the Hatchet Job Award for the year's most lacerating review. Mars-Jones especially condemned Michael Cunningham's novel By Nightfall for its Thoughts about Art.

Victoria writer Deborah Willis is the 2012 writer-in-residence at the Joy Kogawa House until April 15.


TD Canadian Children's Book Week takes place May 5-12, 2012. Close to 35,000 children, teens and adults will participate in activities held in every province and territory with presentations from a wide variety of touring authors, illustrators and storytellers.

Those interested in hosting an author, illustrator or storyteller during Book Week should contact the Book Week Coordinator in their local area.

Joyce Barkhouse, the Nova Scotia-based children's author of Pit Pony, her most popular book, has died, aged 98. Barkhouse's other books include Anna's Pet, which she co-wrote with her niece, Margaret Atwood.


The Nunavut Literacy Council has published the book Just One Goal, by Canadian children's author Robert Munsch, in both Inuktitut and Inuinnaqtun. It is the third book by Munsch that the Council has had translated.

Indigo has joined the growing boycott of books published by

A marathon celebration of Charles Dickens' 200th birthday kicked off in Australia, then in Korea, Syria and the United Arab Emirates.

Claire Tomalin, who wrote a biography of the novelist, has written a letter to Charles Dickens on his 200th birthday.

NBC Publishing plans to produce electronic and print books under the NBC brand. Its approach to books will be digital-first.

Bernard Schlink, author of the novel that formed the basis of the acclaimed drama The Reader, filed suit in Los Angeles Superior Court this week, claiming The Weinstein Co. has cheated him out of millions in profits from the Oscar-winning film.

After Turkey's Prime Minister Erdogan called the American novelist 'ignorant', Paul Auster reiterated his protest against the country's free speech prohibitions. Auster, whose books are very popular in Turkey, told Turkish paper Hurriyet that he refused to visit Turkey because of imprisoned journalists and writers.

Readers longing for more on Sherlock Holmes and haven't yet found/ read Anthony Horowitz' The House of Silk, may receive some comfort from Michael Dirda's most recent article on the Baker Street Irregulars.

A Penguin Books poll to mark the 200th anniversary of the author's birth reveals Ebenezer Scrooge from A Christmas Carol as the most popular Dickens character.

Bill Sikes and Scrooge are among the most well-known characters in English literature but rather than being figments of Charles Dickens' imagination, their names were derived from real people–and new research has pinpointed the writer's sources of inspiration.

The New Yorker includes Going Home, a poem by Leonard Cohen.

A new book of poems by Nobel Prize winner Wislawa Szymborska, who died at the age of 88 on 1 February, will be published this year.

One of the most famous practical jokes in British military history has returned to haunt the Royal Navy, involving Horace de Vere Cole and five friends in disguise, including the novelist Virginia Woolf and painter Duncan Grant.

A recipient of the Pulitzer Prize and a MacArthur Fellowship, Katherine Boo has only now published her first book. Behind the Beautiful Forevers is a true story of Annawadi, a Mumbai shantytown, the result of intensive, immersive observation over the course of four years.

Prompted by the arrest of the hero of Dave Eggers' award-winning nonfiction book Zeitoun, Carolyn Kellogg asks: How much does someone risk when agreeing to become the subject of a book?

SF Site offers the annual chance to let the world know what readers thought was the best of all the speculative reading material encountered from the past year. Eligibility and voting details are here:

Geoff Dyer and Anna Baddeley discuss the role of criticism, as well as their intentions when they set up The Hatchet Job of the Year, a new literary prize for the best scathing book review.

Shalom Auslander's Hope: A Tragedy is a blisteringly funny first novel that mocks mankind mercilessly for perpetually looking on the bright side, writes Greg Quill. It proposes, with an incisive and perversely appealing logic, that hopelessness is our only real chance of survival.

Mother Tongue Publishing's second annual Search for the Great B.C. Novel contest has been announced.

The deadline for entries to the Geist Postcard Story Contest is February 15, 2012. Contest submissions guidelines and Postcard FAQs can be found on the Geist website.


In Julian Barnes' The Defence of the Book, marking National Libraries Day, Barnes has added an extra scene to his 1998 satire England, England. Here he imagines what happens when the 'National Coalition' closes down every library.

What attracts us to literature? The act of reading is the act of seeking a connection. "Graham Greene was never a writer I dreamed of becoming", writes Pico Iyer. And yet there is a connection to Iyer's The Man Within My Head.

In The Ice Balloon, Alec Wilkinson gives an exhilarating account of an ill-fated Arctic expedition, writes Emily Donaldson, with a finely nuanced portrait of a unique race of men—the Victorian-era Arctic explorers—and the age that produced them.

In an essay about her cultural history of the diary of Anne Frank, Francine Prose says she had never imagined that so many readers had maintained such a fiercely personal relationship with the young diarist. Two new books reinforce Frank's lasting power.

He had the world at his paws, earning $1,000 a week, says Susan Orlean in Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend, which takes place in the turn of the 20th century, when millions of animals were deployed in war.

The Last Holiday: A Memoir by Gil Scott-Heron is a riveting memoir veering from heart-rending revelations to wisecracks and street poetry, writes Margaret Busby. The result is a riveting read that is, like its author, unpredictable, eccentric, funny and compassionate.

Christopher de Bellaigue's Patriot of Persia: Muhammad Mossadegh and a Very British Coup is a fascinating biography of a 1950s Persian nobleman and politician that explains much of Iran's antipathy towards Britain, writes Lindsey Hilsum, A timely book, says Hilsum.

In Barry Unsworth's Sacred Hunger, the crew of a slave ship mutinies and establishes an egalitarian community in the Florida swamps. The Quality of Mercy continues where Sacred Hunger left off, offering a broader social picture, says Richard Rayner.,0,2373230.story

Robert Harris' The Fear Index is a perfect exemplar of the species "taut thriller", writes Andrew Leonard: a book whose pages cannot be turned fast enough; a mystery with just a dash of science fiction.

Wael Ghonim's emergence as an accidental insurrectionist forms the heart of Revolution 2.0: The Power of the People Is Greater Than the People in Power. Ghonim offers a sharply detailed look from the inside of an uprising, writes Scott Martelle.,0,3652645.story

Douglas Gibson is a legend in Canadian publishing, writes Nancy Schiefer. Stories About Storytellers is the perfect title for Douglas Gibson's account of his career, she says. The book is witty and informative, its stable of authors chosen to intrigue the reader.

Brian Fawcett's Human Happiness is tricky and slightly disturbing, a wolf in sheep's clothing, writes André Alexis, deeply moving and well written: funny, wicked, snide and memorable. Human Happiness has a number of interesting books entombed within it, says Alexis.


Coauthors BJ McHugh and Bob Nixon talk about McHugh's story of how she became the world's fastest senior long-distance runner. Registration required. Thursday, February 9 at 7:00pm, free. Lynn Valley Main Library, 1277 Lynn Valley Road, North Vancouver. More information at 604-984-0286.

Evening of fast-paced reviews of recommended crime and mystery novels from around the world. Thursday, February 9 at 7:00pm, free. McGill branch, Burnaby Public Library, 4595 Albert Street. More information at

Poets E.D. Blodgett and Susan McCaslin will be reading from their recent volumes of poetry. Thursday, February 9 at 7:00pm, free. Cadboro Bay Book Company, 3840B Cadboro Bay Road, Victoria. More information at

The Writers Studio at Simon Fraser University presents an evening of storytelling and poetry from talented local writers. This month's feature artists are Dennis Bolen and Soressa Gardner. Friday, February 10 at 7:00pm. Take 5 Caf, 429 Granville Street.

Launch of the new book on Stan Douglas's translucent photo-mural in the atrium of Vancouver's Woodward's complex, and the story of the 1971 Gastown Riot. Friday, February 10 at 7:30pm, free. READ Books, Charles H. Scott Gallery, Emily Carr University, 1399 Johnston Street. More information at

Evening of erotic spoken-word performances by C.R. Avery, Mike Mcgee, and Jamie Dewolf. Also features dancing from Sweet Soul Burlesque and a dirty-haiku battle. Friday, February 10 at 8:30pm. Tickets: $15 at the door/$12 in advance at Rio Theatre, 1660 E. Broadway.

Federation of BC Writers is hosting a membership drive with featured readings by Ian Weir, Trevor Carolan, Pam Galloway, Calvin Wharton, S.R. Duncan, Dennis Bolen, and Sylvia Taylor. All memberships are discounted at the event. Saturday, February 11 at 1pm-4pm. Backstage room, Heritage Grill, 447 Columbia Street, New Westminster. More information at

Author reads from Cinder, the first novel in the Lunar Chronicles series. Saturday, February 11 at 2:00pm. Chapters Metrotown, 4700 Kingsway, Burnaby. More information at 604-431-0463.

Launch of the new anthology with readings from Peter Trower, Daniela Elza, Susan McCaslin, Elsie Neufeld, Berenice Freedome, Jocelyn Pitsch, Meg Torwl, Leanne Dunic, Lenore Rowntree, and Robin Susanto. Sunday, February 12 at 3:00pm. Tickets: $15 (includes wine and chocolate). Historic Joy Kogawa House, 1450 64th Ave. W. RSVP to

Urban ink productions presents a night of beats, love, and spoken word featuring Kia Kadiri and David Morin. Sunday, February 12 at 7:00pm. Tickets: $10 at W2 Media Cafe, 111 W. Hastings.

The Popular Reading department of the Vancouver Library is planning two sessions of it's successful prgram. Monday, February 13 for 35-55 year olds, and Wednesday, February 15 for ages 55+. Alice MacKay room, lower level, Central Library, 350 W. Georgia Street. For complete details and registration, phone 604-331-3687.

Jennifer Kramer will sign copies of the catalogue written to accompany the exhibition Kesu': The Art and Life of Doug Cranmer. Tuesday, February 14 at 4:00pm. Museum of Anthropology, UBC, 6393 NW Marine Drive. More information at

An evening of conversation with Metis writers and filmmakers Warren Cariou and Marie Clements. Wednesday, February 15 at 5:00pm, free. Graham House, Green College UBC, 6201 Cecil Green Park Road.

Readings by Steve Burgess (Who Killed Mom?) and Daniel Griffin (Stopping for Strangers). Thursday, February 16 at 7:00pm, free. UBC Bookstore/Library at Robson Square, 800 Robson Street. More information at

Reading by Sharon Thesen, author of The Serial Poems. Saturday, February 18 at 8:00pm. Cost: $5/pay what you can. 3966 Ontario Street, Vancouver. More information at 604-879-5200.


Some of Canada's top spoken word artists go head to head! Part of the Talking Stick Festival. Wednesday, February 22 at 8pm. Pay what you can or by donation. Cafe Deux Soleils, 2096 Commercial Drive. More information at

Hear author Marusya Bociurkiw read from from her new book Feeling Canadian: Television, Nationalism and Affect and join in the discussion. Thursday, February 23 at 7:30pm, free. Rhizome Cafe, 317 E. Broadway.

Third annual literary festival featuring George Bowering, Patrick Friesen, Susan Juby, Rhea Tregebov and many others. February 24-26, 2012. Galiano Island. More information at

Panel discussions, author talks, and workshops on constructing plot, writing for social media, and writing for children. Saturday, February 25 at 11am, free. Surrey Public Library City Centre, 103350 University Drive, Surrey. More information at

A reading of Paul Seesequasis' Tobacco Wars and excerpts from freshly created writings will be shared by Paul Seesequasis and the Aboriginal Writers Collective West Coast. Monday, February 27 at 7:30pm. Tickets: $18/$15/$14. The Vancity Culture Lab, 1895 Venables Street. More information at

Eva Stachniak, author of The Winter Palace, is coming to the CBC Studio One Book Club on Monday February 27! Her new historical novel tells the epic story of Catherine the Great's improbable rise to power as seen through the ever-watchful eyes of a servant. The story is told in dazzling detail, impeccably researched, awash with the scandals and secrets of the Russian Imperial court. Win free tickets at

Paul Seesequasis, Alex Jacobs, and Janet Rogers read from their new works. Thursday, March 1 at 8:00pm. Pay what you can or by donation. Rhizome Cafe, 317 East Broadway. More information at

Eleventh annual Words on the Water Festival featuring Gurjinder Basran, Trevor Herriot, Daphne Marlatt, Garry Thomas Morse and others. March 23-24, 2012. Tickets on sale starting February 1. Maritime Heritage Centre, Campbell River. Details at

Second annual festival and poetry slam championship. April 23-28, 2012. Registration deadlines and complete details here:

Three days of poetry, song and storytelling featuring Carolyn Forche', Tony Hoagland and many others. May 17-20, 2012. La Conner, WA. Complete information at

The author will talk about his new novel In One Person on Friday, May 18th, 2012 at 7:30 pm at the North Shore Credit Union Centre for the Performing Arts. Capilano University, 2055 Purcell Way, North Vancouver. Ticket price of $30 includes a copy of the new novel available for pick up at the event. More information at 604.990.7810 or

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