September 24, 2013

Tuesday Tuesday

I've been feeling the urge to blog, but without much to report except for various adventures on the internet. I've been laying low, reading and catching up (or trying) on emails, and preparing for a couple of events this weekend: a reading at the Deer Park branch of the Toronto Public Library on Friday and a discussion with Wayne Grady on Saturday in Kingston as part of the Kingston Writersfest.

That's right, I am doing an event with the only ever simultaneous dual Giller longlistee (for fiction and translation) Wayne Grady (!!!). So please do stop by if you'll be in Kingston...or just buy a train ticket and come to Kingston for the Writersfest, which has a ton of events I wish I could attend, too. (I'm there for less than 24 hours, but I hope to squeeze in at least one event around my own.) 

Wayne Grady and I are billed to talk about "Writing Through Race," which promises to be a very interesting discussion. (If you've read Emancipation Day, you'll know why.)  When it comes to Bone & Bread, it's not a subject I've really been asked about at all (or thought about, to tell you the truth), so I'm curious as to where the conversation will lead us.

And around the internet:

* I really like this NYT article on Elizabeth Gilbert, and one of these days I will actually get around to reading one of her books since it seems I get excited every time I read something about her. In this article, I like the way she talks about her readers (and about the implied attitude that male readers are more valuable or important than female readers), as well as the descriptions of her writing attic with winding shelves and hidden compartments. Also, it seems like she has actually populated the town where she lives in New Jersey full of her friends and in, at least one case, her favourite restaurant. That's kind of awesome. 

These are the relevant paragraphs about her readers:

The only time I saw Gilbert lose her equanimity, in fact, was discussing her fans. She detests the mind-set that certain readers are more desirable than others. “It’s the worst kind of arrogance. Shouldn’t the idea be that we want people to read, period? Isn’t it an honor if somebody chooses our books at all, whatever her background, whatever her education, whatever her level of perceived literary credentials?” She recalls meeting a woman in a Tulsa Barnes & Noble — “probably 65 years old, looked like an aging country singer with sad eyes” — who told her “Eat, Pray, Love” was the first book she’d read in her life, and she now understood why people read. “So if that’s the kind of reader I’m not supposed to want, well, Jesus Christ. Give me a few thousand more of those!”
Now that people have started telling her that “The Signature of All Things” will attract “a different level of reader,” she can’t help hearing the implicit slight in this praise: “You might be lucky enough to get out of your ghetto, now that you’ve found a better grade of readers, meaning male readers. I want to say: ‘Go [expletive] yourself! You have no idea who the women are who read my books, and if I have to choose between them and you, I’m choosing them.’ ”
*Also, this piece by Kerry Clare about her two different experiences of motherhood is one of the best things I've read on the internet this week. 

*Aaaaand if you find yourself as mesmerized by breakdancing as I am, you will probably enjoy watching this 6-year-old break dancer named B-girl Terra, who is now Britain's youngest breakdancing champion.

September 17, 2013

Eden Mills!

What a weekend!

A celebration to justify four exclamation marks!!!! 
I was really thrilled to be a last-minute addition to this year's Eden Mills Writers' Festival. I'd attended the festival a few years ago, and it has held a special place in my heart ever since. 

The first night was an outdoor dinner in a gorgeous backyard with a magnum of champagne, Wellington's beer, the lovely cake above (which was even more delicious than it looks and upon which Leon Rooke pronounced the most amazing and booming benediction), and getting to sing Four Strong Winds around the campfire before boarding a school bus with the other writers heading back to the hotel in Guelph. (That's the abbreviated version.)

Then it was the big day, where hundreds of writers and booksellers and booklovers descended upon the beautiful town of Eden Mills. 

The lovely stone mill.

Stunning scenery around town

Lilypads galore

One of the highlights of the weekend was finally meeting Amanda Leduc and Allegra Young in person, aka the Bare it for Books girls. And I saw the (amazing!) calendar, too... but more about that later.

I wish I had taken off my sunglasses! But I was too giddy to think straight.

Then, after a quick wander up and down, we went to check out the beautiful venue for the "Young Writers to Watch" event. It was the same place I'd read the last time I was there, and as pretty as I remembered.

Scoping out our reading site, pre-event

My absolutely brilliant reading buddies, Grace O'Connell and Iain Reid.

The lovely Jael Richardson tweeted this photo of me reading!
I especially like the photographic evidence of people actually in attendance.

I was happy our set was first, as it meant I could relax and enjoy the rest of the day. The only downside was that two of the writers I was most looking forward to hearing, Catherine Bush and Wayne Johnston, were each reading in separate sets at the same time. (This happened again later, when everyone was forced to choose between Miranda Hill/Tamas Dobozy/Emma Donoghue and Andrew Pyper/Linwood Barclay/Ailsa Kay and Michael Winter/Joseph Boyden/Colin McAdam.)  Talk about hard choices!

Along with spending time with my fellow "young writers to watch," some of the major highlights of the weekend included meeting and hanging out with David Bergen, as well as getting to meet Catherine Bush, whose books I have loved. Regrets: not tracking down Wayne Johnston and Emma Donahue to meet them and get books signed. I neglected to realize that the Toronto-area authors could and would pop out at any time to drive home. I also really enjoyed meeting some Twitter folks (readers and writers), as well as some very kind readers and listeners who came to talk to me after our event.

So, to conclude: meeting readers and other writers and hanging out with one's literary idols --- pretty awesome!  Plus there was pie:


September 10, 2013

The Arcade Fire/Reflektors show!

One of the members of Arcade Fire was kind enough to put me on the guest list for Salsatheque last night. Excited does not begin to describe my state of mind yesterday! I've seen them play at least half a dozen times since 2004, in every kind of venue, (including a pre-show in St. Michael's church basement before the release of Neon Bible), and I have never, ever been disappointed.

9/9 9 p.m.

Waiting in line with the special wristband

Inside, everyone had conformed to the mandatory dress code of "formal wear or a costume," so it was a little bit like walking into that masquerade party in Eyes Wide Shut...but way less creepy. Everyone looked cool and weird and fabulous. The bobble-head versions of the band from the Corbijn video were mingling with the crowd, too, which added to the surreal vibe.

The venue, a downtown salsa club, started to make sense when I saw the reflective ceiling and walls around the dance floor. 

Two minutes before 9 p.m....waiting for the show to start.

The band played for around an hour, all new stuff, and it sounded amazing. They started with "Reflektor." A lot of the music was danceable in the way that Arcade Fire songs always have been, but it did not all (or even mostly) sound like the single. There was plenty of guitar. I loved a lot of the songs and I can't wait to hear them again. In one of the ones I really liked, Win sang (I think) "Am I cruel enough to be normal?"  (A line that definitely resonates with me.)

Here's a more detailed recap of the set, via Stereogum.

For part of the night, Win was wearing a mask.

Depending where you were standing, it was easier 
to watch them on the ceiling. A reflection of a reflection...

After the band was done playing, there was a super fun dance party for a couple of hours.

Dancing with Win Butler (I swear)

After awhile, an iPhone-shaped pinata appeared on the dance floor, and Win took turns putting his mask on people and getting them to smack it.  (I scored a pack of Popeye cigarettes and a Tootsie roll once it broke open...yesssss.)

Then we just kept dancing the night away. Thanks to Arcade Fire for an incredible evening!

September 9, 2013

Bone & Bread a "Best Book" Editor's Pick at and Salty Ink

Before I completely forget to neglect to commemorate this amazing fact from the beginning of the summer here, I wanted to write about Bone and Bread appearing on this list of's Top 25 Books of the Year So Far, along with nine other Canadian books (and a lot of high-profile titles).  See the full list of editor's picks here.

AND over at Salty Ink, Chad Pelley named Bone and Bread as one of "the Finest 4 Novels From the First Half of 2013 (and then some).  Hurray!!  Um, anytime I am somehow mentioned in the same breath or list as Lisa Moore, I am basically ecstatic. 

(AND apologies to friends on Facebook, for whom all this news is a duplication and possibly an annoyance.) 

Last night I had an anxiety dream about some talks I may need to prepare for some upcoming events, which I guess means I should just...start preparing for them. The weekend was both social and home-improvement-oriented, both things which were necessary and enjoyable, but it meant that there was not a lot of time left for reading or writing. Where are the people with the perfect work-life balance? Let's feed them banana cake until they tell us all their secrets.

Also, today the new Arcade Fire single is out! I couldn't resist listening to the leaked version, and I'm pretty excited. 

September 6, 2013

the illustrated Saleema

The illustrated Saleema has a better fashion sense than I do, right down to coordinated jewelry!

I think this lovely little drawing was based on a photograph in which I'm wearing red shoes and a blue dress, but now I wish I had a green polka-dotted dress like this in real life.

by a. minzhulina

Thanks to Anna for the picture!!

September 5, 2013

book blogger love

Another haphazard recapping of some of the lovely reviews of Bone and Bread that have cropped up over the internet. One of the best things about stumbling upon these reviews is finding new great book blogs to read! 
"As a fellow Montrealer, the atmosphere of this novel really brings it to life. Nawaz writes about a Montreal I know, and live in. This has not always been the case when I’ve read other books that are set in Montreal..[...].. I highly recommend this book, especially for those who have a sister. I believe the story would be even more powerful. Great for book clubs!" ( for full review) 
Mrs. Q is a tremendous reader, by the way. Check out her impressive 2012 and 2013 reading lists if you want to feel unexpectedly guilty about how much television you're watching.

From Lindy Reads and Reviews:

"Bone and Bread moves back and forth in time, revealing a unique family and a strong sisterhood bond. I found Nawaz's portrayal of attitudes towards immigration and a plural society in contemporary Quebec particularly compelling." ( for full review)
(Lindy, by the way, reads over 250 books a year! That would be a feat in itself, but taking the time to write about what she reads is next-level amazing.)

And this is actually a review of Mother Superior on Buried in Print, which I was so elated to see, and it even includes a brief outline of each story that somehow manages not to give anything away. There is nothing more gratifying than a reader who gets it... I think this is at the heart of why writers write.

Buried in Print's review of Bone and Bread therefore brings into play what happens in "Bloodlines," the story from which it developed, and I was really curious to read what impression the novel would make on somebody who already knew the characters.
"Fundamentally Bone and Bread is about loss, and the connections that one makes in the face of loss. But, which loss? A father. (A husband.) A mother. (A friend.) A sister. (A lover.) An aunt. (A father.) Some of these relationships are more parenthetical than others, but there is always an absence, so lasting an absence that it becomes ever-present, like the cross on the mountain in Montreal.... What makes us good? Which relationships define us? What does the effort of concealment truly cost? How fervently can we shape our own reality? What kind of sacrifices truly yield new choices?" ( for full review)
Buried in Print is the web page of another insightful (okay, fine, I'm biased, but I really think so!) and voracious reader and there is so much good content to get lost in here. 

Hearing from even one reader is amazing (hell, just having one reader is nothing to sneeze at), so I feel really lucky to be able to find out people's impressions after picking up the book.

September 4, 2013

looking forward

So today is the day I start thinking about the fall. I've updated the "Events" tab above, but  here's everything in handy list form, which right now is making me equal parts nervous and excited. It's almost time to start thinking about what to read, what to say, and ironing dresses. If you live in Guelph, Toronto, Kingston, Victoria, or Vancouver, I really hope you'll come say hi!


Readings at the Mill
Sun. Sept. 15 12:30 p.m.
with Grace o'Connell and Iain Reid

Fri. Sept. 27 2 p.m.
Deer Park program room

Sat. Sept. 28 1:30 p.m.
with Wayne Grady
Moderated by Barbara Bell


Sat. Oct. 19 7:30 p.m.
with Angie Abdou, Annabel Lyon, Sara Peters, and Jay Ruzesky.
Hosted by Lee Henderson

Fri. Oct. 25 10-11:30 a.m. 
with Dede Crane, Andrew Kaufman, and Mary Swan
Hosted by Angie Abdou

Sat. Oct. 26 2 p.m.
with Anthony De Sa, Wayne Johnston, and Maria Semple
Hosted by Aislinn Hunter

Sun. Oct. 27 1:30 p.m.
with Theodora Armstrong, Douglas Glover, and Shaena Lambert
Hosted by Timothy Taylor

September 3, 2013

the summer that was

Well, the new school year began unpromisingly this morning with me smashing the coffee carafe in the sink. (Sadly, the coordination required to fill the coffee carafe without smashing 100% dependent upon the consumption of coffee yet-to-be-brewed.)

Maybe I haven't yet let go of the summer that was. Maybe tomorrow.


 special rocks

 country fair

 bliss at the petting zoo

 tea at the ladies' auxiliary

  the lake

Thinking about the next three months can start...tomorrow.