Thursday, July 11, 2013

Book News Vol. 8 No. 22



Neil Gaiman

On Thursday, August 8, the Vancouver Writers Fest and HarperCollins Canada present the bestselling author of Anansi Boys with his latest novel The Ocean at the End of the Lane. Event details:

A shift in the nature of things lies at the heart of Neil Gaiman's The Ocean at the End of the Lane, writes AS Byatt, beginning with that feared disaster of childhood, the birthday party to which no one came. "I remember my childhood vividly" Gaiman says, "I knew terrible things. But I knew I mustn't let adults know I knew. It would scare them," quotes Byatt.


Indian Summer
I Don't Want to Choose July 13th 6pm, SFU's Goldcorp Centre for the Arts
Spend an evening with two creative minds as they engage in a conversation about hybridity. Deepa Mehta works across geography and genres and occupies a unique place in the Canadian film landscape. Booker Prize nominee Jeet Thayil switches between registers and countries, as a poet, novelist, librettist and musician. Both transnational creators refuse to be pinned down by the question "where are you from"?

2013 Vancouver Short Film Festival: Call for Submissions Announcement
BC short filmmakers! The 4th Annual Vancouver Short Film Festival is accepting entries until August 1. Students, recent grads, and professional filmmakers can submit films and videos, the shorter the better! Last year, 29 short films were screened, and over $15,000 in prizes were awarded to BC filmmakers. More info at


Six members of BC's arts, culture, and heritage community are among the latest appointments to the Order of Canada; the list includes three authors: Robert Bringhurst, Patrick Lane, and Frederick James Wah.

Five English-language finalists have been chosen in CBC's Canada Writes competition for creative nonfiction. The finalists are: Terri Favro for Icarus, Matthew Hooton for This Tongue, Jenny Manzer for The Boy with the Galloping Heart, Linda Rosenbaum for Wolf Howling at Moon, and Mohan Srivastava for The Gods of Scrabble.

Utah-born author Tope Folarin considers himself part of the "Nigerian diaspora," a connection strong enough to earn him the Caine Prize for African Writing for his short story, Miracle.,0,7577486.story

PEN announces the shortlists and judges for the 2013 PEN Literary Awards.


As anyone who has visited Tadoussac (Quebec) can attest, whale watching requires patience and a sharp eye. As Julie Fogliano's If You Want to See a Whale relates, you'll also need a window and a small boy perched on a stool. If you want to see a whale, it's a good idea to pick a chair that isn't too comfy so you won't fall asleep—"and whales won't wait for watching." For ages 3 and up.

Kenneth Oppel's This Dark Endeavour grips you right from the first page, writes Craig Foster, age 12. The prequel to Mary Shelley's gothic classic Frankenstein, this book delivers the thrills, no matter how old you are, says Foster. Ages 12 and over.

We've had our share of rainy days in Vancouver, so it's possible the grumpy old man in Linda Ashman's new book Rain! will be met with sympathy, at least from grown-ups reading Rain! aloud to their preschoolers. Text is minimal in this picture book, which owes most of its success to the illustrator's cut-paper collage work and colourful images. For ages 3 to 6.


Beloved and acclaimed Quebec novelist GaƩtan Soucy has died.

Reading is not a 'natural' activity. Telling stories may be part of how we understand and make sense of the world, but we can do that orally, says Sir John Terry, commenting on children missing out on the joys of a good book, says a new survey. Is children's reading a casualty of modern life?

When Audrey Niffenegger's The Time Traveler's Wife became a global bestseller, it was an atypical debut-novel success. With a CV in the visual arts, Niffenegger had produced several limited-edition visual books and has maintained a steady output of graphic literature, most of it sharing elements of the novels' unique esthetic. The newest example, an illustrated fable for adults, is Raven Girl.

University of Manchester Professor Maggie Gale found there were a higher proportion of plays by women at significant points throughout the 20th century than in 2013. Women playwrights are much more commercially successful than most people realize. The drive to secure votes for women inspired a host of plays by female writers determined to fight their cause through drama and comedy.

Farewell Alice Munro, and thank you, says Jane Smiley in her tribute to the Canadian writer, retiring at 82. That Munro titled her last volume Dear Life could not have been a surprise to her readers. Jane Smiley says that Munro
is the only author whose writings are so vivid that she has occasionally mistaken incidents in her stories for memories of her own past.

Dr. Jose Luis Galache, an astronomer at the International Astronomical Union's Minor Planets Center (MPC) in Cambridge, Massachusetts, arranged a name change for an asteroid discovered in 1985 in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, now renamed "Iainbanks." Banks' Culture series of sci-fi novels often featured hollowed-out asteroids called "Rocks" used for living quarters and faster than light travel.


David H.T. Wong's Escape to Gold Mountain, A Graphic History of the Chinese in North America, tells the story of every immigrant: the collective story of the thousands of Chinese who came to North America over the past 100 years, making incredible sacrifices in order to give the next generation a better life.

John Boyko's Blood and Daring says that the American Civil War provided the flame that helped turn a nice idea into a strategic necessity, writes Emily Donaldson. Approximately 40,000 Canadians and Maritimers fought in the war. Two now-obscure figures—a fugitive slave and a cross-dressing nurse—are the book's liveliest and most interesting, says Donaldson.

Eugen Ruge's novel about East Berlin, translated into English by Anthea Bell, is unlikely to have the same impact on a readership that doesn't experience Ostalgie: nostalgia for aspects of life in East Germany. But it
might provoke nostalgia of a different kind by painting a microcosmic portrait of an age—a genre at which English novelists used to thrive, writes Leo Robson.

Her parents jailed, her uncle killed, and innumerable prisoners executed by Iran's Islamic Republic in the 1980s: it's not known how many were killed because they were placed in mass graves." says Sahar Delijani. In an interview with Laura Barnett, she tells how the painful episode became her first novel, Children of the Jacaranda Tree.

Craig Taylor wanted to gorge on Canadian books by reading through a memorable bookshelf and bring together unlikely partners: Morley Callaghan's That Summer in Paris sharing DNA with Sheila Heti's How Should A Person Be? for example. When you live abroad for years, it's easy to be seduced by the corporate representations of Canada, says Taylor.

The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics is a stirring sports saga and a trenchant social history. Rowing, writes Daniel James Brown, "is a work of art, an expression of the human spirit." "I've never rowed a stroke in my life," writes Alex Hutchinson, adding "but I was right there with them."

Gerbrand Bakker's The Detour was first published in 2010, the same year he became the first Dutch writer to win the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, for The Twin. Moving into a dead woman's home is just the beginning of creepy occurrences in this page-turner, writes Emily Donaldson. The ending is no less powerful or disturbing for our having anticipated it.

In The Miracles of Ordinary Men, Amanda Leduc has assembled characters who seek meaning in their lives. Sam Connor, an English teacher, and Lilah Green, a secretary, both struggle to find a purpose in life. The miracles place the novel firmly in the realm of magic realism. The novel is unsettling and that's fitting, says Candace Fertile.

In The Breakwater Book of Contemporary Newfoundland Poetry, edited by Mark Callanan and James Langer, a reader will discover only eleven poets included. E.J. Pratt was primarily a narrative poet, and much of the work follows his example, says Troy Jollimore. The sense of life as endurance and survival may account for the frequent employment of images of death, writes Jollimore.

Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury's dystopian classic about censorship, was the temperature at which paper burns. Today, we should be just as concerned about Fahrenheit 72: text can now be obliterated in a moment at room temperature. Civil libertarians and consumer advocates call it "digital book-burning": censoring, erasing, altering or restricting access to books in electronic formats. There is a worrisome trend as we've moved to the cloud.

Vikram Seth, author of A Suitable Boy, has missed his deadline for its long-awaited sequel—A Suitable Girl—prompting speculation he may have to return his advance. A Suitable Boy, which celebrated its 20th anniversary last week, spent 28 weeks on international best-seller lists. It also caused a stir over its size, nearly 1,500 pages, one of the largest novels ever published.


BC launch of Tim Bowling's poetry collection, Selected Poems. Also reading is novelist Theresa Shea, author of The Unfinished Child. Thursday, July 11 at 7:00pm. Ladner Pioneer Library, 4683 51st Street, Ladner. More information at 604-946-6215.

An evening of readings by four local authors: Anita Miettunen, Margo Bates, Kempton Dexter and Ron Kearse. Friday, July 12 at 7:00pm. People's Co-op Bookstore, 1391 Commercial Drive, Vancouver.

Biologist Rupert Sheldrake discusses his new book Science Set Free and its implications for physics, biology, and healing. Friday, July 12 at 7:00pm. Tickets: $20 at the door. Canadian Memorial United Church, 15th and Burrard, Vancouver.

Featuring Gerrit Achterberg (read by Christopher Levenson), Ingeborg Bachman (read by Cathy Stonehouse), Anne Hebert (read by Thoung Vuong-Riddick), Yasunari Kawabata (read by Joanne Arnott), and Yehuda Amichai (read by Dvora Levin). Sunday, July 14 at 3:00pm. Admission by donation. Project Space, 222 East Georgia Street, Vancouver.

Evening of poetry features Manolis Aligizakis reciting Neruda's epic poem "The Heights of Macchu Picchu". Includes additional recitations by Candice James, Deborah L. Kelly, Gavin Hainsworth, and Janet Kvammen. Tuesday, July 16 at 6:30pm. New Westminster Public Library, 716 6th AVe., New Westminster.

Weekly series (until August 29) with featured poets and an open mic. Hosted by Candice James. Wednesday, July 17 at 6:30pm, free. Queens Park Bandshell, New Westminster. More information at

Evening of tall tales and history features Vancouver Maritime Museum curator Patricia Owen, tattoo artist Chris Hold, photographer and social biographer Kathryn Mussallem, and Charles H. Scott Gallery curator Cate Rimmer. Thursday, July 18 at 6:30pm. Tickets: $20 at Vancouver Maritime Museum, 1905 Ogden, Vanier Park.

Daniela Elza will feature with open mic. Readings in the first half of the evening. Writing in the second half. Thursday, July 18 at 7:00pm. Old Crow Cafe, Gabriola Island. More information at or 250-247-0117.

In partnership with Academie Duello, Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival presents an evening of words and swordplay in celebration of the Canadian release of C.C. Humphrey's latest novel Shakespeare's Rebel. Monday, July 22 at 7:00pm. Tickets: $10. Bard on the Beach, Vanier Park, 1000 Chestnut.

Features poets Miranda Pearson and Robert Martens with open mic. Thursday, July 25 at 7:00pm. Suggested donation at the door: $5. The Cottage Bistro, 4468 Main Street, Vancouver. More information at

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