World Literature

The Dark Night of the Soul: A Study of the Existential Crisis of the Sri Lankan Tamil Refugees as depicted in the novel An Immigrant by the Canadian Tamil Writer V.N. Giritharan

By Dr. R. Dharani M.A.,M.Phil., M.Ed., PGDCA., Ph.D. Assistant Professor in English, LRG Government Arts College for Women

Abstract
Any journey in life is blissfully ever sought by human travelers across the globe. However, there are certain migrations by specific ethnic groups who are left with not much choice except for a disagreeable movement, sometimes hazardous ones too. Life and journey go hand in hand in a pleasant manner for any human being with comfortable existence. Crisis occurs only when life becomes uncertain in the homeland and to enter an alien land. Srilankan Tamil people is one such ethnic group who have been going through the crisis of existence for having born in a land that coerces cruelty upon them. The writer V.N. Giritharan was born as a blessed being like others in a Tamil family in Sri Lanka. He grew up as a writer as well as an Architecture graduate with great sensitivity towards the land and people around him. However, his state of affairs did not remain the same, as there were the chaos and brutalities of the ethnic conflict between the majority Sinhalese and the minority Tamil. The only way to survive was to leave the homeland with a heavy heart and to move towards an asylum. This journey is the most pathetic one in any man’s life. His sufferings have been portrayed vividly in the novel An immigrant in which the protagonist named Ilango lives as the replica of the writer V.N. Giritharan himself.

The paper attempts to explore the existential predicament of the protagonist of the novel An Immigrant whose personal experiences demonstrate the physical, psychological multicultural, ethnic, political and socio-economic issues of such immigrants across the globe.

Key words : Canadian-Tamil Writer, V.N. Giritharan, forced migration, Diaspora, Tamil ethnic race, refugees, unwilling immigrant, identity crisis, political asylum.

“I remained, lost in oblivion;
My face I reclined on the Beloved.
All ceased and I abandoned myself,
Leaving my cares forgotten among the lilies.” (St. John of the Cross)

Literature is the outcome of multiple outlooks of the creator, well or ill reciprocated by the society. Fictional world is crafted out of the composition of the original passions. The concepts of the imagination could exemplify the unfeigned nature of the situation of the author. Such is the situation with the writer V.N. Giritharan, the popular Tamil writer of Canada who is presently publishing an on-line Tamil magazine known as pathivugal from Canada. He belongs to the family of Tamil in Sri Lanka who had to migrate from his homeland to an alien land for political causes.

Being a child prodigy, he exposed his writing talent even at the very early age of 10 years. From his childhood days, he has been a keen observer of the people and the events around him. It is this observatory quality that has made him a creative writer who blends facts and imagination. He is the author of many articles in various magazines along with poems and short stories. He has 5 books to his credit, originally written in Tamil and later translated into English such as ‘The Voice of Soil’, ‘America’ -A collection of short stories and a novella- ‘Rise the  Superhuman’  – an anthology of revolutionary Tamil poems, ‘An Immigrant’ – the novel taken for the research paper, ‘Nallur Rajadhnani City Layout’ – a critical study of the interior architecture and the planning of the city Nallur during the 16th century and some short stories too. It is evident that he is a multifaceted person with the genius of touching upon various genres of literature with ease. Though he was born and brought up in Sri Lanka, where he obtained the degree of architecture from the University of Moratuwa, he along with his fellow Tamil group, had to leave his motherland in the crisis of the 1983 ethnic conflict.

The research paper makes a modest attempt of the issues related to the refugees from Sri Lanka to the USA and Canada, which have been offering political asylum to the Sri Lankan Tamil people. The novel An Immigrant echoes the predicament of V.N. Giritharan himself through the major character Ilango. As the title suggests, the novel revolves around the various aspects of the immigrant Ilango in an alien land. His journey from his motherland to a new soil forced on him. The odious expedition of the young man of Sri Lanka involves multiple layers of meaning. The existential struggle of the protagonist as portrayed in the novel An Immigrant can be evaluated from the viewpoint of the following themes.

The physical adversities
Psychological anguish
Social injustices
Cultural incompatibility and multiculturalism
Economic deprivation
Political encumbrances
Linguistic inability

The basis of any human existence lies in the freedom of choosing one’s own life. In the case of an Immigrant like Ilango, the Protagonist of the novel, his existence is transformed into a form of survival. In the very beginning of the novel, Ilango spends a sleepless night in the detention camp contemplating his uncertain future. In his diary, he refers to the physical brutality enforced upon fellow Tamil people in Sri Lanka. To quote the words of Ilango,

When we were running to safety, huddled inside a State wagon thanks to the grace of an Indian engineer in Colombo, the thugs had poured petrol over a mini-van carrying Tamils and set it on fire, eliminating them cruelly. They had caught hold of a hapless Tamil youth riding in with his bicycle and bashed him to death. Another Tamil had been disrobed by them, humiliated and was subsequently set ablaze. In Kirulapanai, they had killed the little sister of a young Tamil woman right in front of her eyes, so turning her into a psychological wreck and then subjected her to gang-rape before finally killing her too. As is the rule, this time also, the labourers of the Tea-Estates in the mountain regions – the Tamils of Indian origin – have become the target of wide-spread arson and violence. (19).

The violence on the physique is the most ruthless and mean form of showing authority. Though Ilango has not been violently treated physically, the distress of his friends and the family intimidate him, and agitates him to the extent of leaving his homeland. The memories of the past and the nostalgia are the two important issues that cause dejection and depression in the immigrant. When it rains in the alien land, Ilango recollects his homeland – the land that celebrates the Rain God and the Mother Nature. A chapter in the novel with the subtitle “The Heart that gets into the trance in the rain” (24) is devoted completely to the reminiscences of Ilango associated with the torrential shower in the “Long island.” The craving to be with the family in the homeland remains unfulfilled in the life of an immigrant like Ilango. He happens to negotiate between the past and present incessantly.

The loss of identity is another major issue to be noticed in the novel, which has the effect of fracturing the psyche of the already distressed refugees. Ilango flees his homeland along with other victims to a land that might offer him an asylum. Unfortunately, the most essential thing he has to forgo is to lose his identity as an individual. All who have sought an asylum are viewed as criminals and illegal immigrants since most of them do not have the legal papers that are expected in the rule of immigration. There are exploitations at the working place since these people do not have appropriate legal documents. Some agents or anti-social elements tend to manipulate pathetic situations of people like Ilango. In such situations, an even righteous person like Ilango has to compromise with the expectations of the inhuman employer for the sake of his survival. However, when the dreadful nature exceeds the limit, Ilango retorts:

“Don’t you like the work here?”
lIango decided to speak the truth as far as possible, being true to his conscience, “It is not that I don’t like the work, but – ”
While he was half way through his sentence Napoleon cut him short and shot another question, “Then, is the work difficult to do?”
“That is the foremost reason. Working for too many hours, non-stop, and when I return home at last, it is just to go to bed, sleep and get up early and return to work. This is what is proving very hard. The body feels terribly fatigued and broken. Then…”
“Secondly…”
“The income is not proportionate to the hard work. It is not something easy to do, the work of two single-handedly.”
When Ilango uttered these words, they must have made Napoleon a little startled. His next question made it clear, “What? Doing the job of two? Who told you so?”
“Where is the need for anyone to tell? The mere quantity of work tells it all. Don’t you see?”
Ilango’s blunt words must have saddened Napoleon a little. “Being here is illegal. In such a condition what better job can you expect?”
The way Naopoleon stressed the illegal immigrants pitiable existence angered Ilango. In a voice that expressed his anger, which was rarely shown by Ilango, “Though my stay here is presently illegal, I have the relevant documents with me, you know. True, I have entered this country as an illegal immigrant and circumstances have thus forced me to come and stay here.” (44)

As a chain reaction to the loss of identity, the immigrants tend to compare their original culture with the new one. The habits and the manners of the alien land are very shocking to Ilango and Arulrasa. However, they become accustomed to the culinary habits and the societal mannerisms of the new land. An assimilation of two cultures is evident in the life of the refugees. Food is an important aspect of any culture. Being Tamil people, the two characters Ilango and Arulrasa pine for the special food prepared and served on the long banana leaves. After the search for a dwelling place ends with the a rented home, they immediately plan for cooking their favourite meal:“Cooked, hot rice and an excellently fried chicken side-dish, chicken soup, fried potato chips, boiled egg-pieces, and another side-dish made of grains and one more with vegetables and a beverage made of ‘Iraal’. We have all the facilities there. It will not be hard” (31). It is evident that Tamil people are fond of spicy food that is not available in the western regions of the world.

It has always been a matter of economic crisis for any refugee that encounters a new land. Leaving all wealth behind, in the process of rushing to a new country, the basic need for any person is enough currency to take care of the day-to-day expenses. Ilango and his friend Arulrasa struggle hard to find a job and a place to live in New York. They are offered a shared dwelling place with Gosh, a Bengali for a weekly rent thirty dollars in the home of Mrs. Padma Ajith. This is a temporary relief for them. The next major challenge is to find a suitable job for their living. Ilango, who had a respectable job in his homeland Sri Lanka, is now in a state of apprehension about his jobless present and the uncertain future. Ilango asks, “Gosh, is there any way I can get a job without delay? I don’t have any relevant certificate, which could fetch me a job. I am presently trying to apply for a Social Insurance Number”(32). Ilango and Arulrasa are warned of their status as illegal immigrants with no Social Insurance Number in a city like New York. Finally, they resort to the aid of a man named Peter from Greece, whose sole occupation is to supply temporary jobs to these kinds of illegal immigrants from whom he used to take a commission of eighty dollars each.

Agent Peter is a man who is an opportunist in a way to make use of the financial scantiness of the illegal immigrants. He offers a job to Ilango in a restaurant only after waiting for five days in the office of Peter. Ilango is instantly happy to have got a job, and joins his work the next day. His work is explained by his chief Mark:

You have to wash and clean the cups that the female attendants would be bringing every
now and then. You have to wash them in the ‘dish-washing machine’ and keep them in
their places. When you are doing so, you are not to throw away the butter-pieces, jam and
all that were left unused in the plates and cups. Instead, you should collect them in another cup. With that, you should also collect the peelings of lobsters that would also be left unused at times. That is your first piece of important work. If you are slow in doing this, the female attendants would become disorientated and their work will suffer. So, the moment they come and place the cups and dishes, you should wash and clean them at once. Secondly, you must cooperate with me. I would keep the pans that I use for frying fish and other meats in those wash-basins over there. While washing the cups and dishes, you should have an eye on those wash-basins too. When you see the basins filled up to a certain level, you will wash them (and any utensils you may find). The next important chore is washing and cleaning the kitchen floor, which becomes dirty and sticky every now and then. Not just the kitchen, if required, if asked, you should clean the floors of the restaurant too. (42)

Ilango becomes speechless about the descriptions of his work, as he never used to do such
manual labour in his past life. His status as a refugee and his financial crisis in an alien land
has brought such an unfortunate situation in his life.

Politically, the issue of the Sri Lankan people and the Tamil ethnic race is the cause for the suffering of countless Tamil people like Ilango and Arulrasa. The migration is forced upon these so treacherously that the respectable people like Ilango have to seek an asylum for their future and to opt for blue-collar jobs. Ilango directly accuses some political leaders of Sri Lanka for the agony and the desolation of the Tamil Ethnic race. He writes in his diary:

As soon as J.R. Jeyawardhane won the seat of the President of Sri Lanka in 1977, there was
a terrible ethnic violence on an enormous scale. And the present President described it as the
outcome of the Tamils voting in favour of a separate State, saying “WAR MEANS WAR:
PEACE MEANS PEACE’ thus worsening the current state of affairs. It is indeed very apt to
describe J.R.Jeyawardhane as the most experienced and cunning jackal in the political arena.

It was he who, by the undertaking of a ‘paadha –yaathraa’ to Kandy, forced the agreement
that was between the then Prime-Minister Bandaranayake and S.J.V Selvanayagam to be
torn to pieces. He was an expert in using his power and avenging his political opponents. It
was he who had made the premier Sirimavo Bandaranayage lose her fundamental political
rights. This time, arson and violence against the Tamils in a well-planned, systematic
manner were unleashed with the blessings of his cabinet ministers. This was used as another
excuse for the killings of the Sinhala Policemen, who were shot at the election meeting that
took place in the courtyard of Naachimaar temple in Jaffan, in the year 1981. Now, right
under the nose of ministers like Gamini dhisanayake, ethnic violence was unleashed onto
the State and the Jaffna library was burnt to ashes. The office of Eela Naadu Daily was
ransacked and set afire.(19-20)

The malice and self-centered motives of some political leaders devastate the lives of the Tamil ethnic group and the genocide. Ilango feels desperate about his helplessness as a refugee in a country where he can never use his melodious Tamil Language too. In all his losses in life, he considers the loss of his mother Tongue as the dominant one. His love for his mother tongue Tamil and Tamil Literature has to be forgotten temporarily as there is no such scope in the alien land. However, his thoughts revolve around the rebellious poems of the Tamil poets and Eelam writers such as Bharathiar and Kavindran (Aa.Na.Kandasami) in times of depression to him. These poems supply extraordinary energy to his sorrow-stricken psyche.

The Novel An Immigrant articulates the existential crisis of a Tamil refugee who seeks asylum in a land that might offer him a political shelter. From the detention camps of America, Ilango (the author V.N. Giritharan as well) finally reaches Canada where he can feel safer compared to the stringent rules of the USA. However, as discussed above, the losses of Ilango are not compensated. In the journey of Ilango, the path is thorny, unclear, foggy, hazardous, and there is the low prospect of reaching a blissful destination. In addition, the journey was not a willing one. The political and the social instability thrusts the migration upon the Tamil race.

To conclude, the story of Ilango in the novel An Immigrant is not just the tale of a single person. It incorporates the woeful tales of infinite number of the Tamil ethnic race who have been brutally assaulted in riots – some escaped, some murdered, some survived as mere vegetables, some committed suicide and so on. Ilango identifies their group as “Pulam Peyarnthor” (means migratory people). It would be appropriate to quote from the novel itself. Starting from the line from Silappadhikaaram which says,” KALAMTHARU THIRUVIN PULAM PEYAR MAAKKAL’ migration takes place due to various reasons. And, today’s immigration takes place mainly for socio-political and economic reasons. Ilango continued with such thoughts as he remembered the poignant poem of the
renowned poet of Eelam, V.I.S.Jeyabalan that has the following lines:

Myself,
just like the camel
that has lost its way and
have arrived in Alaska being in Oslo

A poem that speaks to any migrant whose purpose was to move due to the prevailing socio-political and economic reasons. Be it Musthafa or Michael or his own self – they all
appear as the camel that has lost its way and has landed here. The fact is, real camels may have not even survived in Alaska, but these human camels would surely find ways to
survive and get along with life. Or at least venture on all possible roads in order to do so. (38-39)

From the above lines, it is clearly inferred that the existence of such people who are forced to migrate to an unknown landscape with unfamiliar customs would be beyond description for an ordinary man. Among the challenges and the issues faced by mankind, forced migration due to political reasons is a prominent one. The plight of the Tamil ethnic race that had sought an asylum in various countries for so long has expressed their crisis through literature. Promoting literature that deals with such issues would at least make the reading public sensitized to the crucial issues of forced migrants like Ilango.

Works Cited
John, St. of the Cross. Dark Night of the Soul. Poet Seers. Ed. Abichal Watkins 14 May,2002
http://www.poetseers.org/spiritual-and-devotional-poets/christian/the-works-of-st-john-of-the-cross/dark-night-of-the-soul/ accessed Jan. 15.2017. web.
Giritharan, V.N. kudivaravaravaalan. Oviya Pathippagam, December 2015. Print.
An Immigrant. Trans. Latha Ramakrishnan. Geocites.com. Feb.14 2013. <http://www.geotamil.com/ctamils/vng_novel_AN_IMMIGRANT_february142013.pdf&gt; Dec. 07. 2016. Web.

Courtesy: ‘Scholarly International Multidisciplinary Print Journal’ (January -February 2017)

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Poem: The Tropical Man! By V.N.Giritharan

lyingonbedthinking_man5

While lying on the bed,
I glanced through the windows
to see the Urban night sky.

The sky without stars!

Melancholic thoughts engulf me.

The thoughts of the tropical night
bring back the good old memories
of the land
I left a long time ago.

The star-twinkling night sky!
The large-eyed owls!
The night-roaming bats!

The tropical man
I am.
alone
longing for the
lost memories

ngiri2704@rogers.com

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Novel: AN IMMIGRANT By V.N.Giritharan ; Translation By Latha Ramakrishnan; Proofread & Edited By Thamayanthi Giritharan

novel_an_immigrant5aNovel: AN IMMIGRANT By V.N.Giritharan ; Translation By Latha Ramakrishnan; Proofread & Edited By Thamayanthi Giritharan

I have already written a novella , AMERICA , in Tamil, based on a Srilankan Tamil refugee’s life at the detention camp in New York. The journal, ‘Thaayagam’ was published from Canada while this novella was serialized. Then, adding some more short-stories, a short-story collection of mine was published under the title America by  Tamil Nadu based publishing house Sneha. In short, if my short-novel describes life at the detention camp, this novel ,An Immigrant , describes the struggles and setbacks a Tamil migrant to America faces for the sake of his survival – outside the walls of the detention camp. – V.N.Giritharan I

Chapter 1 am born anew
Chapter 2 In the middle of the night
Chapter 3 Cyclone
Chapter 4: A Courageous Priest
Chapter 5 From Ilango’s diary..…
Chapter 6 The heart that gets into a trance in the rain
chapter 7 Mrs. Padma Ajith
Chapter 8 Fabulous Feast
Chapter 9 The pride and glory of 42nd Road
Chapter 10 The camels of the desert that have lost their way.
Chapter 11 The tale of Ilango turning into Ilanagaa
Chapter 12 With hope intact!
Chapter 13 I want a job
Chapter 14 Funny immigration officer!
Chapter 15 Selling Umbrellas!
Chapter 16 16 Haribabu’s advertisement
Chapter 17 Haribabu’s road side business.
Chapter 18 Henry’s Cleverness (Yes?)
Chapter 19 Gosh in Love !
Chapter 20 Indira’s doubt
Chapter 21 By the grace of Carlo….
Chapter 23 An appeal to the goddess of freedom
Chapter 24 Heading towards lawyer Anisman’s office!
Chapter 25 Anisman’s advice and suggestion!
Chapter 26 A clever agent called Papblo
Chapter 27 I am born anew

VNG_NOVEL_AN_IMMIGRANT5

ngiri2704@rogers,com

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My English Poems!

My English Poems!
writing599Some of my English poems are available at PoemsHunter.Com in text and audio format. These poems talk about my thoughts on nature, E.T, urbanization, my mother land, life on this universe , my childhood memories and war mongering world politics. ‘My Humble Request To The Bellicose Rulers Of The World’ requests the leaders of the modern world to learn from the wars and their atrocities of the past. Birds always fascinate me because of their ability to fly freely over the lands divided among themselves in the name of religion, language and various divisions . ‘Einstein, My Dad And I’ describes my childhood memories fondly. The (M) Other Land talks about how my mother land became the other land. I encourage you to go through the site and enjoy the poems in the format of your choice.

1. Beseeching Mother Nature! By V.N.Giritharan 9/10/2013
2. My Belief On E.T By V.N.Giritharan 9/10/2013
3. A Squirrel And I By V.N.Giritharan 9/10/2013
4. The Damsels Of The Night Sky And Their Giggles. 9/10/2013
5. The Wanderers Of The Sky And Their Cry Of Melancholy. By V.N.Giritharan 9/11/2013
6. Night By V.N.Giritharan 9/16/2013
7. The (M) Other Land! 9/18/2013
8. An Urban Folk’s Cry! By V.N.Giritharan 9/22/2013
9. Einstein, My Dad And I By V.N.Giritharan 1/14/2014
10. The Earth! By V.N.Giritharan 1/14/2014
11. An Object Oriented Program! 1/14/2014
12. A Refugee’s Thoughts On Birds By V.N.Giritharan 9/10/2013
13. My Humble Request To The Bellicose Rulers Of The World!

http://www.poemhunter.com/navaratnam-giritharan/poems/

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V.N.Giritharan (Navaratnam Giritharan ) Poems – Poem Hunter

http://www.poemhunter.com/navaratnam-giritharan

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Poem: An Urban Folk’s Cry! By V.N.Giritharan

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x2bw27r#user_search=1

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Margaret Atwood

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

margaret-atwoodMargaret Eleanor Atwood, (born November 18, 1939) is a Canadian poet, novelist, literary critic, essayist, and environmental activist. She is among the most-honoured authors of fiction in recent history. She is a winner of the Arthur C. Clarke Award and Prince of Asturias Award for Literature, has been shortlisted for the Booker Prize five times, winning once, and has been a finalist for the Governor General’s Award several times, winning twice. She is also a founder of the Writers’ Trust of Canada, a non-profit literary organization that seeks to encourage Canada’s writing community.   While she is best known for her work as a novelist, she has also published fifteen books of poetry. Many of her poems have been inspired by myths and fairy tales, which have been interests of hers from an early age. Atwood has published short stories in Tamarack Review, Alphabet, Harper’s, CBC Anthology, Ms., Saturday Night, and many other magazines. She has also published four collections of stories and three collections of unclassifiable short prose works

Early life  

Born in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, Atwood is the second of three children of Margaret Dorothy (née Killam), a former dietitian and nutritionist, and Carl Edmund Atwood, an entomologist.[5] Due to her father’s ongoing research in forest entomology, Atwood spent much of her childhood in the backwoods of Northern Quebec and traveling back and forth between Ottawa, Sault Ste. Marie, and Toronto. She did not attend school full-time until she was in grade 8. She became a voracious reader of literature, Dell pocketbook mysteries, Grimm’s Fairy Tales, Canadian animal stories, and comic books. She attended Leaside High School in Leaside, Toronto, and graduated in 1957.   Atwood began writing at the age of six and realized she wanted to write professionally when she was 16. In 1957, she began studying at Victoria College in the University of Toronto, where she published poems and articles in Acta Victoriana, the college literary journal.[6] Her professors included Jay Macpherson and Northrop Frye. She graduated in 1961 with a Bachelor of Arts in English (honours) and a minor in philosophy and French.   In late 1961, after winning the E.J. Pratt Medal for her privately printed book of poems, Double Persephone, she began graduate studies at Harvard’s Radcliffe College with a Woodrow Wilson fellowship.

She obtained a master’s degree (MA) from Radcliffe in 1962 and pursued further graduate studies at Harvard University for two years but did not finish her dissertation, “The English Metaphysical Romance.”

She has taught at the University of British Columbia (1965), Sir George Williams University in Montreal (1967–68), the University of Alberta (1969–70), York University in Toronto (1971–72), the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa (1985), where she was visiting M.F.A. Chair, and New York University, where she was Berg Professor of English.   In June 2011, Atwood was conferred with an honorary degree of Doctor of Literature (honoris causa) from the National University of Ireland, Galway. On November 16, 2012, Atwood received an honorary degree from the Royal Military College of Canada. She also holds honorary degrees from several other Canadian universities, as well as Oxford University, Cambridge University, and the Sorbonne.

Personal life  

In 1968, Atwood married Jim Polk; they were divorced in 1973.  She formed a relationship with fellow novelist Graeme Gibson soon after and moved to a farm near Alliston, Ontario, north of Toronto, where their daughter Eleanor Jess Atwood Gibson was born in 1976.[8] The family returned to Toronto in 1980.

Critical reception   The Economist called her a “scintillating wordsmith” and an “expert literary critic”, but commented that her logic does not match her prose in Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth,[9] a book which commences with the conception of debt and its kinship with justice. Atwood claims that this concept is ingrained in the human psyche, that it is apparent in early historical peoples, who associated their understanding of debt with that of justice, ideas that are typically exemplified by a female deity. Atwood holds that, with the rise of Ancient Greece, and especially the installation of the court system detailed in Aeschylus’ Oresteia, this deity has been replaced by a more thorough conception of debt.   In 1984, she was the subject of a documentary film by Michael Rubbo, Margaret Atwood: Once in August. In 2003, Shaftesbury Films produced an anthology series, The Atwood Stories, which dramatized six of Atwood’s short stories.

Atwood and science fiction  

The Handmaid’s Tale received the first Arthur C. Clarke Award in 1987. The award is given for the best science fiction novel that was first published in the United Kingdom during the previous year. It was also nominated for the 1986 Nebula Award, and the 1987 Prometheus Award, both science fiction awards.   Atwood has resisted the suggestion that The Handmaid’s Tale and Oryx and Crake are science fiction, suggesting to The Guardian that they are speculative fiction instead: “Science fiction has monsters and spaceships; speculative fiction could really happen.” She told the Book of the Month Club: “Oryx and Crake is a speculative fiction, not a science fiction proper. It contains no intergalactic space travel, no teleportation, no Martians.” On BBC Breakfast she explained that science fiction, as opposed to what she herself wrote, was “talking squids in outer space.” The latter phrase particularly rankled advocates of science fiction and frequently recurs when her writing is discussed.   Atwood has since said that she does at times write social science fiction and that Handmaid’s Tale and Oryx and Crake can be designated as such. She clarified her meaning on the difference between speculative and science fiction, admitting that others use the terms interchangeably: “For me, the science fiction label belongs on books with things in them that we can’t yet do…. speculative fiction means a work that employs the means already to hand and that takes place on Planet Earth.” She said that science fiction narratives give a writer the ability to explore themes in ways that realistic fiction cannot.

Atwood and feminism  

Atwood, who was surrounded by the intellectual dialogue of the female faculty members at Victoria College at University of Toronto, often portrays female characters dominated by patriarchy in her novels. Still, Atwood denies that The Edible Woman, for example, published in 1969 and coinciding with the early second wave of the feminist movement, is feminist and claims that she wrote it four years before the movement. Atwood believes that the feminist label can only be applied to writers who consciously work within the framework of the feminist movement.

Contribution to the theorizing of Canadian identity  

Atwood’s contributions to the theorizing of Canadian identity have garnered attention both in Canada and internationally. Her principal work of literary criticism, Survival: A Thematic Guide to Canadian Literature, is considered outdated in Canada but remains the standard introduction to Canadian literature in Canadian Studies programs internationally. In Survival, Atwood postulates that Canadian literature, and by extension Canadian identity, is characterized by the symbol of survival.  This symbol is expressed in the omnipresent use of “victim positions” in Canadian literature. These positions represent a scale of self-consciousness and self-actualization for the victim in the “victor/victim” relationship. The “victor” in these scenarios may be other humans, nature, the wilderness or other external and internal factors which oppress the victim.  Atwood’s Survival bears the influence of Northrop Frye’s theory of garrison mentality; Atwood instrumentalizes Frye’s concept to a critical tool. More recently, Atwood has continued her exploration of the implications of Canadian literary themes for Canadian identity in lectures such as Strange Things: The Malevolent North in Canadian Literature (1995).   Atwood’s contribution to the theorizing of Canada is not limited to her non-fiction works. Several of her works, including The Journals of Susanna Moodie, Alias Grace, The Blind Assassin and Surfacing, are examples of what postmodern literary theorist Linda Hutcheon calls “Historiographic Metafiction”. In such works, Atwood explicitly explores the relation of history and narrative and the processes of creating history.   Ultimately, according to her theories in works such as Survival and her exploration of similar themes in her fiction, Atwood considers Canadian literature as the expression of Canadian identity. According to this literature, Canadian identity has been defined by a fear of nature, by settler history and by unquestioned adherence to the community.

Atwood and animals  

Margaret Atwood has repeatedly made observations about our relationships to animals in her works. In Surfacing, one character remarks about eating animals: “The animals die that we may live, they are substitute people…And we eat them, out of cans or otherwise; we are eaters of death, dead Christ-flesh resurrecting inside us, granting us life.” Some characters in her books link sexual oppression to meat-eating and consequently give up meat-eating. In The Edible Woman, Atwood’s character Marian identifies with hunted animals and cries after hearing her fiancé’s experience of hunting and eviscerating a rabbit. Marian stops eating meat but then later returns to it.   In Cat’s Eye, the narrator recognizes the similarity between a turkey and a baby. She looks at “the turkey, which resembles a trussed, headless baby. It has thrown off its disguise as a meal and has revealed itself to me for what it is, a large dead bird.” In Atwood’s Surfacing, a dead heron represents purposeless killing and prompts thoughts about other senseless deaths.

Chamber opera  

In March 2008 Atwood announced that she had accepted her first chamber opera commission. Pauline will be on the subject of Pauline Johnson, a writer and Canadian artist long a subject of fascination to Atwood. It will star Judith Forst, with music by Tobin Stokes, and be produced by City Opera of Vancouver.[23] Pauline will be set in Vancouver, British Columbia, in March 1913, in the last week of Johnson’s life. “Pauline” has been announced for premiere in May 2014.

Political involvement  

Although Atwood’s politics are commonly described as being left-wing, she has indicated in interviews that she considers herself a Red Tory in the historical sense of the term.[25] Atwood and her partner Graeme Gibson are members of the Green Party of Canada (GPC) and strong supporters of GPC leader Elizabeth May. Atwood has strong views on environmental issues, and she and her partner are the joint honorary presidents of the Rare Bird Club within BirdLife International. She has been chair of the Writers’ Union of Canada and president of PEN Canada, and is currently a vice president of PEN International. In the 2008 federal election she attended a rally for the Bloc Québécois, a Quebec separatist party, because of her support for their position on the arts, and stated that she would vote for the party if she lived in Quebec.[26] In a Globe and Mail editorial, she urged Canadians to vote for any other party to stop a Conservative majority.   During the debate in 1987 over a free trade agreement between Canada and the United States, Atwood spoke out against the deal, and wrote an essay opposing the agreement.   Atwood celebrated her 70th birthday at a gala dinner at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, marking the final stop of her international tour to promote The Year of the Flood. She stated that she had chosen to attend the event because the city has been home to one of Canada’s most ambitious environmental reclamation programs: “When people ask if there’s hope (for the environment), I say, if Sudbury can do it, so can you. Having been a symbol of desolation, it’s become a symbol of hope.”   Atwood’s reputed left wing attitudes may have been changing in recent times. Despite calls for a boycott by Gazan students, Atwood visited Israel and accepted the $1,000,000 Dan David Prize along with Indian author Amitav Ghosh at Tel Aviv University in May 2010. Atwood commented that “we don’t do cultural boycotts.” She is a supporter of convicted felon Conrad Black in his attempts to remain a member of the Order of Canada.   In the Wake of the Flood, a documentary film by Canadian director Ron Mann released in October 2010, followed Atwood on the unusual book tour for her novel The Year of the Flood. During this innovative book tour, Atwood created a theatrical version of her novel, with performers borrowed from the local areas she was visiting. The documentary is described as “a fly-on-the-wall film vérité.”   Since February 2013, Atwood made it clear via Twitter that she strongly opposed the University of Toronto putting in an artificial turf field and hinted that she might write the university out of her will if it proceeded with the plan. This was not the first time she had openly challenged the university.

Works  

Novels  The Edible Woman (1969)  Surfacing (1972)  Lady Oracle (1976)  Life Before Man (1979, finalist for the Governor General’s Award)  Bodily Harm (1981)  The Handmaid’s Tale (1985, winner of the 1987 Arthur C. Clarke Award and 1985 Governor General’s Award, finalist for the 1986 Booker Prize)  Cat’s Eye (1988, finalist for the 1988 Governor General’s Award and the 1989 Booker Prize)  The Robber Bride (1993, finalist for the 1994 Governor General’s Award and shortlisted for the James Tiptree, Jr. Award)  Alias Grace (1996, winner of the 1996 Giller Prize, finalist for the 1996 Booker Prize and the 1996 Governor General’s Award, shortlisted for the 1997 Orange Prize for Fiction)  The Blind Assassin (2000, winner of the 2000 Booker Prize and finalist for the 2000 Governor General’s Award, shortlisted for the 2001 Orange Prize for Fiction.)  Oryx and Crake (2003, finalist for the 2003 Booker Prize and the 2003 Governor General’s Award and shortlisted for the 2004 Orange Prize for Fiction.)  The Penelopiad (2005, nominated for the 2006 Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature and longlisted for the 2007 IMPAC Award)  The Year of the Flood (2009, Oryx and Crake companion, longlisted for the 2011 IMPAC Award)  MaddAddam (2013) (third novel in Oryx and Crake trilogy)

Short fiction collections  

Dancing Girls (1977, winner of the St. Lawrence Award for Fiction and the award of The Periodical Distributors of Canada for Short Fiction)  Murder in the Dark (1983)  Bluebeard’s Egg (1983)  Wilderness Tips (1991, finalist for the Governor General’s Award)  Good Bones (1992)  Good Bones and Simple Murders (1994)  The Labrador Fiasco (1996)  The Tent (2006)  Moral Disorder (2006)  

Poetry collections  

Double Persephone (1961)  The Circle Game (1964, winner of the 1966 Governor General’s Award)  Expeditions (1965)  Speeches for Doctor Frankenstein (1966)  The Animals in That Country (1968)  The Journals of Susanna Moodie (1970)  Procedures for Underground (1970)  Power Politics (1971)  You Are Happy (1974)  Selected Poems (1976)  Two-Headed Poems (1978)  True Stories (1981)  Love Songs of a Terminator (1983)  Snake Poems (1983)[35]  Interlunar (1984)  Selected Poems 1966–1984 (Canada)  Selected Poems II: 1976–1986 (US)  Morning in the Burned House, McClelland & Stewart (1995)  Eating Fire: Selected Poems, 1965–1995 (UK,1998) “You Begin.” (1978) – as recited by Margaret Atwood; included in all three most recent editions of her “Selected Poems” as listed above (US, CA, UK)

The Door (2007)

E-books  

I’m Starved For You (2012)  Choke Collar: Positron, Episode Two (2012)  Erase Me: Positron, Episode Three (2013)  The Heart Goes Last, Episode Four (2013)   Anthologies edited  The New Oxford Book of Canadian Verse (1982)  The Canlit Foodbook (1987)  The Oxford Book of Canadian Short Stories in English (1988)  The Best American Short Stories 1989 (1989) (with Shannon Ravenel)  The New Oxford Book of Canadian Short Stories in English (1995)   Children’s books  Up in the Tree (1978)  Anna’s Pet (1980) (with Joyce C. Barkhouse)  For the Birds (1990) (with Shelly Tanaka)  Princess Prunella and the Purple Peanut (1995)  Rude Ramsay and the Roaring Radishes (2003)  Bashful Bob and Doleful Dorinda (2006)  Wandering Wenda and Widow Wallop’s Wunderground Washery (2011)[36]   Non-fiction  Survival: A Thematic Guide to Canadian Literature (1972)  Days of the Rebels 1815–1840 (1977)  Second Words: Selected Critical Prose (1982)  Through the One-Way Mirror (1986)  Strange Things: The Malevolent North in Canadian Literature (1995)  Negotiating with the Dead: A Writer on Writing (2002)  Moving Targets: Writing with Intent, 1982–2004 (2004)  Writing with Intent: Essays, Reviews, Personal Prose–1983-2005 (2005)  Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth (2008)  In Other Worlds: SF and the Human Imagination (2011)   Drawings  Kanadian Kultchur Komix featuring “Survivalwoman” in This Magazine under the pseudonym, Bart Gerrard 1975–1980  Others appear on her website.   Television scripts  The Servant Girl (1974)  Snowbird (1981)  Heaven on Earth (1987)   Libretto  The Trumpets of Summer (1964) (with composer John Beckwith)  Frankenstein Monster Song (2004, with rock band One Ring Zero)[37]   Audio recordings  The Poetry and Voice of Margaret Atwood (1977)  Margaret Atwood Reads “Unearthing Suite” (1985)  Margaret Atwood Reading From Her Poems (2005)

Awards and honours  

Atwood has won more than 55 awards in Canada and internationally, including:

Awards

Governor General’s Award, (1966, 1985)  Companion of the Order of Canada, 1981  Guggenheim fellowship, 1981  Los Angeles Times Fiction Award, 1986  Arthur C. Clarke Award for best Science Fiction, 1987  Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 1988 Canadian Booksellers Association Author of the Year, 1989  Trillium Book Award, 1991, 1993, 1995  Government of France’s Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, 1994  Helmerich Award, 1999, the Peggy V. Helmerich Distinguished Author Award is presented annually by the Tulsa Library Trust.  Booker Prize, 2000  Prince of Asturias Awards for Literature, 2008  Nelly Sachs Prize, Germany, 2010  Dan David Prize, Israel, 2010  Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, Canada, 2012  Los Angeles Times Book Prize “Innovator’s Award”, 2012

Honorary degrees

Trent University, 1973  Queen’s University, 1974  Concordia University, 1980  Smith College, 1982  University of Toronto, 1983  University of Waterloo, 1985  University of Guelph, 1985  Mount Holyoke College, 1985  Victoria College, 1987  Université de Montréal, 1991  University of Leeds, 1994  McMaster University, 1996  Laurentian University, 2001  Harvard University, 2004  Ontario College of Art & Design, 2009  Bard College, 2010  National University of Ireland, Galway, 2011  Ryerson University, 2012  Royal Military College of Canada, 2012

Courtesy: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Margaret_Atwood

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Yann Martel

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Yann_MartelYann Martel (born June 25, 1963) is a Canadian author best known for the Man Booker Prize-winning novel Life of Pi.[1] He has won a number of literary prizes, including the 2001 Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction and the 2001-2003 Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature. He is also the first Canadian to represent the Washington Arts Commission.   Although his first language is French, Yann Martel writes in English: “English is the language in which I best express the subtlety of life. But I must say that French is the language closest to my heart. And for this same reason, English gives me a sufficient distance to write.

Early life  

Martel, the son of Nicole Perron and Emile Martel, was born in Salamanca, Spain. His parents were French-speaking Quebecers.[2] His father was posted as a diplomat for the Canadian government at the time of his birth. He was raised in Costa Rica, France, Mexico, and Canada. As an adolescent he attended high school at Trinity College School, a boarding school in Port Hope, Ontario.   As an adult, Martel has spent time in Iran, Turkey and India. After studying philosophy at Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario, Martel spent 13 months in India visiting mosques, churches, temples and zoos, and spent two years reading religious texts and castaway stories. He now lives in Saskatoon, Canada.[3] His first published fictional work, Seven Stories, appeared in 1993

Career

In 2001, he published the novel Life of Pi, his fourth book, which was awarded the Man Booker Prize in 2002. Life of Pi was later chosen for the 2003 edition of CBC Radio’s Canada Reads competition, where it was championed by author Nancy Lee. In addition, its French translation, Histoire de Pi, was included in the French version of the competition, Le combat des livres, in 2004, championed by singer Louise Forestier. Martel was inspired to write a story about sharing a lifeboat with a large cat after reading a review of the novella Max and the Cats by Brazilian author Moacyr Scliar. Martel received some criticism for failing to consult with Scliar and by Scliar himself for the way he initially responded to the criticism.   Martel spent a year in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan from September 2003 as the public library’s writer-in-residence. He collaborated with Omar Daniel, composer-in-residence at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, on a piece for piano, string quartet and bass. The composition, You Are Where You Are, is based on text written by Martel, which includes parts of cellphone conversations taken from moments in an ordinary day.   In November 2005, the University of Saskatchewan announced that Martel would be scholar-in-residence.   His novel Beatrice and Virgil (2010) deals with the Holocaust: its main characters are two stuffed animals (a monkey and a donkey), along with several other animals depicted in a taxidermy shop. Martel describes them as simply two approaches to the same subject.   From 2007 to 2011, Martel worked on a project entitled What is Stephen Harper Reading? Every two weeks, he sent the Prime Minister of Canada one book that portrays “stillness,” with an accompanying explanatory note. He posted his letters, book selections, and responses received to a website devoted to the project. A book-length account of the project was published in the fall of 2009. Martel ended the project in February 2011, after sending Harper a total of 100 books.

Published works  

Seven Stories (1993)  The Facts Behind the Helsinki Roccamatios (1993)  Self (1996)  Life of Pi (2001)  We Ate the Children Last (2004)  Beatrice and Virgil (2010)  101 Letters to a Prime Minister: The Complete Letters to Stephen Harper (2012)

Awards

Winner of the 2002 Man Booker Prize for Fiction  Winner of the 2001 Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction  Shortlisted for the 2001 Governor General’s Award for Fiction  Winner of the 2001-2003 Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature  Shortlisted for Chapters/Books in Canada First Novel Award  First Canadian to represent the Washington Arts Commission  His short story “The Facts behind the Helsinki Roccamatios” was the winner of the 1991 Journey Prize

Influences

Martel has said in a number of interviews that Dante’s Divine Comedy is the single most impressive book he has ever read. In talking about his most memorable childhood book, he recalls Le Petit Chose by Alphonse Daudet. He said that he read it when he was ten years old, and it was the first time he found a book so heartbreaking that it moved him to tears.[

Courtesy http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yann_Martel

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Jean Margaret Laurence

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Margaret_LaurenceJean Margaret Laurence,  (18 July 1926 – 5 January 1987) was a Canadian novelist and short story writer, one of the major figures in Canadian literature. She was also a founder of the Writers’ Trust of Canada, a non-profit literary organization that seeks to encourage Canada’s writing community.

Early years

Born in Neepawa, Manitoba, Laurence was the daughter of solicitor Robert Wemyss and Verna Jean Simpson. Following the death of her mother when Laurence was four, a maternal aunt, Margaret Simpson, came to take care of the family. A year later, Simpson married Robert,Sr., and in 1933 they had a son, Robert. In 1935, Robert Wemyss Sr. died of pneumonia.

Education

In 1944, Laurence attended Winnipeg’s United College (now the University of Winnipeg) on scholarship, pursuing an honours English degree. She wrote for the student newspaper and became involved with the “Old Left” socialist reform group. She graduated in 1947. Soon afterwards, she was hired as a reporter for The Winnipeg Citizen, which was “published…between 1948 and 1949 in response to the typographical union’s strike against the other Winnipeg newspapers.” There she wrote book reviews, covered labour issues, and hosted a daily radio column

Personal life

Following her graduation from United College, she married Jack Fergus Laurence, an engineer. His job took them to England (1949), the then-British protectorate of British Somaliland (1950–1952), as well as the British colony of the Gold Coast (1952–1957). Laurence developed an admiration for Africa and of its various populations, which found expression in her writing.   In 1952, Laurence gave birth to daughter Jocelyn during a leave in England. Son David was born in 1955 in the Gold Coast. The family left the Gold Coast just before it gained independence as Ghana in 1957, moving to Vancouver, British Columbia, where they stayed for five years.   In 1962, she separated from her husband and moved to London, England for a year. She then moved to Elm Cottage (Penn, Buckinghamshire) where she lived for more than ten years, although she visited Canada often. Her divorce became final in 1969. That year, she became writer in residence at the University of Toronto. A few years later, she moved to Lakefield, Ontario. She also bought a cabin on the Otonabee River near Peterborough, where she wrote The Diviners (1974) during the summers of 1971 to 1973. Laurence served as Chancellor of Trent University in Peterborough from 1981 to 1983.   In 1986, Laurence was diagnosed with lung cancer late in the disease’s development. According to the James King biography, The Life of Margaret Laurence, the prognosis was grave, and as the cancer had spread to other organs, there was no treatment offered beyond palliative care. Laurence decided the best course of action was to spare herself and her family further suffering. She committed suicide at her home at 8 Regent St., Lakefield, on January 5, 1987. She was buried in her hometown in the Neepawa Cemetery, Neepawa, Manitoba. Laurence’s house in Neepawa has been turned into a museum. Her literary papers are housed in the Clara Thomas Archives at York University in Toronto and at McMaster University’s William Ready Division of Archives and Research Collections in Hamilton.

Literary career

One of Canada’s most esteemed and beloved authors by the end of her literary career, Laurence began writing short stories shortly after her marriage, as did her husband. Each published fiction in literary periodicals while living in Africa, but Margaret continued to write and expand her range. Her early novels were influenced by her experience as a minority in Africa. They show a strong sense of Christian symbolism and ethical concern for being a white person in a colonial state.   It was after her return to Canada that she wrote The Stone Angel, the book for which she is best known. Set in a fictional Manitoba small town called Manawaka, the novel is narrated retrospectively by Hagar Shipley, a ninety year old woman living in her eldest son’s home in Vancouver. Published in 1964, the novel is of the literary form that looks at the entire life of a person, and Laurence produced a novel from a Canadian experience. After finishing school, the narrator moves from Toronto to Manitoba, and marries a rough-mannered homesteader, Bram Shipley, against the wishes of her father, who then disinherits her — disinheritance a recurring theme in much of Laurence’s fiction. The couple struggles through the economic hardship and climatic challenges of Canadian frontier existence, and Hagar, unhappy in the relationship, leaves Bram, moving with her son John to Vancouver where she works as a domestic for many years, betraying her social class and upbringing. The novel is required reading in many North American school systems and colleges.

Laurence was published by Canadian publishing company McClelland and Stewart, and she became one of the key figures in the emerging Canadian literature tradition. Her published works after The Stone Angel express the changing role of women’s lives in the 1970s. Although on the surface, her later works like The Diviners depict very different roles for women than her earlier novels do, it is safe to say that Laurence throughout her career was faithfully dedicated to presenting a female perspective on contemporary life, depicting the choices — and consequences of those choices — women must make to find meaning and purpose in life.   In later life, Laurence was troubled when a fundamentalist Christian group succeeded in briefly removing The Diviners as course material from Lakefield High School, her local secondary school.   The Stone Angel, a feature-length film based on Laurence’s novel, written and directed by Kari Skogland and starring Ellen Burstyn premiered in Fall 2007.

Awards and recognition  

Laurence won two Governor General’s Awards for her novels A Jest of God (1966) and The Diviners (1974). In 1972 she was made a Companion of the Order of Canada.   The Margaret Laurence Memorial Lecture is an annual lecture series organized by the Writers’ Trust of Canada.   The Stone Angel was one of the selected books in the 2002 edition of Canada Reads, championed by Leon Rooke.   The University of Winnipeg named a Women’s Studies Centre, and an annual speaker series, in Laurence’s honour.   At York University in Toronto, one of the undergraduate residence buildings (Bethune Residence) named a floor after her.

Bibliography

Novels

This Side Jordan (1960)  The Stone Angel (1964)  A Jest of God (1966)  The Fire-Dwellers (1969)  The Diviners (1974)

Short story collections  

The Tomorrow-Tamer (1963)  A Bird in the House (1970)  Horses of the Night   Children’s books  Jason’s Quest (1970)  Six Darn Cows (1979)  The Olden Days Coat (1980)  The Christmas Birthday Story (1982)

Non-fiction

A Tree for Poverty (1954) — anthology of Somali poetry and folk stories  The Prophet’s Camel Bell (1963) — non-fiction account of Laurence’s life in British Somaliland  Long Drums and Cannons: Nigerian Dramatists and Novelists 1952-1966 (1968)  Heart of a Stranger (1976) — essays  Dance on the Earth: A Memoir (1989)

Courtesy: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Margaret_Laurence

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Alice Munro [From Wickipedia, the free encyclopedia]

 

alice_munro_nobe;prize2013Alice Ann Munro (née Laidlaw; born 10 July 1931) is a Canadian author writing in English. The recipient of the 2013 Nobel Prize in Literature and the 2009 Man Booker International Prize for her lifetime body of work, she is also a three-time winner of Canada’s Governor General’s Award for fiction.

The focus of Munro’s fiction is her native southwestern Ontario. Her “accessible, moving stories” explore human complexities in a seemingly effortless style. Munro’s writing has established her as “one of our greatest contemporary writers of fiction,” or, as Cynthia Ozick put it, “our Chekhov.”[6] In 2013, Munro was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature for her work as “master of the modern short story”.

Early life
alice_munroMunro was born in Wingham, Ontario. Her father, Robert Eric Laidlaw, was a fox and mink farmer, and her mother, Anne Clarke Laidlaw (née Chamney), was a schoolteacher. Munro began writing as a teenager, publishing her first story, “The Dimensions of a Shadow,” in 1950 while a student at the University of Western Ontario. During this period she worked as a waitress, a tobacco picker, and a library clerk. In 1951, she left the university, where she had been majoring in English since 1949, to marry fellow student James Munro. In 1963 the couple moved to Victoria where they opened Munro’s Books which still operates.

Career
Munro’s highly acclaimed first collection of stories, Dance of the Happy Shades (1968), won the Governor General’s Award, Canada’s highest literary prize. That success was followed by Lives of Girls and Women (1971), a collection of interlinked stories sometimes erroneously described as a novel. In 1978, Munro’s collection of interlinked stories Who Do You Think You Are? was published (titled The Beggar Maid: Stories of Flo and Rose in the United States). This book earned Munro a second Governor General’s Literary Award. From 1979 to 1982, she toured Australia, China and Scandinavia. In 1980 Munro held the position of Writer-in-Residence at both the University of British Columbia and the University of Queensland. Through the 1980s and 1990s, she published a short-story collection about once every four years.

Alice Munro’s stories have appeared frequently in publications such as The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, Grand Street, Mademoiselle, and The Paris Review. In interviews to promote her 2006 collection The View from Castle Rock, Munro suggested that she might not publish any further collections. She has since recanted and published further work. Her collection, Too Much Happiness, was published in August 2009. Her story “The Bear Came Over the Mountain” was adapted for the screen and directed by Sarah Polley as the film Away from Her, starring Julie Christie and Gordon Pinsent. It debuted at the 2006 Toronto International Film Festival. Polley’s adaptation was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay, but lost to No Country for Old Men.

At a Toronto appearance in October 2009, Munro indicated that she received treatment for cancer and a heart condition, the latter requiring bypass surgery. At that time, she indicated that her next work would involve a theme of sexual ambivalence.

On 10 October 2013, Munro was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, being cited as “master of the contemporary short story”. Munro is the first Canadian to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature, and the 13th woman laureate in its history.

Personal life
Munro married James Munro in 1951. Their daughters Sheila, Catherine, and Jenny were born in 1953, 1955, and 1957 respectively; Catherine died 15 hours after birth.

In 1963, the Munros moved to Victoria where they opened Munro’s Books, a popular bookstore still in business. In 1966, their daughter Andrea was born. Alice and James Munro were divorced in 1972.

She returned to Ontario to become Writer-in-Residence at the University of Western Ontario, and in 1976 received an honorary LL.D. from the institution. In 1976 she married Gerald Fremlin, a geographer. The couple moved to a farm outside Clinton, Ontario, and later to a house in Clinton, where Fremlin died in April 2013.

Tribute
In 2002, her daughter Sheila Munro published a childhood memoir, Lives of Mothers and Daughters: Growing Up With Alice Munro.

Courtesy: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alice_Munro

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