Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Yiddish for Pirates on the Scotiabank Giller Prize Shortlist!

This is surprising and delightful news. Yiddish for Pirates is on the shortlist with five other books. Here's the complete list.

When I read the Jury Citation for my book, I'll admit to tearing up. I was so moved that the jury "got" what I was trying to do & that they articulated it with such precision and enthusiasm.

There are lots of events associated with the shortlist—media and readings—and I get to stay in a hotel that has a "glass-enclosed cheese cave." I want to repeat that phrase over and over. It feels better in the mouth than any cheese.

The Hamilton Spectator had a story about my nomination on the front page (the front page!) and interviewed me. That astounded me. And as I was walking on a downtown street, a guy pulled his car over to the curb and jumped out, ran up to me and shook my hand to congratulate me. Really, Dad, that was too much. But actually, I didn't know the guy. Very strange but sweet.

Monday, September 19, 2016

The Count from Sesame Street was a Holocaust Survivor

The writer and scholar, Jennifer Glaser wrote on her Facebook page that, as a child, she thought that Sesame Street's The Count (AKA Count von Count) was a Holocaust survivor. This made sense to me, it resonated. So I wrote a prose poem based on this recollection.

I'm delighted that it was published today on Menachem Matthew Feuer's the Schlemiel in Theory Blog. Here it is. Von beautiful poem. Two beautiful poems...ah ha ha ha ha....

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Crap Orgasm and Owls.

In response to the magazine The Walrus's new "family friendly" fiction rules, and the subsequent resignation of its fiction editor, Nick Mount (see here for the story), A.G. Pasquella created a new lit journal (named after two words which were forbidden in the new rules.)

I'm delighted to have the first piece posted in this new venture.
 I think A.G. missed the fact that I sneakily integrated the forbidden words into this piece along with another element which was the initial cause of the kerfuffle—why else would have let this in?

But really, it's important that significant journals choose quality and not some patronizing and misguided notion of what might be appropriate. Writing is about engagement and sometimes that engagement might be not be silky smooth, indeed might have some grit and resistance. I think we can take it.

Here's my story, Owls.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

India, Books and a Great New Review of Yiddish for Pirates

As you can see from the above picture of a guy (not me, I'm taking the picture) checking his cellphone in a monument, we've just returned from 9 days in India (via New York City.) We were in Agra, Delhi, and Jaipur and points in between.  Truly a remarkable experience and one which I have to write about properly but first, laundry and catching up on responsibilities, including composing/programming a digital interactive typewriter piece for installation at the Art Gallery of Hamilton next month. Now here is a photo snapped from a bicycle rickshaw of a bookseller on a street of booksellers just opening up for the morning.

I did come across this really insightful review/ essay concerning Yiddish for Pirates by Kerry Riley on her fantastic blog which I'm just discovering now. (I know, a blog isn't real until it talks about me...) I'm really grateful for her perceptive examination of the novel from a number of different perspectives, including the motif of books, the repository of past narratives in our culture, and the notion of story which run throughout the novel.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Yiddish for Pirates is on the Giller Longlist!

Very excited that Yiddish for Pirates is on the Giller Prize longlist. It's there with eleven really fantastic books including Susan Perly's Death Valley published by local small press, Wolsak & Wynn.

I'm really happy for the recognition of these great writers and publishers but I'm also thinking about all the others who weren't able to be on the list but who also deserve recognition and excitement. Also all those editors (mine was Amanda Lewis), publishers, and other book support people who make all these books possible.

Also...I just got news that my book will soon appear in paperback. I've posted the cover (front, back, and spine) above It's another beautiful cover designed by Five Seventeen in cahoots with my editor, Amanda Lewis. It does looks a bit like a scrimshaw.

Before I was on the shortlist, the designer stuck in a dummy prize sticker which I really wish was an actual category. Here it is: