Here is a literary question for Denman Island Readers and Writers Festival-goers ….. what do all the following writers have in common? …….. Terry Fallis, Angie Abdou, Michael Crummey, Pauline Holdstock, Steven Price, Anakana Schofield, Michael Christie, Marina Endicott, and Esi Edugyan …… the easy answer is that they are all award-winning Canadian authors. All of them have also had new books published within the last year or so. And finally, regular festival-goers may also recognize that they have ALL been to our island in recent years!
Is it fanciful to think their brief stays on our island and their interaction with our congenial hosts has stimulated them to further literary output? Yes, it probably is patting ourselves on the back a bit too much. Nevertheless, we can take pride in the fact that authors we have chosen and welcomed to Denman have continued their brilliant writing. Here are brief notes on each of their new books, in alphabetical order:
Angie Abdou from BC’s interior, has a new memoir called Home Ice which is funny, candid and written in her trademark honest and reader-friendly style. She describes the challenges of being the parent of a hockey-mad son, and the impact this has on her as a mother, individual, and partner.
Michael Christie is a young writer from Galiano Island who charmed Denman audiences a few years ago with his novel If I Fall, If I Die. Now he has published a blockbuster family saga called Greenwood which portrays various members of a diverse family in BC over a 130-year period, from 1908 to 2038. Trees play a major role in the narrative. A compelling read.
Michael Crummey was a favourite of our festival with his novel Sweetland. Now he’s back on literary award lists (the Giller and Rogers Writers Trust) with The Innocents, a story of a brother and sister orphaned in an isolated cove on Newfoundland’s northern coast; challenges and hardships abound as they grow up.
Esi Edugyan from Victoria is well known to local book lovers, and last year won the Giller for her novel Washington Black, a superb rendition of the life and times of a boy born into slavery but determined to escape the restrictions placed on him in 19th century North America.
Marina Endicott came to Denman last year with her novel Dear Hugh but gave us a glimpse of the novel she was then finishing, which has now emerged as The Difference. Set in 1912, it tells of the voyage of a young woman to the South Seas, and the impact of a decision by her family to ‘buy’ a young native boy en route.
Terry Fallis, from Toronto, regaled Denman a few years ago with his humorous style of writing and presenting, and has written 3 novels since he came to our island. His latest is Albatross, which describes the difficulty of being very successful early in a field (golf) his protagonist really doesn’t like, and how the transition is made to something he really wants to do (writing). A fun read.
Pauline Holdstock came from Victoria to intrigue us with a novel about the interaction between Indigenous peoples and early settlers. Her latest novel Here I Am! is completely different – a tale of a 6-year old boy, told in his inimitable voice, of how he discovers his mother dead in her armchair, and his decision to stowaway on a ship in order to find his father. I loved the humour and how the young lad shows up many adults in his encounters with them.
Steven Price is both a poet and novelist from Victoria, and his latest book, Lampedusa, demonstrates his poetic writing style and deep research. The novel is based on the life of the Italian writer Giuseppe Tomasi (The Leopard), and has been short-listed for the 2019 Giller Prize.
Anakana Schofield came to Denman with her debut novel Malarky. Her latest is Bina, the story of a straightforward Irish woman who has come under suspicion for a crime so serious she cannot even talk about it. Anakana has a unique and compelling voice, and this new book will add to her ever-growing reputation.
This is only a partial list of new books by authors who have graced the stages of the Denman Island Readers and Writers Festival. Stay tuned for news soon of some of the writers we expect to welcome to Denman in 2020.