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

Originally from Vancouver, Professor Rohan Maitzen has an Honours B.A. in English and History from the University of British Columbia and an M.A. and Ph.D. in English from Cornell University.  Since 1995, she has been a member of Dalhousie University’s English Department.

Her main teaching area is the Victorian novel; she has a particular admiration for George Eliot and assigns her greatest novel, Middlemarch, whenever possible.

I had the pleasure of ‘meeting’ Rohan online, in the comments section of her blog Novel Readings. I admire her smooth flowing, erudite prose and her reaching out to an audience wider than just those sitting in her classroom,  as well as her grappling with issues about who the academic should address, and how literature should be taught.

Rohan was in Ottawa recently for a ‘Learneds’ conference. I got to meet her in person, and interview her, off the cuff , one on one, about the life and lessons found in Middlemarch. Please listen here:

Direct download: Rohan_Maitzen.mp3
Category:Literary Blogger -- posted at: 9:49am EDT

Born in Los Angeles in 1946, Robert Bringhurst is an award winning Canadian poet, typographer and author. Perhaps best known for  The Elements of Typographic Style – a reference book of typefaces, glyphs and the visual and geometric arrangement of type, he is also a respected translator of poetic works from Haida into English.  He lives on Quadra Island, near Campbell River, B.C.

We met recently in Ottawa to talk about his definition of the book as articulated in The Surface of Meaning, and of typography and the services it ideally offers its readers, including:

Invite the reader into the text
Reveal the tenor and meaning of the text
Clarify the structure and the order of the text
Link the text with other existing elements
Induce a state of energetic repose, which is the ideal condition for reading

Please listen to our conversation here:

Direct download: Robert_Bringhurst.mp3
Category:Book Designer -- posted at: 1:11pm EDT

A.B. Yehoshua was born in 1936 to a fifth-generation Jerusalem family of Sephardi origin. His first book of stories, "Mot Hazaken" (The Death of the Old Man) was published in 1962. He was an important member of the "new wave" generation of Israeli writers who differed from earlier writers by focusing on the individual rather than the group.  Franz Kafka, Shmuel Yosef Agnon, and William Faulkner  were all formative influences. 

Author of nine novels, three books of short stories, four plays, and four collections of essays, Yehoshua has won the Brenner Prize, the Alterman Prize,  the Bialik Prize, the Israel Prize for Literature, the National Jewish Book Award and many, many other international prizes.

His most recent novel, Friendly Fire, explores the nature of Israeli familial relationships, personal grief and bitterness. We met recently at the Blue Met Writers Festival in Montreal to talk about the book.  Our conversation touches on the Jewish diaspora, hatred and minorities, a two state solution, gestures recognizing good, the metaphor of fire, domestic violence, Apartheid, South Africa, solutions, marriage, and marriages between Arabs and Jews.

Direct download: A.B_Yehoshua.mp3
Category:Author Interview -- posted at: 6:59pm EDT

M G Vassanji was born in Kenya and raised in Tanzania. Before coming to Canada in 1978, he attended MIT and the University of Pennsylvania, where he specialized in theoretical nuclear physics. From 1978-1980 he was a postdoctoral fellow at the Atomic Energy of Canada, and from 1980 to 1989 he was a research associate at the University of Toronto. During this period he developed a keen interest in medieval Indian literature and history, co-founded and edited a literary magazine (The Toronto South Asian Review, later renamed The Toronto Review of Contemporary Writing Abroad), and began writing stories and a novel. In 1989, with the publication of his first novel, The Gunny Sack, he was invited to spend a season at the International Writing Program of the University of Iowa. That year ended his active career in nuclear physics. Vassanji is the author of six novels and two collections of short stories. He has won the Giller Prize, twice; the Harbourfront Festival Prize; the Commonwealth First Book Prize (Africa); the Bressani Prize and the Order of Canada.
We met recently at the Blue Met Writers Festival in Montreal to talk about his most recent work: a brief biography of Mordecai Richler for Penguin’s Extraordinary Canadians series.The discussion touches on Richler’s outsider status, his struggle with and acceptance of Jewishness, making one person’s story everyone’s story, cities, streets and communities, mothers and fathers, growing out of groups, humble origins, irony, great novels versus journalism, and honesty.

Please listen here:

Direct download: M.G._Vassanji.mp3
Category:Extraordinary Canadians -- posted at: 1:14am EDT

This from Contemporary Writers: " Zoe Heller was born in London in 1965 and educated at Oxford University and Columbia University, New York.  She is a journalist who, after writing book reviews for various newspapers, became a feature writer for The Independent.  She wrote a weekly confessional column for the Sunday Times for four years, but now writes for the Daily Telegraph and earned the title ‘Columnist of the Year’ in 2002. She is the author of two novels: Everything You Know (2000), a dark comedy about misanthropic writer Willy Miller, and Notes on a Scandal (2003) which tells the story of an affair between a high school teacher and her student through the eyes of the teacher’s supposed friend, Barbara Covett. It was shortlisted for the 2003 Man Booker Prize for fiction, and was recently released as a feature film, starring Cate Blanchett and Dame Judi Dench."

We met recently in Ottawa to talk, ‘companionably’ about her latest novel The Believers.

Please listen here:

Direct download: Zoe_Heller.mp3
Category:Author Interview -- posted at: 1:09am EDT

Nino Ricci’s first novel, the best-selling Lives of the Saints, won international acclaim and a host of awards, including, in Canada, the Governor General’s Award for Fiction and the Books in Canada First Novel Award, and in England, the Betty Trask Award and the Winifred Holtby Prize.  It was followed by In A Glass House and Where She Has Gone, which completed the trilogy that Lives of the Saints began, Testament, co-winner of the Trillium Award, and, The Origin of Species which won Ricci his second Governor General’s Award.

Born in Leamington, Ontario, to parents from the Molise region of Italy, he completed studies at York University in Toronto, at Concordia University in Montreal, and at the University of Florence, and has taught both in Canada and abroad.  We met recently at the Blue Met Writers Festival in Montreal to talk about his most recent work: a brief biography of Pierre Trudeau for Penguin’s Extraordinary Canadians series.

Topics covered include the Italian Canadian attachment to Trudeau and the Liberals, immigration, gun slingers, alluring leadership qualities, fear of failure, media strategies, bilingualism’s mixed legacy, the Charter, budget deficits, the pride of being Canadian, and philosopher-kings.

Please listen here:

Direct download: Nino_Ricci_on_Trudeau.mp3
Category:Extraordinary Canadians -- posted at: 4:47pm EDT

Margaret MacMillan was educated at the University of Toronto and at Oxford, where she obtained a B. Phil. in politics and a D. Phil. for a thesis on the British in India between 1880 and 1920. Her books include Women of the Raj, Paris 1919: Six Months That Changed the World, which won the 2003 Governor General’s Award, the Samuel Johnson Prize, the PEN Hessell Tiltman Prize, the Duff Cooper Prize and was a New York Times Editors’ Choice for 2002, Nixon in China, The Uses and Abuses of History, and most recently Penguin’s Extraordinary Canadians:  Stephen Leacock.  Currently, MacMillan is the Warden of St. Anthony’s College, Oxford University.

We met recently in Montreal at the Blue Met Writers Festival. I posed a simple question: Referencing the two most recent books you have authored: How do you write history? Please listen here to a comprehensive,  enthusiastic answer that addresses research, records, racism, other potential worlds, being of your time, Iraq, lessons, dangers, inevitable biases, humour and Stephen Leacock’s legacy.

Copyright © 2009 by Nigel Beale

Direct download: Margaret_MacMilllan.mp3
Category:Extraordinary Canadians -- posted at: 10:51am EDT