Seasoned author’s debut novel a winner
WINNING a first novel award is often the literary world’s equivalent of being rookie of the year. This year’s winner of the Amazon.ca First Novel Award, however, is no rookie. Wayne Grady, honoured last week for his novel Emancipation Day, has previously published 14 books of nonfiction, edited several anthologies and won the Governor General’s Award as a translator. His first work of full-length fiction, Emancipation Day was inspired by Grady’s discovery 20 years ago that his father was a light-skinned black man who had passed for white. Controversial American historian Daniel Jonah Goldhagen will argue Monday that anti-Semitism is stronger today than at any time since the Second World War. Goldhagen, whose Holocaust study Hitler’s Willing Executioners drew both praise and sharp scholarly criticism in the 1990s, is speaking at the Fort Garry Hotel at 7:30 p.m. in an event sponsored by the Canadian Institute for the Study of Anti-Semitism. He followed that book with a study of the role of the Catholic Church in the Holocaust. In his latest book, The Devil That Never Dies, Goldhagen argues that much current criticism of Israel is “incontrovertibly anti-Semitic.” A novel about an eight-year-old girl sent to a Nazi labour camp has won this year’s Manitoba Young Readers’ Choice Award. Making Bombs for Hitler, by Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch, was voted the top choice in this year’s running of the annual promotion, in which young readers vote on selections from a shortlist. When the award was announced last week, next year’s short list of 18 books was also unveiled on the award’s website (myrca.ca). Honourable mentions this year went to Ungifted, by Gordon Korman, and Small Medium at Large, by Joanne Levy. The Manitoba School Library Association launched the awards in 1990 to promote interest in reading. The Spring Literary Series — a partnership of the Winnipeg International Writers’ Festival and McNally Robinson Booksellers — is bringing three evenings of readings to the city this week. First up is Kenneth Oppel, the bestselling author of kids’ and YA books, including the Silverwing series, reading from his new novel The Boundless, on Monday at 7 p.m. British Columbia’s Steven Galloway will read from his followup to the acclaimed The Cellist of Sarajevo on Thursday at 7 p.m., as part of his tour to promote The Confabulist, a novel inspired by the life and sudden death of Harry Houdini. Two Montreal writers — one of them former Winnipegger Jon Paul Fiorentino — take the stage on Friday at 7 p.m. Fiorentino will read from his book of comedic short stories, I’m Not Scared of You or Anything. David Homel will read from his novel The Fledglings, set in Prohibition-era Chicago, and will discuss his work as translator for Québécois novelist Nelly Arcan. All the readings take place at McNally Robinson Booksellers. Two books with aboriginal themes cleaned up at this year’s Saskatchewan Book Awards last week. Clearing the Plains: Disease, Politics of Starvation and Loss of Aboriginal Life, by University of Regina historian James Daschuk, won four awards for the author and another for his publisher, University of Regina Press. On the fiction side, Lisa Bird Wilson’s short story collection Just Pretending won three awards, in addition to an award for her publisher, Coteau Books.