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    The Way We GG 2021

The Way We GG 2021

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Wordfest's Imagine On Air is honoured to present our annual celebration of the Governor General's Literary Awards. The 2021 edition of The Way We GG showcases Francesca Ekwuyasi, Tessa McWatt, and Guy Vanderhaeghe, all past recipients or nominees of Canada's prestigious literary medal. 

Each writer will perform an open-mic style monologue on the theme of luck and fortune (whether good or bad), as well as answer questions about their new books. The one-hour broadcast on Wordfest.com, hosted by Pam Rocker, is free and starts at 7:00 p.m. MT (The pre-show starts at 6:50 p.m. MT.) If you RSVP, we'll send you a reminder on the morning of the show, as well as our unique Digital Doggie Bag after the event with links to extended interviews with each author.

This event is organized in collaboration with the Canada Council for the Arts to celebrate the finalists and winners of the Governor General’s Literary Awards. We are also grateful to Arsenal Pulp Press and Penguin Random House Canada for helping us connect you with these amazing authors.

About Francesca Ekwuyasi

Francesca Ekwuyasi is a writer, artist, and filmmaker born in Lagos, Nigeria. Her work explores themes of faith, family, queerness, consumption, loneliness, and belonging. Her writing has been published in Winter Tangerine Review, Brittle Paper, Transition Magazine, the Malahat Review, Visual Art News, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, and GUTS magazine. Her story Orun is Heaven was longlisted for the 2019 Journey Prize.  Butter Honey Pig Bread was the 2021 runner-up on CBC’s Canada Reads, was shortlisted for the 2020 Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction, the Amazon Canada First Novel Award, and a Lambda Literary Award. It was also longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize.

Follow her on Instagram @f.ekwuyasi.

About Butter Honey Pig Bread

Butter Honey Pig Bread is a story of choices and their consequences, of motherhood, of the malleable line between the spirit and the mind, of finding new homes and mending old ones, of voracious appetites, of queer love, of friendship, faith, and above all, family. 

Francesca Ekwuyasi's debut novel tells the interwoven stories of twin sisters, Kehinde and Taiye, and their mother, Kambirinachi. Kambirinachi feels she was born an Ogbanje, a spirit that plagues families with misfortune by dying in childhood to cause its mother misery. She believes that she has made the unnatural choice of staying alive to love her human family and now lives in fear of the consequences of that decision. 

Some of Kambirinachi's worst fears come true when her daughter, Kehinde, experiences a devastating childhood trauma that causes the family to fracture in seemingly irreversible ways. As soon as she's of age, Kehinde moves away and cuts contact with her twin sister and mother. Alone in Montreal, she struggles to find ways to heal while building a life of her own. Meanwhile, Taiye, plagued by guilt for what happened to her sister, flees to London and attempts to numb the loss of the relationship with her twin through reckless hedonism. 

Now, after more than a decade of living apart, Taiye and Kehinde have returned home to Lagos to visit their mother. It is here that the three women must face each other and address the wounds of the past if they are to reconcile and move forward. 

About Tessa McWatt

Tessa McWatt is the author of seven novels and two books for young people. Her fiction and non-fiction have been nominated for the Governor General's Award, the City of Toronto Book Awards, and the OCM Bocas Prize. She is the co-editor, along with Dionne Brand and Rabindranath Maharaj, of Luminous Ink: Writers on Writing in Canada. Her first picture book for children, Where Are You Agnes?, is based on the life of abstract expressionist painter Agnes Martin. She is one of the winners of the Eccles British Library Award 2018, for her memoir: Shame on Me: An Anatomy of Race and Belonging, which also won the Bocas Prize for Non-Fiction 2020 and was a finalist for the Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction. She is also a librettist, most recently working with British composer Hannah Kendall. Their chamber opera, The Knife of Dawn, premiered at the Roundhouse, London, in 2016, and they are working on a new full-length opera. McWatt is also in the process of bringing John Berger's novel To the Wedding, to the screen, with award-winning film director Andrea Pallaoro. Tessa McWatt is the Course Director for the Master's in Prose Fiction at the University of East Anglia and is on the Board of Trustees at Wasafiri. Born in Guyana, and raised in Canada, she lives in London, England.

About The Snow Line

Tessa McWatt's breathtaking new novel explores love and endurance in the face of change and violence, and how people find wholeness and belonging when their own identities feel shattered.

Northern India, 2009. Four travellers disembark from the Dhauladhar Express at the Pathankot train station, having arrived in Punjab to attend a wedding. Yosh, 30, a yoga teacher from Vancouver; Monica, 30, the bride's cousin from Toronto; Reema, 26, the bride's childhood friend, a mixed-heritage Londoner in search of her Indianness; and Jackson, 86, who is returning to India after a long hiatus in Boston, and who carries with him a small tea canister in which he has placed his wife Amelia's ashes.

As they gather with other guests at the traditional Indian wedding, Jackson and Reema develop a reluctant, unlikely friendship that grows through mutual need and a slowly developing trust, and together with Yosh and Monica, they embark on a post-wedding journey to the Himalayas, seeking the perfect place to scatter Amelia's ashes. As they travel together, secrets are revealed, and each of them is opened up to more questions than answers.

These intergenerational and intercultural relationships are a meeting of the past and the future, a reconciliation of past wrongs and a possibility that the future might be less violent, less selfish, less segregated. But can it be?

About Guy Vanderhaeghe

Guy Vanderhaeghe was born in Esterhazy, Saskatchewan, in 1951. His previous fiction includes A Good ManThe Last CrossingThe Englishman's BoyThings as They Are (stories), HomesickMy Present AgeMan Descending (stories), and Daddy Lenin and Other Stories. Among the many awards he has received are the Governor General's Awards (three times); and, for his body of work, the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Fellowship, the Writers' Trust Timothy Findley Award, and the Harbourfront Literary Prize. He has received many honours including the Order of Canada.

About August Into Winter

The first novel in nearly a decade from the three-time Governor General's Award‒winning author of The Last CrossingAugust Into Winter is an epic story of crime and retribution, of war and its long shadow, and of the redemptive possibilities of love.

You carried the past into the future on your back, its knees and arms hugging you tighter with every step.

It is 1939, with the world on the brink of global war, when Constable Hotchkiss confronts the spoiled, narcissistic man-child Ernie Sickert about a rash of disturbing pranks in their small prairie town. Outraged and cornered, Ernie commits an act of unspeakable violence, setting in motion a course of events that will change forever the lives of all in his wake.

With Loretta Pipe
– the scrappy twelve-year-old he idealizes as the love of his life – in tow, Ernie flees town. In close pursuit is Corporal Cooper, who enlists the aid of two brothers, veterans of World War One: Jack, a sensitive, spiritual man with a potential for brutal violence; and angry, impetuous Dill, still recovering from the premature death of his wife who, while on her deathbed, developed an inexplicable obsession with the then-teenaged Ernie Sickert.

When a powerful storm floods the prairie roads, wreaking havoc, Ernie and Loretta take shelter in a one-room schoolhouse where they are discovered by the newly arrived teacher, Vidalia Taggart. Vidalia has her own haunted past, one that has driven her to this stark and isolated place with only the journals of her lover Dov, recently killed in the Spanish Civil War, for company. Dill, arriving at the schoolhouse on Ernie's trail, falls hard and fast for Vidalia 
– but questions whether he can compete with the impossible ideal of a dead man.

Guy Vanderhaeghe, writing at the height of his celebrated powers, has crafted a tale of unrelenting suspense against a backdrop of great moral searching and depth. His is a canvas of lavish, indelible detail: of character, of landscape, of history
– in all their searing beauty but all their ugliness, too. Vanderhaeghe does not shrink from the corruption, cruelty, and treachery that pervade the world. Yet even in his clear-eyed depiction of evil – a depiction that frequently and delightfully turns darkly comic – he will not deny the possibility of love, of light. With August Into Winter, Guy Vanderhaeghe has given us a masterfully told, masterfully timed story for our own troubled hearts.

About Host Pam Rocker

Pam Rocker is a native Texan turned Albertan, atypical activist, award winning writer, speaker, and musician. Rocker has worked for over a decade for the full inclusion of LGBTQ2S+ people in faith communities and beyond. She was chosen as one of the Top 40 Under 40 in Calgary, and as one of the top 30 activists in Canada. She was a frequent panelist on CBC Radio's Unconventional Panel, is the Chair of Broadview Magazine, and an Instructor with YouthWrite Alberta and YOUth Riot. Rocker is currently the Director of Affirming Connections, performs queer feminist ukulele comedy music, and speaks and plays across in the US and Canada.

Visit her at www.pamrocker.com or follow her on Twitter and Instagram @realpamrocker.

Curiouser?

  • Roger Mooking thinks Canada Reads will be like “Reading Rainbow Gladiator” CBC Books
  • The Snow Line by Tessa McWatt review – strangers at a wedding -The Guardian
  • Guy Vanderhaeghe’s new novel August Into Winter a master-class in character and storytelling -Toronto Star

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