Monday, January 25, 2021

My review of Saleema Nawaz's Songs for the End of the World ...


... is in the latest issue of Canadian Notes & Queries (CNQ), #108, which just landed in my mailbox today. I really loved Nawaz's novel, which tells the story of a fictional coronavirus that rages across the world in 2020. Considering the fact that this long, lovely novel was written well before our actual coronavirus, COVID-19, became a pandemic early last year, it's an impressive feat of prescient imagination to say the least. Here's a snippet from my review, in which I call Songs for the End of the World:

"an expansive and richly imagined fictional world full of characters whose lives converge and interlock in startling and compelling ways ... The message [here] is clear: it's better to find connection where can than face catastrophe alone."

I think this is something we can all relate to as the pandemic continues to grip the world.

Beyond my review, there's lots of other great stuff in this latest issue of CNQ, including poetry by Phoebe Wang, fiction by Shaena Lambert, and reviews by regulars Alex Good, Brett Josef Grubisic, and Steven W. Beattie. However you get a hold of print magazines these days, check this one out.

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Announcement: Judge for the New Brunswick Book Awards

I'm excited to announce that I've been selected as the judge for the Fiction category of the New Brunswick Book Awards. I received the 13 eligible titles this week, which will keep me busy over the next couple of months as I read and evaluate them to determine a shortlist of three books, with one winner.

I've judged a few contests and awards over the years, and I've always enjoyed the experience. Not only does it put writing on my radar that I'd otherwise not encounter, but it also provides a window into the challenging and subjective nature of literary prizes themselves. I always believe in treating the work on the stack in the same manner I would want my own work treated, and the whole process is another reminder that, in a competitive literary landscape, even very good books can go unrecognized - a nice lesson for any writer to relearn from time to time.

Anyway, stay tuned next spring when the Writers Federation of New Brunswick announces the shortlists and winners for each category.


Thursday, November 26, 2020

Book Launch Recording

Did you miss last week's book launch for my new novel, All the Animals on Earth, along with the other great prose titles that Wolsak & Wynn/Buckrider Books published this fall? Good news! You can now watch the whole event on YouTube.

Friday, October 30, 2020

Animals review on A Pilgrim in Narnia blog

 I really do love the smell of a book review in the morning. This one popped up yesterday: Dr. Brenton Dickieson provided a thoughtful and thorough critique of All the Animals on Earth on his blog, A Pilgrim in Narnia. Brenton and I were in high school on PEI together, and even shared a very formative Grade 11 English class. He also reviewed Sad Peninsula and The Slip on his blog, and I remain deeply grateful for his continued interest in my work.

In this latest critique, he writes: "What was the most effective part of All the Animals on Earth for me as a reader was Sampson’s ability to pull me into sympathy with the increasingly disagreeable protagonist. I itched to be out of the world that Sampson created as much as I wanted Hector to find a way to succeed. I would have been disappointed if at the end of the novel we all found out that it was a crazy dream, and yet I kind of wished it was. I felt so badly from the humans in this urban jungle while I found myself entirely drawn into the story."

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Launch Party Announcement

I'm very excited to announce that Wolsak & Wynn has announced details for its fall prose launch, which I'll  be a part of in support of my new novel, All the Animals on Earth. The virtual event will take place on Thursday, November 19, at 7 pm EST. You can register for this FREE event by going to this EventBrite page.

It's going to be a killer lineup as I share a virtual stage with fellow authors Jenna Butler (Revery: A Year of Bees), Anne Stone (Girl Minus X), and Susan Perly (Stella Atlantis). The great thing about this is sort of online event is that anyone around the world with an internet connection can attend if they like. If that's you, please do!

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

The Globe's best fall 2020 readers from Canadian indie publishers

What? Who? Where? What? What? When? Yikes! My new novel, All the Animals on Earth, has been included in the Globe and Mail's annual Best independent reads to pick up this fall list. Colour me chuffed! It's a great list to be on, and features new releases from Ian Williams (previous Giller winner) Farzana Doctor (my fellow Dundurn alum), and other luminaries. Anyway, it sometimes sounds like crickets after a book's been out for a month or so, but this is some really excellent news to receive. Hazzah!

Monday, September 28, 2020

Reading: Launch Party for the Cootes Paradise Writing Anthology, Volume 2

I wrote the foreword to the second volume of Cootes Paradise, a lovely new anthology out of Hamilton, Ontario. I'll be doing a short reading from my new novel as part of the launch tomorrow night, Tuesday September 29. The event kicks off at 7 pm EST. If you're free, come out support this talented group of young people. Here is the link to the event on Zoom.