One of the East Coast’s best-known writers, Frank Macdonald, will travel to Vancouver Island for readings at North Island College (NIC), Comox, and other venues later this month. Macdonald, whose novel A Forest for Calum (CBU Press, 2005) was the 2010 winner of the college’s annual NIC Reads contest, is the long-time and award-winning columnist and publisher of the Inverness Oran. An accomplished writer of short fiction, drama, poetry and songs, his humourous, often satirical columns for the Oran have twice been anthologized.
The reading, which is open to the public, will take place March 29 in Comox. Macdonald will have additional readings and appearances in nearby Courtney and in Powell River on the BC mainland. Powell River is home to another Cape Breton-born writer, Susan Young de Biagi, whose novel Cibou (CBU Press, 2008) was shortlisted for numerous literary awards.
“The east-meets-west opportunity will hopefully open new doors for Cape Breton literature,” says Mike Hunter, editor-in-chief, Cape Breton University Press. “It calls attention not only to these two writers, providing them new venues to share their stories with wider audiences, but also to Cape Breton literature in general. Both authors are terrific storytellers, and their novels speak to everyone – Maritimers or not.”
NIC librarian Lynette Gallant, a native of PEI, is partly responsible for getting East Coast books read for the contest. She is particularly fond of A Forest for Calum, which, she says, “captures that unavoidable lump in the throat” when she thinks about home. The story explores complex lives of rural communities in the post-war, post-heavy-industry decades of the mid-twentieth century. The setting is Cape Breton, but the themes of cultural and rural change and decline are universal.
Frank Macdonald is also the author of a children’s book, T.R.’s Adventure at Angus the Wheeler’s, illustrated by Virginia McCoy. McCoy will be on the trip as well and has been invited to speak with art students at NIC.
Hailed as “a Canadian classic” by the Globe and Mail and as “jaw-droppingly beautiful,” A Forest for Calum was long-listed for the IMPAC International Dublin literary award in 2007.
Susan Young de Biagi’s novel Cibou is the beautifully crafted tale of life among the Mi’kmaq of 17th-century Cape Breton, including the real-life historical figures of Charles and Antoine Daniel (St. Anthony Daniel).
Monday, March 28
Breakwater Books, 6812A Alberni Street, Powell River, BC
Tuesday, March 29
North Island College, 2300 Ryan Road, Courtenay, BC
Wednesday, March 30
Laughing Oyster Bookshop, 286 Fifth Street, Courtenay, BC