It was my great honour to be one of the jurors for this year's Governor General's Literary Awards, and I'd like to begin this note by offering a toast to all the finalists!
There were almost 200 books under consideration in the Non-Fiction category, so I spent a good part of the summer curled up on my porch reading biographies, histories, memoirs, essay collections, scientific enquiries, explorations of technological innovations, political treatises, travel literature, and books that didn't fit into any category at all. Assessing books for the non-fiction prize is not so much about comparing apples to oranges as it is pears to bicycles.
The process of selection was by turns fascinating and excruciating, and while I am thrilled for the finalists, I am also a bit heartbroken for the very excellent books that would have been celebrated on a longlist were this prize to include one.
Unlike most of the other literary awards, the names of the jurors for this prize are kept confidential until the day the shortlists are announced, so when people asked what I was up to this summer, I was required to be vague. "Oh, just doing a bit of reading," I'd say, the stack of books beside me bursting with sticky notes that I would occasionally shield with my hand.
"I wish I were a writer," a neighbour commented one afternoon as she eyed my stack of books and cup of tea. "It looks so relaxing."
That's the thing about writers. We just never stop relaxing. So please allow me to yawn and stretch for a moment before I tell you about my upcoming show in New York City.
The Cornelia Street Cafe is a legendary performance venue in Greenwich Village. Eve Ensler premiered The Vagina Monologues there, Suzanne Vega got her start there, Oliver Sachs would come and do readings, members of Monty Python would occasionally perform, etc. I am both delighted and daunted to be performing there in November (delighted to perform, daunted by the task of ensuring the place is full), so while I am always thankful for help spreading the word about shows, I would be IMMENSELY GRATEFUL for help with this one. Thank you!
I'll send a separate announcement that can be forwarded easily, but in the meantime, all the details can be found on the CSC website.
Confessions of a Fairy's Daughter
Friday, November 13 @ 6 pm
Applications for the Under the Volcano master classes are open and I am thrilled to be on the faculty again this year. If you are interested and able to spend ten days writing in central Mexico this January, I cannot recommend this program highly enough. In addition to memoir, there are workshops in fiction, poetry and journalism. All in a breathtaking (and warm!) setting.
Well, of course, I am going to recommend the entire shortlist of the
2015 Governor General's Awards for Non-Fiction!
I'll also add a few other great books which, despite my threatening to go on a hunger strike for one of them, did not make the final list.
The Social Life of Ink by Ted Bishop
Norval Morrisseau by Armand Garnet Ruffo
Dispatches from the Front by David Halton
Party of One by Michael Harris
Bee Time by Mark L. Winston
This is Happy by Camilla Gibb
Stalin's Daughter by Rosemary Sullivan
The House with the Parapet Wall by John Terpstra
And lastly, for the love of home and country, please vote on Monday! If you are not Canadian or cannot vote for some reason, you can still help by taking a few moments to visualize the back of Stephen Harper's head on his way out of office. I've been doing this for months (in addition to singing merry change-of-government songs on Parliament Hill) and gosh, it seems to be working...
with humour in desperate times ~