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.