Monthly Archives: February 2008

Renovations coming at Robarts

Robarts Library is going to get a much needed renovation, including a lot more study space. It was announced today that the Ontario government will be contributing $15 million for this project.

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Sky Gilbert speaks at U.C.

If you heard playwright and academic Sky Gilbert speak at U.C. today and would like to read some of his work, two of his recent plays are Bad acting teachers and Rope enough. He’s also the editor of the recent anthologies Gay monologues and scenes and Perfectly abnormal : seven gay plays.

Prestigious prize for Atom Egoyan

Atom Egoyan recently won the Dan David Prize. Each year a foundation in Tel Aviv gives out three prizes, for achievements related to the past, the present, and the future. This year the $1 million prize related to the past is for “creative rendering of the past,” and it was split among filmmaker Egoyan, novelist Amos Oz, and playwright Tom Stoppard. Egoyan was cited for his exploration of Armenian history and culture in several films, especially Ararat (the DVD can be borrowed from Media Commons).

Egoyan is currently at U of T as the Distinguished Visitor in Theatre, Film, Music and Visual Studies. The students who run Diablo’s cafĂ© were so excited when Egoyan became a customer that they put a quarter he’d spent there on permanent display.

Canada in Kandahar

The unexpected war : Canada in Kandahar has won the 2008 Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing. The book is by U of T prof Janice Gross Stein and Eugene Lang. Other finalists included John A. : the man who made us : the life and times of John A. Macdonald and Why Mexicans don’t drink Molson : rescuing Canadian business from the suds of global obscurity.

Commonwealth shortlist announced

The regional shortlists for the 2008 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize were announced today.

Laidlaw Library has nine of the twelve books shortlisted for Canada and the Caribbean, and I’ve just ordered the other three. The lone Caribbean title on the shortlist, The Rainmaker’s Mistake by Jamaican novelist Erna Brodber, seems to be hard to find in Canada (perhaps that will change now that it’s been shortlisted!). But it’s available from the publisher, New Beacon Books, in England.

Best Book regional shortlist:
Gil Adamson, The Outlander
Erna Brodber, The Rainmaker’s Mistake (ordered)
Lawrence Hill, The Book of Negroes
Robert Hough, The Culprits
Frances Itani, Remembering the Bones
Michael Ondaatje, Divisadero

Best First Book regional shortlist:
David Chariandy, Soucouyant
Tish Cohen, Town House (ordered)
Arley McNeney, Post (ordered)
Ameen Merchant The Silent Raga
C.S. Richardson, The End of the Alphabet
Neil Smith, Bang Crunch

Last year the overall Commonwealth winner for Best Book was Mister Pip, by New Zealand author Lloyd Jones.

Toronto’s “community read”

I just finished Michael Redhill’s absorbing novel Consolation, which is set in Toronto in the 1850s and 1990s. Redhill is a U.C. grad (I heard him read at the Celebrate U.C. authors event a couple of years ago).

The Toronto Public Library is encouraging all Torontonians to read Consolation this month. It’s Toronto’s first annual “community read,” but many cities have had such “One Book” events since they were invented in 1998 by the head of Seattle’s public libraries, Nancy Pearl (who’s since been immortalized in a Librarian Action Figure!).

TPL has bought over 2,000 copies of the novel. I went to their “Kick-Off” evening on Monday and heard Redhill talk about how he was inspired to write the novel by certain real-life events and by photographs in the book Lost Toronto. There’s more info on the TPL’s One Book website and on Michael Redhill’s blog.