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Summer Reads 2017

 

Books in the sunshine!

My annual summer reads segment for CBC Day 6 features suspense, nostalgia, growing pains, grief, the supernatural, family struggles, and, yes, also several beaches.

Here’s the audio >> listen

 

 

Into the Water

 

This weekend’s # 1 bestseller is the sophomore novel from The Girl on the Train author Paula Hawkins. But should you read it?

My review on CBC’s Day 6 >> listen here.

Summer Reads 2016

 

Mid-June = time for my annual list of beach reads for Day 6 on CBC Radio One.

Listen to the audio here.

This year’s selection includes three debut novels, and has history, mystery, spies, spooks, and … well also quite aa lot of sadness. Sorry about that.

The five novels (pictured above) are:

  • Imagine Me Gone by Adam Haslett
  • Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
  • On the Shores of Darkness there Is Light by Cordelia Strube
  • I’m Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid
  • The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen

 

 

Don DeLillo has a new novel out. And after a few teeny tinies in recent years, this one is, say his publishers, his greatest work since 1997’s Underworld.

So … should you read it?

I reviewed it for CBC Day 6, here.

 

Don’t panic…but there are only five shopping days left until Christmas. Listen here for my annual Holiday Gift Guide for CBC’s Day 6, a selection of six great books for a variety of readers on your list (hint: said books are stacked in my arms right up there /\. Look how happy I am to be recommending them!). Remember, folks: books are easy to wrap. Happy Holidays!

 

(l to r) Karen Solie, Deirdre Dore, André Alexis, Richard Wagamese, Jan Thornhill, Annabel Lyon. Photo credit: Tom Sandler

The Writers’ Trust Awards ceremony is easily one of my favourite literary events of the year. Over the course of an hour, the Writers’ Trust gives out six prizes for literary merit and $139,000 to Canadian writers. There are always some surprises and there are always some very excellent acceptance speeches. The 300-strong crowd is a who’s who of emerging writers, entry-level publishing staff, and the most experienced and respected publishers in the land.

Without a doubt, one of this years’ most memorable moments was the acceptance speech delivered by Richard Wagamese on accepting the Matt Cohen Award: In Celebration of a Writing Life. Don’t believe me? Watch it here. It is well worth 4 minutes of your time.

The award recipients were:

Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize ($25,000)
André Alexis for Fifteen Dogs, published by Coach House Books

Writers’ Trust/McClelland & Stewart Journey Prize ($10,000)
Deirdre Dore for “The Wise Baby,” published in Geist

Vicky Metcalf Award for Literature for Young People ($20,000)
Jan Thornhill

Latner Writers’ Trust Poetry Prize ($25,000)
Karen Solie

Writers’ Trust Engel/Findley Award ($25,000)
Annabel Lyon

Matt Cohen Award: In Celebration of a Writing Life ($20,000)
Richard Wagamese

 


The crowd gathers at the 2015 Hilary Weston Prize presentation. Photo credit: Tom Sandler

At an elegant gathering of 200 well-heeled, literary-minded folk in the Art Gallery of Ontario’s Walker Court on October 6, the Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction was awarded to Rosemary Sullivan for Stalin’s Daughter: The Extraordinary and Tumultuous Life of Svetlana Alliluyeva.

Performers brought each of the nominated books to life throughout the party and awards show. Also present was the winner of this year’s Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Student Nonfiction Writing Contest, Nico Branham.

In her acceptance speech, Sullivan thanked her late mother, her “most persistent fan.”

The next morning, I dragged her out bright and early to do the media rounds. She was very nice about it.

A photo gallery of the night’s festivities can be viewed here on the Writers’ Trust Facebook page.

 

 

 

Anxious publishers and publicists and members of the media gathered at Ben McNally Books in downtown Toronto for the unveiling of the first fiction-prize shortlists of the fall 2015 literary season.

The finalists for the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize are:

The winner will receive $25,000 and each finalist $2,500.

The finalists for the Writers’ Trust/McClelland & Stewart Journey Prize are:

The winner will receive $10,000 and each finalist will receive $1,000.

In addition, the journal that first published the winning story will receive $2,000.

The winners of both prizes, along with four other awards for a body of work, will be announced at the Writers’ Trust Awards ceremony in Toronto’s Glenn Gould Studio on November 3.

 

 

More than half a century after modern classic To Kill a Mockingbird was published, a new manuscript by its reclusive and media-shy author came to light under mysterious circumstances. Mystery or not, the world went mad for it, and on July 14, 2015, it landed.

The new novel is called Go Set a Watchman. It has raised many, many questions, and spawned many, many reviews. It has an initial North American print run of 2 million copies.

I’ve been doing a segment called “Should I Read It?” on CBC Radio One’s Day 6 for the past five years. We review high-profile, much-talked-about books. We’ve never done one quite as talked about as this.

Go Set a Watchman: should you read it? Here’s my review.

Alessandra Naccarato, winner of the RBC Bronwen Wallace Award for Emerging Writers. Photo credit Katrina Afonso.

 

On a hot and humid May evening in Toronto, the Writers’ Trust of Canada handed out its “thing in the spring,” the RBC Bronwen Wallace Award for Emerging Writers. The winner was  Alessandra Naccarato for her poetry collection “Re-Origin of Species.”

The Bronwen Wallace Award recognizes emerging writers under 35 who have yet to publish in book form. Past winners include many then-unknown but now-familiar names, such as Michael Crummey, Alissa York, Alison Pick and Jeramy Dodds.

Host Tanis Rideout (another past winner) set the perfect tone: fun, celebratory, reverential. The crowd schmoozed to classical renditions of Top 40 songs (we were in the Royal Conservatory of Music, after all) in a stunning all-glass room with views of Philosopher’s Walk and the Royal Ontario Museum. The atmosphere was fun, lively, and distinctly emerge-from-hibernationy. This was, said Tanis “our thing in the spring.”

Alessandra Naccarato won $5,000. Her fellow nominees each won $1,000. They were: Irfan Ali for “Who I Think About When I Think About You,” and Chuqiao Yang for “Roads Home.”

Find out more about the prize and this year’s nominees here.

Read stories from CBC Books, the Toronto Star and Quill and Quire here, here and here.

And check out a Facebook photo gallery from the event courtesy of the Writers’ Trust here.

Here are the three nominees chatting with me and (via the magic of Periscope) the world on the pre-ceremony “red-carpet.”

Chatting to award finalists Irfan Ali, Alessandro Naccarato and Chuqiao Yang before the ceremony. Photo credit Katrina Afonso.