Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Canary makes ALA's 2014 Over the Rainbow List

Halloo, all. Apologies for the blog hiatus, but as some of you know, I was penned for 5 days in Philadelphia, surrounded by thousands of American librarians (er, not to mention foot-longs that come wit onions & whiz). I'm happy to say that on Saturday afternoon the GLBT Round Table announced that Nancy Jo Cullen's Canary was selected as part of its 2014 Over the Rainbow List, which provides citations annually for the ALA's favourite LGBT titles for adults. NJC's in pretty good company, too—alongside Canary in the short story collection category is Everything Begins & Ends at the Kentucky Club, which received an honourable mention at the Stonewalls the very next day. Congrats to Nancy Jo and her "often comic" collection.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

World TVO Premiere of Why Not? Doc Airs Tonight

Amendment: Documentary airs NEXT Wednesday. Sorry folks. The 29th.

15 Reasons to Live, the collection of fifteen short films by documentarian Alan Zweig that was inspired by Ray Robertson's Why Not?, has its TVO premiere tonight at 9 p.m. and midnight EST. Here's the bumpf: "[...] Zweig embarks on a personal journey to find out what makes life worth living. Featuring 15 short stories that represent Zweig's unique interpretation of reasons to live, the film 15 Reasons To Live is a thoughtful and searching examination on the nature of human happiness, and the profound events in life that can unexpectedly change the course of a person's destiny." It's also airing Thursday at 10 and Sunday at 11. You can check out the trailer below. 

Friday, January 17, 2014

Eucalyptus reviewed in Publishers Weekly, The Rover

Afternoon, all, and TGIF. A quick word before we all scatter for the weekend, to say that the reviews for Eucalyptus keep tumbling in: this week we've got one up at Publishers Weekly and another at The Rover. The PW one is actually one of the best we've seen from our trade mag cronies. Congratulations to Mauricio and Donald (who, by the by, got some much-deserved praise for the seamlessness of his translation) and a very merry Friday to you all. Be danged to you, Polar Vortex II! We're feeling GOOD.

From Publishers Weekly
"Segura writes with a poetic economy of language, using very few words to create meaningful images ... Winkler's masterful translation is so seamless, readers will think that the novel was written in English ... Segura's novel and his original voice are important additions to the Canadian canon." 

From The Rover
"Ably translated, well-paced, teeming with interesting characters that often speak for whole chapters, and written in a prose that is both lucid and hallucinatory, Eucalyptus is a remarkable, thought-provoking novel with the accessibility of a page-turner."

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Bookbinding Workshop at Biblioasis

We're two weeks into 2014, and struggling to stick to resolutions like: getting organized, eating healthier and exercising more. While you're at it, why not indulge your creative side and learn the art of Japanese stab binding? On Sunday, February 9th Biblioasis will welcome Canadian Bookbinders and Book Artists Guild Instructor Dan Mezza, who will be teaching this ancient form of bookbinding that's still in use today. For only $65, you can take part in Dan's one-day class from 10am to 4pm.

What's that? You don't own silk thread and Japanese Chiyogami paper? Fear not, everything you'll need to make one book is included in the price. Soon you'll be able to bind your own artful books using techniques that date back from the fourteenth century.

Instructor Dan Mezza has been involved in the field of bookbinding for more than 20 years. He specializes in book repair and conservation, working out of his bindery in London, Ontario. Dan is a past president of the Canadian Bookbinders and Book Artists' guild and is active in the Southwestern Ontario Chapter (London) where he continues to offer classes with an emphasis on traditional methods and historical structures.

If you'd like to take part in this exciting workshop, please contact us at Biblioasis and register with payment before February 1st. Stop by our store (1520 Wyandotte St. E., in Walkerville), call (519-968-2206) or email for more information (

Friday, January 10, 2014

A Poet's Debut at L'Opéra National

The Grand Salle at L'Opéra Bastille,
one of the homes of the Opéra National. Designed
by a Canadian architect, by the way.
As many of you know, Biblioasis poet and sometimes-editor Zachariah Wells has successfully raised $2321 in a “Francs for France” indiegogo campaign to get himself (and his mother) to Paris. The occasion? He’ll be visiting the Opéra National, where his poetry will be performed in song settings by Canadian composer Erik Ross. These three pieces, as sung by baritone Phillip Addis with piano accompaniment by Emily Hamper, premiered in Toronto on December 19th. For more information see the story in Quill & Quire  or watch an interview with Zach on Global Halifax’s Morning News.

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Mia Couto to Engage in Cockfight; LA Times Tells All

"The rooster is back, and the rooster is famished," begins a press release issued today by The Morning News

2014 marks the tenth anniversary of The Morning News's cocky and off-kilter NCAA-style Tournament of Books, reports the LA Times. This year Mia Couto's The Tuner of Silences has been named one of 14 contenders. 

For anyone unfamiliar with the ToB (or college basketball, for that matter), well, here’s the 411: a panel of judges (including musician John Darnielle, writers John Green, Mat Johnson, Roxane Gay, Jami Attenberg, Hector Tobar, Lydia Kiesling, Jeff Martin, John McElwee, Geraldine Brooks, Sarah Schulman, Jane Hu, Roger D. Hodge, John Freeman, publisher Lizzie Skurnick and Tumblr's Rachel Fershleiser) will each be assigned pairs of titles, one of which will ‘advance’ to the next round, until a winner (i.e. “The Rooster” is declared); the process is accompanied by play-by-plays from Kevin Guilfoile and John Warner. 

The competition is pretty stiff, but we DID crow a little to see ourselves already ranked before one of either Kate Atkinson or Fiona Maazel, both of whom have been relegated to a pre-tournament playoff.


So. Place your bets, folks. May the best bird win. 

The Tournament of Books X Competitors List

"At Night We Walk in Circles" by Daniel Alarcón
"The Luminaries" by Eleanor Catton
"The Tuner of Silences" by Mia Couto
"The Signature of All Things" by Elizabeth Gilbert
"How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia" by Mohsin Hamid
"The Dinner" by Herman Koch
"The Lowland" by Jhumpa Lahiri
"Long Division" by Kiese Laymon
"The Good Lord Bird" by James McBride
"Hill William" by Scott McClanahan
"The Son" by Philipp Meyer
"A Tale for the Time Being" by Ruth Ozeki
"Eleanor & Park" by Rainbow Rowell
"The Goldfinch" by Donna Tartt
"The People in the Trees" by Hanya Yanagihara
[Winner of the Pre-Tournament Playoff Round]

Pre-Tournament Playoff Round
"Life After Life" by Kate Atkinson
"Woke Up Lonely" by Fiona Maazel

Precision-Crafted Machines Spring Anticipation

Over at The Afterword, Meeting the Tormentors in Safeway by the inimitable Alexandra Oliver is one of Michael Lista's four Canadian Poetry Books of the year for 2013, cited for "precision-crafted" poems at once  "[t]heatrical, funny,  [and] formally ingenious."  Also listed alongside the stellar cast of Oliver, Sara Peters and Karen Solie is Amanda Jernigan, author of the much-lauded 2011 Biblioasis debut Groundwork, for her most recent book All the Daylight Hours from Cormorant. Congrats to all!

& for those of you hoping to beckon the thaw with anticipation/wishful thinking, here are The 49th Shelf's most anticipated books of Spring 2014, among which distinguished company you will find mention of not one but two of our forthcoming titles: Novelists, a new short-story collection by the enigmatic C.P. Boyko, and I Was There the Night he Died, the new novel by "the Jerry Lee Lewis of North American letters," Ray Robertson.

Monday, January 06, 2014

Colette Maitland, Right With a Click

In what many forecast will be the year of Alice, it was lovely to hear Karen Schindler invoke her when talking about one of our quiet gems from 2013. "Reading [Keeping the Peace]," Schindler writes in the latest Malahat, "it’s easy to be reminded of Alice Munro’s analogy of a short story being more like a house than a road, where you go inside and explore the rooms, 'wandering back and forth and settling where you like.' Munro’s story-as-house metaphor works well here. Maitland manages to create a 'what do I see?' momentum, rather than 'where is this going?'"

And as if THAT isn't a laurelled comparison, she also invokes Yeats' line about how a good poem will "come right with a click like a closing box," and suggests that Colette's best stories end with that exact type of precision. Thanks to Karen for the thoughtful work, congrats to Colette, and a very happy[/snowy/shatteringly cold] Epiphany to all. 

"The Fragility of the Place One Calls Home": Benjamin Woodard on Mauricio Segura's Eucalyptus

Over at Numero Cinq, Benjamin Woodard praises the "breathtaking execution" and "strong cinematic elements" of Mauricio Segura's Eucalyptus, translated by GG winner Donald Winkler. The most recent title in Biblioasis's International Translation series, Eucalyptus is "an existential whodunit" that is part murder mystery, part dictatorial thriller, and part exploration of racial and identity politics in Chile and beyond.

As protagonist Alberto Ventura, a Chilean born writer living in self-imposed exile in Montreal, returns to his 'homeland' in order to attend the funeral of his father Roberto - a contentious man whose various legacies as student radical, hospital director, manual labourer and farmer provoke contradictory and occasionally hostile response from intimates and acquaintances - he comes to realize that the circumstances surrounding his father's supposedly natural death seem to be far more complicated that he initially bargained for.

What follows is Alberto's self-imposed detective hunt, mediated by a chorus of unreliable narrators whose accounts "seamlessly segue, à la a film dissolve, into representative scenes[...]luring the reader and resulting in a ghostlike journey: passing through bodies, into minds, and then back again."

Citing Segura's avoidance of "you can't go home again" clichés and his "fascination in more oblique questions: What is home? Who truly belongs to a parcel of land?" Woodward finds that Eucalyptus culminates in "an adventurous, hypnotic read." Hurrah!

- Jesse

Reposted from the Biblioasis International Translation Blog

Thursday, January 02, 2014

The Bibliomanse is Back in Business!

A Happy New Year to all our devoted Thirsty followers. We've hit the ground running here at Biblioasis after a delightful holiday hiatus: some of us were in Texas, some of us were in New Brunswick, one of us (*cough*ChrisAndrechek*cough*) may have caused a scene at the Gare Central by banging on a train window and hollering "HEY ZACH!", and a couple of us (*cough*Dan*cough*Jesse) saw the bookshop through its long snowy hours. A certain resident press shih tzu may have tried to take on a herd of urban deer. Altogether I'd say it was a smashing holiday (did I develop a cough?), but all in all we're glad to be back.

In the interim a few nice media hits came in for our titles, and some lovely blurbs for Cynthia Flood and KD Miller especially. Congratulations to all.  I also wanted to share a beautiful poem that seems appropriate as we sit here between Christmas and Epiphany, which is by our own Marsha Pomerantz and ran recently in Raritan. It's there if you scroll down.

Onward, upward, 2014 ho!—

1. Strength of Bone review from The National Post syndicated by PostMedia News
Which means you may have seen it in Vancouver, Calgary, Montreal, Regina, Windsor, Ottawa,, & more.

2. Red Girl Rat Boy makes National Post’s Best of 2013 Short Fiction List (Steven Beattie)
"These stories shine like glass, but glass that is coloured and curved and prismatic. Flood’s brief, technically adventurous tales sparkle and glitter in dazzling, yet frequently unexpected ways.”

3. Red Girl Rat Boy makes Globe & Mail’s Books of 2013 Short Fiction List (Caroline Adderson)
"In Red Girl Rat Boy Cynthia Flood has pared her style down to a clipped staccato that is at first jarring, then mesmerizing. How does she scrape the narrative so close to the bone, yet still manage to emotionally engage the reader? Because she’s a master, carefully maximizing the potential of each word."

4. Red Girl Rat Boy reviewed on The Coastal Spectator
"These stories are told in a voice that navigates like an underground stream through the deepest channels of the psyche. These stories are felt in the marrow."

"Brown Dwarf ... creeps up on you with its increasing complexity and deft handling of an adolescent mindset. More than a mystery, it explores not only the limits of memory—how our perception of events shifts as we age and change into adults—but also the sometimes irrational dynamics of relationships between friends, and between child and parent … deeply affecting.”

“MacLeod so beautifully articulates everyday events that even the most normal (even mundane) occurrence becomes breathtaking. He takes his reader to a reality in which everything is nuanced. Every object, interaction and event has a beautiful poignancy to it, and it is in illuminating this beauty to his reader that MacLeod succeeds in breaking his reader’s hearts … a collection that should be consumed carefully."

Of which this is the first.

Saint Luke Paints the Virgin

As soon as his brush lifted,
the elixir of her withdrew,

leaving her mud in small
shaped phrases. He was

painting his desire to hold
her always and want her

never. I’d trade always for
an apple, said the assistant,

stroking the arc of a cheek as
his teeth marked minutes along

his lips. Holiness is separation,
pooling just beyond depiction

in a single swimming thought.
That Luke could ever get her

down was either blasphemy
or fantasy, and both options

beckoned. Know me, he heard her say.
Take my likeness, make me likely.