Carolyn Abraham, Edward Keenan, Elizabeth Ruth, Kim Thuy, Lauren B. Davis, Matadora, Nancy Richler, Red Planet Blues, Robert J. Sawyer, Sandra Martin, Some Great Idea, The Eh List, The Empty Room, The Imposter Bride, The Juggler's Children, Toronto Public Library, Toronto Reference Library, Working the Dead Beat
It’s the first day of a new month, and in additional to some overdue spring weather, May brings us another installment of The Eh List, the Toronto Public Library’s series of author talks around the GTA.
The latest from sci-fi novelist Robert J. Sawyer tells the story of private dick Alex Lomax working the “mean streets” of New Klondike on Mars. Philip K. Dick meets Raymond Chandler, Red Planet Blues is sure to be a satisfying read, especially considering Sawyer’s bestselling Triggers (2012). Don’t miss your chance to get your book signed at his only TPL appearance this spring!
Thursday, May 2
Sandra Martin — Working the Dead Beat: 50 Lives That Changed Canada
12:30pm — Toronto Reference Library
In her second appearance with The Eh List, Sandra Martin speaks again about life as an obituarist with the Globe and Mail. Her last engagement at the Barbara Frum branch on April 18th focused on Martin’s view of obituaries: they are not about a morbid fascination with death, as commonly believed, but rather a celebration of life. More than just summarizing the fifty Canadian personalities she mentions in Working the Dead Beat, Martin included recent notorious deaths such as Stompin’ Tom Connors and Rita MacNeil. I look forward to seeing her again tomorrow afternoon at the Toronto Reference Library – it’s always interesting to note the way a speaker changes her focus depending on the audience.
Thursday, May 9
Carolyn Abraham — The Juggler’s Children: A Tale of Two Chromosomes that Solved a Family Mystery
7pm — Barbara Frum Branch
In her memoir with a genetic bent, Carolyn Abraham brings us into her genealogical search for her roots and questions how much we can learn from genetics alone. Using do-it-yourself DNA technology, Abraham travelled the world taking samples from relatives and strangers in order to decode her family history and piece together the stories of her two very different grandfathers. Her multicultural background speaks to the histories of many Canadians, and takes on questions of identity, race, and the ongoing “nature versus nurture” debate.
Thursday, May 15
7pm — North York Central Library
Lily Azerov has just arrived in postwar Montreal, and it is revealed early in the novel that she isn’t who she claims to be. After living the charade for a year, Lily takes off and abandons her husband and infant daughter. Years later, it is her daughter who delves into the life of her mysterious mother. Who was she, and what happened to the woman whose life she stole? Why did she leave her family, and where did she go? Identity, loss, and family are the key themes in Nancy Richler’s third novel, The Imposter Bride, which was shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize.
Set in Spain and Mexico during the 1930s, a bullfighter named El Corazon impresses audiences with death defying feats of bravery, but what really attracts the crows is El Corazon’s true identity: Cabarello Garcia, an impoverished servant girl entering the bullring when it was illegal for females to do so. Recently published, Matadora has received great reviews, reaching #3 on Now Magazine‘s must-read list for Spring.
Wednesday, May 22
Kim Thuy — Ru
3:30pm — Northern District branch (English)
7pm — Northen District branch (French)
Kim Thuy will be giving two talks in the same day at the Northern District branch, first in English and then in French. Her poetic, fictionalized memoir of life as a Vietnamese ex-pat tells of her former life and her family’s emmigration to Montreal by way of Malaysia. I have not read Ru in its original French, but Sheila Fischman’s translation was just gorgeous (and shortlisted in 2012 for the Governor General’s Literary Award for Translation). It’s a bit more difficult to locate the book in French outside of Quebec, so the University of Toronto Bookstore will have some copies available for sale at the evening French talk.
Join Lauren B. Davis for the launch of her semi-autobiographical novel, The Empty Room. It is a raw and emotional journey into fictional character Colleen Kerrigan’s battle with alcoholism, that will take us through Colleen’s past, where her constant companion through good times and bad is the bottle. Ami McKay, author of The Birth House and The Virgin cure, calls it “a rare act of courage—every page a brilliant, defiant examination of desire, loss, sorrow, triumph and grace.”
Thursday, May 30
Edward Keenan — Some Great Idea: Good Neighbourhoods, Crazy Politics and the Invention of Toronto
7pm — Barbara Frum Branch
City politics have been more contentious than ever since the inauguration for Toronto mayor Rob Ford in 2010. Despite his main focus on “Ford Nation”, Ed Keenan isn’t satisfied to blame recent struggles on one man alone. As senior editor of the free local newspaper The Grid (formerly Eye Magazine), he has seen the city grapple with amalgamation and the oscillation from left to right as politicians duke it out over the country’s largest municipality. Some Great Idea takes into account all of these factors, and presents a vision for Toronto’s future. At roughly 200 pages, this quick but thorough read is sure to generate interesting discussion at this event.