Saturday, October 30, 2021

Jack Wang interview on Canadian Writers Abroad

I'm back in the digital pages of website Canadian Writers Abroad, this time interviewing Danuta Gleed Award-winning author Jack Wang about his stellar debut short story collection, We Two Alone, published by House of Anansi. Through our wide-ranging discussion held earlier this month over Zoom, Wang talks about his interest in transnational and the Chinese diaspora, and how he wanted to write about Chinese people living in different eras and different parts of the world. Here's a snippet:

Sampson: [T]hat’s another thing readers will notice: the wide array of settings for these stories. You’ve got tales set in Canada, China, Austria, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the United States. This really highlights your core theme of the collection, that of the transnational nature of racism, especially anti-Asian racism. How did you come to taking this prismatic approach to settings and their impact on discrimination, oppression, and even genocide?

Wang: That’s a great question. I feel like there are certain narratives about being Asian in general and Chinese in particular, about coming to North America, that have been done, and I didn’t want to write those kinds of stories. Moreover, I spent many years writing about my own experiences, sort of semi-autobiographical, but I just found that they were more interesting when refracted through other times and places. I wasn’t really conscious of this until I wrote “The Night of Broken Glass.” The idea came to me when I was in Shanghai for the World Exposition in 2010 and I saw a plaque at the Israeli pavilion dedicated to Ho Feng-Shan, the man who was the consul-general of China in Vienna during the time of Kristallnacht. It fascinated me that I had never heard of him, and I began to wonder why I hadn’t heard of him, and so I just began to follow my own fascination with the Chinese diaspora more generally. And the more I did, the more I began to ask: Why haven’t I read more about the Chinese elsewhere, in Africa, in Europe? So I wrote stories about the Chinese diaspora in other places because there seemed to be a dearth of them.

You can read our interview in full here. Enjoy!

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Review of All the Animals on Earth in FreeFall magazine

It's always a good mail day when the haul includes a literary journal carrying a positive review of a book you wrote. That's been my afternoon after receiving a copy of the Fall 2021 issue of FreeFall magazine, which includes a review of my latest novel, All the Animals on Earth, published last year by Wolsak & Wynn/Buckrider Books. 

In the piece, reviewer Skylar Kay says "Mark Sampson's All the Animals on Earth is like if Orwell had mashed Animal Farm and 1984 into one story ... The comedy is certainly a nice relief from what otherwise seems an Orwellian nightmare, as it juxtaposes some light against the very dark nature of murders and societal degradations ... Sampson's clever way of turning the animals more human, and the humans more animalistic allows readers to see the unrefined, natural instincts not only of [protagonist Hector Thompson], but also of themselves."

I've been a fan of FreeFall for a long time, and have had a couple of poems published in the magazine over the years, so I'm very chuffed to see my novel get some love in its pages. You can find FreeFall on newsstands in the following locations.




Monday, September 27, 2021

Upcoming: "Legacy Act" poem on the radio

So here's a bit of exciting news: a recording of me reading my poem, "Legacy Act," which was published earlier this summer by The Quarantine Review, will air this Tuesday night at 10 pm Eastern on the CIUT radio program Howl as part of an episode featuring The Quarantine Review. CIUT is the campus radio station for the University of Toronto, found at 89.5 FM here in the city, and Howl has been on the air since 1999.

The episode will feature other fantastic writers published recently in QR, including Hollay Ghadery (whom I just read with at Lit Live a few weeks ago), Paul Vermeersch (my editor at Wolsak & Wynn, and, incidentally, one of my favourite Canadian poets), Catherine Graham (whom I've reviewed here and here on this blog) and others. If you're in Toronto, tune into the show on the radio; if you're not, check it out online!


Thursday, August 26, 2021

Upcoming Event: The Lit Live Reading Series

Lo and behold - I have an event lined up! That's right. On Sunday, September 5 at 7:30 pm EST, I'll be a part of the next Lit Live Reading Series extravaganza. Normally this would be held in Hamilton, Ontario, but due to the pandemic, it will instead be hosted online. Which means no matter where you live in the world, you can come! All you need to do is registrar for this free event on Eventbrite here. I'll be reading from my novel All the Animals on Earth, published last fall by Wolsak & Wynn/Buckrider Books, and I'll be sharing the virtual stage with authors Phil Hall, Hollay Ghadery, Grace Lau, Annick MacAskill, and Senaa Ahmad. Please come if you can! Here's a nifty poster for the event with all the details:


Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Publication: "Legacy Act" in The Quarantine Review

Okay friends and neighbours, here it is: my poem, "Legacy Act," appeared earlier this week in The Quarantine Review as part of the journal's Summer Special series. This piece is from a nearly completed new poetry manuscript I've been pulling together over the last five years. As you can probably guess from the title, the poem is about an aging rock star whose reputation has long surpassed his talent. Enjoy!

And speaking of enjoyment, there are some other wonderful poems and stories in the Quarantine Review's Summer Special series, all published this past week, including pieces by Sofi Papamarko, Maureen Hynes, and Kenneth Sherman. You should definitely go check them all out!


Saturday, June 19, 2021

Forthcoming: My poem "Legacy Act" in The Quarantine Review

Getting sick of lockdowns and social distancing and all the rest? Me too! Thank goodness there's a new literary journal out there acknowledging how much we need to be re-sensitized to the beauty of life in the wake of COVID-19. The Quarantine Review has been making waves ever since it started publishing last year, and I'm so proud to announce that I'll be a part of their upcoming Summer Special lineup. 

Look for my poem, "Legacy Act," taken from my new poetry manuscript in progress, to be published on the journal's website soon. This is my first publication in what feels like a long while, and I'm very grateful to be included in this series, along with fellow writers Sofi Papamarko, Maureen Hynes, and others. Enjoy!

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.