Archives for posts with tag: 2012

As we prepare to ring in 2013, here, in no particular order, is my top 5 for 2012.


Londoners by Craig Taylor
These oral testimonials create a living, breathing portrait of a city. I was happy to see the book turn up on two out of three National Post critics’ lists on the last Saturday of the year, proving my love for it isn’t too too swayed by my personal love of London.

You Aren’t What You Eat by Steven Poole
This smart and hilarious rant about foodie culture caught my eye in an advance edition  in the UK this past spring. I read most of it in a gastropub  and giggled away over my pint and wild boar sausages. Available only as an eBook in Canada, it’s a steal at $1.99.

Far From the Tree by Andrew Solomon
Listen to Andrew Solomon talk about his book in this episode of CBC’s The Sunday Edition and see if you can resist picking it up. Solmon’s book about children, parenting and identity is both sad and hopeful, and holds relevance for us all.


The Faster I Walk the Smaller I Am by Kjersti A. Skomsvold
This short novel about an old woman approaching death has echoes of Will Self and Alan Bennett. A terrific debut from a young Norwegian author that I was delighted to discover at this year’s International Festival of Authors in Toronto.

Siege 13 by Tamas Dobozy
Dobozy emerged as the literary darling of awards season, with a Writers’ Trust win and a GG nomination topping off a collection of absolute rave reviews. Linked short stories  about the lasting effects of Siege of Budapest, this collection stood out by a mile and deserved every word of praise.

Honourable Mentions

Straphanger by Taras Grescoe — an important and eminently readable book about urban transit. Watch out for the paperback in the spring.
The Measure of a Man by JJ Lee — a 2012 paperback (I came to it late). I was reading passages to people out loud I enjoyed it so much.
In One Person by John Irving — his best novel since A Widow for One Year. Too bad about the horrendous cover.


Becky Toyne, Roddy Doyle, Two Pints (untouched)


Roddy: “About a year and a half ago I opened a Facebook account.”

Audience: *laughs*

And so begins my congenial and chortle-filled interview with Roddy Doyle, the Booker Prize-winning author of books for readers of all ages (my 9-year-old niece is a fan), and (let’s not forget) 2012 Scotiabank Giller Prize judge.

On the pub as the perfect setting for two blokes talking about the tabloids: “The realm of conversation is what makes the pub unique. The alcohol, it helps, but it’s more the conversation.”

This conversation was filmed at the Kobo offices in Toronto as part of the Kobo in Conversation series.

Check out the video on Kobo’s YouTube page, here.

Hon. Hilary M. Weston presents the prize to Candace Savage

No rest for the wicked after the Writers’ Trust Awards on November 7. Team WT jumped straight back in to glam prize-giving mode for the awarding of the second-annual Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction on Monday, November 12. The pink-carpet event was held at Toronto’s Koerner Hall.

At stake: the largest literary prize awarded annually to a work of Canadian nonfiction, and at $60,000, a prize pot bigger than the Giller.

The nominees were announced September 25. Read about that here.

The winner *drum roll* Canadace Savage for A Geography of Blood.

First they shock you, then they make you speak to a room full of people.”

Candace said as she arrived at the podium to accept her award. And then,

Mrs. Weston, I hope you understand how much your very tangible expression of support means, not just to your shortlisted authors, but to the entire literary community in Canada.”

Candace embarked on a whirlwind of publicity, including:

Canada AM
Global Saskatoon
CBC Radio One Saskatchewan Morning
CBC Live
Globe Parties
Prairie Post
Southwest Booster
Maclean’s (a neat little Twitter diary of how the night played out)

Thanks to the National Post for their “Story Behind the Story” series with the nominees and Writers’ Trust Awards hub, and for running full-page excerpts in their Comments & Ideas section in the lead-up to the announcement.

Thanks to CBC Books for being awesome media partners ad for all their #WestonPrize contesting, Q&As, audio coverage and so much more.

Looking forward to next year already (after a small literary nap, perhaps).



This morning, in Toronto’s  Ben McNally Books, we (the staff at the Writers’ Trust, along with jurors Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer and Drew Hayden Taylor) announced the shortlists for the 2012 Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize and Writers’ Trust of Canada/McClelland & Stewart Journey Prize for short fiction.

The nominees are:

Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize

Writers’ Trust of Canada/McClelland & Stewart Journey Prize:

Here’s a roundup of some of the media:

National Post

Globe and Mail

Toronto Star

Quill & Quire


Both prizes will be presented at the 12th annual Writers’ Trust Awards on Nov. 7th.

Fall = big book season.

Erin Balser and I sat down with Mary Ito on CBC Radio One’s Fresh Air to talk about what we’re looking forward to this season.

We talked about:
The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling
The Underwater Welder by Jeff Lemire
Sleeping Funny by Miranda Hill
NW by Zadie Smith
Y by Marjorie Celona
The Blondes by Emily Schultz
This Is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen

And mentioned:
1982 by Jian Ghomeshi
Waging Heavy Peace by Neil Young
This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz
Dear Life by Alice Munro

Listen to the audio.


First you couldn’t be online without hearing about it. Then you couldn’t open a newspaper without reading about it. Then you couldn’t even walk into a bookstore without seeing it piled high in all its suggestive tie-me-up-ishness.

Fifty Shades of Grey was everywhere. But is it any good …? Of course not.

Erin Balser and I went in to the CBC Fresh Air studio to talk to Mary Ito about why we think everyone’s going gaga for Christian Grey, and to offer some suggestions for smutty reading with a little more literary style.

Here’s the chat.

Ten years after it was first published, Hana’s Suitcase — the story of a Czech girl murdered during the Holocaust and, 50 years later, of a Japanese educator’s search to find out what happened to the “Waisenkind” whose suitcase came into her possession — remains a school staple and family favourite. Its author, Karen Levine (along with Fumiko Ishioka, the Japanese educator, and George Brady, Hana’s older brother who survived the Holocaust and settled in Toronto) has travelled the world talking to school children about the lessons to be learned from Hana’s story — of history, of acceptance, of speaking up to protect others.

On the tenth anniversary, Second Story Press released Hana’s Suitcase Anniversary Album, adding new stories: letters from children around the world who have been inspired by Hana’s Suitcase; reflections from Karen, Fumiko and George on how reaction to the book changed their lives; images of drawings and a quilt inspired by the book and created by school children; covers and posters from the book’s dozens of foreign editions and stage and screen adaptations.

The new book, Hana’s Suitcase Anniversary Album,  launched on April 19, 2012, Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Second Story publisher Margie Wolfe noted:

With Fumiko’s determination and desire to do the right thing … She transformed a story that would only have been for George and in his memory … to one with a message that is for all ages, all peoples, all cultures.”

Karen and Margie talked to Quillcast about their journey with Hana’s story, and an interview with Karen on CBC’s The Next Chapter will air on May 14 and 19.

On launch day, Karen gave a presentation to 150 enrapt school kids (and their teachers) at the Barbara Frum Library in Toronto.

This morning I was on Fresh Air with CBC Books Producer Erin Balser (@booksin140) talking about our publishing predictions for 2012.

They are:

1) The rise of eBOOK SHORTS. Long-form journalism in eBook form has been a big growth area in the past 12 months. Will it be a game-changer in 2012?

2) The ongoing fight for INDEPENDENT BOOKSTORES. With news of several closures already in 2012, now more than ever indie retailers are having to do more than just sell books. We highlight some of the ones that are doing it best.

3) Will 2012 be the year of NON-FICTION? Literary awards for non-fiction have started to steal some of the media limelight from the big fiction prizes. Will this be the year serious, narrative non-fiction gets sexy?

4) CANADIAN-OWNED PUBLISHERS v. the might of multi-nationals. With Random House now a full owner of iconic Canadian house McClelland & Stewart, what does this mean for the year ahead in publishing?

Listen to the audio of our conversation here.