On Wednesday, October 1, Order of Canada recipient and award winning Canadian author Jane Urquhart (from Little Long Lac in Northern Ontario) stopped by Traill for readings and a Q&A as the first visitor of the 2014-2015 season of the Writers’ Reading series at Traill College.
The weekly series is free to attend for both students and members of the public, something that was very visible on Wednesday as nearly double the expected attendance size came out, forcing a last minute change of venue from the Junior Common Room at Scott House to Bagnani Hall.
Urquhart’s 8 novels have earned her both national and international acclaim. Her first novel, The Whirlpool, made her the first Canadian writer to receive Prix du Meilleur livre etranger (Best Foreign Book Award) and she has since gone on to win the Trillium and The Governor General’s awards, while having been named a finalist for The Booker Prize, The Giller prize, The IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, and many others.
After a brief introduction by Lewis Macleod of the English Department, Urquhart began by talking about her own Irish roots and the history of the area in terms of the conflict between the established Protestant communities and incoming Irish Catholic immigrants, as well as to share with the audience the sale of her cottage in Dublin.
Anecdotes like these helped bring home how deeply intertwined the historical and the personal are in Urquhart’s work, and added even more to her readings. Her first reading was from her novel Away – her 1993 novel about Irish emigration to Canada in the 1840’s (Away was also featured in the 2013 installment of CBC’s Canada Reads series.)
Urquhart also read from an as of yet unfinished new novel entitled The Night Stages, set for release in Canada in April 2015.
After the readings, the audience had a chance to ask the author questions. When the question period was over, the proceedings moved to The Trend where faculty, students, author and book lovers alike got to spend some time schmoozing (also, there were nachos).
The next installment of the Writers’ Reading series is Wednesday, October 8 with Craig Davidson (Rust And Bone, The Fighter, Cataract City) – interesting side note for fans of speculative/genre fiction; Davidson has published a number of works of horror literature using the pseudonyms Patrick Lestewka and Nick Cutter – followed by Jane Bow (Cally’s Way) on Tuesday October 14.
While officially listed as being in Scott House, attendees shouldn’t be surprised if the events get moved to Bagnani Hall again.
Previous guests have included Kathleen Winter (Annabel), Frances Itani (The Deafening) and Michael Bloom (Walrus).