Two sides of John Boyne

October 24, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Stay_Where_You_Are_and_Then_LeaveDublin-born author John Boyne is most famous for the 2006 novel (and motion picture) The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, an audacious work of young-adult fiction that addresses the fraught subject of the Holocaust. Among the book’s many honours are the Irish Book Award for Children’s Book of the Year, the Iowa Teen Book Award, and the Que Leer Award for Best International Novel of the Year. The book was also nominated for the British Book Award, the Carnegie Medal, and the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is a testament to Boyne’s fearlessness as an author: he is willing to tackle subject matter that many novelists writing for adults assiduously avoid, and to do so in a way that does not condescend to his younger audience.

Boyne’s new work for children is a First World War novel called Stay Where You Are and Then Leave. The protagonist is nine-year-old Alfie Summerfield, who is celebrating his fifth birthday in London on the day that war breaks out. For young Alfie, his birthday party is “both a happy and sad memory” – happy because he is in the presence of his family and his best friend, Kalena Janacek; sad because the adults in the group are consumed by anxiety over the declaration of war. Alfie’s mother, Margie, elicits a promise from her husband, Georgie, not to enlist – a promise Georgie breaks the following day.

After Georgie is sent off to France, and Kalena and her father – who are Jews from Prague – are shipped away for being alleged German spies, Alfie steals the elder Janacek’s shoeshine box and travels to King’s Cross tube station, where he launches a lucrative business shining shoes.

Boyne paints a sobering picture of life during wartime: the depredations, the lack – of food, of money, of security – the constant worry about friends and relatives in jeopardy. When Georgie’s letters from overseas stop coming, Alfie becomes convinced his father has been killed in combat; a chance meeting at his shoeshine stand suggests he may be wrong about this, and he embarks on a journey to discover the truth.

Boyne depicts the horrors of combat through Georgie’s letters from the front, and takes readers on a voyage through a hospital for soldiers sent home suffering from shell shock. These scenes are filtered through the perspective of the book’s nine-year-old protagonist, which lends them an added level of unease due to the psychic distance the author employs. Alfie is highly intelligent, but he remains a young boy, and the things he encounters exist far outside his level of experience and maturity.

It is a cliché that war forces children to grow up too fast, but Boyne uses his hero as a mechanism for examining the various tolls the First World War – and by extension, war in general – exacted on those left behind. Younger readers will likely not comprehend every implication contained in the narrative, but this is immaterial: the book’s refusal to talk down to its audience is one of its most impressive features.

After reading Boyne’s take on the Holocaust and the First World War, it would be easy to assume that his imagination runs exclusively to heavy historical material. Such assumptions would be wrong.

Barnaby_BrocketBoyne’s 2012 novel, The Terrible Thing that Happened to Barnaby Brocket, complete with illustrations by Oliver Jeffers, is a lively, whimsical story that puts the lie to the notion that Boyne is incapable of crafting lighter fare for young readers. Which is not to suggest that Barnaby Brocket is an insubstantial novel: quite the opposite. The book takes up a subject dear to many young readers’ hearts: the perils and triumphs of being different in a world that prizes conformity.

Born to parents who pride themselves on being unwaveringly normal, Barnaby has a congenital condition that proves challenging, to say the least. Barnaby floats. In the hospital delivery room, the doctors and Barnaby’s mother lose track of him the instant he emerges from the womb; they locate him hovering around the ceiling. “Barnaby Brocket, the third child of the most normal family who had ever lived in the Southern Hemisphere, was already proving himself to be anything but normal by refusing to obey the most fundamental rule of all. The law of gravity.” All this is accompanied by an illustration of the doctors and nurses, along with the new mother, in the delivery room, staring upward in astonishment.

Barnaby’s unusual ability becomes such a bone of contention for his doggedly conventional parents that one day his mother cuts him loose from the leash she attaches him to and allows him to float away into a new life. He is rescued by two elderly women in a hot-air balloon, whereupon he embarks on an adventure of discovery that takes him to various locations around the globe, not to mention outer space. (Okay, middle space.)

As with his more serious novels, Boyne does not pander to his audience. The two women piloting the hot-air balloon, Ethel and Marjorie, are a lesbian couple, though this is not stated explicitly. Boyne hints at their situation in asides, such as the one in which Barnaby ponders why the women are holding hands. The implication, however, is clear: Barnaby and the women are kindred spirits, in the sense that they are all on the outside of conventional society in one respect or another.

Boyne deploys a light touch in dealing with these themes and subjects, consistent with the overall humorous tone of the book, which is a stark contrast to the subject matter in Stay Where You Are and Then Leave and The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. The author’s versatility is admirable (he also writes novels for adults, the most recent of which deals with sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic church), and whether serious or lighthearted, his fiction for young people is characterized by an intelligence and a high-mindedness (in the best possible sense) that, in a literary genre sadly glutted with vampires, werewolves, and fantasy dystopias, is fabulously rare.


I’ll be talking with John Boyne about his creative process as part of the 35th annual Harbourfront International Festival of Authors tomorrow at 12:00 p.m.

The world in its unease: A Lovely Way to Burn by Louise Welsh and Walt by Russell Wangersky

October 22, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

A_Lovely_Way_to_BurnSometimes, fiction rubs up against real-world events in uncanny ways. When she began writing her latest novel, the first instalment in the Plague Times trilogy, Louise Welsh could not have known that it would be published the same year the deadliest outbreak of Ebola in recorded history would sweep across West Africa. And yet the disease, which is name-checked in A Lovely Way to Burn, bears striking resemblance to the fictional pandemic that serves as the backdrop for the book.

The atmosphere Welsh creates is grim: as a global pandemic colloquially called “the sweats” rages out of control, the citizens of London fall victim to the disease and paranoid hysteria in roughly equal measure. As people flee the city in large numbers, vermin begin to take over, a hospital is reduced to “a nightmare of darkened corridors,” and the streets take on “a blighted look.”

Against this stark background, former journalist Stevie Flint ignores advice and her best instincts, both of which tell her to leave the urban area until the sweats has somehow burnt itself out. But Stevie is driven by a need to find out the truth about her boyfriend, a celebrated doctor named Simon Sharkey, who has died, apparently of natural causes. In a city overrun by a deadly airborne disease, the term “natural causes” takes on dreadful connotations. Nevertheless, Stevie is convinced that Simon was murdered, and pursues her investigation in the face of antipathy from people who want to conceal the truth or use her – a survivor of the disease who may be immune – for their own ends.

In her acknowledgements, Welsh admits that her inspiration for the book’s mise en scène arose not from a specific outbreak but from a childhood characterized by “a mild obsession” with nuclear weapons, and from television. “The idea that the collapse of civilization is imminent has been around since ancient times,” the author writes. “Personally, I am amazed that we have survived this long, and while I don’t exactly look forward to the end of the world as we know it, the knowledge that it may be just around the corner probably enhances the way I live.”

The end of the world as we know it may be a bit rash: Welsh’s pestilent dystopia bears certain resemblances to the devastation in West Africa, but her fictional pandemic evinces a mélange of influences. The symptoms of the sweats are similar to Ebola, but the disease in the novel is airborne, making it much closer to SARS, which sowed panic around the globe in 2003.

Certainly, readers of A Lovely Way to Burn will not be able to dissociate the events of the novel from the events unfolding daily across the front pages of their newspapers. (Now that two American nurses have been infected with Ebola on U.S. soil, the West – in particular the States – has finally awoken to the urgent nature of the disease, something all too easy to ignore when it was confined to the African continent.) This lends the novel an added frisson that keeps the pages turning and the reader wondering edgily, “What if?”

Walt_Russell_WangerskyThere is unease aplenty in Russell Wangersky’s new novel, though not as a result of anything so exotic as a deadly airborne virus. The threat at the heart of Walt is staggeringly quotidian, which actually serves to make it that much creepier.

The eponymous character is a janitor at a grocery store in St. John’s, Newfoundland. Walt occupies himself by picking up the shopping lists discarded by patrons leaving the store: tossed indifferently into trash bins, or on the floor. A loner who has developed a keen insight into human psychology, Walt has perfected the art of developing remarkably accurate profiles of the people who create these lists based on the contents, the handwriting, and the type of stationery. If a patron – always female – catches Walt’s attention, he uses their abandoned grocery lists as a springboard to stalk them online, eventually escalating to voyeurism and home invasion.

Wangersky is a journalist, and his spare, reportorial style heightens the disquiet in the book, as does his technique of fracturing the narrative between Walt’s first-person narration, the diary entries of a woman he is observing, and the perspective of one of a pair of cold-case officers on the St. John’s force who think there is something suspicious about the disappearance of Walt’s wife. One of the cops, Inspector Dean Hill, has recently split with his own spouse; there are clear parallels in the way Walt stalks his victims and the time Hill spends outside his estranged wife’s home, observing her from the darkened windows of his car.

As a portrait of a disturbed mind told from the antagonist’s perspective, Walt shares elements in common with American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis and The Collector by John Fowles. Like those books, Walt also features a male character who preys on women, but though Wangersky has written about a misogynist, it would be a mistake to suggest he has written a misogynistic book. He follows in the footsteps of Mailer and Dostoevsky, delving into the psychology of a deeply disturbed character as a means of attempting to understand the motivations behind some of the darkest impulses in the human psyche. That he does so in such a dispassionate way, and using such everyday circumstances as a backdrop, only serves to heighten the creeping discomfort on the part of the reader.


I’ll be speaking with Louise Welsh on Thursday, October 30, as part of Toronto’s International Festival of Authors. I’ll also be hosting Russell Wangersky at IFOA on Sunday, October 26, as part of a panel that also features Adam Sol and Matthew Thomas.

Some kind of monster: Corey Redekop’s unconventional zombie tale

October 31, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Tom Waits’s voice was once characterized as Louis Armstrong meets Ethel Merman in hell. This description resonates in an early set piece from Husk, in which the narrator, newly resurrected from the dead, tries to regain control of his vocal chords. The result, we are told, resembles “the sound of orphans being strangled in their cribs.” The moment is typical of author Corey Redekop’s approach in his second novel: it’s utterly macabre, yet simultaneously flat-out hilarious. “There’s a point where everything becomes very funny,” Redekop avers.

Certainly, Husk is not your stereotypical zombie story. First of all, it’s narrated in the first person by a protagonist named Sheldon Funk, a struggling actor who dies a horrible death in the washroom of a moving bus, only to wake up on the slab mid-autopsy. (Restraint is not a quality Redekop indulges in this novel. Sheldon’s death scene, for instance, rivals the suppository sequence from Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting for its gleeful disgust factor.) But then, Redekop explains, he had no intention of writing a typical zombie novel. “I’ve read a couple of books that have zombies as their protagonists,” he says, “but they were honestly all along the lines of The Walking Dead, so they’re still shambling hordes and somehow this one still has intelligence, but they’re still out there eating people, and they can’t really talk. Which is fine: it’s the classic standard for a reason. It’s not that it doesn’t interest me, it’s just that I don’t think I can write that kind of story.”

Indeed, Husk took several different directions on the road to being written. “I had an idea for a zombie detective novel,” says Redekop, “which I wanted to set in a 1950s, Raymond Chandleresque alternate reality. But I could not get the voice right, and I knew I didn’t want to do it if I couldn’t do it justice.” He eventually abandoned the detective story conceit, although he did retain one element of that manuscript: “The truth is: I liked my first sentence.”

The opening sentence of Husk – “I miss breathing” – sets the tone for what follows. It also nods in the direction of the book’s oddly (for a zombie novel) ruminative quality. But none of what follows was planned in advance, the author claims. “I honestly just decided to follow the character. I didn’t have a preset plan, I didn’t know where the plot was going to go. A lot of it came as a complete surprise to me.”

The surprises included the fact that Sheldon Funk is gay. “I didn’t know he was gay until he killed his lover,” Redekop says matter-of-factly.

The character’s name was less of a surprise, and alludes to the author’s own Mennonite background (Redekop says of Husk, “It’s A Complicated Kindness of zombie novels”). “I’m Mennonite, and I needed a last name. I was playing with the last name of Thiessen, but it just didn’t work right. But then I came across Funk, which is actually a very traditional Mennonite name, and I just thought it really worked for the character.” Redekop adds with a laugh, “I was just trying to please my Mennonite readers.”

Redekop professes fidelity to the classic zombie mythos, and in particular credits the influence of George A. Romero’s groundbreaking 1968 film Night of the Living Dead. “It was such a milestone,” he says, “and so out of left field. You think it’s going to be a cheap, $10,000 grindhouse film, and then you leave ninety minutes later shaken to your core because he tapped into something incredibly primal.” But despite this influence, Redekop insists that with Husk, he wanted to do something different. “I knew that wherever it was going, I didn’t want it to become a sort of zombie apocalypse novel. It’s not that that’s not interesting, it’s just been done very, very well, and I didn’t want to retell a story that’s already been told.”

One thing Redekop was not worried about was being slotted into a specific genre category. “I’ve been a librarian and I realize you need to categorize things.” That said, it is apparent after a very few pages that Husk is not easily categorizable. “I’ve seen the book in one store classified in the horror section,” Redekop says, “and I don’t think that’s actually accurate. It’s got gore, but I think there’s only one or two scenes that might come across as truly disturbing, and even then I don’t know if I did them all that well. … The book has horror elements, it has comedy elements, and if you had to classify it, you’re certainly going to mention zombies or the undead, because that’s going to attract a certain reader. The only risk is will other people not read it because of that? But that’s valid for every single book out there.”

While Husk may not cleave to the stuffy, middlebrow tastefulness that typifies so much CanLit, Redekop does not feel that its content, or its idiosyncratic approach, places it outside the pantheon, which is in fact much more heterogeneous than many people seem willing to acknowledge. “I know people who have said, ‘I don’t read Canadian literature. I just hate it.’ Well, okay: you’ve obviously never read anything beyond Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town.”

Still, the author is not so disingenuous as to assume that all readers will be attracted to his undead character study. As part of his pre-publication publicity endeavours, Redekop created a book trailer that perfectly captures the novel’s darkly comical, yet vaguely unnerving nature.

“I was at my cabin with my extended family and we had a bunch of nieces and nephews there, all twelve and under; they’re all kids, so they’re all loud and screaming all the time. They love to draw, so I had the idea that maybe they could draw me some pictures and maybe I could do something with them.” The “something” Redekop came up with rates as one of the most inspired book trailers of the year. “I wanted to do something that captured how weird the book was, the offbeat nature of it,” he says.

“I think there’s something very wrong about the book. If you get the trailer, you’ll like the book. If you don’t get the trailer, you’re not going to like the book.”

You’ve been warned.

Poison pen: Stacey Madden on violence, literary influences, and publishing his first novel

October 19, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

“I’m interested in the aesthetics of violence,” says Stacey Madden, sitting in a downtown Toronto café and appearing pretty much the polar opposite of a violent character. Indeed, Madden admits his fascination with aggression in a literary context is somewhat paradoxical, given that he will go to just about any lengths to avoid it in real life. “If I hear a beer bottle fall over in a bar, I’m out of there, because I think somebody just smashed it over somebody’s head, not that somebody spilled their beer. Maybe it’s that fear of violence in life that attracts me to it in literature.”

The author has just published his first novel, the darkly comic neo-noir Poison Shy, which allowed him free rein to indulge his taste for fictional mayhem. “I wrote a book that I wanted to read,” he says. “I wrote a book that I thought would be dark, because I like to read dark books. I wrote a book that I though would be funny, because I like to read funny books. And I like to read violent books.”

The book in question is a nasty little number about Brandon Galloway, a gormless twenty-nine-year-old pest control worker who becomes involved with a provocative university student named Melanie Blaxley and her contemptible “roommate,” Darcy. Brandon spends his days tending to his mentally ill mother and working for Kill ’Em All, an extermination company in the fictional Ontario town of Frayne (the main street is called Dormant Road, and the locals refer to Frayne University as F.U.). At night, Brandon becomes ever more deeply enmeshed with the redheaded firebrand Melanie, an obsession that leads him into an uncontrollable spiral of sex and depravity.

Clocking in at fewer than 200 pages, the result is a lightning fast, tightly calibrated read. As reviewer Alex Good said in Quill & Quire, “It’s hard to think of a recent novel with less dead air.”

At least one reviewer did express reservations about the book’s structure, in particular Melanie’s disappearance, which is hinted at in the opening pages, but does not actually occur until close to the novel’s end. But Madden defends his decision to build his story this way. He didn’t want to follow the easy, predictable trajectory of a character who disappears early on with the other characters forced to spend the balance of the book looking for her. “If I had adhered to that formula, it would have made the book more like a novel, and less like the chaotic nature of real life.”

The work that Madden has produced is a kind of literary hybrid: not strictly a genre novel, but certainly not a work of documentary realism. “I didn’t want the book to be realist in the sense that a lot of writers mean that these days,” Madden says. “I didn’t want it to be so authentic that anything out of the ordinary shouldn’t be expected to happen because it’s too weird. I think that real life is very weird. Strange things can and do happen all the time.”

Given Madden’s penchant for anti-realist fiction laced with violence, it should come as no surprise that the author numbers Flannery O’Connor, whom he calls “an incredible prose stylist, and a writer of non-realist realism,” as one of his primary influences. “She totally changed my perception of what fiction could be,” Madden says. “I was kind of scandalized after reading her, in the best possible way. I thought: wow, you can say that and you can write about that kind of stuff and describe things in that way, and it’s okay?”

Madden wrote Poison Shy as his thesis project for the University of Guelph MFA program, where he was taught by Susan Swan, Karen Connelly, and Russell Smith, and mentored by Andrew Pyper. “It helped me in the sense that I’m kind of lazy,” Madden says of his experience in the program. “This kicked me in the ass to actually finish something.”

Although critics have suggested that MFA programs are akin to factories for writers, Madden disavows this interpretation as it applies to his experience. “I don’t think the program at Guelph-Humber is a factory. I don’t think it churns writers out like cookie cutters. Sitting here, I’d be hard pressed to think of any two writers [from my cohort] that I could compare and say, ‘These two do the same kind of thing.’”

Madden’s involvement with the Guelph-Humber program, and the writing of Poison Shy, was an outgrowth of a longtime affinity for books and writers, something he indulges as a bookseller at the Toronto mini-chain Book City, where he has worked for the past decade. “It’s helped me to feel like an insider, sometimes,” Madden says. “When I had aspirations about writing but didn’t know if I’d ever be published, I could still think, ‘Well, at least I work in a bookstore and sometimes writers come in and sign books.’”

Now that he is a published novelist, Madden retains his job as a bookseller, and claims not to be entirely fatalistic about the future of either profession. “I’m always a pessimist. But there’s a little flicker of optimism inside me.”

He goes on to say that his optimism about the book business comes from having met “a ton of avid readers and book buyers.”

“Some people say that books will become niche items, will become like what records are now. But I don’t know if I agree with that because every reader I know still buys books and swears that they will always do so,” he says.

“Books are here to stay.”

Stacey Madden will appear at Toronto’s International Festival of Authors along with Matt Lennox, Aga Maksimowska, Grace O’Connell, and Tanis Rideout on Sunday, October 21 at 4 p.m. Tickets and information available at the IFOA website.

What to see at IFOA

October 18, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

For ten days each October, the International Festival of Authors gathers some of the most prestigious international literary talent in one place for a series of readings, panel discussions, and author signings. Administered by Authors at Harbourfront Centre, this year marks the Toronto festival’s thirty-third anniversary. This year’s festival kicks off tonight with a PEN Canada benefit featuring a rare appearance by Rohinton Mistry, and continues with readings by the nominees for a quartet of prestigious Canadian literary prizes: the Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction; the Governor General’s Literary Award; the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize; and the Scotiabank Giller Prize.

This year features appearances by international bestsellers Michael Chabon, Junot Díaz, Louise Erdrich, Deborah Harkness, and Richard Ford, along with established and upcoming Canadian talent including Vincent Lam, Sandra Ridley, Linden MacIntyre, and Larissa Andrusyshyn.

With more than 70 different events featuring more than 200 participants, there is always more to do than can possibly be done by any single person attending the festival. But here is a very shortlist of events that have piqued my interest.

Reading/Interview: Lee Child
Lee Child is an international bestselling author of thrillers featuring ex-U.S. military man Jack Reacher. They are the kind of bubble-gum actioners that get snapped up by the bushel by commuters and beach readers, and there’s a film out this December starring Tom Cruise as Reacher. Although Child’s brand of escapist entertainment is not totally my speed, I’m intrigued by the pairing of the author with interviewer Adrienne Clarkson, who seems at first glance a counterintuitive choice. This kind of iconoclastic pairing often makes for the most intriguing conversations.
Saturday, October 20, 2 p.m. Brigantine Room

Reading/Round Table: Roo Borson, Phil Hall, Don McKay, Sadiqa de Meijer
Poetry gets short shrift in this country, selling in even lower numbers than short-story collections. Which is a shame, because Canada features no shortage of strong poets, both veterans and newcomers. Three of the former – Borson, Hall, and McKay – join the winner of this year’s CBC Poetry Prize for a reading and discussion moderated by Garvia Bailey of the Ceeb. For verse enthusiasts, this event should prove enlightening and entertaining.
Saturday, October 20, 4 p.m., Studio Theatre

Reading/Interview: John Ralston Saul
The author of Voltaire’s Bastards is an intimidating public intellectual, and it takes a brave soul to go toe-to-toe with him. Philosopher, professor, and author Mark Kingwell may be one of the few people who can fill the bill. This discussion should be all the more interesting given that Saul’s new book, Dark Diversions, is the author’s first work of fiction in over a decade and a half.
Sunday, October 21, 12 p.m., Fleck Dance Theatre

Round Table: Matt Lennox, Stacey Madden, Aga Maksimowska, Grace O’Connell, Tanis Rideout
“The novel is dead” seems to be a perennial theme among people who talk about literary matters, but this quintet of young authors, all graduates of the University of Guelph’s well-regarded MFA program would beg to differ. Each writer has a debut novel out this year, and this discussion about breaking into the industry and the challenges facing new writers in a rapidly evolving literary landscape sounds interesting. Novelist Catherine Bush, who administers the Guelph program, moderates.
Sunday, October 21, 4 p.m., Lakeside Terrace

Publishing Keynote Speaker and Interview: Jonathan Galassi
Each year, IFOA sponsors the International Visitors Programme, which offers publishing industry insiders the opportunity to come together for discussion, networking, and socializing. This year’s participants include some international heavy-hitters, such as Virago Press publisher Lennie Goodings and Blue Rider Press president and publisher David Rosenthal. This year’s keynote address, which is open to the public, is presented by Jonathan Galassi, president and publisher of Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Galassi will be interviewed by David Kent, president and CEO of HarperCollins Canada.
Monday, October 22, 4:30 p.m., Studio Theatre

Round Table: Marjorie Celona, Anakana Schofield, Rebecca Lee, Leanne Shapton
The women on this panel are unafraid to take risks with their approach to storytelling, employing a variety of forms – from short story to innovative memoir – to explore the idea of narrative. This discussion, titled “Basic Instinct: Style vs. Content,” is moderated by NOW magazine’s Susan G. Cole.
Wednesday, October 24, 8:00 p.m., Lakeside Terrace

Round Table: Deborah Harkness, Alen Mattich, Jo Nesbø, Corey Redekop
Take an historian descended from a line of witches, a secret policeman being targeted by Bosnian thugs in the Yugoslavia of 1991, a hard-boiled Norwegian detective, and a gay actor who just happens to be a zombie, and you’ve pretty much got a recipe for a lively conversation about genre, the supernatural, and the modern novel. Bestselling literary thriller writer Andrew Pyper moderates.
Saturday, October 27, 12 p.m., Brigantine Room

Round Table: Emma Donoghue, Andri Snær Magnason, Alix Ohlin, Cordelia Strube
This group of writers defines the term “iconoclastic,” representing a wide variety of approaches and attitudes to fiction. How do these writers settle on their subjects, styles, narrative voices, and settings? How do these choices affect the stories they tell? I’m moderating this one myself, so feel free to come out and watch me get totally schooled on the art of fiction.
Saturday, October 27, 5:00 p.m., Brigantine Room

Found in Translation: Japan@IFOA
Next to poetry and short fiction, works in translation are among the least-read in Canada, which is baffling to me given our multicultural makeup and a vibrant publishing scene in Quebec. For my money, Japan has produced some of the most fascinating works of world literature in the past decade, so I’m interested to hear the writers on this panel – poet Hiromi Ito, novelist Hiromi Kawakami, and translator Motoyuki Shibata – talk about their work and their approach to writing. York University professor of Japanese literature and film Ted Gossen hosts.
Sunday, October 28, 4:00 p.m., Studio Theatre

More information about these and other IFOA events, as well as location and ticketing information, can be found at the IFOA website.