Wednesday, November 7, 2012

QWF 2012 Awards: Readings

QWF awards event was last night and I saw some excellent readers feature their own work: 

Taras Grescoe read from Straphanger which is a fascinating book on the role that the automobile has played in our cities for far too long. In the book, Grescoe travels to 14 cities around the world and explores what they are doing right and how they could make their cities better, more egalitarian and more people-friendly. It's a hard sell, particularly to North Americans who are so largely attached to their cars and driving. But for those of us who don't own a car (I haven't had a car since I was 20 years old and at the time I sold it because I never drove it), Grescoe's thesis is so intuitive: the car has its place but cities would be better if the car had a diminished role in them.  More than the above, Grescoe is just an engaging and intelligent writer and the book was one I had a hard time putting down.

Also heard Julija Sukys reading from her book Epistophilia, a biography in letters of a librarian who saved countless Jews from extermination while quietly working at a library in the Lithuanian capital, smuggling food and supplies in and out of the Jewish Ghetto. I really enjoyed reading this book, not only because I think the city of Vilnius, Lithuania is one of the most fascinating cities in the world (small, not much happens there, but a rich history and incredibly beautiful) but also because I am all for books which bring an unknown person's story to light, show us someone who should be remembered.  

Tom Abray read from his book of short stories, Pollen, several of which I still recall though I read the book last year (or very early this year). His characters are engaging and find themselves in situations that we can almost all relate to (trying to find a daycare for their kid, doing some half-ass renovation project while spending the weekend alone at home). He's a good reader, too, and I wish writers of short stories generally could make a living at their craft because Abray, though young, seems to have a real gift for the short story.

I heard Alice Petersen read from her collection, All the Voices Cry, though I'd heard her read maybe 18 months ago from her book before it was published. Her stories are simply amazing: Petersen comes from New Zealand originally and she has this exotic distance in her language that is quite distinct and unique from other Canadian writers. Her stories are rich with humour and wit. I see a bright future for Petersen.

There were several writers there whose readings I missed because I came late (TD Children's Literary Award Banquet) but the entire roster of 2012 QWF awards can be found here (PDF). Some excellent work being done by our local Quebec Anglophone writers and very happy to be a part of the booming and successful community of creative and intelligent writers.

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