Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

The Proust Questionnaire, with Keith Henderson

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Keith Henderson

Keith Henderson's third novel is The Roof Walkers (DC Books), which tells the story of Irish Canadian Eoin O’Donoghue, an IRA operative turned Canadian spy. Set against the backdrop of the American Civil War and the birth of Canada, The Roof Walkers will provide great fodder for fans of historical fiction.

In his answers to the Proust Questionnaire, Keith tells Open Book about an enviable extravagance, the instrument he'd most like to master and a motto that is all in the family.

The Proust Questionnaire was not invented by Marcel Proust, but it was a much loved game by the French author and many of his contemporaries. The idea behind the questionnaire is that the answers are supposed to reveal the respondent's "true" nature.
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Where would you like to live?
Edinburgh

What qualities do you admire most in a man?
Honesty, loyalty, courtesy, grace.

What qualities do you admire most in a woman?
Same as 4 above. Add a sense of humour.

What is your principal fault?
Shyness.

What is your greatest extravagance?
Restoring a house in Italy.

What faults in others are you most tolerant of?
Chatterboxes.

What do you value most about your friends?
See the qualities above.

What characteristic do you dislike most in others?
Authoritarianism.

What is your favourite occupation?
Writer.

What would you like to be?
Six.

What is your favourite colour?
Yellow.

What is your favourite flower?
Crocus.

What is your favourite bird?
Ducks, hummingbirds.

What historical figure do you admire the most?
Thomas D’Arcy McGee.

What character in history do you most dislike?
Jacques Parizeau.

Who are your favourite prose authors?
Jane Austen, Emily Bronte, Elizabeth Gaskell.

Who are your favourite poets?
Yeats, Shakespeare, Frost, Emily Dickinson.

Who are your favourite heroes in fiction?
Emma’s Mr. Knightley.

Who is your favourite painter?
Whistler.

Who is your favourite musician?
Mozart.

What is your favourite food?
Raspberries, honey.

What is your favourite drink?
Coffee.

What are your favourite names?
Veronica, Emma.

What is it you most dislike?
Ethnocentric nationalism.

What natural talent would you most like to possess?
The ability to play the flute (well).

How do you want to die?
Peacefully.

What is your current state of mind?
Sunny.

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?
Organizing and participating in events that led to Ottawa’s Clarity Act.

What is your motto?
Sola virtus nobilitat. (Editor's note: this is the traditional motto of the clan Henderson.)


Keith Henderson has published two previous novels, The Restoration and The Beekeeper, a collection of political essays from when he was Quebec columnist for the Financial Post and a prize-winning book of short stories, The Pagan Nuptials of Julia. He led a small provincial political party in Quebec during the separatist referendum of 1995 and championed English language rights and the “poison pill” strategy of partitioning Quebec if ever Quebec partitioned Canada, positions covered in full length articles in the Los Angeles and New York Times as well as on CBS 60 Minutes.

For more information about The Roof Walkers please visit the DC Books website.

Buy this book at your local independent bookstore or online at Chapters/Indigo or Amazon.

Check out all the Proust Questionnaire interviews in our archives.

Related item from our archives

JF Robitaille: Minor Dedications

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