We’re hiring! Now accepting applications for a full-time Publicity & Marketing Coordinator

Publicity and Marketing Coordinator

We are seeking a full-time publicity and marketing coordinator. This position entails the promotion of titles to media, bookseller and media relations, overseeing social media campaigns, and assisting marketing staff with sales materials.  But we are also in the process of rethinking all aspects of our promotion and marketing strategies and will be looking for someone who can think creatively and help us discover new ways to promote our authors and their books.

We are looking, especially, for someone who reads widely and well, someone who is, ideally, familiar with the types of books we publish and can understand and place them in a wider context.  We are looking for someone who can talk and write about books intelligently and with enthusiasm and enjoys proselytizing on their behalf.  A person who enjoys working with authors, discussing ideas, making things, someone who likes mail and isn’t afraid of heavy lifting: the real business of books is moving boxes from one place to another, and then back again.

Though we ideally are looking for someone to join us in our Windsor office, consideration will be given if the best candidate needs to work long-distance.

Major Responsibilities:

  • assist the publisher with national and international publicity strategies for 25+ books annually, including electronic pitches, review copy mailings, and related follow-up
  • build and manage relations with key media throughout North America
  • build and manage relations with key booksellers throughout North America
  • write and update press releases and pitches
  • secure local media coverage for author events (when such things are again possible)
  • organize author tours, launches, readings, receptions, and festival and trade show appearances (when such things are again possible)
  • assist designing promotional material such as postcards, bookmarks, posters, advertisements, and newsletters
  • oversee media updates on the press’s website
  • work in collaboration with sales representatives in both Canada and the United States so they are informed and enthusiastic about Biblioasis titles
  • interact with authors to strategize publicity opportunities and to execute promotional and publicity events
  • field author queries and help manage author relations, including travel arrangements
  • read and think about our books
  • other duties as assigned

Knowledge, skills, and abilities required:

  • individuals must be extremely organized, detail-oriented, and self-motivated
  • excellent reading skills
  • excellent written and verbal communication skills
  • excellent interpersonal skills
  • must have a high degree of creativity and the ability to think strategically
  • must be willing to work occasional evenings and weekends
  • computer skills include: Word and Excel experience required. Experience with Photoshop, InDesign and Acrobat an asset

Education and experience:

  • Bachelor’s degree in marketing, communications, English, art history, or related field would be an asset
  • experience thinking about and presenting books, whether in a professional capacity (e.g. in the classroom, as a bookseller) or more informally (social media) would be an asset
  • previous publicity or marketing experience would be an asset
  • courses or certificate in a publishing program would be an asset

All this being said, what we’re looking for is the best possible person for the job. We’ll be more impressed by what you’ve read and how you write and speak, by how you think, than where you went to school. Experience would be wonderful, but if you have all of the necessary skills, or even the potential, we can train you.  We want a person who wants to be here and will do what it takes to make us better.  Almost no one at Biblioasis started knowing that publishing could be a career: but we’re thrilled to have discovered it and love the shape it makes in a life.  We want, most of all, someone who understands that too.

Salary Expectations:

  • Salary will be commensurate with experience, but will range from mid-30’s to high-40s.

Who We Are:

Biblioasis is an award-winning independent publishing house based in Windsor, Ontario. We publish approximately 30 titles a year, including short fiction, novels, poetry, literary criticism, memoir, belle lettres, local and regional history, and general nonfiction. We are also the publishers of the critical journal CNQ: Canadian Notes & Queries and the annual Best Canadian anthologies and operate an independent bookstore in Windsor’s historic Walkerville.

To apply, email resume and cover letter to Dan Wells at dwells@biblioasis.com by March 28, 2021

CHARITY and ON PROPERTY in the News: Biblioasis Titles are Making a Splash!

Biblioasis titles are making waves in news outlets near and far! Check out some recent coverage below:

 

IN THE NEWS!

Charity by Keath Fraser received a glowing review in the Toronto Star! Reviewer Robert J, Wiersema had this to say of the novella:

“What initially seems on the surface to be a simple, somewhat familiar story becomes something more philosophical, an exploration of the relationships between parents and children, and between youth and age… It’s a powerful, complex construction beneath an often-funny, occasionally tragic narrative voice…Like Carol Shields’ Unless, and its meditation on goodness, Charity is a powerful work of philosophical and moral inquiry, rooted in skillfully wrought characters and sly storytelling.”

 

Rinaldo Walcott, author on On Property, was interviewed by The Tyee to talk about his new book, abolition politics and his insistence on the purity of the idea of “defund the police.”.  When asked when he chose to write On Property, Walcott had this to say:

“I wrote this book in the context of watching the outpouring of protests, demonstrations and the outright uprising in the moment of the very public murder of George Floyd, while many of us sat in our houses in partial isolation, in the midst of a global pandemic. And one of the things that really struck me about that moment was to sit back and notice that the language, that “defund the police,” had become a part of the everyday protest movement. And so the book, the long essay, is really written in that context.”

You can read the full interview here!

 

UPCOMING EVENTS!

On Property will be the inaugural title in a new book club focusing on Biblioasis titles! Hosted by Biblioasis Bookshop, A Different Drummer BooksHunter Street Books , The City and City BooksThe Book Wardrobe , and The Village Bookshop. Join them on February 21st at 4:00pm!

Join the Facebook Group to keep up to date on upcoming meetings!

Join us for On Property‘s virtual book launch on Thursday, February 25, 2021 at 7 PM ET. Rinaldo Walcott will be joined in conversation by Beverly Bain and Idil Abdillahi. We’re partnering with Another Story Bookshop in Toronto for the launch. We’ll be streaming live on Facebook and on YouTube

On Property has an upcoming event with Ottawa’s Writers Festival. Tune in on Monday, February 22, 2021 at 7:30 PM ET. Rinaldo Walcott will be interviewed by journalist Idil Mussa.

 

TWO BIBLIOASIS TITLES SHORTLISTED FOR THE 2021 RATHBONES FOLIO PRIZE

Biblioasis is thrilled to announce that two of our forthcoming 2021 titles have been shortlisted for the 2021 Rathbones Folio Prize: A Ghost in the Throat by Doireann Ní Ghríofa and As You Were by Elaine Feeney! The finalists were revealed on Wednesday, February 10, 2021. The winner of the Rathbones Folio Prize will receive £30,000. The award will be announced on March 24, 2021.

In a statement, publisher Dan Wells said, “I speak for everyone at Biblioasis when I say we’re ecstatic that Elaine’s and Doireann’s books have made this supercharged list. One a work of nonfiction, one fiction, each so different in tone and style, but each equally brilliant. It’s what I like so much about the Folio: that nonfiction and fiction rub against one another like this, that such different, divergent books can be together on the same list. We can’t wait to share each of these wonderful books with North American readers.”

Doireann Ní Ghríofa’s A Ghost in the Throat will be published in Canada and in the US on June 1, 2021, and Elaine Feeney’s As You Were comes out on October 5, 2021. 

Launched in 2013, the Rathbones Folio Prize is the only literature prize open to all works of fiction and non-fiction originally published in the English language. It ran for the first time in 2014, but it was suspended in 2016 following the ending of its initial two-year sponsorship from The Folio Society. It later secured sponsorship from Rathbone Investment Management, enabling it to increase its prize money to £30,000 while securing the future of the prize, mentorships and sessions until at least 2023.

Last year the prize was awarded to Valeria Luiselli for her “fiercely imaginative” autobiographical third novel, and her first to be written in English, Lost Children Archive (Fourth Estate). Poet Raymond Antrobus won the year before with his “exceptionally brave, kind” debut collection The Perseverance (Penned in the Margins).

The jury members for this year’s prize include the T.S. Eliot Prize-winning poet Roger Robinson, the Irish writer, editor, and broadcaster Sinéad Gleeson, and novelist and short story writer Jon McGregor. A Ghost in the Throat and As You Were are two of the eight finalists for the award. The short list also includes Handiwork by Sarah Baume (Tramp Press), Indelicacy by Amina Cain (Daunt Books), Poor by Caleb Femi (Penguin), My Darling from the Lions by Rachel Long, In the Dream House by Carmen Marie Machado (Serpent’s Tail), and The Mermaid of Black Conch by Monique Roffey (Peepal Tree Press).

A Ghost in the Throat is Doireann Ní Ghríofa’s hybrid memoir, historical unveiling, and feminist translation of the female body. In 1773, an Irish noblewoman discovers her husband has been murdered. Grief-stricken, she kneels beside his body and drinks handfuls of his blood—and later composes the extraordinary poem Caoineadh Airt Uí Laoghaire, a keen to lament the dead that Peter Levi will famously call “the greatest poem written in either Ireland or Britain during the eighteenth century.” In the present day, a young mother narrowly avoids tragedy in her own life, and, upon rediscovering the poem she first read as a child, becomes obsessed with learning the full story of its composition.

In a kaleidoscopic blend of memoir, autofiction, and literary studies, Doireann Ní Ghríofa tells the mesmerizing story of her own self-discovery through her efforts to give voice to Eibhlín Dubh Ní Chonaill. A moving study of the power of language to transcend eras and draw together the intimate experiences of women’s lives, A Ghost in the Throat is an astonishing story about one woman freeing her voice by reaching into the past and finding another’s.

Doireann Ní Ghríofa is the author of six critically-acclaimed books of poetry, whose awards include the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature and a Seamus Heaney Fellowship (Queen’s University). Her debut book of prose is the bestselling A Ghost in the Throat, which finds the 18th-century poet Eibhlín Dubh Ní Chonaill haunting the life of a contemporary young mother, prompting her to turn detective, and of which the Sunday Times writes: “Sumptuous, almost symphonic, in its intensity … As readers, we should be grateful for her boldness. Without it, we would not have had one of the best books of this dreadful year.”

In her darkly humorous novel As You Were, Elaine Feeney tells the story of a young woman asking the questions most people never think to ask, or questions people typically keep to themselves. Who doesn’t prefer confiding in Google and a shiny magpie rather than telling their loved ones the truth?

Sinead Hynes is a tough, driven, funny young property developer with a terminal cancer diagnosis—but no one knows it: not her fellow patients in a failing hospital, and certainly not her family. She has confided only in Google and a magpie. Yet she can’t go on like this, tirelessly trying to outstrip her past and in mortal fear of her future. Across the ward, Margaret Rose is running her chaotic family from her rose-gold Nokia. In the neighbouring bed, Jane, rarely but piercingly lucid, is searching for a decent bra and for someone to listen. And Sinead needs them both. As You Were is about intimate histories, institutional failures, the kindness of strangers, and the darkly present past of modern Ireland; about women’s stories and women’s struggles; about seizing the moment to be free. Wildly funny, desperately tragic, inventive and irrepressible, As You Were introduces a brilliant new voice.

Elaine Feeney is an award-winning writer from Galway and teaches at The National University of Ireland, Galway. She has published three collections of poetry, including The Radio was Gospel and Rise and the award-winning drama, WRoNGHEADED with The Liz Roche Company. As You Were, her debut novel, was published in 2020 by Vintage. It was shortlisted for Novel of the Year at the Irish Book Awards and was included in The Guardian’s top debut novels for 2020. It appeared widely in best books of 2020 including in The Telegraph, The Irish Independent, The Evening Standard, The Guardian, The Observer and The Irish Times.

 

PRAISE FOR A GHOST IN THE THROAT

 Winner of the 2020 Nonfiction Book of the Year from the An Post Irish Book Awards

Winner of the 2020 Foyles Nonfiction Book of the Year

Shortlisted for the 2021 Rathbones Folio Prize

Longlisted for the Republic of Consciousness Prize

A Ghost in the Throat is something strange and very special: a ravishingly immersive telling of the way in which a poet and mother’s obsession with a poet and mother who died centuries ago makes their different lives chime like bells.”—Emma Donoghue, author of The Pull of the Stars and Room

“Past versus present, blood versus milk, birth versus death, the Irish language versus the English: dichotomies abound, but the questions of women’s lived experiences and who history remembers link them all.”—The Paris Review

“Lush, lyrical prose that dazzles readers from the get-go … sumptuous, almost symphonic, in its intensity … As readers, we should be grateful for [Ní Ghríofa’s] boldness. Without it, we would not have had one of the best books of this dreadful year.”—Sunday Times

“Sensational, genre-straddling work of scholarship and memoir.”—The Guardian

“Ní Ghríofa’s one-of-a-kind literary quest, the unflinching intimacy of her life writing, and the stunningly lush, sumptuous sentences through which she tells her story made us fall in love with this book. If you’re anything like us you’ll read it, and recommend it, fervently, and when someone turns around and says I read A Ghost in the Throat you’ll recognize that look in their eye, and you’ll know you’re part of the same community of book lovers who have experienced something truly special.”—Foyles Books

PRAISE FOR AS YOU WERE

A Guardian Best Debut of 2020

An Irish Times Best Book of 2020

Shortlisted for the 2020 Irish Book Awards Novel of the Year

Shortlisted for the 2021 Rathbones Folio Prize

“Funny, visceral, so well observed … I was blown away.”—Douglas Stuart, Booker Prize-winning author of Shuggie Bain 

“An absolute tour de force: raw, sharp and wild. Elaine Feeney writes with such love for and understanding of her characters. It’s the literary equivalent of a stiff drink beside a warm fire: a book that will rattle you before it settles you.”—Lisa McInerney, author of The Blood Miracles 

“Riveting … I was exhilarated reading this”—Roddy Doyle

As You Were was just (effing) amazing. Brimful of brilliant characters – what an exciting, visceral, poetic read. I adored the lack of sentimentality. Sinéad Hynes is complex and excellently realised – a role model too, for I found her (sometime) selfishness thrillingly refreshing. As You Were gives permission to Irish women to put themselves first, and considering what we’ve come from, that’s seismic. Elaine Feeney is such a talent. I LOVED it!”—Marian Keyes

“On Property” by Rinaldo Walcott Receiving Rave Reviews!

Media outlets agree! On Property by Rinaldo Walcott provides a perfect avenue for those looking to educate themselves further on today’s abolition movement and seek a deeper understanding of the historical relationship between policing and property through the Black experience.

So where can you read more about On Property? Keep scrolling to find out!

 

ON PROPERTY IN THE NEWS!

On Property by Rinaldo Walcott was featured twice in the Toronto Star! Over the weekend, they published both a positive review as well as an excerpt from the book. The review is available on their website and it appeared in the print issue of Toronto Star on Saturday, February 6, 2021. 

Reviewer Brett Josef Grubisic wrote: “Running a brief but far-reaching and punchy 96 pages, On Property has an absolute certainty of purpose: calling for the abolition of private property ownership. A professor of Black, Canadian, cultural, queer and gender studies at the University of Toronto, Rinaldo Walcott serves up a pamphlet — a fundamentally activistic genre with roots stretching back to the mid-1700s — about radical abolitionism for the tense North American cultural moment of the present day.”

The Toronto Star also published an excerpt from On Property! You can read the sample of the book in the article “Why abolition in our time should go far beyond defunding the police” here.

ON PROPERTY ON THE AIR!

Rinaldo Walcott was interviewed by CBC Radio Syndication on February 2nd! Check out your local CBC station to see if he spoke with your local host.

Rinaldo appeared on the podcast @ Risk hosted by Jodi Butts on Feb 4th! 

Flipping the Property Risk Script with Rinaldo Walcott

Dissatisfied with the amount of progress being made towards freedom and equity for all?

On this episode of @Risk, host Jodi Butts is joined by University of Toronto professor and author of On Property, Rinaldo Walcott, to discuss his radically optimistic prescription for a different kind of freedom that goes daringly beyond greater representation of Black and Indigenous people in positions of authority.

Listen here!

UPCOMING EVENTS!

Join us for On Property‘s virtual book launch on Thursday, February 25, 2021 at 7 PM ET. Rinaldo Walcott will be joined in conversation by Beverly Bain and Idil Abdillahi. We’re partnering with Another Story Bookshop in Toronto for the launch. We’ll be streaming live on Facebook and on YouTube

Upcoming event with Ottawa’s Writers Festival. Tune in on Monday, February 22, 2021 at 7:30 PM ET. Rinaldo Walcott will be interviewed by journalist Idil Mussa.

 

You can purchase a copy of On Property here.

To Burn with a Reignited Purpose: A Biblioasis Interview with Keath Fraser

The first time I came across your work was in university, when a very good friend of mine put Popular Anatomy in my hands, a work of ingenious humour, ambition, and poise. And I’ve read and reread your short stories for years: working with John Metcalf makes such a prerequisite. But when I was preparing for this interview, it struck me, with mounting astonishment, that Charity will be your first new work of fiction in a quarter of a century, since 1996’s Telling My Love Lies. I know that you’ve done other things in the intervening years – there’s been two works of nonfiction, a selected stories, and there’s a much larger gathering of new and selected stories coming out with Biblioasis later this year – but it’s possible that some readers may be coming to your work for the first time. Could you provide us a bit of an introduction?

Your generous question stumps me. I don’t think I’d be very good on a dating website either, trying to encapsulate myself in a cluster ad: Sense of humour, likes Rock ‘n’ roll, seeking a good read … And then you meet me: he thinks that’s funny? he likes Jackie Who? how tedious his lust … In other words, introducing oneself in this way has about as much to do with what one’s actually like, as a French menu does the food in a no-star restaurant north of Hope. If you like, instead of introducing myself (and thank you, Dan, for reminding me of my suspicious lapse of vocation), I could offer you an introduction to Charity … I’m thinking of its opening sentence. I seem to remember it was organically sourced over lunch in my backyard.

Well, as to vocation … er … sorry about that. So much for it being the backbone of life. So then, about that opening sentence. It seemed as unlikely as the venerable Shakespeare actor once dating a Supreme. Organically … sourced, you say? Tell me more.

Two summers ago, talking with friends at my picnic table – themselves sourced from the Sixties, so just as prone as the chef to reminiscent wallowings – I wondered aloud if they happened to remember as I did that Laurence Olivier had once dated a Supreme. Diana Ross, his unlikely fling, later presented him with an Oscar for some kind of lifetime achievement award in Hollywood, where his hand-on-a-balding-brow acceptance speech caused Jon Voight, sitting in the tuxedoed audience, to grab his own head in astonishment at the star-vaulting eloquence – a gesture that appeared to mirror Olivier’s ridiculous speech. Anyway, after lunch, I began to wonder where such a conjunction of ageing Shakespearean actor and youthful Motown singer might lead in a story … (Some such conjunction seems the necessary spark before any story I write begins to evolve.) It then took me seven months to complete Charity. (A novella always takes me seven months to complete, why?) When a fiction scales up, when characters assign themselves to plot and metaphor: as a writer, you’re surprised and pleased to see how much further a narrative is willing to go before its seeming endpoints turn out (instead) to be turning-points along the way to resolution. Capturing bits and textures of one’s own life and city (Vancouver) add to the satisfaction of the evolving complexity. If I had to describe Charity‘s default mode, probably my own mode, instead of tragi-comic I might call it ironic-tonic. Probably not so apparent in the story is its Lear-Grimm underpinning, though I’d like to think such allusiveness helps keep the comic bits bobbing along and the story’s darker side a little more lyric.

The ironic-tonic. I like that. This definitely comes through, and brings up another thing I wanted to ask about. Charity is very funny, if often uncomfortably so, leaving your reader wincing as they laugh: “… like mating the family’s pet goat to a rubber raft.” I laughed – the image was impossible to unsee – and felt pained at the same time. How could a father say this about his own daughter?

Greta’s father is not a card-carrying member of the wokerati. Patrick is an old-school physician, himself overweight, whose profession no longer permits him to suggest dieting to clearly overweight patients unless they bring it up first. He’s also against new, minority quotas for med-school eligibility. And based on considerable clinical experience, he presumes to diagnose illnesses, such as his daughter’s later addiction, by foregoing any careful case history. This king of the castle is used to being treated royally by his daughter’s stepmother, Denise, who narrates Charity, and about whom the story is concerned as she reflects back upon, and then decides to change her life, by turning his estate which she owns into something else. Still, as a story about fathers and daughters, pivoting on echoes of Lear, it reminds us of how Lear treated his own daughter, by exiling her. Denise, you’ll remember, comments on Patrick’s “outlandish equivalences” – and the novella poses other such extremes, not just Patricks. I think any interesting story requires metaphorical equivalences which avoid the sort of received ones that replicate like common viruses. Wit, in its truest sense, is unpredictable and thereby arresting. It may be humorous; it tries to avoid boredom. In a life of extremes (and who knew Oliver Sacks had been a gay drug addict, rode motorcycles, and was a weight-lifting champion in California), the famous neurologist mentions in his autobiography how a schoolmaster once wrote of him, “Sacks will go far, if he does not go too far.” Well, in fact, he did go far – by going too far. His narrative case studies are famously exorbitant. And think of his later friend Harold Pinter’s plays: extreme fictions these, their dark comedy deriving from outlandish equivalences by way of character, language, plot. I really don’t think of myself as a comic or humorous writer. I’m usually just trying to keep the reader from feeling she’s read all this elsewhere before – and is maybe amused enough to keep on. Something worthwhile, if only another equivalence, might emerge to justify the keeping on.

The title of your book seems, on first glance, simple enough. But the more I think about it, the way the word is used in the novella, the way it is withheld, offered, its very lack at key moments when it’s needed most, its relationship to love, loss, other virtues; as a title, a word, it’s quite devastating. It’s an onion of a word, a title. Put me out of my misery: peel back a layer or two for us.

Charity is one of those reverberative, single-word titles favoured by Alice Munro. I wanted to dissociate the Biblical notion of charity – which insists that of faith, hope, and charity, the greatest of these is charity. Denise, the story’s main character, comes to believe that the greatest of these is actually hope. Without hope, love, including self-love, isn’t really possible; and devoid of hope, one has no future and thus no sustaining faith. Forced to contemplate the despair facing her drug-addicted stepdaughter, Denise wonders what hope remains for this young woman after returning from Africa. Patrick still thinks his crackerjack offspring will become a physician and some day take over his clinic. Coming back, Dan, to your uncomfortable laughter at his jokey comments about his own daughter, I made an early note: “The complexity of loving & laughing at a loved one. At a fat person, at an old one.” The old one here, Rudy, is an ancient family friend who has begun to court young Greta. As the story unfolds, Rudy’s unsuspected “charitable side” becomes the model for the kind of “extreme charity” that eventually affects both Greta and Denise. The complexity of love, at least on Denise’s part, evolves through her increasing regard for the foolish yet noble Rudy. His character grows more sympathetic, similarly hers, as the novella densifies. Denise’s dedication to her daughter’s future emerges with the reckoning of her own unfulfilled past.

Let’s step back for a second: you mentioned earlier that the writing of Charity took seven months, that novellas always seem to take you that long. Charity is launching a new novella series at the press. You’re known mostly as a short story writer, though you’ve worked in a range of forms; your novel, Popular Anatomy, was gargantuan. People have a hard time figuring out what to do with the novella, how to define it. Is it just a long short story? A short novel? Something else? Are there any challenges particular to the novella? Why seven months?

I suppose seven months reflects my writing-speed for a revised manuscript of novella length. Since all writing is in the re-writing, my usual seven months does suggest that I must get through any number of revisions by then. Many years ago, when I was far from finished Popular Anatomy, but recalling fondly the more immediate rewards of writing shorter fiction, I essayed: “In a way, though not necessarily, the short story mediates – meditates, even – between the denser texture of the lyric poem and the attenuated narrative of the novel. It is a meeting ground for another use of language, though not a different kind…. I think of the story and novella as spiritually restorative forms, in the way a summer cabin is, where solitude winnows worry, and where the first deep breath puts us in touch again with the natural world.” Charity arrived as a kind of escape from the city novel that I’ve been working on since Noah was a youngster. And yet this novella still allowed me to retain Vancouver as an abiding character (albeit more in sketch than portrait. Two long, uncollected stories in Damages also include such sketches). You and John Metcalf are to be congratulated for launching Biblioasis’ novella series, as it will draw attention to a greater consideration of the language and structure required (even by the novel) to tell a story without longueurs. Compression, surprise, delight: the qualities we value in fiction: it’s these the novella fosters.

I’m afraid, Keath, that my questions begin to pile up, and we’re running out of space, for now. So here’s a few to do with what you will.

Without smoke / that is how / good old wood / burns / that is how / I want to live … These remembered lines, from Miriam “Somebody” (better remembered as Waddington) do more than pivot the narrative, both for a young Denise and much later a struggling Greta, towards one (or more) of its emotional climaxes. They also raise again a question central to Charity, or so it seems to me: how to live. To be the hero or heroine of your own life; or, as Patrick says at one point, to give yourself over to something. What makes a good life, a good death. Was Rudy’s death foolish or honourable?

Henry Green, in his Apologia, says that his style was developed to prevent experience from being swallowed too quickly. The goal was to slow the reader down. I had a hellish time with Samuel Beckett until I heard it read properly, and realized that I had been galloping along, reading it far too quickly, missing the rhythm. So I read it aloud, slowly, as I would speak it, or at least hear it spoken, and the work opened up. Your work, and this novella, requires much the same. You mentioned earlier that it densifies, and this seems a perfect description. As the story progresses it becomes weighted with allusion and possibility. And speaking of possibility: Is it remotely possible Rudy is Denise’s real father? I know I am almost certainly wrong, but I can’t seem to shake it, and the last scene with Rudy and Denise as he reads Grimm’s fairy tales – Now that he had found her again, she was more dear to him… – reinforces this. The final line of Princess Mouseskin – very Learish, that fairy tale – can’t be there at the end of the book by accident: it must serve some sort of (compression, surprise, delight) key.

I’ll try to address your recent questions in one go. I like your idea of slowing down a reading to enrich what a story (even one, seeming swiftly sketched) has on offer. I don’t have space to do justice to your perceptive observations, but the weighted allusiveness that you mention is rampant and might invite a second reading of Charity. Rudy’s death – is it honourable or foolish, you ask. A small question, opening into much. Rudy appears to play the fool, and yet he’s also a Lear figure in his ridiculous old age (Greta’s nickname for him, Kim, was also Laurence Olivier’s nickname).

And so a story about fathers and daughters (but also, mothers and daughters) is a kind of fairytale full of cuckolding, dueling narratives, female infanticide, and trying to please fathers. Your diffident question about whether Rudy is Denise’s father is what I would call the illegitimate but valid question in literature: it exists outside the context of a narrator’s awareness, though maybe not, in Denise’s case, outside her sensibility. (Ditto Nick Carraway’s sensibility, in Gatsby: is Nick gay? He never acknowledges this, but there’s evidence to suggest he is. In Charlotte’s Web, a fairytale about deciding not to eat a pig, I’ve also wondered if E.B. White’s naming his farmer Zuckerman was intentional.) You might consider Rudy’s “extreme charity” toward the end of his life: is this something Denise might have inherited from her father – not from the man she calls her father, from whom she inherited her estate, but from their family friend Rudy, whose example leads her to sell off her estate as a life-line for daughters not least her own. Is there a physical resemblance between Denise and Rudy? (At one point, Judy alludes to Rudy’s lack of “buns” – and later to Denise’s diminutive backside.) And what imagery might allow us to see a connection between Denise’s opera-conscious mother and the unpolished Rudy? (Talk about characters’ sensibilities, seeming at odds, and yet an electrician with a Haida-carved front door …?) The challenge of a novella, given its spatial limitations, is to interweave its backstory as if past time is the very fabric of its present narrative.

The metaphor of smoke and mortality, for example, threads itself throughout Charity and compresses Denise’s decades down to the poem that you quote, and whose motto she remembers as wanting to live by, to burn as an ageing woman without smoke, just as “good old wood” burns “to be / fire”. (Her name, Catalpa, the name of a tree, does suggest a woodish pedigree.) Ah, yes, age and its imperatives. If there exists yet what we might call a fiction of ageing, it certainly hasn’t captured the public readership it merits, possibly because the writers most inclined to compose it have lost their youthful ambition (and fire) to share what they’ve come over time to know. And for younger writers, time is still too short to appreciate how wide the experience of ageing actually is (the pawky allusiveness it offers). This is Denise’s challenge, in narrating her own story over decades. She’s older than both Patrick and Judy, is of a passive generation (of daughters) whose career options, restricted, was once hemmed in by convention. Increasingly able to see a new role for herself, and possibly for her step-daughter, what chance now in older age to burn with a reignited purpose?

 

ABOUT CHARITY

Denise Catalpa’s stepdaughter Greta is a medical student who doesn’t so much as struggle with her obesity as embrace it with the same gusto with which she munches on pepperoni sticks. Her father Patrick doesn’t care so long as it doesn’t interfere with her studies and her eventual takeover of his family practice. Rudy Skupa is an ancient family friend who seems to have taken a romantic interest in Greta, to her parents’ – including birth mother Judy, who begins to insinuate herself back into the family’s life – aggrieved consternation: this March-November yoking seems as unlikely as “the venerable Shakespeare actor once dating a Supreme … like mating the family’s pet goat to a rubber raft.” But when Rudy’s charitable spirit infects Greta and the two take off to Africa to help those most in need, the family’s life is turned upside-down. And when she returns after Rudy’s death, grief-stricken and wasting away, Denise, Judy, and Patrick are brought closer together as they try to rekindle Greta’s passion for living.

Charity, the first new work of fiction published by Keath Fraser in a quarter-of-a century, is a masterfully compelling story about mothers and daughters, daughters and fathers, and the alchemical ingredients necessary to make a life worth living: faith, hope, love, and yes, in all of its myriad guises, charity.

ABOUT KEATH FRASER

Keath Fraser won the Chapters / Books in Canada First Novel Award for his 1995 novel Popular Anatomy. His stories and novellas have been published in many anthologies in Canada and abroad. Collections of his short fiction include Taking Cover and Telling My Love Lies. The volume Foreign Affairs was short-listed for a Governor General’s Award and won the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize. He is the author of As For Me and My Body, a memoir of his friend Sinclair Ross; and of The Voice Gallery, a narrative of his far-flung travels among broken voices. The royalties from his international best-selling anthologies Bad Trips and Worst Journeys: The Picador Book of Travel were given to Canada India Village Aid (CIVA), the late NGO founded by George Woodcock. His lives in Vancouver.

 

You can purchase a copy of Charity here.

Event poster with the book cover for AGAINST AMAZON AND OTHER ESSAYS on the left with the text "Are you Against Amazon? Support Indie on Cyber Monday" on the right

Against Amazon Virtual Book Launch Video

Last night we had a great time celebrating the launch of Jorge Carrión’s Against Amazon and Other Essays with some of our favourite booksellers from across Canada and the US. We were joined by Doug Minett from The Bookshelf in Guelph, ON, JoAnn McCaig from Shelf Life Books in Calgary, AB, Jason Purcell from Glass Bookshop in Edmonton, AB, Josh Cook from Porter Square Books in Cambridge, MA, and Cristina Rodriguez from Deep Vellum Books in Dallas, TX. The group discussed what they loved about Jorge Carrión’s new book, why people should stop shopping at Amazon, how their experiences as booksellers have changed during the pandemic, and which books they’re recommending this holiday season. We also heard from the author Jorge Carrión, as he submitted a pre-recorded video from his home in Spain.

In case you missed it, you can still watch the video now:

 

ABOUT AGAINST AMAZON:
A history of bookshops, an autobiography of a reader, a travelogue, a love letter—and, most urgently, a manifesto.
Picking up where the widely praised Bookshops: A Reader’s History left off, Against Amazon and Other Essays explores the increasing pressures of Amazon and other new technologies on bookshops and libraries. In essays on these vital social, cultural, and intellectual spaces, Jorge Carrión travels from London to Geneva, from Miami’s Little Havana to Argentina, from his own well-loved childhood library to the rosewood shelves of Jules Verne’s Nautilus and the innovative spaces that characterize South Korea’s bookshop renaissance. Including interviews with writers and librarians—including Alberto Manguel, Iain Sinclair, Luigi Amara, and Han Kang, among others—Against Amazon is equal parts a celebration of books and bookshops, an autobiography of a reader, a travelogue, a love letter—and, most urgently, a manifesto against the corrosive influence of late capitalism.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Jorge Carrión is a writer and literary critic. He studied at the University of Pompeu Fabra, where he now teaches literature and creative writing. His published works include essays, novellas, novels and travel writing, and his articles have appeared in National Geographic and Lonely Planet Magazine. Bookshops was a finalist in the Premio Anagrama de Ensayo, 2013.

Order your copy today from your local independent bookstore or from our website.

Event Poster with Lennie Goodings' A Bite Of the Apple Book Cover

A Bite of the Apple Virtual Launch Video

We had so much fun last night at the virtual book launch for Lennie Goodings’ memoir, A BITE OF THE APPLE! Lennie had two great discussions: first with author Emma Donoghue and then with Ben McNally from Ben McNally Books. There were also video shout outs from Margaret Atwood and Louise Dennys, plus a book giveaway. Not to mention, you can hear Lennie read a passage from her new book!

In case you missed it, you can still watch the video now:

Want to see more of Lennie Goodings? Lennie will be participating in two events at the Toronto International Festival of Authors today. She will be interviewing award-winning poet Lorna Crozier today at 3:30 PM EDT for the “Poetry of Love & Loss” event, and then she will be interviewing author and journalist Carl Hiaasen at 9 PM EDT for the event “Satirical Masterpiece”. Both events will be streamed live.

Lennie was recently interviewed by Elizabeth Renzetti at The Globe & Mail about her memoir and her groundbreaking work at Virago. Check out the interview here.

ABOUT A BITE OF THE APPLE:

Following the chronology of the press where she has worked nearly since its founding, Lennie Goodings tells the story of the group of visionary publishers and writers who have made Virago one of the most important and influential publishers in the English-speaking world. Like the books she has edited and published—by writers ranging from Maya Angelou and Margaret Atwood to Sarah Waters and Naomi Wolf—Goodings’s contribution to the genre breaks new ground as well, telling a story of women in the world of work, offering much needed balance to the male-dominated genre of publishing memoirs, and chronicling a critical aspect of the history of feminism: how women began to assume control over the production of their own books.

ABOUT LENNIE GOODINGS:

Lennie Goodings is Chair of the UK publishing house Virago Press. Her authors include, amongst many others, Margaret Atwood, Maya Angelou, Sarah Waters, Natasha Walter, Sandi Toksvig and Marilynne Robinson. Goodings was part of Virago’s management buy-out team of five who created a newly independent Virago in 1987 and became the Publishing Director in 1992. In 1995 Virago was sold to Little, Brown where Goodings remained the Publisher and Editorial Director. She stepped back from that position in 2017 and became Virago Chair, still editing and commissioning her authors. Lennie Goodings won the Bookseller’s Industry Award: Editor and Imprint of the Year in 2010 and A Lifetime’s Achievement at WOW, London’s Southbank Women of the World festival in 2018. Born in Canada, she came to London in her early twenties and has remained there since.

 

Get your copy of A BITE OF THE APPLE today!

 

Event banner with author headshots

Art of the Short: Video of the Reading with Three 2020 Scotiabank Giller Nominees

On Friday, October 2, 2020, Biblioasis partnered with McClelland & Stewart, Véhicule Press, and Maisonneuve Magazine to put on the event ART OF THE SHORT STORY: A READING WITH THREE 2020 SCOTIABANK GILLER NOMINEES. David Bergen, Souvankham Thammavongsa, and Kaie Kellough had a great discussion about their nominated short story collections with host, Dimitri Nasrallah. We streamed it on both Facebook Live and on YouTube. Thank you to everyone who tuned in! Unfortunately, we had some technical issues, as so some audience members had difficulties watching the video live. Luckily, you can still watch the video now without any disruptions:

This week on October 5th, the shortlist for the 2020 Scotiabank Giller Prize was announced. We are so excited that David Bergen’s Here the Dark is a finalist for the prize! Souvankham Thammavongsa’s How to Pronounce Knife (McClelland & Stewart) is also a finalist, along with three other books: Ridgerunner by Gil Adamson (House of Anansi), Polar Vortex by Shani Mootoo (Book*hug), and The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel. Learn more about the shortlist here.

Get your copy of Here the Dark today!

Here the Dark Book Cover Giller Finalist Announcement

HERE THE DARK is a finalist for the 2020 Scotiabank Giller Prize!

We are beyond excited that Here the Dark by David Bergen has been shortlisted for the 2020 Scotiabank Giller Prize! The finalists were announced this morning on a virtual live stream. Sean Michaels, the 2014 Giller Prize winner for the novel Us Conductors, announced David Bergen’s name.

This year’s 2020 Scotiabank Giller jury, comprised of David Chariandy, Eden Robinson, Mark Sakamoto, Claire Armitstead, and Tom Rachman, stated, “Sexual loneliness and moral confusion pull at the delicately wrought characters in David Bergen’s latest work, a story collection of masterly skill and tension. His third appearance on the Giller shortlist — including the 2005 winner, The Time in Between — affirms Bergen among Canada’s most powerful writers. His pages light up; all around falls into darkness.”

In a statement, publisher Dan Wells said, “We are delighted that David Bergen’s Here the Dark has made the 2020 Scotiabank Giller shortlist. Readers know David primarily as a novelist: these stories show he’s a master of shorter forms, stories and novella both, and we’re thrilled that more readers may discover them as a result of this nomination.”

The Scotiabank Giller Prize is one of Canada’s most prestigious literary awards. The prize was established in 1994 by Jack Rabinovitch in honour of his late wife, literary journalist Doris Giller, who passed away from cancer the year before. The prize is awarded annually to a Canadian novel or short story collection published that year. The winner receives $100,000 and the shortlisted authors each receive $10,000. The winner will be announced November 9, 2020 on a broadcast hosted by Canadian actor, Eric McCormack, featuring a performance by Canadian jazz pianist and singer, Diana Krall.

Previous winners of the Giller Prize include Alice Munro, Margaret Atwood, Esi Edugyan, Andre Alexis, Michael Ondaatje, and Mordecai Richler.

Here the Dark is one of two short story collections on the shortlist, the other being How to Pronounce Knife by Souvankham Thammavongsa. It is also one of three books published by independent presses on the shortlist— Ridgerunner by Gil Adamson (Anansi) and Polar Vortex by Shani Mootoo (Book*hug) are shortlisted as well. The fifth shortlisted title is The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel.

The short stories in Here the Dark explore the spaces between doubt and belief, evil and good, obscurity and light. They follow men and boys bewildered by their circumstances and swayed by desire, surprised by love and by their capacity for both tenderness and violence.

The title novella is about a young woman who rejects the laws of her cloistered Mennonite community, where she must adhere to rigid gender roles and not ask many questions. But she can’t stop asking questions and reading books and being curious about her cousin’s life at university. The story is told with compassion and insight, with a great understanding of the complexity of the characters’ situation.David Bergen Headshot

It’s a collection that isn’t afraid to ask difficult questions, display the contradictions within people and ask us to sit with them. Bergen has said he is not interested in easy answers to difficult questions. He portrays characters bewildered by circumstances and invites us to empathize with them.

Here the Dark deftly renders complex moral ambiguities and asks what it means to be lost—and how we might be found.

Bergen won the Giller Prize in 2005 for his novel The Time in Between and he was shortlisted in 2010 for The Matter with Morris. In total, Bergen has been nominated for the Giller five times. Here the Dark is his first title published with Biblioasis.

David Bergen has published eight novels and a collection of short stories. His work has been nominated for the Governor General’s Literary Award, the Impac Dublin Literary Award, and a Pushcart Prize. In 2018 he was given the Writers’ Trust Matt Cohen Award: In Celebration of a Writing Life.

Get your copy of HERE THE DARK now!

Double Virtual Launch Video for Jason Guriel and Carmine Starnino

Did you miss the double virtual launch last night for FORGOTTEN WORK and DIRTY WORDS: SELECTED POEMS 1997-2016? You can still watch it here!

We had a great event with Jason Guriel and Carmine Starnino. The two of them read from each other’s books, had a discussion, and answered questions from the audience. Watch the video here:

Order your copy of Jason Guriel’s Forgotten Work here. It’s available in both paperback and limited-edition hardcover. The limited edition is exclusive to Biblioasis.com. Visit Gaspereau Press’s website to learn more about Carmine Starnino’s latest book.

About Forgotten Work

In the year 2063, on the edge of the Crater formerly known as Montréal, a middle-aged man and his ex’s daughter search for a cult hero: the leader of a short-lived band named after a forgotten work of poetry and known to fans through a forgotten work of music criticism. In this exuberantly plotted verse novel, Jason Guriel follows an obsessive cult-following through the twenty-first century. Some things change (there’s metamorphic smart print for music mags; the Web is called the “Zuck”). Some things don’t (poetry readings are still, mostly, terrible). But the characters, including a robot butler who stands with Ishiguro’s Stevens as one of the great literary domestics, are unforgettable.

Splicing William Gibson with Roberto Bolaño, Pale Fire with Thomas Pynchon, Forgotten Work is a time-tripping work of speculative fiction. It’s a love story about fandom, an ode to music snobs, a satire on the human need to value the possible over the actual—and a verse novel of Nabokovian virtuosity.

Praise for Forgotten Work

“This may be the first rock ‘n’ roll novel written in iambic pentameter … strange and affectionate, like Almost Famous penned by Shakespeare. A love letter to music in all its myriad iterations.”Kirkus

“A feast of allusions—musical, literary, and cinematic—is the book’s most entertaining aspect, and it speaks to the powerful currents flowing between artists and artworks across disciplines, as well as to the effect of art on its consumers … Guriel’s bountiful celebration of connections between art finds an inspiring, infectious groove.”Publishers Weekly

“What do you get when you throw John Shade, Nick Drake, Don Juan, Sarah Records, and Philip K. Dick into a rhymed couplet machine? Equal parts memory and forgetting, detritus and elegy, imagination and fancy, Forgotten Work could be the most singular novel-in-verse since Vikram Seth’s The Golden Gate. Thanks to Jason Guriel’s dexterity in metaphor-making, I found myself stopping and rereading every five lines or so, to affirm my surprise and delight.”—Stephen Metcalf

“This book has no business being as good as it is. Heroic couplets in the twenty-first century? It’s not a promising idea, but Forgotten Work is intelligent, fluent, funny, and wholly original. I can’t believe it exists.”—Christian Wiman