Stranger than Fiction: The Creative Nonfiction Cabaret
An evening of lightning readings by authors both local and from away
With readings by:
Taras Grescoe, Julija Šukys, David Waltner-Toews, Kitty Hoffman, Maria
Turner, Susan Olding, Jane Silcott, Mark Abley, Merrily Weisbord, and
Co-sponsored by the Creative Nonfiction Collective and the QuebecWriters’ Federation
Come for the door prizes (books!); stay for the readings.
Monday, June 3, 2013
Doors open at 6:00 pm. Come for a bite and to socialize before the
5434 Côte St-Luc Rd
I’m so happy to announce that Epistolophilia has won the 2013 Helen and Stan Vine Canadian Jewish Book Award for Holocaust Literature.
Here’s the jury citiation:
Epistolophilia: Writing the Life of Ona Šimaitė
By Julija Šukys Published by University of Nebraska Press
Epistolophilia presents a new type of reading of Holocaust texts. Julija Šukys, a young Montreal-based scholar, tells the story of a genuine heroine of the Holocaust recognized by Yad Vashem as Righteous. Time and again Ona Šimaitė would slip into the Vilna ghetto to bring in food, clothes, medicine, money, and counterfeit documents and leave with letters, manuscripts, and even sedated children swathed in sacks. In 1944 she was captured by the Gestapo, tortured, and deported to Dachau.
Julija Šukys sifted through mounds of letters and diaries to paint a portrait of a remarkable life. Šukys injects herself into the book, writing about her more than eight year journey researching and writing the book, discovering Šimaitė and the emotional connection that comes through a link to the past.
The official reception and awards ceremony:
Thursday, June 6, 8 PM | FREE
The Bram and Bluma Appel Salon
at the Toronto Reference Library
789 Yonge St., Toronto
OMNIBUS 2012-3 CANADIAN AUTHORS SERIES EVENT, MONDAY, APRIL 29, 5 P.M.
GERALD HILL. CASSIE STOCKS. JULIJA ŠUKYS.
UPPER CRUST CAFE, SOUTH EDMONTON. 10909-86 AVE.
Gerald Hill is the author of Fourteen Tractors (NeWest Press, 2009),
for which he won the 2009 Saskatchewan Book Award for Poetry. He has
published four other collections of poetry: My Human Comedy (Coteau
Books, 2008), Getting To Know You (Spotted Cow Press, 2003), The Man
From Saskatchewan (Coteau Press, 2001), and Heartwood (Thistledown
Press, 1985). He lives in Regina, where he teaches English and
Creative Writing at Luther College at the University of Regina.
MacEwan University grad Cassie Stocks has just been awarded the 2013
Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour for her first novel Dance, Gladys,
Dance. She lives in Eston, Saskatchewan.
Narrative nonfiction writer and biographer Julija Šukys is the author
of Epistolophilia: Writing the Life of Ona Šimaitė (University of
Nebraska Press, 2012). Šukys follows the letters and journals of
Šimaitė (1894–1970), a Lithuanian librarian who for several years
aided Jews in the Vilnius ghetto during German occupation. Eventually,
her activities were detected by the Gestapo and Šimaitė was sent to
Dachau. Journeying through thousands of letters, scores of diaries,
articles, and press clippings, Šukys negotiates with the ghost of
Šimaitė, beckoning back to life this quiet and worldly heroine—a giant
of Holocaust history (one of Yad Vashem’s honoured “Righteous Among the
Nations”). The result is at once a mediated self-portrait and a
measured perspective on a remarkable life. It reveals the meaning of life-writing, how women write their lives publicly and privately, and
how their words attach them—and us—to life. Šukys is also the author
of Silence Is Death: The Life and Work of Tahar Djaout (University of
Nebraska Press, 2007). She lives in Montreal.
Maisonneuve Magazine is published out of Montreal and “has been described as a new New Yorker for a younger generation, or as Harper’s meets Vice, or as Vanity Fair without the vanity.” The quarterly offers “a diverse range of commentary across the arts, sciences, daily and social life.”
When the publication asked its contributors to share their favourite reads of the year, Crystal Chan chose Epistolophilia by yours truly. Here’s what she says about it:
The book…evolves into a meditation on those at the margins of society (women, Jews, gentiles in Holocaust literature, Lithuanians, the mentally ill), and the power and place of archives and texts. What does it mean to be a woman who writes? By embedding herself into her book, Šukys managed to write a book that’s equal parts biography, personal travel memoir, and anthology of wartime correspondence, but that also transcends these genres. Most of all, this is a book-length essay in the tradition of Virgina Woolf.
My favourite line is the last one. To be considered as working in the tradition of Virginia Woolf — what a gift.
Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, Bonnes Fêtes, su šventėm!
May the coming year bring you peace, good health, and good writing.
As I posted on Facebook, I will admit that my hands shook for a while after learning the news that my book, Epistolophilia: Writing the Life of Ona Šimaitė has been long-listed for the Charles Taylor Prize in Literary Non-Fiction. It’s an enormous honour.
THE CHARLES TAYLOR PRIZE commemorates Charles Taylor’s pursuit of excellence in the ﬁeld of literary non-ﬁction. The prize will be awarded to the author whose book best combines a superb command of the English language, an elegance of style, and a subtlety of thought and perception. The prize consists of $25,000 for the winner and $2,000 for each of the runners up as well as promotional support to help all shortlisted books stand out in the national media, bookstores, and libraries. Authors whose books have been shortlisted for the prize will be brought to Toronto for the awards ceremony. The winner will be invited to read at the International Festival of Authors, held in October at Harbourfront Centre in Toronto.
You can find the entire long-list here.
I keep wanting to sit down and write a thoughtful post for the blog, and then something happens that I realize I should share: a reading, a review, and so on.
Mind you, I’m not complaining. I’m thrilled.
So here’s this week’s announcement: my book has been shortlisted for a literary prize.
The shortlist for the Quebec Writers’ Federation’s Mavis Gallant Prize in Nonfiction is very short indeed. It comprises 3 books.
and two others:
- Taras Grescoe, Straphanger
- William Marsden, Fools Rule: Inside the Failed Politics of Climate Change
Grescoe and Marsden are both seasoned and award-winning writers, so I’m particularly honoured to be in their company. The winner will be announced on November 20th, at the Quebec Writers’ Federation Gala.
It should be lots of fun, and I’m thinking of getting a new frock for the occasion! I’ll keep you posted and share some photos of the event.
There is a whole slew of prizes that will be handed out on the 20th. You can read about all the nominees here.
Thanks to Ramunė Jonaitienė for this review in Tėviškės Žiburiai, the Lithuanian-Canadian weekly newspaper. Among the phrases I’m really grateful for is her description of my tone as “calm.”
I’m reposting this from Canadian Creative Writers and Writing Programs. It seems like a good opportunity for community-building, and I may send them something about my essay workshop this fall. Perhaps you have something to share too:
After a successful conference in Toronto this past spring, CCWWP (Canadian Creative Writers and Writing Programs) needs your help to continue a national conversation about teaching—and learning about—creative writing in Canada. CCWWP is looking for contributors to a revamped blog covering a wide range of topics relating to creative writing and education. We’ll consider pitches from all fronts: full-time, part-time, casual, former and current creative writing teachers, present or former creative writing students, and writers who simply have an interest in how writing is taught and learned.
This blog won’t espouse an official organizational view—we are looking for diverse views and experiences that will provoke discussion. Some ideas for topics:
– interviews with writers about their teaching practice or learning process
– book reviews (related to teaching in the field)
– examples of student successes
– reflections by students on learning process
– teaching innovations
– successful lessons or exercises
– mentorship stories
– stories of teachable moments
– relationships between writers and the academy
– recurring “column” on a specific theme
Please do NOT propose posts that are largely about promoting your own work.
Send a brief blog post pitch to firstname.lastname@example.org. Make sure to include your bio, a projected completion date, and whether or not the post is time-sensitive. Blog posts come in all shapes and sizes—but start short by thinking in the ballpark of 300 words.
[Photo: Reading a Book on Bloor by Daily Grind Photography]