Monday, March 31, 2014

Kathy Page at Incite Vancouver


Just a quick note to remind you that Biblioasis author Kathy Page will be appearing with Doretta Lau and Eva Stachniak this Wednesday April 2nd at Incite Vancouver. It's the first official event for Paradise & Elsewhere (though she launches later in Vancouver on April 29th, in Salt Spring on May 1st, and in Toronto May 27-28th at the Eh-List). Incite's events are always great. If you're in Vancouver, check it out!

7:30pm on Wednesday, April 2, 2014
Admission is free
Alice MacKay room, Central Library

The Writers

Doretta Lau is a journalist who covers arts and culture for Artforum InternationalSouth China Morning PostThe Wall Street Journal Asia, and LEAP. Her fiction and poetry have appeared in Day OneEventGrain MagazinePrairie FirePRISM InternationalRicepapersub-TERRAIN, and Zen Monster. In 2013, she was a finalist for the Writers’ Trust of Canada / McClelland & Stewart Journey Prize. She splits her time between Vancouver and Hong Kong, where she is at work on a novel and a screenplay.
The stories of How Does a Single Blade of Grass Thank the Sun? present an updated and whimsical new take on what it means to be Canadian. Lau’s stories feature the children and grandchildren of immigrants, transnational adoptees and multiracial adults who came of age in the 1990s—all struggling to find a place in the Western world and using the only language they know to express their hopes, fears and expectations.
Kathy Page is the author of seven novels, including Alphabet, a Governor General's Award finalist in 2005, and The Story of My Face, longlisted for the Orange Prize in 2002, as well as many short stories, previously collected in As In Music. She recently co-edited In the Flesh, a collection of personal essays about the human body, and has written for television and radio. Born in the UK, Kathy has lived on Salt Spring Island since 2001.
Paradise and Elsewhere
In the beginning there was a garden. Or was it an island? A bargain? Certainly there was sex. In these mythical, magical stories Kathy Page parts company from traditional wisdom to blaze a new trail through the wild, lush, half-fantastic and half-real terrain of origin stories.
Eva Stachniak was born in Wrocław, Poland. Her debut novel, Necessary Lies, won the Books in Canada First Novel Award in 2000. Her first novel based on the life of Catherine the Great, The Winter Palace, has been a bestseller in Canada, Poland and Germany. Stachniak lives in Toronto, where she is at work on her next novel.
In Empress of the Night, Catherine the Great takes center stage as she relives her astonishing ascension to the throne, her rule over an empire, and the sacrifices that made her the most feared and commanding woman of her time. Gorgeously written with vivid detail and lyrical prose, Stachniak’s novel is an intensely intimate portrayal of a woman in charge of her fortunes, who must navigate the sorrows, triumphs, and hopes of both her soul and a nation.

Down the Rabbit Hole

Hello, all, and happy Monday. This weekend the Rover ran a review of Andrew Steinmetz's This Great Escape (appropriately timed, since only a week ago veterans were celebrated the 70th anniversary of the historical break out of Stalag III). "Steinmetz’s fragments are gripping, moving and funny," observes Kit Jenkins, and on the whole he describes Andrew's biography of Michael Paryla as "a stellar book. This Great Escape is a must-read." For the full review—or heck, just for a good time—visit the Rover.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Biblioasis Nominated for Two Libris Awards

Dear Friends,

We're delighted to announce that yesterday the Retail Council of Canada twice recognized Biblioasis in yesterday's nominations for the Libris Awards, which honour outstanding achievement in the Canadian books industry. 

The Libris Awards, presented annually, are the premier book industry awards in Canada, and all are nominated and voted on by members of the bookselling community. For the first time in our history, as we approach our tenth anniversary in Fall 2014, Biblioasis has been longlisted for Small Press Publisher of the Year; we're also thrilled to see Biblioasis fiction editor John Metcalf in consideration for Editor of the Year. (The latter is especially appreciated, as Mr. Metcalf is the only editor from a small press to receive a nomination.)

The longlists will be voted on by book industry members, and shortlists will be released in April. The winners will be announced at the Libris Awards Gala taking place on June 2, 2014. For more information, or for the complete longlist, please consult the Retail Councilwebsite. (If you're interested in attending the Gala you may also reserve tickets here.)

Last but not least, a note from us to you, whether you be readers, booksellers, media professionals, authors, friends, or family. We thank you from the bottoms of our hearts for the support you've shown us as we've grown; we look forward very much to working with you in 2014 and beyond.

Yours sincerely,

Dan, Tara, Chris, Kate, and Jesse,
Biblioasis.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Beat the Weather with Readings From Anakana Schofield

The official day of Spring has passed and here at the Bibliomanse we're ready to dust the salt off our boots and trade them in for running shoes. If only we could. We are taunted with warmth that quickly turns to cold, snowy days and cabin fever has set in with a vengeance. The only cure I can see is to head to Ireland for some literary festivals that will help thaw our bones.

Award winning Anakana Schofield, author of Malarky, will be appearing at the Cúirt International Festival of Literature on April 11th and the Cork World Book Festival on April 22nd. Can't make it to Ireland? Head to the West coast and join Anakana at Okanagan College on March 27th. She will be reading at the Salmon Arm campus at noon and at the Vernon campus at 7:30 pm. See the poster below for more details.

What's better to beat the chill than 100 proof literature?


Thursday, March 20, 2014

Cynthia Flood in LRC; Sonia Tilson in Ninnau

Two reviews in the past week that are hard to come by online: one, a piece in the Welsh-American newspaper Ninnau & Y Drych, for Sonia Tilson's The Monkey Puzzle Tree, and another for Cynthia Flood's Red Girl Rat Boy in The Literary Review of Canada. Here's what Bob Roser had to say about Sonia's book: "I read several [passages] to my wife Cindy, who was very struck by the language ... The writing is flawless and I found myself drawn in from the beginning by the storytelling." It was also nice to get a more academic treatment of RGRB, with Joel Deshaye of Canadian Literature commenting on Cynthia's use of the politics of mythology (plus an entertaining digression on Rob Ford). Here's his conclusion:
Like metaphors, myths are nearly everywhere. Red Girl Rat Boy tells us
that metaphor and myth are not separate from the so-called real world, but
that they help to define its politics. And while critics may treat the words and
actions of politicians with skepticism, Flood treats most of her characters nonjudgementally—a gesture of respect for them and for her readers.
Happy Thursday, everyone. If you're in Toronto don't forget to check out our poetry panel tonight at Ben McNally books; apparently last night in Montreal was a blast.


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

What We Talk About When We Talk About Poetry: A Preview

"What is obvious to the music nerds in one scene of High Fidelity—that latter-day Stevie Wonder is laughable—isn't always so obvious to readers when faced with the wobbly wonders of the poetry world. The subculture simply hasn't evolved, as pop music has, a collective taste that can be counted on to parse the truly cool from the humorously bland. Only a few scattered critics stubbornly insist on holding court, which is to say putting their own careers on trial with every opinion they hand down. Is this foolishness?"
 When We Talk About (say it)
"I believe a review should offer some indication of what it was like to be at the author's mercy for however many pages the experience lasted. But more often than I expected, I found myself trying to extract a confession. What did the reviewer really feel about the book? Would he or she recommend it if asked? If our contributor remained coy, we were left with a noncommittal description of poems that "evoke," "provoke," "reflect," or "interlace" this with that—to what effect we were left to guess—the kind of report that gives credit neither to the book's author nor its potential readers; prose as boring to read as it must have been to write."
Poetry (anyway)
"While I’ve been decried as snarky by a few who’d prefer us all to sing Kumbaya and save the sniping for privates convos, and while I’ve had everything from my psychological well-being to my motives to my manly bits questioned, my actual motivation comes from nothing so much as a yen for a good scrum. I’m with Angela Carter, who said that a day without an argument is like an egg without salt. (I prefer pepper, myself.)"

Roll Call: 

Montreal
March 19 at 7:30 p.m. at The Word Bookstore, 469 Milton St.

Toronto
March 20 at 6:30 p.m. at Ben McNally Books, 366 Bay St.

Hamilton
March 21 at 6:30 p.m. at McMaster University, Council Chambers, Gilmour Hall, Room 111

Windsor
March 22 at 4:30 p.m. at Biblioasis, 1520 Wyandotte St. East

Bring tha ruckus. 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Tours Elegy

If all knowledge is recollection, if the play
of sunlight on a wall, an uneven paving stone,
the curve of a narrow street one followed
without a thought in mind, if
anything could tear
the soul from sleep and you
could feel it in yourself, strange
and pounding with impatience, as Ficino said
in his commentary on The Banquet, if all
becomes allegory, where does that leave us,
and in what time?


 

From "Tours Elegy," a beautiful poem by Quebec poet Robert Melançon, author of For As Far As the Eye Can See, translated by Montreal writer Donald McGrath, and posted on the translation blog earlier today.





Friday, March 14, 2014

Hysteric


In front of your screen that week, I had a thought for those married couples who have lost all desire for each other and seek consolation by cycling through website after website in the comfort of their homes. At no time in front of your screen did I think of the two of us. I preferred my computer to yours, since with mine the images would appear, very slowly and by small increments from top to bottom, like a striptease, while your high-speed system threw everything in our faces all at once. The pictures overwhelmed us, we needed a few seconds to stare at the screen before we could assemble the pieces of female nudity and make a whole from the parts. Sometimes we’d see floating body parts that didn’t seem to belong to any of the girls and we tried to reconstruct the missing protagonist; that took some imagination.

Just a taste of the novel Hysteric by Nelly Arcan, forthcoming from Anvil press this spring, and wonderfully translated by David and Jacob Homel. For those of you who missed it this past Tuesday, an extended excerpt appears on the Biblioasis Translation Blog.

Demystifying the Poetry and Identity Politics of the Great White North





Windsor poet-cum-panel-moderator Robert Earl Stewart talks to Our Windsor's Michael Michalski  about our upcoming poetry criticism event:

"One of the things that’s always up for discussion...is whether or not Canadian poetry is too Canadian, too in love with its own provincial sensitivities and sense of identity such as the pervasive Man vs. Nature theme featured in a lot of Canadian poetry, whether the poetry be historical or contemporary...The point (the panelists) make about this brand of Canadian nature poetry is one I tend to agree with: that it’s distinctive because it’s not very interesting. Which is not to say there are no interesting Canadian poets. Far from it. It’s just that the interesting ones have managed to transcend our literary fascination with the whole ‘True North Strong and Free’ ethos of surviving in the wilds against all odds. Though, for better or worse for poetry’s sake, it’s part of our heritage.”

What We Talk About When We Talk About Poetry, with Zachariah Wells, Anita Lahey, Jason Guriel and Robert Earl Stewart takes place @ Biblioasis Bookstore, Saturday March 22nd, 4:30PM. 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Celebrate Poetry Month Early with Zach Wells & Richard Norman!

Dear Haligonians and Dart...mouthians? It's still March, and National Poetry Month is still almost two weeks away, but that ain't no thing to the perennial, ardent supporter of verse, is it? No thing at all. So beat the fashion and join Biblioasis and The Bookmark as we celebrate in style an evening of pints and lyric insights at The Company House on Gottingen for the Halifax Launch of Zachariah Wells's Career Limiting Moves and Richard Norman's Zero Kelvin, @ 6PM tonightAnd speaking of ardent supporters of verse, check out the amazing window display for the event courtesy of The Bookmark below!




"The One That Got Away": The NL News on David Mason, The Pope's Bookbinder, and Penny Blacks

There was a nice profile of David Mason's lost stamp episode (The Pope's Bookbinder, 2013) recently in the NL News out of St. John's. How's this for an endearing opening?
When recalling memorable fishing expeditions, for example, we sometimes idealize the trout that escaped our hook. "She was some big, b’y!" we exclaim, extending our arms in a generous if fictitious gesture. Such fish are simply too perfect for this world. Perhaps we should do the honourable thing and add those stories to the tall-tale category. 
David Mason has a story about the one that got away. However, in his case, it was not a fish but, of all things, a postage stamp.
For the full profile click here, and thanks to Burton K. Janes for the write-up.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Cynthia Flood Shortlisted for the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize

Congratulations to Cynthia Flood, whose Red Girl Rat Boy was shortlisted today for the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize. Offered by the B.C. Book Prizes, the Ethel Wilson is awarded annually to the best work of fiction published by a B.C. Author. Also shortlisted are Ashley Little (Anatomy of a Girl Gang, Théodora Armstrong (Clear Skies, No Wind, 100% Visibility), Kathryn Para (Lucky), and Janie Chang (Three Souls). An all-lady list! For more about the prize or about Ethel Wilson herself, click here.

For more about Red Girl Rat Boy, which was a best book of the year in  Quill & Quire and January Magazine, as well as a best short fiction title in both The National Post and The Globe & Mail, you can visit Cynthia Flood's website. You can also check out reviews in The Vancouver Sun, Quill & Quire, The Coastal Spectator, and moreAnd did we mention that CBC Books listed Cynthia as one its 10 Canadian women you need to read? It's lovely to see Cynthia getting the recognition she deserves.


Antanas Sileika reviews This Great Escape on The Next Chapter

About 27 minutes in to Monday's episode of The Next Chapter, Shelagh Rogers and Antanas Sileika talk about Andrew Steinmetz's Weston Prize-shortlisted This Great Escape. It was an honest take, with Antanas discussing some of the frustrations he experienced as a reader attempting to navigate the fragmented facts of Michael Paryla's life, but the ultimate conclusion was positive: he called it a worthwhile, interesting, complex, existential book. He even threw in the names of a few high modernists as comp titles. And who doesn't want to be compared to Beckett? No, really. Who?




Monday, March 10, 2014

How Not to Design a Book




Just what exactly is going on here? Whatever it is, it's the most arresting thing I've come across while shelving this week's new secondhand arrivals. This cover of Quirks & Quarks radio host Bob McDonald's book Measuring the Earth With a Stick: Science As I've Seen It (Viking, 2000) takes misguided cover design to a whole new level. Poor Bob looks like he overdid it at 10-cent wing night. Is there research to suggest a good lie-down on planet earth can sooth a curdled stomach? It's true he's (sort-of) smiling, but when I see those interlaced hands massaging his gut, all I can see is an acute case of acid reflux. And so I ask: an in-house lark on the part of Viking? Embarrassing fallout from the Y2K craze for all things scientist-ic? Quirks & Quarks indeed.  Sorry, Bob. We like you, but the jacket's a miss. 

Friday, March 07, 2014

"Like animated shorts, comedy, beer commercials and maple syrup."


Still on the fence about going to "What We Talk About When We Talk About Poetry," the series of discussions we (and Palimpsest and the PQL) are hosting in Montreal, Toronto, Hamilton, and Windsor? Here's why you should go. Courtesy of Carmine Starnino, who is among many many other things one of our wonderful moderators, and The Montreal Gazette.

“The critical essay is a form Canadians excel in, like animated shorts, comedy, beer commercials and maple syrup,” poet and critic Carmine Starnino told me last week. It’s a view borne out by the recent publication of no less than three acclaimed essay collections, by Zach Wells, Anita Lahey and Jason Guriel. There’s no time like now, then, for a Starnino-hosted panel discussion/joint book launch in which four of our finest poetry reviewers can hash out the critical issues of the day. 
“In my mind, the event is a kind of outreach,” Starnino said. “There’s been a fierce counter-reaction against critical writing in the last couple of years, as bad as I’ve ever seen it. Social media — which has helped make the literary culture more deferential — has played a part in this. Any contrarian attitude is immediately dismissed as snark, as neo-conservative, or worse. So the event is a way to connect with audiences, to help them understand a healthy review culture is not a zero-sum game.”

Panel Dates and Times

Montreal
March 19 at 7:30 p.m. at The Word Bookstore, 469 Milton St.

Toronto
March 20 at 6:30 p.m. at Ben McNally Books, 366 Bay St.

Hamilton
March 21 at 6:30 p.m. at McMaster University, Council Chambers, Gilmour Hall, Room 111

Windsor
March 33 at 4:30 p.m. at Biblioasis, 1520 Wyandotte St. East
(And by March 33, we mean 33-11. The 22nd. Yes, the 22nd. Thank you, Zach.)

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

"Stardust Memory": The Brooklyn Rail on Andrew Steinmetz

"Ever since I first saw Billy Wilder’s Stalag 17 (1953) and became addicted to re-runs of Hogan’s Heroes (1965 – 71) during my early youth in Los Angeles," writes movie historian Noah Isenberg in the latest issue of The Brooklyn Rail, "I’ve been intrigued by prisoner-of-war stories, comic and heroic alike."

What better bookish match for a POW-junkie than This Great Escape? Isenberg goes on: "As it turns out, my obsession nowhere near matches what Canadian writer Andrew Steinmetz experienced when he learned, at some point in his adolescence, that his second cousin Michael Paryla had played a bit part in one of the most famous, big-budget P.O.W. films Hollywood ever produced."

So commences a smart, insightful take an Andrew's book from (and I think this is the first time this has happened—?) a critic with a strong background in 50s and 60s film. You should check it out, along with the latest issue of the Rail, which (and I'll say it freely!) is quickly becoming one of my favourite rags.

"Lucie Wilk, Doctor of Words": Now in Ubyssey

"Balancing life between being a doctor, writer and mother of two children can be a challenging ordeal, but Lucie Wilk has managed to find her fulcrum point," opens Hilary Leung, in an interview with Lucie Wilk now running in the Ubyssey Book Supplement. Click here for the full piece!

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Relaunching the Biblioasis International Translation Blog

When the Biblioasis International Translation Blog was created in 2011, it was with the ambition of becoming an online forum for literary translation in Canada and beyond. Although we got off to a decent start, with feature articles from the likes of Douglas Glover, Alberto Manguel, Scott Esposito and others, a litany of minor priorities—running a press? editing a magazine? launching a brick and mortar bookstore? teaching university courses?—kept getting in the way. Go figure. Finite resources, limited energy, and ambition make for a precarious dance. We're still working out the kinks in our steps.

When I arrived in Windsor a few months ago—idealistic, full of dreams, both shoes likely untied—I confess I immediately gravitated toward the idea of reviving this dormant beast of a translation blog. As a former bookseller in Montreal with a focus on world literature and small press, I believe that works by Biblioasis authors like Horacio Castellanos Moya and Liliana Heker are as exciting and vital as anything coming out with specialty presses in the UK and the States. I also know from experience that there is a subculture of impassioned and intelligent readers of literary translations in Canada, but for whatever combination of reasons (Narrow Aesthetic Mandates? The Myopia of Grant Culture? Jingoism?) the books they love are rarely met with any media attention or sustained pedagogical engagement. Literary translation devotees deserve more forums. And literary translators—all too often nudged off of covers in deference to backward and superstitious so-called marketing wisdom—deserve increased visibility.

It is our hope that by providing a combination of excerpts from new/forthcoming works in translation from publishers in Canada and abroad, as well as a selection of reviews, short-essays, interviews and other assorted notices by way of a weekly feature every Tuesday, we can in some small measure help bring visibility to the translation community here and beyond. It seems only natural to me that as the online face of our translation activities this blog should reflect the unique blend of freshness and surprise that writers of diverse geographic and linguistic cultures can accord readers in English. (On a more selfish note, it also means I get to read more books from my favourite publishers and pester them for excerpts).

At its best, translation creates the potential for continuity where before there was simply a rift or silence. It disseminates truths about other cultures that are sometimes unprecedented, it broadens our aesthetic palate, and so it makes us better readers and writers both, and may even increase our capacity for empathy. Yet, I wouldn't want to make all this sound too wholesome or edifying: disclosures from other cultures—testaments of world views, ways of life and sensibilities foreign to our own—can initially be deeply uncomfortable and even jarring; Translation is where we grapple as squarely as possible with the fact of the Other. It's a conversation that happens against all odds, and it would not occur at all without a mixture of civility, pantomime, admiration, occasional bewilderment, and something approaching alchemy. Its difficulties are proportional to its rewards.

We already have some great excerpts forthcoming from the likes of experimental Canadian poet/translator Erin Mouré, cult Quebecois icon Nelly Arcan, Angolan novelist and 2013 Jose Saramago Prize-winner Ondjaki, as well as essays on the work of Brazilian novelist Clarice Lispector and prominent Dutch translator Sam Garrett, and much else besides. If you are a publisher or a translator and would like to contribute a 1500-2000 word excerpt, or if you are a writer and would like to contribute a 750-1000 word review/essay/notice on a literary translation title, please do not hesitate to contact me at jeckerlin@biblioasis.com. Today, we relaunch with three charming and whimsical poems from contemporary Polish poet Dariusz Sośnicki, as well as a piece by Quebec's Jean-Claude Germain chronicling his mid-century encounter as a bohemian youth with the volatile and soused "Canadian Mozart," Andre Mathieu.  I hope you will enjoy what we have to offer and will feel inclined to check back every Tuesday.

Jesse