I Love Canadian Authors discussion

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Canadian Authors On Your List > What Canadian are you currently reading?

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message 1: by Shannon (new)

Shannon (sianin) | 237 comments Mod
I hope its OK to add a new topic and didn't know where to put it so please feel free to tell me off or put this somewhere else.

I have just started a book for my real-life bookclub and am quite enjoying it and then found out (although I suspected) that she is a Canadian (a Calgarian actually) Aritha Van Herk. The book is The Tent Peg and the structure of the book is rather unusual but really working. I am about half way through and if it stays this good I will be thrilled...

What Canadian are you currently reading? Why and what do you think so far?


message 2: by Renee (new)

Renee (rjmiller) | 419 comments Mod
No, this is fine Shannon. Good idea. We can move it if there is a more suitable place.

I am currently going through my to read list and deciding. I'll update when I choose a book and an author.


message 3: by Ali (last edited Aug 16, 2009 05:13PM) (new)

Ali | 40 comments Mod
Great topic idea, Shannon!

I am reading Peter Holling's book, 'The Future of Man: Extinction or Glory?'

It is very detailed...I am enjoying it, and looking forward to the interview with him!

:)


message 4: by Mark (new)

Mark Victor Young (markvictoryoung) | 19 comments I just finished "Stripmalling" by Jon Paul Fiorentino, who grew up in Winnipeg but currently lives in Montreal. It was really cynical fun with an effective "hybrid" format--half novel, half graphic novel. Found out about it on the publisher's website and was lucky that I could get it at the library. I am looking forward to reading more of his stuff now that I have discovered him.


message 5: by Shannon (new)

Shannon (sianin) | 237 comments Mod
I am just starting The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson. Its his first novel but I have heard really good things about it. Will let you know what I think once I am done.


message 6: by Michelle (new)

Michelle I am half way through David Bergin's "The Time in Between." It's the first time I've read one of his novels.

M


message 7: by Erma (new)

Erma Odrach | 183 comments Am starting Sweetness in the Belly by Camilla Gibb, set in Ethiopia. Shortlisted for the Scotia Giller Prize/05.


message 8: by Shannon (new)

Shannon (sianin) | 237 comments Mod
ERma, let me know what you think. I haven't read it but have certainly heard of it.


message 9: by Erma (new)

Erma Odrach | 183 comments Shannon wrote: "ERma, let me know what you think. I haven't read it but have certainly heard of it."

Hi Shannon,
So far very really good. Takes you right into the Ethiopian world and into Islam.




message 10: by Waheed (new)

Waheed Rabbani | 30 comments Hi Erma and other Canadian Authors Book-club members;

I found Camilla Gibb's "Sweetness in the Belly" most interesting.

If you are looking for a novel that will take you from Upper Canada to India in the 1800s please have a look at my historical fiction novel, Doctor Margaret's Sea Chest.

Best,
Waheed
Grimsby, Ontario
Doctor Margaret's Sea Chest by Waheed Rabbani


message 11: by Erma (new)

Erma Odrach | 183 comments Waheed wrote: "Hi Erma and other Canadian Authors Book-club members;

I found Camilla Gibb's "Sweetness in the Belly" most interesting.

If you are looking for a novel that will take you from Upper Canada to ..."


Hi Waheed,
Thanks for bringing your book to my attention. Looks very interesting. Will check it out. I tend to like books with historical/cultural settings.

Erma wrote: "Shannon wrote: "ERma, let me know what you think. I haven't read it but have certainly heard of it."

Hi Shannon,
So far very really good. Takes you right into the Ethiopian world and into Is..."





message 12: by Shannon (new)

Shannon (sianin) | 237 comments Mod
I have added Waheed's book to my TBR list as well. It looks interesting. Thanks for pointing it out.


message 13: by Waheed (last edited Sep 04, 2009 02:09PM) (new)

Waheed Rabbani | 30 comments Erma and Shannon;

Thank you for considering it.

Best;
Wally Doctor Margaret's Sea Chest by Waheed Rabbani


message 14: by Betty (last edited Sep 05, 2009 11:32PM) (new)

Betty (nightreader) | 26 comments I just finished Lynn Crymble's "It Can Happen to You". Lynn lives in North Vancouver, BC and her book takes place in and around the area. Review posted here:
http://nightreader-blog.blogspot.com/... Will also post on my GoodReads reviews as soon as I can.


message 15: by Renee (new)

Renee (rjmiller) | 419 comments Mod
I love historical fiction, I'll check it out too Wally.


message 16: by Waheed (new)

Waheed Rabbani | 30 comments Renee wrote: "I love historical fiction, I'll check it out too Wally."

Hi Renee. Thanks.
I'll start the Giller Prize discussion thread you suggested.

Best,
Wally




message 17: by Renee (new)

Renee (rjmiller) | 419 comments Mod
Great, I'll look for it.


message 18: by Shannon (new)

Shannon (sianin) | 237 comments Mod
Well, in the end I gave The Gargoyle 4 stars. It started out great but then started to lose my attention somewhat but overall an interesting book with wonderfully unique descriptive passages that I thoroughly enjoyed.


message 19: by A.J. (new)

A.J. I'm reading Shelf Monkey by Corey Redekop, which I'm really enjoying, and The Sentinel by A.F. Moritz, which won the Griffin Poetry Prize but which Goodreads apparently hasn't heard of....


message 20: by Corey (new)

Corey | 9 comments Just starting Jake and the Kid. Just completed Coupland's Generation A, which started strong, but I think falls apart near the last third.


message 21: by Carol (new)

Carol I just finished reading The Chinese Alchemist by Lyn Hamilton. I had seen her on Mystery Ink and decided to give her a try. I did enjoy it and plan to read others in the series.


message 22: by Erma (new)

Erma Odrach | 183 comments Am just starting The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway. It's set in war-torn Sarajevo.


message 23: by A.J. (new)

A.J. Moving on from Shelf Monkey (which was very funny, a really enjoyable read), I'm starting in on Nine Men Who Laughed, a collection of short stories by Austin Clarke, who won the Giller (I think; it was a few years back) for his novel The Polished Hoe.


message 24: by Shannon (new)

Shannon (sianin) | 237 comments Mod
Erma wrote: "Am just starting The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway. It's set in war-torn Sarajevo."

I am recommending this book to my in person book club. Its our first meeting back so I can't remember if it is actually my turn or not to make some suggestions. (We suggest 3 and then the others vote).

And Carol, I really like Lyn Hamilton's mysteries. I am so sorry that she has decided to retire (I am not sure if she is retiring completely or just from that series).


message 25: by Lindsay (new)

Lindsay (ljones08) I just finished I Am Hutterite by Mary-Ann Kirkby which is a must-read for anyone who live on the prairies for sure. It is her personal memoir of life as a hutterite as well as trying to fit into the english world after leaving the colony. I highly recommend!


message 26: by JenniferD (new)

JenniferD (booktrovert) Shannon wrote: "ERma, let me know what you think. I haven't read it but have certainly heard of it."

Erma wrote: "Am starting Sweetness in the Belly by Camilla Gibb, set in Ethiopia. Shortlisted for the Scotia Giller Prize/05."

Hi Erma and Shannon.

I adored Sweetness in the Belly and would be curious about your thoughts on the novel.

I have read half of The Cellist of Sarajevo but then it had to go back to the library...I should be getting it back soon so I can finish it. I can't wait! I was quite enthralled with what I had read so far. I can see it being a very good book group read Shannon.


message 27: by Erma (new)

Erma Odrach | 183 comments Hi Shannon and Jennifer,

I like novels with historical/cultural/social settings, especially from an author who has first-hand accounts. So Sweetness ... was right up my alley. A good glimpse into Ethiopian culture and conflict, and well-written.

Haven't read The Cellist of ... yet but i like the fact that it's based on a true story. Am looking forward to seeing what you think. Do you know of the controversy? (Maybe I'm the last to know.) I was reading in The Times that the real cellist of Sarajevo (he played in the Sarajevo Philharmionic Orchestra and now lives in Ireland) had no idea of the book's publication and is outraged at the name and identity theft. He didn't even know he was subject of a book and found out only after its publication. Incredibly, Galloway never even contacted him during his writing and research, and has given him no compensation. The cellist has planned to burn his cello in protest. What a story beyond the story! Haven't read The Cellist ... yet, but I bet it would have been all the more powerful had Galloway at least interviewed the man.


message 28: by A.J. (new)

A.J. He's not the subject of the novel. The cellist, as a character, is a minor feature of the novel, and there is no reason why Galloway would have interviewed him. There is also no reason why Galloway would compensate him.

The fact that the cellist is interested in compensation, frankly, speaks volumes.


message 29: by Erma (new)

Erma Odrach | 183 comments Hi Andrew,
Yes, I realize the cellist is not the subject of the novel, but an interview or a meeting of some sort could only have added to the mood of the book.

Compensation aside, the cellist should have at least been informed of the book's publication; afterall, without him there'd be no title.


message 30: by A.J. (new)

A.J. I'm not sure how you can be so sure that an interview with the cellist would have improved the book, given that you haven't read it.

Galloway doesn't owe this guy anything. He's a novelist; the book is a work of fiction. The figure in the book is not the real cellist; he's a fictional character without a name. There is no need for the book to be true to his experience, and therefore no need for an interview.

Writers get ideas from the headlines all the time. The only thing special about this particular case is that the headline then demanded money.


message 31: by Shannon (new)

Shannon (sianin) | 237 comments Mod
I could be wrong but I had heard that the author and the cellist have since spoken and are on good terms. Can't remember wehre I read that and don't ahve the time to reserach it. Has anyone else heard this?


message 32: by JenniferD (new)

JenniferD (booktrovert) Erma wrote: "...I like novels with historical/cultural/social settings, especially from an author who has first-hand accounts..."

Andrew wrote: "He's not the subject of the novel."

Hi Erma. Hi Andrew.

Wow! I wasn't aware of the controversial aftermath of the the publication of The Cellist of Sarajevo . Having not yet finished the novel, nor read anything about the cellist in Ireland, I don't have an opinion on the accusations against Galloway. However, I do agree with Andrew that artists and writers garner ideas all the time from many places, many events and many people. The experience of identifying one's self in a work of fiction must be an odd phenomenon, however no truly fictional character is ever going to be identical to anyone. So apart from being a cellist in Sarajevo during a horrendous time in their history, the similarities should end there. If not...well then it could get interesting. But, what the heck do I know?? I only dream about my "one day it will be completed novel" and aspire to publication. LOL!!


message 33: by JenniferD (new)

JenniferD (booktrovert) Erma wrote: "Hi Shannon and Jennifer,

I like novels with historical/cultural/social settings, especially from an author who has first-hand accounts."


Hi Erma.

I also really enjoy novels with different cultural and social settings. First-hand accounts would, I imagine, give much more authenticity then only having research to go on. I had never been much of a fan of historical fiction until I read March in the fall of 2007. I really was smitten with that book and it made me take a second look at historical fiction. Since then I have enjoyed some wonderful books I would have previously overlooked. I would be interested in hearing about your favourite novels of historical fiction.


message 34: by JenniferD (last edited Sep 17, 2009 12:57PM) (new)

JenniferD (booktrovert) This is getting juicy! LOL!!

Here is a link to the Wikipedia posting (a 2009 posting): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vedran_S...

And here is a link to a good story with Galloway's comments on the matter (July 2008):
http://www.cbc.ca/arts/story/2008/07/...

It seems to me, having now read a bit more about it, the big issue is that, upon its release, the book had an actual photo of Vedran Smailovic on the cover. That could be slightly problematic for the publisher.


message 35: by Erma (new)

Erma Odrach | 183 comments Thanks for the links, Jennifer.

It's true, I haven't read it yet, and I understand it's really good. But if I gave the title to my book based on a character (even if fictionalized beyond recognition or from some headline) I would still want to connect with him if that were possible.

Through my own work I've had my share of fictionalized (sometimes also beyond recognition) primary, secondary, and tertiary characters, and to be able to meet up with one of them just to talk would be unimaginable.

That Vedran Smailovic and his very tragic story has a connection to the book is undeniable. Didn't Galloway even mention him in his intro/dedication? According to one of your links, Jennifer, Galloway also used Smailovic's face in his book promos.

As it says in the link, things are looking a bit grey. I can only say, i hope the two of them have managed to come to some sort of understanidng. Is there a final outcome?


message 36: by A.J. (new)

A.J. Galloway did not use Smailovic's face. Galloway's publisher did. That's out of Galloway's control. And that's the only grey area here.

Galloway's use of the cellist as a character in the book, and his title, are not "grey" at all. Galloway is legally within his rights. Neither is there an ethical issue; the novel is Galloway's interpretation of the meaning and importance of Smailovic's act. He is not obliged to seek out other opinions, any more than I'm obliged to get Smailovic's opinion before posting about him here.


message 37: by Erma (new)

Erma Odrach | 183 comments Book covers/promos normally have to be okayed by the author before being released to the public. And from what i understand the cellist's name is also mentioned in the book.

Obviously there are two ways to look at this picture and the exploitation can go two ways. Because there is a connection between the cellist and the author, I think the author could have at least had the common courtesy to have contacted him (it's a very personal and tragic situation for Smailovic), and I am sure had he done that things would have turned out on a more positive note between them.


message 38: by A.J. (new)

A.J. It is simply untrue that authors get a veto on covers from major publishers. Witness the recent fuss over the cover of Liar, which changed the protagonist's race; that cover was changed only when the author went public and created a backlash against the publisher.

Even if the author gets a veto, the author is not responsible for obtaining the proper releases for the use of the cover photo. This is the publisher's job.

Smailovic is mentioned by name only in an author's note, which clarifies that the events described in the novel could not have taken place, given the timeline of the Bosnian war. As part of this clarification, Galloway says that there was a real cellist, but that he had left Sarajevo by the time the events of the novel take place. Thus my point that the cellist in the book is not the real cellist; the Sarajevo of the story is not the real Sarajevo.

I see no issue of common courtesy. If you perform a public act, you invite public comment. Fictional interpretation is one form of comment.

I've found that the only people who really make a fuss over this point are those who haven't read the book, and assume that the cellist is more important to the story than he really is. This book is not about him; he's not the subject.

The really interesting thing about Smailovic's reaction is how it gives the lie to Galloway's theme. Art, we discover, does not conquer all. That task falls to money.


message 39: by Erma (new)

Erma Odrach | 183 comments I think the real issue here is that for Smailovic it's all about tragedy, violence and pain, and for Galloway it's more about research and story-telling. But no matter which way you look at it, even with the cellist's peripheral part in the book, the two are interrelated.

I really don't understand why Galloway would not have wanted to meet Smailovic, if only to enhance his comprehension of the horrors in Sarajevo and hear a cellist's point of view. Afterall, a cellist is in his book title and Smailovic happened to be known as the cellist of Sarajevo of that time.

If the cellist is purely fictional, as Galloway maintains (even though Smailovic's photo and name are in the book and promos), then by the same token I suppose it's safe to assume the war in Sarajevo is also fictional.

I now have the book in hand and as I'm reading it I can't help wonder who came up with the answer that creative energy was the answer to violence: Smailovic or Galloway? I would put all bets on Smailovic.

I appreciate your perpective but I don't think this situation is a cut and dry one.


message 40: by A.J. (new)

A.J. As I pointed out above, the events described in the novel could not have taken place in the timeline of the Bosnian war. Thus the war as described in the novel is, in fact, fictional. In fact, Galloway takes pains to separate his novel from the particulars of the conflict, for example, by referring to the Bosnian Serb forces only as "the men in the hills."

This is a novel: it's a fictional narrative, concerning fictional characters in a fictional setting.

Smailovic certainly is not the author of the notion that art is the answer to violence; that idea was around long before he was born. And Smailovic's own statements suggest he doesn't really believe it, anyway: "I don't care about fiction, I care about reality." The reality being, to put that quotation in context, that he had not been paid for the use of his picture on the cover of the book.

Smailovic is on record saying it: he doesn't care about art as a response to violence. He cares about money in his bank account.


message 41: by Erma (new)

Erma Odrach | 183 comments "Men on the hills" was not used for "fictional" purposes by Galloway but because he felt it would have been too complicated for westerners to differentiate between Muslims, Serbs, Croats and Bosnians. Also, that's why the main characters are simply referred to as "Sarajevans".

Our differences regarding Smailovic's place in all of this will only go on and on. I appreciate your point of view. Must get back to work now.


message 42: by A.J. (new)

A.J. Erma, you're posting one falsehood after another.

First, Smailovic was the "subject" of the book (false). Then, Galloway used his name and image to promote his book (false). Then, authors normally approve book covers (false). Now, Galloway thought it would be oh-so-confusing for Westerners if he named factions.

Again, false. Galloway has discussed his reasons for not naming factions in a number of interviews. He has also discussed the question of the fictionality of his setting, and the decision to set the novel in Sarajevo rather than in some unnamed city.

The fact is that Smailovic performed a public act, that invited public comment and interpretation.

We do not own, and cannot control, the way that others see us. We do not have the right to prevent others from speaking of us. And conversely, we are under no obligation to get anyone's permission before we comment on or interpret their public acts.

It's unfortunate that so many people have proven susceptible to Smailovic's nonsense about exploitation.

The irony of this discussion is that I think Galloway's novel is mediocre.


message 43: by Renee (new)

Renee (rjmiller) | 419 comments Mod
I'm going to shock the hell out of Andrew and agree with him. I have not read the book, but I have read the articles relating the 'controversy'. (now I'm going to pick up the book too) I think that for Smailovic to cry foul and demand compensation does speak volumes about his character, not in a good way.

It is my understanding that it is a work of fiction, which means the author does not have to obtain permission to write about people & events.

If it were nonfiction, I still consider public acts to be, well, public. If he deserves compensation then so does every person ever referenced in a novel. Can you imagine the lawsuits should he get the compensation he's hoping for? How many would come out of the woodwork then? The authors would be pressed to prove the work fictional and/or explain why they used this name or that place.

I think to expect compensation for something that has little to do with him, and that he put nothing into, is ridiculous. If the book had gone nowhere, and made only a small amount of sales, would he still be asking for this compensation? I don't think so.


message 44: by Erma (new)

Erma Odrach | 183 comments Galloway is quoted himself as saying he chose to use "men on the hills" to avoid confusion of naming Serbs, Bosnians etc. If you consider that a falsity, then take it up with him. Even one of Galloway's artist friends have said he should have contacted Smailovic early on in his project and others are in support. Many of my Croation friend agree, as this is a very hot and sensitive issue with them. Obviously, there are many views on this subject and from all sides. I think Smailovic should have a voice in all of this, in one form or another. If anything, his voice is certainly upping sales, which is only to Galloway's benefit.







message 45: by Erma (new)

Erma Odrach | 183 comments Hi Renee,

The issue for me is not really compensation for Smailovic, however he might have a case where his photo was used in promos without his consent. I do think Galloway should have established a rappore with him (as he did with various other people) and at least informed him of his project. He says himself Smailovic's story inspired him. I think it could only have worked to everyone's benefit.

I really don't understand how Galloway could have overlooked making some kind of contact with him. Afterall, Smailovic created a historical event and he is alive today to speak of it. What a missed opportunity! Back to work.



message 46: by Renee (new)

Renee (rjmiller) | 419 comments Mod
I understand your point about contact, and yes, it's a shame that he didn't try to make contact. But I don't think he should be obligated to make that connection just because he used Smailovic as his inspiration. I've used several people, famous and not, for inspiration and haven't tried to interview or connect with them simply because to do so would ruin the fictional feel of the story. (for me)

I'm thinking he didn't overlook the opportunity, I think he chose not to take it for his own reasons. It's a shame that even later he didn't do it, but we all have our reasons for doing what we do.


message 47: by A.J. (new)

A.J. Erma wrote: "Galloway is quoted himself as saying he chose to use "men on the hills" to avoid confusion of naming Serbs, Bosnians etc.

Cite your source.

In every interview I've read, the issue has been that he doesn't want to confuse media reports with his narrative -- that is, he wants to abstract and fictionalize the war so that media-derived prejudices don't interfere with his themes.

Even one of Galloway's artist friends have said he should have contacted Smailovic early on in his project

I'd ask you to cite your source on this, but it's not relevant. This doesn't prove anything, except that one of Galloway's friends has a wrong-headed idea.

Many of my Croation friend agree, as this is a very hot and sensitive issue with them.

Indeed, and this is the crux of the issue. Smailovic is expressing the standard-issue reaction of Sarajevans to the book: a Canadian author has no right to write about Sarajevo, and furthermore, to make money from the book.

Well, if so, Picasso had no right to paint Guernica.

It's Galloway's job as a novelist to interpret his own reactions to the world, not to meet his inspirations and ask them how he should react.


message 48: by Erma (new)

Erma Odrach | 183 comments It's not always about money, which you seem to think it is. The war in Sarajevo was tragic,violent and horrific and changed lives forever, including Smailovic's.

Given the extreme and traumatic circumstance of this very horrible war, Galloway could have shown some humanity and at least have informed Smailovic of his book rather than having him come across it unexpectedly. To put it simply, the man known as The Cellist of Sarajevo should have been informed because that would have been, if anything, the humane thing to do.


message 49: by Renee (new)

Renee (rjmiller) | 419 comments Mod
I don't understand why he should have been informed. Had the book not been successful, would he have known or even cared?

The war in Sarajevo was tragic and horrific but (and I'm sorry if I sound cold, it's not my intention) so are many other wars that have been written about with characters that were real and fictional and nothing has been said about the author contacting these people or interviewing them. I just wonder why? Why is it such an issue to this man? It didn't change his life for worse or better, really the book shouldn't affect him at all.


message 50: by A.J. (new)

A.J. Smailovic did, in fact, demand monetary compensation. And the entire discussion of "exploitation" revolves around the notion that Galloway is making money from a traumatic event that he has no ownership of or involvement in. So yes, this is very much about money.

As for the emotional argument, Galloway did inform Smailovic of his book -- when it was published. He sent him a copy.

Smailovic wasn't complaining that Galloway didn't contact or inform him. He was complaining that (a) Galloway wrote a book he didn't want written, and (b) he didn't get money out of it.


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