Ottawa's Festival of Ideas Since 1997
Knox Presbyterian Church120 Lisgar Street (at Elgin)

Breaking the Shellwith Shani Mootoo,Lee Maracle and David Bergen

Hosted by Sean Wilson

Breaking the Shellwith Shani Mootoo,Lee Maracle and David Bergen

Hosted by Sean Wilson
Knox Presbyterian Church
120 Lisgar Street (at Elgin)
David Bergen - Photo by Luke Bergen
Lee Maracle - Photo by Columpa Bobb
Shani Mootoo - Photo by Quinte Studios

Khalil Gibran once said: “Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.” Here we turn to three of the country’s most gifted storytellers for an exploration of that pain and how it pushes us forward and holds us back at the same time. 


From Shani Mootoo, the author of Cereus Blooms at Night and Valmiki’s Daughter, both nominated for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, comes Moving Forward Sideways Like a Crab , a haunting and courageous new novel—a passionate eulogy to a beloved parent and a nuanced, moving tale about the struggle to embrace the complex realities of love and family ties. Jonathan was nine when his parents separated and his mother, Sid, vanished from his life. As an adult, he reconnects with his beloved parent—only to find, to his shock and dismay, that the woman he’d known as “Sid” had morphed into an elegant, courtly man named Sydney.


In Lee Maracle’s new novel Celia’s Song, Mink is a witness, a shape shifter, compelled to follow the story that has ensnared Celia and her village, on the West coast of Vancouver Island in Nu:Chahlnuth territory. Celia is a seer who—despite being convinced she’s a little “off”—must heal her village with the assistance of her sister, her mother and father, and her nephews. While Mink is visiting, a double-headed sea serpent falls off the house front during a fierce storm. The occurrence signals the unfolding of an ordeal that pulls Celia out of her reveries and into the tragedy of her cousin’s granddaughter. Celia's Song relates one Nu:Chahlnuth family’s harrowing experiences over several generations, after the brutality, interference and neglect resulting from contact with Europeans.


From David Bergen, the Giller Prize-winning author of The Age of Hope, comes Leaving Tomorrow , a thoughtful, tender, often wry novel of growing up and falling in love. In the small Alberta town of Tomorrow, young Arthur yearns for a larger life. His one ally is his adopted cousin, the fearless Isobel. Arthur leaves for Paris, where he pursues his passions for writing and women and at last claims the life he has always wanted. But dreams and reality don’t always match, and it takes going away for Arthur to appreciate the push and pull of both home and love.


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