Friday, November 28, 2014


Craig Pearson and Daniel Wells with a few book
Last night was the launch party at The Windsor Star News Cafe.  Over 300 people came out to celebrate the release, including Rino Bortolin, newly elected city councillor for the downtown ward.  Bortolin says:
When you’re flipping through the pages you’re really getting a good historical overview of Windsor. It’s just a reminder that you’re rooted in the history of such a great community. It’s not just the buildings themselves: it’s the people and the energy of the community.
Marty Beneteau, editor of The Windsor Star.  
Courtesy of The Windsor Star.
Some highlights of the evening: an interview with CTV, introductions from Marty Beneteau, a performance by Crissi Cochrane, Craig and Daniel both speaking about their experiences and what they learned from working on the project, and then the anticipated signing of the books.  This party was quite the success!

The authors sign books for Marilyn Racovitis and her daughter
Helena Ventrella.  Courtesy of  The Windsor Star.
Today, The Windsor Star has not only graced a fantastic photo of Daniel's family on the cover, but has also included a special historical feature so be sure to grab a copy.
Special feature insert in The Windsor Star.
Front page spread.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

This Week's Recommended Reading: Kathleen Winter's "Of the Fountain"

Check out Kathleen Winter!

This morning her short story "Of the Fountain" was published by Electric Literature's Recommended Reading, one the best literary journals online, and among the best anywhere. ELRR posts one new story each week from a host of established and emerging authors. Some stories are recommended directly by the magazine (like Sasha Graybosch's amazing "Recovery Period"), but more are recommended by other authors (Aimee Bender rec'ed "Cathay" by Steven Millhauser), literary journals (Virginia Quarterly Review rec'ed "The Grave" By Katherine Anne Porter), and indie presses (House of Anansi rec'ed "Champ de Mars" by Mireille Silcoff). The result is a thoughtfully selected gallery of astonishingly good fiction, all chosen by super-editor Halimah Marcus. You can read Kathleen's story (and an introduction by our own Dan Wells) here.

This isn't the first excerpt published over the past month. "Anhinga," another of Kathleen's pieces, was placed in Storyville — a venue The New Yorker crowned the "digital pick of the week" for new fiction. Her story, along with others by William VollmannDonald Antrim, and Kseniya Melnik, were sent to subscribers of the Storyville app, and are currently available for purchase online. More on "Anhinga" can be found here.

Both "Of the Fountain" and "Anhinga" were excerpted from Kathleen's latest collection of short stories, The Freedom in American Songs, published by Biblioasis this fall. In addition to all the good reviews its received over the past few months, we were overjoyed to see it listed among the 5 Best Canadian Books of the Year on last weekend.

We couldn't be more pleased.

Special note to readers in the Maritimes: Kathleen will be a featured author of the Lorenzo Reading Series this January. A schedule of her appearances and readings will be available on their site soon.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Mia Couto Makes the 2015 IMPAC Dublin Literary Award Longlist!

So the longlist for the 2015 International IMPAC DUBLIN Literary Award was just announced, and Mia Couto is there for The Tuner of Silences! Congratulations are due to the author — but also to David Brookshaw (translator) and Stephen Henighan (editor), who guided the book along its path to the English-speaking world.

Unlike most awards, titles on the IMPAC DUBLIN longlist are there due to nominations by a select group of libraries across the globe. Two Portuguese libraries, in this case, are responsible for The Tuner of Silence's inclusion: Biblioteca Municipal de Oeiras and Biblioteca Pública Municipal do Porto. Other books on the list include MaddAddam by Margaret Atwood, The Orenda by Joseph Boyden, and The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan, winner of the 2014 Man Booker Prize.

Translated into English in 2013, The Tuner of Silences is the story of a son who's struggling to reconstruct his family history. Yet it's a history that his father can't discuss — until the arrival of a young woman, who breaks the silence of the past. The Independent called the book "a sad novel of poetic brilliance." And The Times Literary Supplement placed Couto "alongside the best Latin American magic realists."

After its publication, Couto was awarded the 2014 Neustadt International Prize for Literature. This followed two earlier international literary awards: the €100,000 Camões Prize in 2013 and the Latin Union Prize in 2007.

Needless to say, we're thrilled about Couto's inclusion on the longlist and hope he's awarded the prize. Not only because of the greater recognition The Tuner of Silences would receive, but because of the greater recognition Mia Couto would receive. Couto is a Mozambican writer of immense international acclaim, yet remains poorly read in North America. Given his unique perspective as an author, an environmental biologist, and a controversial essayist with strong and timely opinions on Africa, he is a man who deserves a much larger audience.

Speaking of Couto the essayist: the debut English translation of his best pieces are forthcoming from Biblioasis this spring, and it's a bombshell of a book. Keep posted!

Monday, November 24, 2014

K.D. Miller's ALL SAINTS Ascends the Heavenly Spheres

This book is truly indomitable. Against the odds, it continues to rise.

Let's pause for a moment and appreciate all the good things that have happened to — and continue to happen for! — this unlikely collection of stories linked by the parishioners of All Saints, the eponymous Anglican church at the centre of the book.

Last spring it received high praise from two major papers: The Globe and Mail ("absorbing, amusing, and deeply meaningful") and The National Post ("Miller is firing on all cylinders"). In its starred Quill and Quire review, Angie Abdou compared the book to Jennifer Egan's A Visit from the Good Squad, in that it "[walked] the line between novel and linked stories, reshaping each genre in the process." Publisher's Weekly wrote that Miller "has an ease of style that produces elegant turns of phrase." Finally, resoundingly, Maclean's Magazine dubbed the collection "a Canadian classic."

That was only last spring.

This fall we were thrilled to learn that All Saints had been shortlisted for The Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize, one of the "big three" literary awards, with a purse of $25,000. "From the first page of All Saints," wrote the jurors, "readers know they’re in the hands of a true writer." The papers then returned to Miller, with all the enthusiasm one would expect, though the book narrowly missed selection.

Now, near the close of the season, All Saints has started appearing on all the best of the Best of 2014 lists. First Quill and Quire posted it top and centre in their December issue, tagging the book as one of Miller's "strongest books to date." Soon after, just this past weekend, The Globe and Mail included it in "The Globe 100: Best Books of 2014," where it was selected among "Our Favourite Canadian Fiction of the Year." Quote: "[All Saints is] a sharp, engaging interconnected collection of stories.... Miller, once called 'Canada’s greatest unknown writer,' deserves to be known by all."

Given the well-deserved adulation All Saints has received over the past year, it's clear Miller's recognition is increasing. What excites us most is thinking ahead to the greater heights she'll climb.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Local History Launch @ Walkerville Brewery Tonight!

Dear Windsorites,

Please join us Tonight at the Walkerville Brewery for a launch of two new local history books from Biblioasis: David Newman's Postcards From Essex County and Patrick Brode's The River & The Land!

David Newman's Postcards From Essex County is the long-awaited follow-up to the popular Postcards From The Past, published by Walkerville Publishing in 2005. Boasting over 315 historic postcards featuring the churches, factories, fairgrounds, houses, beaches, trains and cars of the old towns in Essex County, this is a beautiful gift book in hardcover with full-colour illustrations.

With The River & The Land, Patrick Brode, author of The Slasher Killings and Unholy City, gives us an authoritative history of Windsor up to 1900. Featuring sections on Windsor's role in the American Civil War, Confederation and street-car manufacturing, and chronicling the cultural tensions between the French, English, Irish, and Scottish settlers of the region, The River & The Land is a thorough, compelling and readable history, sure to set the bar for local historians for years to come.

Doors open at 6 and readings/presentations will begin at 7. There will be snacks available and beer and pop are available for sale. Books are also of course available, cash or credit. See you there!

Friday, November 07, 2014

Wild Writers Literary Festival Is Upon Us!

Dear friends in the Waterloo/Kitchener/Guelph area: 
don't forget that this weekend is the date of the Wild Writers Literary Festival!
The weekend features some amazing programming, 
including appearances from K.D. Miller, Diane Schoemperlen, Ray Robertson, and Kathy Page.

For more info on schedules, tickets and directions, please see the festival's website

Happy Weekend!

Thursday, November 06, 2014

"Showstoppingly Exquisite Writing": Toronto Star on Freedom in American Songs

Over at The Toronto Star last week, Emily Donaldson said some kind words about Kathleen Winter's newly released short story collection The Freedom in American Songs.

"What unites these tales is the loneliness and isolation that besets their female characters," writes Donaldson. "Winter’s uniqueness as a writer her resistance to conventions such as narrative arcs and neat endings."

Donaldson is especially fond of the collection's opening "Marianne Stories," which chronicle the misadventures of a young woman who has moved from the city to a rural Newfoundland fishing village.  The complexity and beauty of Marianne as a character is that she "embraces her outsider status knowing it lets her see things others don’t." Yet Marianne also paradoxically yearns to belong, so that, as Donaldson puts it, "the simple achievement of building a fire that burns the same white smoke as her neighbours" becomes a cause for elation. 

 Donaldson calls the writing here "showstoppingly exquisite." 

Writing Spaces: Kerry-Lee Powell and Kathy Page

Ever wondered about the writing habits of your favourite Canadian authors?

For those of us that do, The New Quarterly's online Writing Space feature  helps satisfy some of that curiosity by providing an insider's glimpse into the working spaces of various authors.

Pictured below is Kerry-Lee Powell's tasteful yet functional office set-up whose beautiful matching desk and chair overlook some lovely verdant trees. Kerry-Lee says she keeps the "curtains open on that side of the room at night so that I can see their silhouettes against the sky."

And who wouldn't want to toil daily in Kathy Page's awe-inspiring rugged cabin/office in Salt Spring, situated by a "wooded valley visited by pileated woodpeckers, ravens, and many other birds, as well as rabbits and black-tailed deer."  

Writers as diverse and distinct as their natural habitats. Anyone else feel a smidgen of envy? Time to start organizing that office...

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

What Africa Does the African Writer Write About?

Demands are made of an African writer that are not made of a European or American writer.  Insistence is made on proof of authenticity. Questions are asked about the degree to which it is ethnically genuine. No one questions whether José Saramago represents Portuguese culture. It's irrelevant to know whether James Joyce corresponds to the cultural standards of this or that European ethnic group. Why should African writers have to show such cultural passports? This happens  because people persist in thinking of the production of these African writers as belonging to the domain of anthropology or ethnography. What they are producing isn't literature but a transgression of what is accepted as traditionally African.
The writer isn't just someone who writes. He’s someone who produces thought, someone capable of pollinating others with feeling and delight.
More than this, the writer challenges the basis of thought itself. He goes further than challenging the limits of political correctness. He subverts the very criteria that define what is correct, he questions the boundaries of reason.

An excerpt from the rousing essay "What Africa Does the African Writer Write About?" by 20 Neustadt Prize-winner Mia Couto, published for the first time in English earlier today on the BITSblog. The piece is also forthcoming in Pensativities: Selected Essays, Couto's first collection of non-fiction in English, forthcoming from Biblioasis in April. 

K.D. Miller in Maclean's and Globe and Mail: up for Writer's Trust Tonight!

Besides teaching me so much about writing, Alice Munro once taught me something about being a writer. It was 1986. She had just launched The Progress of Love and was doing a reading in a local library. I couldn’t afford to hand her one of the glossy new hardcovers to sign, so I took along my least-tattered Munro paperback – Lives of Girls and Women. She opened it tenderly, looked up and gave me a gracious smile before signing her name.I learned that night that the reader is to be honoured – even if she shows up with a second-hand copy of the wrong book.
A lovely anecdote from K.D. Miller about the graciousness of Alice Munro in The Globe and Mail as part of yesterday's feature on the Writer's Trust award, for which K.D. is up tonight. 

And speaking of influence and homage, K.D. was also featured in Maclean's this past Monday, where she spoke of her debt to Flannery O'Connor and her ability "as a religious person, to see beyond the borders of her faith and at times stare straight into the eyes of evil," something readers acquainted with All Saints and the character of Alice Vipond will no doubt be familiar with.

The Writer's Trust Award is announced tonight at 6:30PM at the Glenn Gould Studio in Toronto.

Our fingers are crossed for you, K.D.!