Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Writers at Night: The Writers' Trust Gala Series with Alison Pick

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Alison Pick

Tonight, November 24, the 26th annual Writers' Trust Gala takes place at the Four Seasons Toronto. The event is a black tie fundraiser for the venerable literary charity and plays host to dozens of the finest writers in Canada.

Today's featured author is Alison Pick, author of Far to Go (Anansi). Stay tuned later today for the final instalment of our Writers at Night series, which celebrates the gala's talented guest authors.

Open Book:

Is this your first time attending the Writers' Trust Gala? If so, to what aspect of the event are you most looking forward? If you've attended before, what is one of your favourite gala memories?

Alison Pick:

I’ve attended the Gala two or three times before, and have always enjoyed myself thoroughly. In 2005 Steve Heighton had a room in the hotel where the Gala was hosted, and I confess that a handful of us made excellent use of it for an after-party. In terms of the Gala itself, I like sitting at a table with people who inhabit a different world from the one I do, and enjoy talking about — gasp! — things other than literature.

OB:

Each guest at your table receives a copy of your latest book as a gift. Tell us a bit about your recent book.

AP:

Far to Go tells the story of a family of Czech Jews during the lead-up to the Second World War. Pavel and Anneliese Bauer have a young son named Pepik, and Pepik has a governess named Marta. Much of the story is told from her perspective. Marta watches, first in disbelief and then in horror, as the world she has known and loved slowly crumbles around her employers. Only small Pepik is granted the chance to escape the Nazi threat with a spot on a Kindertransport train sending Jewish children to safety. And so the Bauers and Marta are faced with an impossible decision.

Far to Go won the Jewish Book Award for Fiction and was long-listed for the Man Booker Prize. It’s a very personal book for me and so it’s been extremely gratifying to watch it go out into the world.

OB:

What will you be wearing to the gala?

AP:

Fishnets, stilettos, and my pink bikini. JUST KIDDING. I’ll be wearing the winter version of the LBD — the LBD with long sleeves.

OB:

What Canadian writer, living or dead, would you most like to sit next to at dinner? What might you ask him or her?

AP:

I loved Charlene Diehl’s memoir Out of Grief Singing, and ran into her recently at the Tarbut Festival in Winnipeg. We said hello but didn’t get a chance to have a proper conversation. These days I’m also working on a memoir, and I wanted to ask her all kinds of questions about audience issues, the relationship between vulnerability and readability and the memoirists’ responsibility to “the truth.” So at the moment she’s the one I’d choose.


Alison Pick is the author of four books, most recently the novel Far to Go. It was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, won the Canadian Jewish Book Award for Fiction, and was optioned for film. Rights have been sold in Canada, the US, the UK, Quebec, the Czech Republic, Italy, Brazil and the Netherlands. Currently on Faculty at the Humber Correspondence Program in Creative Writing, Alison Pick lives in Toronto where she is at work on a memoir.

For more information about Far to Go please visit the Anansi website.

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

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