Excerpt from How to Die by Ray Robertson in the Globe and Mail!

An excerpt from Ray Robertson’s How to Die: A Book About Being Alive is in the Globe and Mail this weekend. It is available to read online now!

A radical revaluation of how contemporary society perceives death—and a literary tourist’s argument for how it can make us happy.

“He who would teach men to die would teach them to live,” writes Montaigne in Essais, and in How to Die, Ray Robertson takes up the challenge, arguing that the active and intentional consideration of death is essential to our ability to value life. An absorbing excursion through some of Western literature’s most compelling works on the subject of death and a selfhelp book for people who hate self-help, How to Die is an anecdote-driven argument for cultivating a better understanding of death in the belief that, if we do, we’ll know more about what it means to live meaningfully.

Ray also appeared on Global TV’s Morning Show in January. Click on the image below to watch the interview:

 

“While How to Die is a slim book, it offers some hefty insights, leavened with frequent, self-effacing humour. There are numerous passages here which, while quick to read (the book is very accessible, despite its philosophical bona fides), nonetheless take hours to fully internalize … Brilliant.”
—Robert J. Wiersema, Toronto Star

 

 

 

 

A shout out to How to Die in Toronto Life:

 

Click the image below to watch Ray’s interview with Annette Hamm on CHCH’s Morning Live:

Want to hear more from Ray? Read his interviews in the Windsor Star, Chatham Daily Newsor Queen’s JournalListen to his interview on CBC Windsor Morning.

Want to read the book? Buy it here!

 

About Ray Robertson:

Ray Robertson is the author of the novels Home MoviesHeroesMoody FoodGently Down the StreamWhat Happened LaterDavidI Was There The Night He Died, and 1979 as well as the non-fiction collections Lives of the Poets (with Guitars), Mental Hygiene: Essays on Writers and Writing and Why Not? Fifteen Reasons to Live, which was short-listed for the Hilary Weston Prize for non-fiction and long-listed for the Charles Taylor Prize for non-fiction. Born and raised in Southwestern Ontario, he lives in Toronto.

 

 

Biblioasis at Winter Institute 2020 in Baltimore

Every year the American Booksellers Association (ABA) puts on a big convention for booksellers to meet one another, talk with publishers, and share tricks of the trade. This year it was in Baltimore, Maryland, and Biblioasis had a blast. Booksellers are pretty much our favourite people in the world, so we are always excited when we get a chance to meet them face to face and share with them the books we’re excited about for the year. We brought with us ARCs for 2020 titles and buttons, as we often do, but this year we made something a little bit different … bookseller trading cards!

Because booksellers are our heroes, we decided to show our appreciation by creating our first deck of nine bookseller trading cards, complete with stats, stickers, and gum. Artist Owen Swain illustrated the cards, and our Managing Editor, Vanessa, designed the cards and found the stats. We sat around our front table wrapping them up and chewing bubble gum during the week preceding Winter Institute.

And when they got there, they made a splash. Shelf Awareness tweeted about them and wrote about us in their newsletter. Lit Hub wrote about us, saying “Do you even love books if you haven’t collected all of these independent bookseller cards?” Then Ron Charles included a mention about them in his Washington Post newsletter “Book Club.”

We had such fun making them and watching everyone trade them. We can’t wait for our next series, coming Indie Bookseller Day 2020! This series will soon be available for purchase on our website.

 

Trading in action!

James Crossley signing his card.

Bush Runner shortlisted for the 2020 RBC Taylor Prize!

We kept our fingers crossed and looks like luck is on our side! We’re ecstatic  to announce that Bush Runner: The Adventures of Pierre-Esprit Radisson has been shortlisted for the 2020 RBC Taylor Prize! 

I think Pierre would have seen the fun in all this, but he probably would have robbed the RBC Taylor Prize winner on the way out of the hall.

 


Author Mark Bourrie expresses his delight and gratitude in a statement: “Every writer hopes to have a day when Margaret Atwood stands on a stage and says their book is one of the five best non-fiction titles of the year. This is my day, and I am so glad that Dan Wells and Janice Zawerbny of Biblioasis were willing to give bad old Radisson a shot. I have lived with this pirate and cannibal for three years now, and I guess he’s going to be with me for a while longer. I think Pierre would have seen the fun in all this, but he probably would have robbed the RBC Taylor Prize winner on the way out of the hall. Every one of the twelve books on the long list was something I would have been proud to have my name on. Just making that list was an honor.

The RBC Taylor Prize jury, which is comprised of Margaret Atwood, Coral Ann Howells, and Peter Theroux, have this to say about Bush Runner:  “Readers of Mark Bourrie’s Bush Runner might well wonder if Jonathan Swift at his edgiest has been at work. This over-the-top narrative connects Canadian fur traders with three European royal courts, mixes in Indigenous political intrigues and family alliances among the Five Nations and French settlers, and adds Jesuits, cannibalism, and the Great Fire of London. To top it off, there’s the impact of the beaver hat and the buffalo on the entire Western world! In Bourrie’s telling, the picaresque Pierre Radisson, a humane con artist of heroic stamina and fluid loyalties, was the fulcrum of four centuries of Canadian centrality in the forging of modern Western civilizations. Who knew?”

We are extremely pleased that Mark’s book has resonated so well with both audiences and critics. We’d also like to thank all of you for championing the book and keeping it on the best seller lists for so long!

We won’t be uncrossing our fingers just yet: the winner of the RBC Taylor Prize will be announced on March 2, 2020.

2019 Awards Round-Up

2019 has been a spectacular year for Biblioasis titles on awards lists. Check out some of the recognition they got this year.

 

Bush Runner: The Adventures of Pierre-Esprit Radisson by Mark Bourrie — Longlisted for the 2020 RBC Taylor Prize

This news is still very fresh, so excuse us while we jump up and down a little. 2020 is the last year the RBC Taylor Prize for Non-Fiction will be awarded, and we are ecstatic that Bush Runner has made the longlist. All our fingers and toes are crossed that it makes the shortlist on January 8—it completely deserves it.

The jurors for this year’s prize are Margaret Atwood, Coral Ann Howells and Peter Theroux. The jury noted that “Distilling these diverse riches, embracing the social, personal, political and historical, into a mere list of ten was a profound but rewarding challenge—our list could have been much longer, and indeed is longer than we were asked for! Readers globally can be thankful for a year of such exceptional Canadian contributions.”

Bush Runner has had an excellent year—national bestseller, rave reviews in The Globe and Mail, Washington Times, and Winnipeg Free Press, among others. Plus it was named one of the Globe and Mail books of the year!

You can listen to an interview with Mark Bourrie on CBC’s Ideas here, and you can purchase Bush Runner here.

 

Ducks, Newburyport by Lucy Ellmann — Winner of the Goldsmiths Prize, Shortlisted for the Booker Prize, Longlisted for the Andrew Carnegie Medal, Shortlisted for Saltire Prize

If you’ve been following Biblioasis at all this year, you’ll definitely know what a wild ride we’ve had with this title. It was shortlisted for the Booker Prize, which brought with it a whole slew of reviews, including ones in the New York Times, New Yorker, and more. Then it won the Goldsmiths Prize, was nominated for the Andrew Carnegie Medal, and was shortlisted for the Saltire Prize.

Now it is showing up on too many year-end lists to count, and it deserves every accolade.

But the coolest part of publicizing this book hasn’t been the awards or the press, it’s been the booksellers. So many booksellers have rallied behind this book like we’ve never seen before. Lori Feathers at Interabang Books interviewed Lucy for Lit Hub and went on Minnesota Public Radio to talk about the book. Josh Cook from Porter Square Books has sold almost 100 copies, and if he makes it to 100 before the end of the year, he’s getting a Ducks, Newburyport-themed tattoo! Kyle at Type Books has legendary hand-selling skills—in fact, when we went to Word On the Street this fall, half the people we tried to sell the book to had already purchased one from Kyle. And the list goes on! So thank you, Lucy Ellmann, for writing a book that has brought us closer to our independent bookseller friends.

You can purchase Ducks, Newburyport here. Or purchase it here so Josh has to get that tattoo.

 

Late Breaking by K.D. Miller — Finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Award, Nominated for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, Shortlisted for the Trillium Book Award, Nominated for the Toronto Book Award

 

Boy, has this been a year for K.D. Miller! Late Breaking has been on nearly every single major awards list in Canada, and we are so proud of this brilliant book.

People are blown away by K.D.’s “compulsively readable” (CBC Ontario Morning) stories.

When Late Breaking was named a finalist for the GGs, K.D. said, “What an honour! I am so pleased and grateful to be on the Governor General’s list. Also a little surprised. The title story of Late Breaking takes a gently satirical look at the literary prize scene. I really thought I was ruling myself out. But the Trillium, Toronto Book Awards, Giller and now the Governor General’s Awards have seemed to disagree. Thank you.”

We also get a bit of a kick out of seeing the cover—full frontal male nudity and all—on all the awards coverage. The question we always wonder is, “Will they blur it out this time?” Get your copy now!

 

Dear Evelyn by Kathy Page — Winner of the City of Victoria Butler Book Prize

Recognition for this book continued in 2019! You may recall that this Kathy Page’s page-turner won the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize in 2018, and this year, it kept up its momentum, going on to win the City of Victoria Butler Book Prize.

The jurors called it “A flawlessly executed novel that draws the arc of a man’s life, measured by interruptions of history and the inevitable changes that the years impose on us all. Nimble, engaging and deeply perceptive, Dear Evelyn is wise and widely appealing.”

You can purchase Dear Evelyn here. Did you know we’ve also got a book club reading guide for this book? Check it out here.

Already read Dear Evelyn and itching for more Kathy Page. Her novel, The Story of My Face is the latest book in our reSet series. You can purchase it here.

 

 

 

Be With: Letters to a Caregiver by Mike Barnes — Shortlisted for the Toronto Book Award

 

One of the cool things about the Toronto Book Award is that the list is filled with so many different types of books—there is no specific required genre to be on the list. Mike Barnes’ thoughtful and heart-wrenching book Be With is a prime example of this. It is composed of short reflections, designed for consuming a bit at a time.

Mike got to participate in Word On the Street at the Toronto Book Awards tent as part of the awards promotion and he repeatedly drew a crowd. It’s impossible not to love this little yellow book (and Mike).

Plus, Mike had a blast at the winner ceremony. If you ever get the chance to meet him, ask him about his drink ticket philosophy—it’s sure to amaze.

You can purchase Be With here. Also, did you know that we have published several of Mike’s books, including his collection of poetry, Braille Rainbow, which came out this spring? Check them out here at his author page.,

 

 

They Call Me George: The Untold Story of Black Train Porters and the Birth of Modern Canada — Nominated for the Toronto Book Award

Alongside Late Breaking and Be With, Cecil Foster’s book, They Call Me George, was nominated for the Toronto Book Award. This incredible true story is the first in our Untold Lives series, and it has been blowing people away. It received rave reviews in The Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, The Washington Times, and more! As part of the promotion for this book, Cecil has done various speaking engagements, after which, everyone always wants to buy the book—Cecil is such a natural storyteller.

Donna Bailey Nurse, in a review in the Literary Review of Canada said it well: “Foster has dissected the myth of Canadian tolerance, born of our history as a haven for refugee slaves—exposing instead a past in which the English and French elites fought to create a white nation…Blacks and other Canadians of colour are not merely the beneficiaries of multiculturalism; they are its architects.”

Buy They Call Me George here.

 

 

Dream Sequence — Nominated for the Scotiabank Giller Prize

It was super exciting to have TWO titles on the Giller longlist this year, Dream Sequence being one of them. This gorgeously-written novel has been compared to The Great Gatsby  by The Times of London. Wall Street Journal said, “The quality of the prose carries the book beyond conventions, as Mr. Foulds is able to conjure, with the unsettling immediacy of a person breathing against your neck, both Henry’s and Kristin’s private fixations and fantasies.”

When the longlist was announced, Adam made this statement: “I am hugely honoured that Dream Sequence has been included on this longlist. It is a particular thrill as a new Canadian to receive this recognition from one of Canada’s most storied cultural institutions.”

Check out Dream Sequence here.

 

 

 

 

We are extremely honoured to get to publish incredible books like these ones all year long, and we are proud of our authors for these accomplishments. But it’s also important to note that every Biblioasis book is a winner in our books. We believe in every book we publish and want to thank our authors for an incredible 2019!

New Biblioasis Subscription Program

This year we’re trying something new at Biblioasis: a subscription program! We wanted a way that Biblioasis supporters could get a good deal on 2020 titles, as well as have access to exclusive content and subscriber perks.

We’ve got a few different options for bundle deals and subscription programs!

Best Canadian 2019 Bundle Deal

 

This is the first year that the entire Best Canadian series is being published under one roof! We are so excited to share Best Canadian Poetry 2019, Best Canadian Stories 2019, and Best Canadian Essays 2019 with the world. Our editors, Rob Taylor, Anita Lahey, Amanda Jernigan, Caroline Adderson, and Emily Donaldson worked tirelessly to put these spectacular collections together this year. With the Best Canadian Bundle, for only $60, you can get all three Best Canadian books (shipping and taxes included)!

Reading these books is a great way to discover new writers that you may want to read more of. This year’s selections feature works by recent Giller-winner Ian Williams and writers such as Billy-Ray Belcourt, Lisa Moore, Zalika Reid-Benta, Richard Van Camp, and more!

 

Biblioasis Fiction Club

 

Love novels and short stories? Want to receive 5 new Biblioasis fiction titles throughout the year, plus subscriber bonuses like chapbooks, broadsides, and other ephemera? Then you might like to check out the Biblioasis Fiction Club! For $120 (shipping and taxes included), you can select 5 forthcoming Biblioasis fiction titles, and we will send them to you as soon as we have copies (even if it is before the pub date!). And if you order before January 1, 2020, we’ll throw in a year’s subscription to Canadian Notes & Queries (CNQ) at no extra cost!

 

 

 

Just check out some of the books you have to choose from:

 

Biblioasis Translation Club

 

Can’t get enough of reading about the experiences of people from different places, who speak different languages? You can also subscribe to the Biblioasis Translation club. Like the fiction club, you will also receive exclusive perks. For $120 (shipping and taxes included), you can receive all 5 BITS (Biblioasis International Translation Series) titles in 2020. If you order before January 1, 2020, we’ll throw in a year’s subscription to Canadian Notes & Queries (CNQ) at no extra cost! Please, note that there is some overlap between the Translation Club titles and the Fiction Club and Non-Fiction Club titles, so if you’re joining more than one club, be sure to pick non-translation titles when you make your selections for the other clubs!

 

 

Here are the books you’ll receive:

 

 

Biblioasis Non-Fiction Club

 

Passionate about memoirs, biographies, and essays? Well, have we got a treat for you! For $120 (shipping and taxes included), you can choose 5 non-fiction titles from our 2020 list to receive. We’ve got some really interesting titles coming up in 2020, that you won’t want to miss. Of course, this subscription also includes exclusive bonuses like the other ones, and if you order before January 1, 2020, we’ll give you a year of CNQ. So why delay? A perfect gift for the non-fiction-lover in your life (or for yourself!)

 

 

 

Just check out some of the books you have to choose from:

 

Mystery Backlist Box

 

Last but not least is the Mystery Backlist Box. Maybe you’re looking for some adventure this holiday season. Maybe you’re looking for a good deal. Maybe you just really trust us as curators of books (you should)! For only $80 we’ll send you five books from our backlist. Let us know what kind of books you like in the notes box when you order and we will play book matchmaker, selecting titles specifically catered to you. Or leave it blank for a complete surprise. Either way, you’ll get good books—we only publish good books. We promise.

Forthcoming from Biblioasis: The Unseen by Roy Jacobsen

This week the ARCs for The Unseen came in! We are super excited about this book here at the Bibliomanse—not only was it shortlisted for the 2017 Man Booker International Prize and for the 2018 International Dublin Literary Award, but acclaimed literary critic Eileen Battersby said it was “Easily among the best books [she had] ever read.”

This stunning novel was translated from the Norwegian by Don Bartlett and Don Shaw into beautiful, lyrical English, but don’t take our word for it—read an excerpt for yourself!

 

Whatever is washed ashore on an island belongs to the finder, and the islanders find a lot. It might be cork or barrels or hemp or driftwood or flotage — green and brown glass balls to stop fishing nets sinking — which old Martin Barrøy disentangles from the piles of seaweed when the storm has  blown over, then sits down in the boat shed to fasten new nets around, making them look like new. There might be a wooden toy for Ingrid, there might be fish boxes and oars, gaffs, bow rollers, bailers, poles, planks and the remains of boats. One winter night a whole wheelhouse was washed ashore. They used the horse to drag it onto dry land and left it there in the south of the island so that Ingrid could sit in the skipper’s swivel chair and turn the brass and mahogany wheel as she looked out over the meadows and stone walls that roll like waves across the island.

On rare occasions they find a message in a bottle, a mixture of longing and personal confidences intended for others than the finders, but which, if they were to have reached the intended recipient, would have caused them to weep tears of blood and move all heaven and earth. Now in all their indifference the islanders open the bottles, pick out the letters and read them, if they understand the language they are written in, that is, and reflect on the contents, superficial, vague reflections — messages in bottles are mythical vehicles of yearning, hope and unfulfilled lives — and then they put the letters in a chest reserved for objects which can neither be possessed nor discarded, and boil the bottles and rill them with redcurrant juice, or else simply place them on the windowsill in the barn as a kind of proof of their own emptiness, leaving the sunbeams to shine through them and turn green before refracting downwards and settling in the dry straw littering the floor.

But one autumn morning Hans Barrøy finds a whole tree that the storm has torn up and deposited on the southern tip of the island. An enormous tree. He can’t believe his eyes.

English translation copyright © 2016
by Don Bartlett & Don Shaw

 

Born on the Norwegian island that bears her name, Ingrid Barrøy’s world is circumscribed by storm-scoured rocks and the moods of the sea by which her family lives and dies. But her father dreams of building a quay that will end their isolation, and her mother longs for the island of her youth, and the country faces its own sea change: the advent of a modern world, and all its attendant unpredictability and violence. Brilliantly translated into English by Don Bartlett and Don Shaw, The Unseen is a profoundly moving exploration of family, resilience, and fate.

The Unseen comes out on April 7, 2020 in Canada and the U.S., so keep your eyes open for it in the New Year!

 

 

 

ABOUT ROY JACOBSEN

Roy Jacobsen is a Norwegian novelist and short-story writer. Born in Oslo, he made his publishing début in 1982 with the short-story collection Fangeliv (Prison Life), which won Tarjei Vesaas’ debutantpris. He is winner of the prestigious Norwegian Critics Prize for Literature and two of his novels have been nominated for the Nordic Council’s Literature Prize: Seierherrene (The Conquerors) in 1991 and Frost in 2004. The Burnt-Out Town of Miracles was published in Britain in 2008. Jacobsen lives in Oslo.

ABOUT DON BARTLETT

Don Bartlett is the acclaimed translator of Karl Ove Knausgard’s auto-fictional sequence My Struggle, as well as of novels by Jo Nesbo and Per Petterson. He lives in Norfolk, England.

ABOUT DON SHAW

Don Shaw, co-translator, is a teacher of Danish and author of the standard Danish-Thai/Thai-Danish dictionaries.

 

 

The Best Canadian Series 2019 — Coming Soon!

For the first time, the whole Best Canadian series is under one publishing roof! This year Biblioasis has taken on Best Canadian Poetry, Stories, and Essays with the help of editors Rob Taylor, Anita Lahey, Amanda Jernigan, Caroline Adderson, and Emily Donaldson.

This year’s selections feature works by recent Giller-winner Ian Williams and writers such as Billy-Ray Belcourt, Lisa Moore, Zalika Reid-Benta, Richard Van Camp, and more!

Check out interviews with Rob Taylor, guest editor of Best Canadian Poetry 2019 and Caroline Adderson, editor of Best Canadian Stories 2019 in previous blog posts.

We are offering a special deal on our website. For only $60 (shipping and taxes included), you can get all three Best Canadian 2019 books!

 

About Best Canadian Poetry 2019

Guest editor Rob Taylor, author of the widely acclaimed collection The News, brings a passionate ear for rhythm, an eye for narrative compression, an appetite for vital subject matter, and an affinity for warmth and wit to his selections for Best Canadian Poetry 2019. The fifty ruggedly independent poems gathered here tackle themes of emergence, defiance, ferocious anger, gratitude, and survival. They are alive with acoustic energy, precise in their language, and moving in their use of the personal to explore fraught political realities. They emit a cloud of invisible energy, a charge.

Featuring work by:

Colleen Baran • Gary Barwin • Billy-Ray Belcourt • Ali Blythe • Marilyn Bowering • Julie Bruck • Sara Cassidy • Sue Chenette • Chelsea Coupal • Kayla Czaga • Sadiqa de Meijer • Adebe DeRango-Adem • Chris Evans • Beth Follett • Stevie Howell • Danielle Hubbard • Dallas Hunt • Catherine Hunter • Sonnet L’Abbé • Ben Ladouceur • Tess Liem • D.A. Lockhart • Jessie Loyer • Annick MacAskill • Domenica Martinello • Laura Matwichuk • Katie McGarry • Jimmy McInnes • A.F. Moritz • Alexandra Oliver • Alycia Pirmohamed • Marion Quednau • Claudia Coutu Radmore • Shazia Hafiz Ramji • Shaun Robinson • Yusuf Saadi • Rebecca Salazar • Ellie Sawatzky • David Seymour • Kevin Spenst • Mallory Tater • Souvankham Thammavongsa • Russell Thornton • Daniel Scott Tysdal • William Vallières • Katherena Vermette • Douglas Walbourne-Gough • Cara Waterfall • Gillian Wigmore • Ian Williams

 

 

 

About Best Canadian Stories 2019

Now in its 49th year, Best Canadian Stories has long championed the short story form and highlighted the work of many writers who have gone on to shape the Canadian literary canon. Margaret Atwood, Clark Blaise, Tamas Dobozy, Mavis Gallant, Douglas Glover, Norman Levine, Rohinton Mistry, Alice Munro, Leon Rooke, Diane Schoemperlen, Kathleen Winter, and many others have appeared in its pages over the decades, making Best Canadian Stories the go-to source for what’s new in Canadian fiction writing for close to five decades. Selected by guest editor Caroline Adderson, the 2019 edition draws together both newer and established writers to shape an engaging and luminous mosaic of writing in this country today—a continuation of not only a series, but a legacy in Canadian letters.

Featuring work by:

Frankie Barnet • Shashi Bhat • Kai Conradi • Adam Dickinson • Christy Ann Conlin • Zsuzsi Gartner • Camilla Grudova • Elise Levine • Lisa Moore • Alex Pugsley • Zalika Reid-Benta • Mireille Silcoff • Troy Sebastian • Cathy Stonehouse • Richard Van Camp

 

 

 

 

About Best Canadian Essays 2019
The eleventh installment of Canada’s annual volume of essays showcases diverse nonfiction writing from across the country. Culled from leading Canadian magazines and journals, Best Canadian Essays 2019 contains award-winning and award-nominated nonfiction articles that are topical and engaging and have their finger on the pulse of our contemporary psyches.

Featuring work by:

Tanya Bellehumeur-Allatt • Ali Blythe • Larissa Diakiw • Jeffery Donaldson • Tarralik Duffy • Sue Goyette • Helen Guri • Danny Jacobs • Robbie Jeffrey • Jessica Johns • Andy Lamey • Jessie Loyer • Pasha Malla • Melanie Mah • Noor Naga • Anthony Oliveira • Meaghan Rondeau • Mireille Silcoff • Souvankham Thammavongsa • Bruce Whiteman

 

 

An Interview with Caroline Adderson, Editor of Best Canadian Stories 2019

This year is the first year that the whole Best Canadian series is under Biblioasis’ roof! Best Canadian Stories 2019 is the first book in the series (available November 19, but if you order here, we’ll send it to you early!). Best Canadian Poetry 2019 is available here, and Best Canadian Essays 2019 is coming soon!

 

A Biblioasis Interview with Caroline Adderson, Editor of Best Canadian Stories 2019

Best Canadian Stories 2019 cover

For those who are coming to your work for the first time, can you tell us a little about yourself and your writing?

I live in Vancouver. I’m the author of four novels (A History of Forgetting, Sitting Practice, The Sky Is Falling, Ellen in Pieces), two collections of short stories (Bad Imaginings, Pleased To Meet You) as well as many books for young readers. On the adult side, my books have received numerous award nominations including the Sunday Times EFG Private Bank Short Story Award, the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, two Commonwealth Writers’ Prizes, the Governor General’s Literary Award, the Rogers’ Trust Fiction Prize, and the Scotiabank Giller Prize longlist. I’ve won some prizes too: two BC Book Prizes, three CBC Literary Awards and the Marian Engel Award for mid-career achievement, among others.  But I think my real accomplishment is that after three decades I’m still writing fiction.

 

What have you done in the past that prepared you to edit Best Canadian Stories? In what ways was editing this collection different from anything you’ve ever done?

In 2015 I edited a non-fiction book of essays and photographs, Vancouver Vanishes: Narratives of Demolition and Revival.  Besides that, my preparation has been as a mentor and a reader.  I’m the Program Director of the Writing Studio at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity so I read a lot of work by emerging writers, as well as by my more established Canadian peers.  I’ve also sat on numerous awards juries.  Best Canadian Stories is a little like the latter, except happily fifteen writers won the prize – inclusion in the collection – rather than just one.

 

In reading the gazillion lit mags you had to read to choose the stories in this volume, what surprises did you encounter?

The surprises are in this volume.  These were the stories that jumped out at me because of their use of language, their strangeness, the audacity of their ideas, their humour, or their sophistication.  Delight was my criterion.  It was a bit like placer mining; I kept watching for the glints in the pan.

 

If you could make a wish for the future of Canadian fiction, what would it be?

I wish it would be taught in schools.  When my son was in high school just a few years ago, he was assigned the same books I had to read in high school.  I’m not sure how we can develop a healthy reading culture and a thriving book economy if we don’t teach our stories to our own children.

 

What are you reading right now?

I just came back from eleven days in Lisbon where I read three José Saramago novels.  Now I’m preparing to host a couple of events for the Vancouver Writers Fest so have four story collections on the go (one by Zalika Reid-Benta, who is  included in this volume), as well as the latest novels by Michael Crummey, Marina Endicott and Joan Thomas.  Talk about delight!

 

An Interview with Rob Taylor, Guest Editor of Best Canadian Poetry 2019

This year is the first year that the whole Best Canadian series is under Biblioasis’ roof! Best Canadian Poetry 2019 is the first book in the series (available now!), and Best Canadian Stories 2019 and Best Canadian Essays 2019 will be available later this month. Get your copy of Poetry now!

 

A Biblioasis Interview with Rob Taylor, guest editor of Best Canadian Poetry in English 2019

 

For those who are coming to your work for the first time, can you tell us a little about yourself and your writing?

I’m a poet, short fiction writer and editor. I teach creative writing part-time at Simon Fraser University. and live in Port Moody, BC, with my wife and two children.

My recent collection, The News (Gaspereau Press, 2016), is a sequence of 36 poems, one per week during my wife’s pregnancy with our first child. The poems weave together the “news” of the pregnancy, the political news of the day, and quotes from literature (“the news that stays news”). I like to look for big ideas that are hidden away inside small things, especially the political inside the personal.

I also have a strong interest in sound in poetry—rhythm, rhyme, alliteration, repetition—and in humour (including, perhaps especially, humour in the face of difficulty).

 

You recently edited What the Poets Are Doing: Canadian Poets in Conversation. In what ways did that prepare you to edit Best Canadian Poetry? How are those two projects completely different?

The two were very different. With What the Poets Are Doing I was soliciting as-yet-unwritten material from poets and then editing it into its published form. With Best Canadian Poetry the material was already written and submitted (in a sense), and the editing work on the poems themselves had been completed by the various magazine editors. One was like planting trees and trusting they’d bear fruit, the other was like wandering around an orchard someone else tended and filling my basket with whatever caught my eye.

Though it followed a rather different process, What the Poets Are Doing prepared me for Best Canadian Poetry by establishing a spirit of collective generosity in which to work. Both books are a celebration of poetry as practiced in this country, and the compiling of each involved the work of a great number of talented and tireless writers and editors. My enthusiasm in being able to publish writing by such remarkable poets in What the Poets Are Doing, and their willingness to make something new and vibrant with me, fueled me to do the same in Best Canadian Poetry 2019.

 

In reading the gazillion lit mags you had to read to choose the fifty poems in this volume, what surprises did you encounter?

Every one of the fifty poems was a surprise! That was the only way they were ever going to stand out amidst the gazillion lit mags (in reality, a mere 82 magazines [~300 issues], and over 2,100 poems). Each of these poems contains something—an image, a scene, an idea, a joke, a line of dialogue, a structure, a voice—which grabs you and demands your attention.

More generally, I was surprised to find that no magazine (or handful of magazines) has a monopoly on these “surprises.” The poems that I was drawn to came from magazines across the country, small and large, online and print, upstart and well-established. It made me appreciate a series like Best Canadian Poetry all the more—nowhere else could even a fraction of these poems have been gathered in one place.

 

You’ve been editing your poetry blog, Roll of Nickels, for thirteen years now. Could you comment on any trends, movements, or big-picture changes you’ve seen in Canadian poetry during that time?

As I note in my introduction to Best Canadian Poetry 2019, the biggest change to the poetry published in Canada has been a move away from prioritising style and towards prioritising content. In Best Canadian Poetry 2008, the inaugural edition of this series, guest editor Stephanie Bolster observed that, “Quirky, noisy, dense, disjunctive poems seem to be on the increase” and that “there is almost no overtly political work.” One could say the opposite is now true. The poems of 2019 are easier to understand than those of 2007, and are more explicitly engaged with the questions of our political moment (and—oof—what a moment it is).

That said, the majority of poetry in this country is as idiosyncratic as the poets themselves, and removed from conversations of “trends” and “movements”—just singular poets working away at their singular desks. I very much believe it’s mostly the magazines that are changing: what gets published from year to year varies far more than what gets written.

One way magazines have been changing has been to open themselves to a wider range of voices. This has partly been spurred by new online magazines, founded and edited by younger and more diverse editorial teams, but editorial boards at our print magazines have been slowly diversifying as well, and special issues (or whole magazines) devoted to Indigenous, racialized, or LGBTQ+ writing are now rather commonplace. It’s no small thing.

 

If you could make a wish for the future of Canadian poetry, what would it be?

I don’t want anything different from the poems themselves. They need to be what they need to be, for both their poets and their readers. To ask poems to transform to my preferences (or any one person’s) would rob the art of one of its greatest powers: to speak directly to a particular you in a particular now. I can’t predict what you’d like or what you’d need (and you probably can’t either!), so I welcome everything, even if much of it doesn’t “do it” for me.

For the culture of the poetry world (and for poetry in our wider culture), my one request is to read the poems. Don’t talk about reading poems, don’t scan lists of award winners and best-sellers, don’t scroll briskly through bookstore shelves or Instagram feeds, don’t just see who “made it” onto the list of contributors to this year’s Best Canadian Poetry, don’t run around worrying about the future of Canadian poetry, just read the damn poems! They are all that really matters. Make a quiet space, here or there during your busy days, in which a poem can do its work. Make that a practice in your life. You will be rewarded for that devotion many times over.

 

What are you reading right now?

Poetry! I fell behind in my poetry reading when I was reading all that poetry for Best Canadian Poetry . . .

I recently finished Matthew Walsh’s These are not the potatoes of my youth, Karen Solie’s The Caiplie Caves, Ilya Kaminsky’s Deaf Republic and Emily Davidson’s Lift, and I’m about to start in on Shazia Hafiz Ramji’s Port of Being and Al Rempel’s Undiscovered Country.

Biblioasis Is Hiring!

Biblioasis is hiring an enthusiastic and organized full-time bookkeeper and office manager for its publishing company and bookshop. The successful candidate will be responsible for all bookkeeping at both organizations, as well as payroll, author royalties and payments, sales projections and financial reporting, helping to manage author contracts, and basic office administrative responsibilities. This position will require a close working relationship with the press publisher and managing editor, and the bookstore manager.

Key responsibilities:

1. Bookkeeping for both the press and bookstore
2. Payroll and source deductions for all employees
3. Working with the publisher to produce financial reports and projections, as well as cost analyses for titles
4. Managing author royalties and payments
5. Working with the accountant on year-end
6. Managing author contracts
7. Basic office administration
8. Other tasks as assigned

Requirements:

1. Degree or certificate in bookkeeping and/or accounting
2. Strong background in Microsoft office suite, especially Excel
3. Strong organizational skills
4. Ability to prioritize and meet deadlines
5. Knowledge of key bookkeeping software (Simply Accounting, Quickbooks…etc.)
6. Experience with Filemaker and Moneyworks an asset

Resumes can be sent to dwells@biblioasis.com, and will be accepted until Friday, November 29th, with interviews to follow over the following two weeks, in the hopes that the new hire can begin the position in January 2020.