The Biblio File Hosted by Nigel Beale
Twenty - forty minute interviews with accomplished authors, publishers, biblio people, conducted by an excitable bibliophile.

Poet, author, Priscila Uppal, an English professor too at York University, challenges traditional psychological and anthropological models of mourning in her new book We Are What We Mourning: The Contemporary English-Canadian Elegy, suggesting that Canadians mourn differently.

Traditional models define successful mourning in terms of detachment from the loved one who has died; the ability to cut the strings of grief, and to step into the roles of mothers and fathers vacated by the dead. To become unnecessarily identified with grief and death is, according to traditional views, to fail at mourning. To succeed - to maintain health-  one must ‘move on;’ accept that the dead are gone; celebrate the fact that they are in heaven. All of this Uppal debunks.

After reading thousands of Canadian elegies she concludes that mourning, at least in late 20th century Canada, is not about forgetting, but about claiming identity. You are, she says, what you mourn. And we, apparently, mourn our parents in elegies to a much greater extent than do others in the U.S. and U.K., for example, who tend to mark the death of youth more frequently with this poetic form.

Many immigrants to Canada didn’t know their parents very well; didn’t know their countries of origin, didn’t learn much about their traditions. In order to take over the roles their parents played - to learn about themselves - many have used mourning as a way to create and recreate the past; as a means to carry on into the future. Art - the elegy - is used as a way to attached to the past, and to connect and incorporate it into the present. What you mourn - what it is you are upset about losing -  will determine, according to Uppal, how you see history.

We talk about all of these topics, why and how the work of mourning has so drastically changed in Canada during the latter half of the twentieth century, why the contemporary English-Canadian elegy emphasizes connection rather than separation between the living and the dead.

Please listen to a ‘lively’ conversation here:

Copyright © 2009 by Nigel Beale.

Direct download: Priscila_Uppal.mp3
Category:Literary Critics -- posted at: 3:28pm EDT

Chris Cleave was born in London and spent his early years in Cameroon. He studied Experimental Psychology at Balliol College, Oxford, and now writes a column for the Guardian newspaper. His debut novel Incendiary won a 2006 Somerset Maugham Award, was shortlisted for the 2006 Commonwealth Writers Prize, and is now a feature film. Chris lives in London with his wife and two children.

We met recently to talk about his engaging, important new novel Little Bee. Topics discussed include masks, truth-telling, trauma, trust, happiness, the struggle to survive, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and its deficiencies, asylum seekers are true heroes, engaging with the developing world, people in transition, life-changing events, sexual adventurousness, making sense of life retrospectively, inane reality TV shows and the need for refugees to tell their heroic stories convincingly.

Please listen here:

Copyright © 2009 by Nigel Beale.

Direct download: Chris_Cleave.mp3
Category:Author Interview -- posted at: 3:24pm EDT

Luise von Flotow is an associate professor in Translation Studies at the University of Ottawa with a special interest in translation and gender. In 1992, her translation Deathly Delights was shortlisted for the Governor General’s Award. Her most recent book is the English translation of Girls Closed In by Quebec author France Theoret. I spoke with Luise in her office several weeks ago about Canada as a mecca for translation, efforts to convince government of the potential for this industry to expand, and the challenge confronting translators of being faithful to original work while at the same time appealing to audiences in the translated language. She is passionate about her work. You can tell by the charming enthusiasm in her voice. Just listen, especially when she tries to evade identifying the best translators.

Direct download: Von_Flotow_Interview_final_edit.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 12:29pm EDT