Friday, May 30, 2014

Free Range Reading on Career Limiting Moves

Ultimately, I think Zach will continue to be a controversial figure in Canadian criticism, if for no other reason than he holds up the dual torches of cogency and honest appraisal, which makes him a target for those who value neither. Zach’s largest critics tend to be those who not only fail to match his chops on the great Scrabble board of book reviewing, but who have a vested interest in incoherent criticism itself. Indeed, some have built entire careers around it. But for the rest of us, a book like Career Limiting Moves reminds us about the strengths – and the dangers – of standing behind one’s opinions. Of being honest. Of being clear. And of loving a good fight.

A partial snapshot of Mark Sampson's excellent review highlighting the many virtues of  Zach Wells's book of selected reviews and essays, Career Limiting Moves. Among other things, Sampson focuses on Wells's essay on 2014 Trillium finalist Souvankham Thammavongsa, which he calls "a tour de force of critical writing – combining biography, close reading and interview quotation to create not only a panoramic view into Thammavongsa’s art, but to forge a work of art in his own right." Go Zach! 

All Saints gets Starred Review in Quill & Quire

Angie Abdou gives K.D Miller's All Saints a rave review in the new Quill & Quire, highlighting the subtle intricacies of the linked story collection and how it "gains momentum, until it begins to feel very much like a novel." Revolving however loosely around the symbol/physical space of All Saints, a Toronto-based Anglican congregation in decline, the book, as Abdou aptly notes, does not consist of your grandmother's Anglicanism: "The collection is as much about eroticism and love as it is about religion and spirituality." Comparing its genre-bendiness to Jennifer Egan's A Visit From the Goon Squad, Abdou concludes that All Saints is "the work of a writer with a confident voice and a clear vision." 

And If that wasn't great enough, Jeet Heer then went on to tweet that "KD Miller is Canada's greatest unknown writer." A hearty and heartfelt endorsement we can get behind. 

And finally, did we mention how lovely the book itself is? The ornate frontispiece is textured and debossed, upping the physical desirability factor to celestial levels.  These pics only hint at the marvels. Go do yourself a favour and pick up a copy! 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Biblioasis at Congress!

Tara has been having a blast repping Biblioasis & CNQ at Congress over the last couple of days. It's always a pleasure to meet ardent supporters and newcomers to the press alike. To be out there in the wild braving the elements! And although the fair continues until Friday, our residency is ending just shortly before 5PM tonight. So if you're in St. Catherines, book hungry and want to chat with some fine folks, be sure to hurry on up and swing by: booth 68, beside the LPG. There are many great books in tow, and if you mention you heard it here,  a bargain or two definitely awaiting...In the meantime, here are a couple action shots. Do I spy with my little eye a limited edition David Constantine chapbook in the top left of the frame?

Monday, May 26, 2014

Ondjaki featured on Paul Kennedy's Ideas!

This is great: CBC's Ideas with Paul Kennedy features an entertaining, colourful, hilarious, nigh hour-long conversation with Angolan trickster/charmer Ondjaki. Literary equations are goofy, but I kinda like this one: imagine if the benevolent ghosts of Clarice Lispector & Mark Twain crosspolinated to try their hand at utopic YA set during the Angolan Civil War. That might give you a sense of the eccentricity and magic behind his picaresque Granma Nineteen and the Soviet's Secret, a coming-of-age story that is literally explosive.

Q: Monday Night's Best Bet?

A: For our money, it's clearly Kathy Page and Nadia Bozak @ The Bibliomanse tonight @ 7PM. In addition to respective readings from daring tales of inter-species transformation, modern reinventions of myth, and a searing, poetic western, did we mention we also have wine, snacks, and air-conditioning on offer tonight? Be there or be square... and hot, and sad, and droopy-bookless in the heat. 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Kathy Page @ eh List Reading Series in Toronto, May 27 + 28th

The wonderful, adventurous, and complex Kathy Page will be making not one but two appearances at the eh List Reading Series next week in support of her new collection Paradise & Elsewhere. Called "sensuous and verdant" and compared to the achievements of Angela Carter in  The National Post, Page's book of genre-defying meta-fabulist fairy-tales was also recently called a best new small press book by The Globe & Mail. More information on the readings is available below. 

The eh List Author Series: Kathy Page - Paradise and Elsewhere

Tue May 27, 2014
7:00 p.m. - 8:15 p.m.
75 mins

Barbara Frum Library 
20 Covington Road, 
Toronto, ON 
M6A 3C1


Wed May 28, 2014
7:00 p.m. - 8:15 p.m.
75 mins

North York Central Library Auditorium
5120 Yonge Street, 
Toronto, ON
M2N 5N9

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Kathy Page + Nadia Bozak @ Biblioasis Bookstore, May 26th, 7PM

Dear Windsorites, we are thrilled to be bringing Kathy Page and Nadia Bozak to town on May 26th! Governor General's and Orange Prize nominee Kathy Page will be launching her new collection PARADISE & ELSEWHERE (Biblioasis 2014), a book of dark fables and magical realism. Reminiscent of the darker work of Neil Gaiman and the fabulism of Borges, it notches a new path through the wild, lush, half-fantastic and half-real terrain of fairy-tale and myth. Nadia Bozak will be launching EL NINO (Anansi, 2014), a new novel inspired by J. M. Coetzee’s Disgrace and The Border Trilogy by Cormac McCarthy. It tracks the survival of one woman and a young, undocumented migrant as they journey through the no-man’s-land of a remote southwestern desert. Join us as we celebrate the release of these two exciting, adventurous new books: it's not to be missed! 

Ondjaki Signing

It's been a busy last few weeks at the Bibliomanse getting ready for multiple launches and parties. So on May 6 it was wonderful to be able to relax and get to know some of our authors, particularly Ondjaki.

After the authors finished their readings and everyone had dispersed, I brought my copy of Granma Nineteen and the Soviet's Secret to Ondjaki and asked him if he would sign it. Pen in hand he glanced at me and asked "may I draw?" the answer to which can only ever be yes.

He began by dipping his fingers into a cup of tea nearby and smearing it in lines across the page. I'll admit at first I cringed a little, but as he worked I began to relax. There was something so soothing about watching his pen fly across the page, translating thought to art.

At first he had two drawings encapsulated on two different pages and he announced that they needed to be connected. The first thing that I thought of was the closing line to his novel that he had read out earlier: "I need stars... Because the sky doesn't know how to dance alone!"

When he was finished I thanked him for taking the time to draw something so beautiful. He handed the book back to me, looking discontent and said "there's still something missing."

I regarded the two page spread, galaxies of lines and dots dancing together, before saying that I loved it anyways. "There's music in it," I told him, and meant it.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Malahat Translation Contest—Deadline Extension

Hey all. Just a quick note to say that the deadline's been extended on Malahat's translation contest, which is being judged by Donald Winkler (translator of our own Eucalyptus, by Mauricio Segura). Check it out!

Les poésies francophones du Canada: 

A Translation Prize

Deadline extended until June 15, 2014!

The Malahat Review, Canada’s premier literary magazine, invites entries from Canadian translators, poets, and passionate readers to submit to a one-time translation contest of les poésies francophones du Canada.
A prize of $1000 will be awarded to the best translation of a poem in French, from Quebec or elsewhere in Canada, into English. The winning entry will be announced in late summer 2014, and will be published in At Home in Translation. The winner will also be interviewed for Malahat lite and the Malahat website. There will be only one winner; no second or third prizes or honourable mentions will be awarded. An honorarium will also be paid to the author of the original French-language poem.
Translations must be of published French-language poems that do not exceed 60 lines including stanza breaks. The winning translation must also succeed in English as a work of the imagination. This contest marks the publication of Issue 188, At Home in Translation.


The judge of the Malahat's one-time translation contest will be Donald Winkler.Read a biography of Winkler here.

Boyko in Wall Street Journal, Globe & Mail

Who's that guy? D@*ned if I know.
It was a good weekend for Novelists, yes indeed, with wonderful write-ups in both The Globe & Mail and The Wall Street Journal. "Few writers in this country have a better poker face than C.P. Boyko," begins Michael Hingston in the Globe, going on to call him "vivid and wickedly funny," noting that "Boyko is at his best when documenting the ways in which writers insulate themselves from reality by adopting the trappings and jargon of the publishing world into their everyday lives." (He also, ahem, implies that authorship is a kind of terminal madness, and that writing short fiction perhaps lessens one's exposure, and thus the acuity of the condition. Could the same be said for the publishing short fiction? I wonder.)

Today, the same day, the very same day, our good friends over at The Wall Street Journal had this to say (noting that a review of Edward St. Aubyn's Lost for Words preceded it, and didn't fare quite so well):
The stories in C.P. Boyko's uproarious "Novelists" display authors in their many exotic varieties of misery and neurosis .... The signal trait shared by Mr. Boyko's dreamy wretches is egotism; they rarely have the faintest idea what is actually going on around them. (In "The Word 'Genius,' " the author of Edwardian-era melodramas sees a physician about his ulcers and turns out to suffer from hunger pangs, having forgotten to eat.) "The Prize Jury" calamitously throws a baker's dozen of novelists together to choose the winner of the Godskriva Prize, a one-time award honoring "the best novel of all time." (Being invited to serve as a judge gives one writer pause: "Wouldn't his being on the jury disqualify his own novels from being chosen?") Mr. Boyko's ensemble of absurd, inexhaustible narcissists is no more flattering than Mr. St. Aubyn's ship of fools, but it comes uncomfortably nearer to reality.
I'd say you could read the full review online, but really, that'd be a fib, since the WSJ security-monkeys are pretty fierce. You'll have to trust that I've given you the best bits. Happy Saturday, all, and happy long weekend. (Novelists go well with beaches & beer. I swear.)

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Words & Curds: Ondjaki Interviewed by Evan Munday/Open Book Toronto

Apparently, that
had bacon in it.
Evan Munday, formerly of Coach House Books, has started up a quirky new interview series on Open Book Toronto, and weren't we just tickled when he approached us about talking to Ondjaki during his Granma Nineteen tour? Yep, sure were. Fair warning though, folks: this is an XXL-sized interview, not for the slender of waist. In both proportions and deliciousness it rivals the poutine that inspired it. Plus there are some fantastic stories in there about Ondjaki's childhood, the stories in Granma that are real or partly real, life as a child in socialist Angola, and the niceties of Canadian bacon. Leia-o agora mesmo!

Paradise & Elsewhere in The National Post

For those who missed it this weekend, there's a lovely and thoughtful review of Paradise & Elsewhere from Steven Beattie in the weekend's The National Post. "Her fiction is sensuous and verdant," he writes, "grafting lyrical prose onto stories and situations that appear almost as legends ... Page recalls Angela Carter in these stories, employing fable and myth, along with Gothic elements and moments of horror, to jar her reader out of a settled complacency." Visit the Post online for the full review!

Friday, May 09, 2014

Tomorrow! Mother's Day Weekend Birds, Books, & Brunch w/ Lynn Thomson

Dear Windsor! There are less than 24 hours to go 'til our Mother's Day Weekend Birds, Books, and Brunch Event @ The Willistead with Lynn Thomson! Brunch will include a smoked cod rice cake and arugula salad, mushroom tartes, poached eggs, and coffee and dessert. Spaces are still available, and there will be tickets for sale at The Willistead the morning of the event! And last but not least, be sure to check The Windsor Star Saturday morning for a full feature on Birding With Yeats and tomorrow's event! We hope to see you there.
We all know that Mother Nature wears many guises, not all of them kind and nurturing. But in mid-May in southern Ontario, she is usually fairly benign. Most years our days in the forest or along the shore are easy – a gentle wind ruffling the feathers of black terns perched on a railing, or sunlight glinting off the backs of black-bellied plovers. We spend ten hours a day patiently wandering around looking for birds, and I consider myself lucky that something this simple is all it takes for me to feel fulfilled. - Lynn Thomson

On Saturday May 10th @ 11AM, Biblioasis and House of Anansi will be teaming up to bring you Birds, Books, & Brunch, a special author event and luncheon with Toronto memoirist, bookseller, and birding fanatic Lynn Thomson @ The Willistead restaurant. Thomson will be reading and discussing Birding With Yeats, a new inspirational memoir about motherhood and the family connections forged through birdwatching and nature. Join her as she takes us on a trip to several of Canada's most breathtaking bird sanctuaries, including our own Pelee Island

Individual tickets are only 35$ and include brunch, coffee/tea, and a copy of Birding With Yeats; tickets for two are only 50$ and include two brunches, coffee/tea and a copy of the book. These make for excellent Mother's Day gifts and are available at both Biblioasis and The Willistead. For more information call 519-968-2206 or email Jesse at We hope to see you there!

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Interviews with Indie Booksellers: Matthew Howse from Broken Books

A Basement in Newfoundland Dreamt Up in Heaven
Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you end up stumbling into the sacred vocation that is bookselling?

I started hanging around in bookshops about ten years ago when I was doing my undergrad. I always felt like they were great places to spend time in, and figured they'd be even better places to spend time in while being paid to do so. A space became available and we were able to jump on it. Six weeks later we were open.

Broken Books has been open for a couple weeks now, which if I'm not mistaken makes it the only remaining independent/community bookstore in St. John's. How is it going so far? What has the public reaction been like? 

We're the only independent bookstore that sells new books only.  There's a fine second-hand shop called Afterwords just a few blocks up from us, and they shelve some new local titles, as well.  Things have been great so far.  Lots of people have come in through the doors and thanked us simply for being open.  A place like this was sadly missed in the downtown

Broken Books is also part of the Fixed Coffee and Baking complex, which accords you and your customers the heavenly marriage of books and coffee. Is there any overlap between the owners and staff of the two businesses?

It's something of a partnership, for sure.  My brother Jon and our buddy Greg are the co-owners of Fixed.  Broken Books is literally in their basement.  The guys are handling the coffee and baked goods, and I curate the books.  Everyone who works at the bookshop also does a few shifts a week at Fixed. 

A taste of the budding selection
Increasingly, indie booksellers have been incorporating vinyl, stationary, and food as ways to diversify and attract different kinds of customers. Do you think such hybrid stores are the future of indie bookselling?

I'd stop short of saying you need a hybrid-type set-up to make a go of selling books, but it certainly helps to keep things fresh.  I'm sure bookselling is quite viable on its own in St. John's, but having the coffee and baked goods helps us create the atmosphere and vibe we want to work in.

Do you guys have a specialty? What's your guiding philosophy when it comes to curating your selection?

The one thing we always consider is how a book looks and feels.  We want to shelve volumes that are not only pieces of literary art, but pieces of visual art, as well.  Apart from that, we're very well-stocked in CanLit, and we want to have the best poetry and cook-book sections in the province.

There are so many redundant doomsday-heavy articles on the  state of bookselling in major media these days. Can you tell us a story about something inspiring or redemptive that has happened in your store?

The first few days were a constant parade of students, avid readers, writers, and other well-wishers who were just so happy to see an independent bookstore in town again.  There was (and still is) a lot of positive energy flowing through the place. 

What is the weirdest thing a person has said/done in your bookstore?

Our second day open a little girl came in with her mom, and they picked one copy of every children's book we had off the shelf and sat down and read them aloud.  It took about 2 hours.  When they were done the mom asked "Which one do you like best?"  The girl said "All of them, Mommy!"  So they came up to the till and bought that whole stack of children's books.  It was awesome. 

Do you guys have any go-to books that you like to hand-sell to customers? Are there any new/forthcoming titles that you're particularly excited about? Any under the radar titles we should know about?

Looking back on the last few weeks, there are a few things that have sold amazingly well.  We're currently stocking less than 300 titles, and we've sold at least a couple copies of most of them, but we've already moved through a dozen of some titles.  We've sold a lot of Joseph Boyden's work, and a ton of stuff by Joel Thomas Hynes (his Manifesto is a profanity-laced must-read introduction to St. John's).  Our poetry moves well, too.  Sue Goyette's Ocean sold out quickly, as did Randall Maggs's Night Work:  The Sawchuk Poems.  Breakwater Books, based here in St. John's, is set to release a new anthology of the work of the late Al Pittman this summer.  That's going to be great.

Cookbooks Galore
What's your favourite Biblioasis book and why? 

Tough question.  There a lot of great titles to choose from.  Alexander MacLeod's Light Lifting is a captivating read from cover to cover.  The stories really stick with you once you're done.  I'm also a big fan of David Helwig's translation of some Chekhov stories, About Love.  The stories themselves are beautiful, and the thing is designed and illustrated by Seth, one of my favourite cartoonists.  The thing is a treat to read, hold, and look at, and it's a steal at $14.95.  It's been a great seller at Broken Books. 

What are your plans for the future? Hopes? Fears? Ambitions? 

I never like to think too far ahead, but we're on a three-year-ish plan for the bookshop.  I'll take time to re-evaluate things then.  For now, I just want to focus on running a dynamic spot that hosts readings, book launches, and acoustic shows.  The kind of place where you might not be familiar with everything on the shelf, but you can trust that it's all worthwhile. 

Tuesday, May 06, 2014


Today on the BITSblog, we provided a few reasons why you should read László Krasznahorkai, contemporary master of Hungarian literature and the first author to win the Best Translated Book Award two years in a row. Here's a brief description of what readers should expect when embarking on the carnivalesque journey that is reading Satantango

It will be strange, grotesque, and occasionally comic. It will try their patience and force them to reexamine their notions of literary ambition and scale. It will be something entirely special and they will understand immediately why Susan Sontag calls Kraznahorkai "The Hungarian Master of the apocalypse."
And here's Krasznahorkai's acceptance speech  for his new novel, Seiobo There Below

C.P. Boyko Reading

On Saturday, May 24 at 1pm, join authors C.P. Boyko, Trevor Clark, Andrea Routley and Brett Josef Grubisic for an afternoon of exploring the human condition.

The Globe and Mail has described C.P. Boyko as “Stunning. . . . Boyko [has an] unstoppable imagination. . . .” His latest work Novelists, will have you rolling in the aisles with what Russell Banks calls "proudly, gloriously, gleefully old-fashioned" literary satire.

Trevor Clark, author of Love on the Killing Floor and Hair-Trigger, has worked as an oil rig roughneck, editor, portrait photographer, bookstore manager, and home entertainment coordinator for a TV movie production company in London, where he lived for a number of years.

Andrea Routley is the editor of Plenitude Magazine, Canada’s queer literary magazine. Her debut short story collection, Jane and the Whales, is a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award, an international English-language award for LGBT literature.

Brett Josef Grubisic's novel The Age of Cities was a finalist for the City of Vancouver Book Prize. This Location of Unknown Possibilities is his latest work of fiction.

The event will take place in the Alice Mackay Room, Lower Level of the Central Library, 350 West Georgia St., Vancouver. Admission is free though seating is limited.

For more information: call 604.992.9960 or email

Friday, May 02, 2014

The Things They Cultched

Cynthia Flood rocks Red Girl Rat Boy and wicked South Detroit T-Shirt

C.P. Boyko humbly displays Novelists and makes a spring statement with sandals & socks

& Kathy Page gets in your face with Paradise & Elsewhere 
and a lovely cream-coloured cardigan

Biblioasis authors @ The Vancouver Launch of Novelists Paradise and Elsewhere 
@ The Cultch

Good-looking bunch, no?

"Love, Spite, and Braided Doll Tresses"

In the new Spring 2014 issue of The Fiddlehead, Rebecca Geleyn gives Cynthia Flood's Red Girl Rat Boy a rave review, calling it a "fateful and surprising" collection that "bristles with energy and wonder." Cynthia and her bold, psychologically fearless, nigh-pointillist collection are up for the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize this Saturday, and we are enthusiastically rooting for her! Flood for the win!

Thursday, May 01, 2014

20% Off Select Short Fiction & Translation Titles @ Biblioasis Bookstore!

May is cause for celebration among literary buffs: it is home not only to Short Story Month, but Translation Month as well. And rather than choose between the two, we at Biblioasis Bookstore have chosen to celebrate both. All throughout May, we'll be featuring a rotating selection of both in-house and general short fiction and international translation titles @ 20% Off. The selection will change from week to week, but as of today the table boasts such authors as Alice Munro, Alexander MacLeod, Anton Chekhov, 2013 Giller Prize Winner Lynn Coady, Lorrie Moore, Roberto Bolano, Javier Marias, Kathleen Winter, 2013/14 Best Translated Book Award Winner László Krasznahorkai, and more. It's the perfect occasion to build your library and stock up on some giants of world literature.

"Singing is also a foreseeable insufficiency, and so is beauty"

"Beauty is an absence and it is what is absent, it is what we have a right to and what is constantly being subtracted from us. But it is also what is absent for order—a cosmos—to be complete. Beauty sacrificed in the name of equilibrium. And also love, which is ‘madness’. Yet what is important is the instrument that generates the absence: the gaze. We must keep an eye on this: it is not blindness, which also has had its cultural prestige throughout time, that foretells what shall come, away from the world of things that clutter our sight. It is the gaze." 

Eduardo Milán on the myth of Orpheus, the origins of song, and the gaze that prompts disappearance. Translated by Antonio Ochoa, on this week's #BITSblog.

Montreal Recital of Waypoints

We are very pleased to announce that composer Erik Ross's Waypoints Cycle, sung by Canadian baritone Phillip Addis, will be performed by Addis and pianist Emily Hamper at the Montreal Conservatory of Music on Sunday, May 11th.  The cycle, which is based on four poems by our very own Zachariah Wells, had the honour of being performed at the Opéra National in Paris in January 2014.  For more information see the poster below, or visit ArtVocal's website

'I pretend I’m like a film camera': Alexandra Oliver on Community and Poetic Practice

"I’m a big believer in the musty old adage, “Wherever you go, there you are.” When I begin conjuring the material for a poem, I pretend I’m like a film camera, taking things in from different angles and perspectives. I’m a noticer; I like to turn things over and examine even the most superficially boring aspects of everyday life. Then, sometimes, something mystical and often outlandish enters the room and you get a poem, a real poem that works on different levels. That’s the best outcome of all, and an elusive one at that. But none of this happens without community. By community, I’m not referring to only the literary community, but also those that exist in other spheres: people on the street, in shops, in doctors’ offices, on the bus, at the school gates. You need to take everyone in as part of your circle."

Glasgow-based poet and Pat Lowther finalist Alexandra Oliver discusses community, poetic practice, and the twined perks/problems of being an outsider with The Town Crier's Jess Taylor.