Celebrating Independent Bookstores

Authors for Indies Day

When I was a teenager and working part-time, there was a Classics bookstore at a nearby shopping mall, and that was where I headed on payday. My meager paycheque wouldn’t have gone far in a travel agency, but in a bookstore, it took me anywhere I wanted to go. I checked out the bestsellers before heading to the mystery section. On the top of my list were books by Agatha Christie (Hercule Poirot was my favorite) and the Peanuts series by Charles Schultz. I still have those books, now slightly yellowed, packed in a box. Back then, I thought working in a bookstore would be a dream come true. Continue reading

Dear Tomato

Dear Veggie, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways…

Would you write a valentine to a potato? Wax poetic over beans? Write free verse about free range chickens?

Thirty-four writers from seven countries did just that, and you can read their work in the anthology Dear Tomato: an International Crop of Food and Agriculture Poems edited by my friend and fellow writer, Carol-Ann Hoyte. Continue reading

2013 QWF Awards Gala

And the winner is… Celebrating Montreal Writers

2013 QWF Awards

Last night, the Montreal writing community gathered to celebrate the 15th annual Quebec Writers’ Federation Awards. It was a cold night, the kind where you can almost feel snowflakes forming even though it’s not snowing, but inside the Corona Virgin Mobile Theatre, wine flowed and appetizers floated around the room as past winners and nominees mingled with family, friends and fans. The host for this gala event was Ann-Marie MacDonald whose book Fall On Your Knees was an Oprah Book Club pick.

If books are on your Christmas list (as they should be), you might want to take a look at these winners.

Cole Foundation Prize for Translation (French to English): Donald Winkler for The Major Verbs

Mavis Gallant Prize for Non-Fiction: Adam Leith Gollner for The Book of Immortality

Concordia University First Book Prize: Andrew Szymanski for The Barista and I

A.M. Klein Prize for Poetry: Ken Howe for The Civic-Mindedness of Trees

Children’s and Young Adult Literature: Paul Blackwell for Undercurrent

Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction: Saleema Nawaz for Bone and Bread

Monique Polak reading from her new book "So Much It Hurts"

What to read after The Hunger Games

Maybe the title of this post should be “What to Read after Re-reading The Hunger Games in Preparation for the Second Movie,” but I thought it would be too long.

But seriously, there are some new books just out that are worth a look. Montreal’s Young Adult authors have had a lot to celebrate in the past few weeks. The TD Children’s Book Awards were at the end of October, and besides myself, a few other authors also held book launches in the past week.

Monique Polak (pictured above) launched So Much It Hurts, a novel about violence in teen relationships. It’s a story drawn from her experience as a teenager. The children’s bookstore, Babar en Ville, was crowded as the writing community, family and friends got together to congratulate Monique on her 14th novel. If you read my post about my book launch, you’ll remember that Monique encouraged me to turn a short story into a novel that became Guitar Hero. I’m a fan of this award-winning author and can’t wait to read her latest.

So Much It Hurts

Becoming a statistic was never part of Iris’s plan. Iris is sorry. Sorry that she no longer hangs out with her BFF. Sorry that she’s not closer to her mother. But most of all, she’s sorry she makes Mick angry.

If all the world’s a stage, then Iris’s life has become a violent drama, starring a man whose fists are at odds with the eloquence of his words.

Karen Avivi and Alexa Nazzaro held a joint book launch for their respective books, Shredded and The Pool Theory at Chapters. The description on the back cover makes these books a must read for me.

 

Shredded by Karen Avivi

Shredded

Josie Peters thinks she’ll do anything to qualify for the Ultimate BMX freestyle event the summer before her senior year. She can handle road trips and back flips, but when flashy rider R.T. Torres tempts her with an easy “in,” the sacrifices required threaten to send Josie spinning out of control.

The Pool Theory by Alexa Nazzaro

The Pool Theory

The thing is, I’m still having trouble believing it’s mine. And when you can’t own something, it’s pretty hard to do anything else with it. That’s what Dr. Jacobi says, and she’s the only reason I even made it to grade ten, which I guess is where this “story” starts; with an honest-to-god real social life. Hell, I was even a tad less obsessed with avoiding Damian Schofield, who made me hate school to begin with.

Sometimes I can almost convince myself that I’m still there, at the beginning. But that’s before I remember that Annie Cooper is pregnant, and she claims it’s mine.

On November 19th, the Quebec Writers’ Federation is holding its annual QWF awards.  Paul Blackwell (pictured above) is nominated for his YA book Undercurrent.

FYI, there is one notable book that won a QWF award long before it won the Man Booker Prize, and that’s Yan Martel’s Life of Pi.

Stayed tuned for the winners!

Recording the Voices of Chinese Immigrant Women in Canada

VPoyDr. Vivienne Poy launched her book, Passage to Promise Land: Voices of Chinese Immigrant Women to Canada last night at McGill University. The book tells the stories of twenty-eight women who immigrated to Canada between 1950 and 1989. The title, Dr. Poy pointed out, is not a typo. “Promise Land” is the name immigrant women gave to their newly adopted country. The book is based on the research Dr. Poy used for her PhD thesis with follow-up interviews on the progress of these women. There are few books about women immigrants, Dr. Poy said, which is why she focused on them. She added that it’s time to recognize that women immigrants helped build Canada. The book also highlights the growth of Chinese-Canadian communities from the end of World War II to today.

Dr. Vivienne Poy

Dr. Vivienne Poy

Dr. Poy was the first Canadian of Asian descent to be appointed to the Senate and was instrumental in having the month of May recognized as Asian Heritage Month.

The evening included a panel discussion during which Professor Grace Fong, Janet Lumb and Walter Tom, an immigration lawyer, discussed multicultural issues with moderators Rosel Kim and Katie Spillane.

A Cowherd in Paradise

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May Wong reads from her book, “A Cowherd in Paradise: From China to Canada”

When a friend e-mailed me that May Wong was coming to Montreal to do a reading this past Sunday, I knew I had to go. Her book, “A Cowherd in Paradise: From China to Canada” is about her parents who were separated for years because of Canada’s Exclusion Act which came into law in 1923. My parents story sounded similar to hers and so I went eager to hear what she had to say.

Wong had the audience’s rapt attention as she set the background for her story, explaining the historical details that shaped her parents’ lives. Her father chose her mother from a picture. Her mother didn’t know what her future husband looked like until after the wedding ceremony.  While her father was establishing himself as a restaurateur in Montreal, her mother was in China stuggling to survive natural disasaters and the Japanese invasion. The title of the book is a tribute to her mother who was responsible for the family’s water buffalo when she was a little girl. The book includes old family photos and a copy of her father’s head tax certificate.

While I haven’t read the book yet, I think it would be interesting for those whose parents, like mine, didn’t talk about the past. It is very fortunate that Wong’s mother, not only wanted to tell her stories, but also wanted Wong to publish them. The book is a treasure not only for Wong’s family, but for families of other head-tax payers as well.