Since they were first published in the mid-1990s, PEN Canada’s two previous fundraising anthologies, the widely acclaimed Writing Away and Writing Home, have raised $200,000 in support of PEN’s vital work on behalf of free speech and writers in prison around the world. Now Writing Life, promises to be the most successful volume yet.
In Writing Life, fifty celebrated authors reveal surprising truths about what it means to be a writer, and about the sparks that can result when writing and life intersect — and sometimes collide. Provocative, candid, often very funny, personal, and passionately engaged, this inspired collection will take readers deep into the heart of the writing life.
Margaret Atwood revisits how she came to write five of her novels; Russell Banks reveals why he doesn’t do research; John Berger and Michael Ondaatje discuss gate-crashing characters and the magical instant when a work begins; Joseph Boyden takes time out from promoting his first novel to go moose-hunting; Margaret Drabble considers the “wickedness” of stealing material from real life; Howard Engel describes the stroke that took away his ability to read, and where that left him as a writer; Yann Martel reflects on the impossible, necessary challenge of writing about the Holocaust; Lisa Moore shows how crucial the mess and vitality of family life are to her writing; Alice Munro shares why she might “give up” writing; Rosemary Sullivan negotiates the risks and responsibilities that come with telling the story of a life; Susan Swan wrestles with historical fact, fiction, and Casanova. Proceeds from this volume will go to PEN Canada in support of its vital work on behalf of writers in prison around the world and in defence of freedom of expression both in Canada and abroad.
Writing Life Contributors List André Alexis Margaret Atwood Russell Banks David Bergen John Berger George Bowering Marilyn Bowering Joseph Boyden Di Brandt Barry Callaghan Lynn Coady Susan Coyne Michael Crummey Margaret Drabble Bernice Eisenstein Howard Engel Damon Galgut Jonathan Garfinkel Greg Gatenby Camilla Gibb Charlotte Gray Elizabeth Hay Michael Helm Sheila Heti Annabel Lyon David Macfarlane Alistair MacLeod Margaret MacMillan Alberto Manguel Yann Martel Anne Michaels Rohinton Mistry Lisa Moore Shani Mootoo Alice Munro Susan Musgrave Michael Ondaatje Anna Porter Eden Robinson Marilynne Robinson Peter Robinson John Ralston Saul Shyam Selvadurai Russell Smith Rosemary Sullivan Susan Swan Madeleine Thien Jane Urquhart Michael Winter Patricia Young