Featured books in this conversation all focus on themes of location and displacement, and how place can affect characters, cultures and family. Sodden Downstream from New Zealand writer Brannavan Gnanalingam evolves around a female refugee. Witi Ihimaera, also from New Zealand, sheds light on his Māori Boy: A Memoir of Childhood, stirring tales from his formative years. Iranian author and poet Maryam Madjidi makes her debut with Marx and the Doll, which looks at how one’s roots can become a burden — and a weapon. This event will be moderated by Beatriz Hausner and hosted by Catherine Graham.
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Brannavan Gnanalingam is a Sri Lanka-born novelist and reviewer based in Wellington, New Zealand. He has published five novels. His fourth book, A Briefcase, Two Pies and a Penthouse was longlisted for New Zealand's top literary award, the 2017 Acorn Foundation Prize at the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards. His latest book, Sodden Downstream, was shortlisted for the 2018 Acorn Foundation Prize. This author is supported by Creative New Zealand.
Catherine Graham (Canada) is the author of six acclaimed poetry collections, including The Celery Forest and Her Red Hair Rises with the Wings of Insects, a finalist for the Raymond Souster Poetry Award and the CAA Poetry Award. She received an Excellence in Teaching Award at the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies where she teaches creative writing. She was also the winner of the IFOA’s Poetry NOW competition. While living in Northern Ireland, Graham completed an MA in Creative Writing from Lancaster University. Author of the debut novel Quarry, her work has appeared in journals and anthologies around the world.
Beatriz Hausner’s poetry books include: Enter the Raccoon, Sew Him Up, The Wardrobe Mistress, and many chapbooks. Her books have been translated into several languages, including Spanish, French, Dutch and Portuguese. Her selected poems is forthcoming in Greek translation from Vakxikon Publihers. She is a respected literary editor, and was one of the founding publishers of Quattro Books. Beatriz Hausner has translated many works of literature, primarily from Spanish into English, concentrating on Latin American surrealism. She was Chair of the Public Lending Right Commission from 2014-2016 and is the current President of the Literary Translators’ Association of Canada.
New Zealand writer Witi Ihimaera was the first Māori to have a novel published. He has a highly regarded career as an Indigenous author and teacher, and for some years was a guest teacher on the international teaching staff of the Banff Centre. His novel The Whale Rider was made into a successful international film in 2002, and three further feature films have been adapted from his work. He won the New Zealand non-fiction award for his memoir Māori Boy (2016). The second volume, Native Son, will be published in 2019. This author is supported by Creative New Zealand.
Maryam Madjidi moved to Paris for the first time in 1986 with her parents who were political asylum seekers, running away from Iran. She studed at Sorbonne University, achieving her masterclass in comparative literature, before becoming a teacher. She lived in Beijing and Istanbul, teaching French for almost six years. She now lives in Paris and is still teaching French to young immigrants with the French Red Cross. This author is supported by the Consulate General of France in Toronto.