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


According to her website, "Charlotte Gray is one of Canada’s best-known writers, and author of eight acclaimed books of literary non-fiction. Born in Sheffield, England, and educated at Oxford University and the London School of Economics, she began her writing career in England as a magazine editor and newspaper columnist. After coming to Canada in 1979, she worked as a political commentator, book reviewer and magazine columnist before she turned to biography and popular history." In 2008, Charlotte published Nellie McClung, a short biography of Canada’s leading women’s rights activist in the Penguin Series, Extraordinary Canadians.

Direct download: Gray_McClung_56_R09_0003_2.mp3
Category:Extraordinary Canadians -- posted at: 5:38pm EDT

Mark Kingwell

Glenn Gould was a world renowned classical pianist and an 'eccentric genius'— a 'solitary, headstrong, hypochondriac virtuoso.'  Abandoning stage performances in 1964, he concentrated instead on mastering recordings, radio, television, and print. His sudden death at age fifty stunned the world, but his music and legacy continues. Philosopher/critic Mark Kingwell sees Gould as a philosopher of music whose contradictory, mischievous, and deliberately provocative ideas ruled his life. Instead of a single narrative, Kingwell adopts a 'kaleidoscopic' approach.  It took Gould twenty-one "takes" to record the opening aria in the famed 1955 Goldberg Variations, Kingwell does the same with Gould's life. Each take offers a slightly different, sensitive interpretation of this complex man, each plays with the notes, harmonies and dissonances that characterized his time on earth.

I met this past summer with Kingwell to talk about Gould, chutney, the problem of the biographical line, perfectionism, architectural beauty, tempo, pregnancy, absence becoming presence, recording and communications technology, and wonder. Please listen here to our conversation here:

Direct download: Mark_Kingwell_Gould_R09_0001.mp3
Category:Extraordinary Canadians -- posted at: 9:05am EDT

Andrew Cohen

Lester "Mike" Pearson was an extraordinary politician. He was also an extraordinary athlete, diplomat, leader, teacher, writer and student. And yet, despite all of this, and, the fact that during his lifetime he was the world's best known Canadian, many are today unaware of the important role he played in creating modern Canada with its enviable social programs and economic safeguards. Andrew Cohen's biography of Pearson, part of Penguin's Extraordinary Canadians series, sets out to rectify this as it explores the various, successful lives this man led, and the contributions he made both to the building of Canada and world peace. Please listen here

Direct download: Andrew_Cohen_Pearson_R09_0014.mp3
Category:Extraordinary Canadians -- posted at: 6:14pm EDT

Author Charlie Foran

From his website: "Charlie Foran was born and raised in Toronto. He holds degrees from the University of Toronto and the University College, Dublin, and has taught in China, Hong Kong, and Canada. He has published ten books, including four novels [and a biography of Mordecai Richler Mordecai: The Life & Times], and writes regularly for magazines and newspapers in Canada and elsewhere...Charlie has also made radio documentaries for the CBC program Ideas and recently co-wrote the TV documentary Mordecai Richler: The Last of the Wild Jews. A former resident of Montreal, where he was a columnist for the Montreal Gazette and reported on Quebec for Saturday Night Magazine, Charlie currently resides in Peterborough, Ontario, with his family."

We talk here about his recent 'brief life' of Maurice Richard - part of Penguin Canada's Extraordinary Canadians series -  of how 'The Rocket' was exploited both on and off the ice, and how his proud on-ice ferocity and contrasting silent, off-ice dignity, clashed and coincided with the transformation of Quebec during the second half of the 20th century.

Direct download: Charlie_Foran_050209-151317.mp3
Category:Extraordinary Canadians -- posted at: 6:40am EDT

Vincent Lam

Vincent Lam is a Canadian born member of the expatriate Chinese community of Vietnam. He is an emergency physician in Toronto, and lectures at the University of Toronto. He has also worked in international air evacuation and expedition medicine in the Arctic and Antarctic. His first book, Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures, won the 2006 Scotiabank Giller Prize. We met recently in Ottawa, during the federal election, to talk about his most recent book, a biography of Tommy Douglas, part of Penguin Canada's Extraordinary Canadians series.

Of many interesting observations made during our conversation: two government programs by which Canadians define themselves (old age pensions and universal health care) were introduced during periods of minority government, when the CCF/NDP held the balance of power, and Tommy Douglas's 'socialist' government in Saskatchewan produced balanced or surplus budgets in every one of the seventeen years it was in power.

Listen here for more:

Direct download: Vincent_Lam_Douglas_050309-170715.mp3
Category:Extraordinary Canadians -- posted at: 12:04am EDT

Joseph Boyden (born 31 Oct 1966) is, Wikipedia tells us, a Canadian novelist and short story writer.

"He grew up in Willowdale, North York, Ontario and attended the Jesuit-run Brebeuf College School." His father Raymond Wilfrid Boyden, was a medical officer who was awarded the Distinguished Service Order and was the highest-decorated medical officer of World War II.

Of Irish, Scottish and Métis decent, Boyden writes about the First Nations heritage and culture. Three Day Road, is a novel about two Cree soldiers serving in the Canadian military during World War I. It was inspired by Ojibwa Francis Pegahmagabow, the legendary First World War sniper. Boyden's second novel, follows the story of Will, son of one of the characters in Through Black SpruceThree Day Road. It won the Giller Prize.

He studied creative writing at York University and the University of New Orleans, and subsequently taught in the Aboriginal Student Program at Northern College. He divides his time between Louisiana, where he and his wife, Amanda Boyden, are writers in residence, and Northern Ontario."

We met recently in Ottawa to talk about his contribution to Penguin's Extraordinary Canadians series, Louis Riel & Gabriel Dumont. Please listen here (apologies for all the background clammer. It recedes a bit after the first few minutes):

Direct download: joseph_Boyden_Riel_Dumont_801106_01.mp3
Category:Extraordinary Canadians -- posted at: 10:45am EDT

John Ralston Saul on Penguin's Extraordinary Canadians, Lafontaine and Baldwin

John Ralston Saul

John Ralston Saul was elected President of International PEN in October 2009.

His award-winning essaysand novels have had an impact on political and economic thought in many countries. Declared a “prophet” by TIME magazine, he is included in the prestigious Utne Reader’s list of the world’s 100 leading thinkers and visionaries. His works have been translated into 22 languages in 30 countries.


He has received many national and international awards for his writing, most recently South Korea's Manhae Grand Prize for Literature. He has published five novels, and is General Editor of the Penguin Extraordinary Canadians project, a series of 18 biographies that reinterprets important Canadian figures for a contemporary audience by pairing well-known Canadian writers with significant historical, political and artistic figures from 1850 onwards.

Born in Ottawa, Saul studied at McGill University and King's College, University of London, where he obtained his Ph.D. in 1972.

We met recently in Ottawa to discuss his general editoring of Extraordinary Canadians, and his particular authoring of Lafontaine and Baldwin, one of the books in the series.

Please listen here:

Direct download: Ralston_Saul_Final.mp3
Category:Extraordinary Canadians -- posted at: 4:38pm EDT

Published in 1908, Anne of Green Gables is the first in a series of bestselling novels by Canadian author Lucy Maud Montgomery. Although often dark and complex, and at times racy, the ‘Anne’ novels are today considered by most to be children’s books. Inspired by similar girls’ stories of the time, and her own childhood experiences in rural Prince Edward Island, Montgomery’s writing has affected generations of women around the world, perhaps none more so than another Canadian, novelist Jane Urquhart, who has just written a biography of Lucy Maud as part of  Penguin’s
Extraordinary Canadians series. We met recently to talk about the vast disconnect between the work and the woman; depression, lesbianism and gaiety; about place, truth and memory, narrative and culture, confidence and role models. 
Please listen here:

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Direct download: Jane_Urquhart_LMM_111207-185347_2.mp3
Category:Extraordinary Canadians -- posted at: 9:59am 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

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