Finding the Words: Writers on Inspiration, Desire, War, Celebrity, Exile, and Breaking the Rules

Now for something a little different. I’m going to plug a book that I haven’t read yet because I happen to know two of its talented contributors and I’m going to get my copy of it as soon as possible.

This is a note from my best friend Jennifer Amy’s cousin, the award-winning Globe & Mail journalist, Stephanie Nolen:

“…I’m briefly on my support-for-a-good-cause soapbox. I was honoured to be asked to contribute a chapter to a new anthology, published this week, called

Finding the Words: Writers on Inspiration, Desire, War, Celebrity, Exile, and Breaking the Rules

There are chapters by writers including Alice Munro, Elizabeth Hay, Rawi Hage, Elizabeth Hay, Guy Gavriel Kay, Joseph Boyden and Michael Winter.

And me.

(This is where we all hum, ‘One of these things is not like the other …’)

I wrote about women and sexual violence in Congo. I haven’t seen the rest of the book yet, but I gather most of the rest of it is a bit more cheerful.

All the writers donated our work, and McLelland and Stewart [sic] has published it free, so all proceeds go to PEN and the great work they do for writers in exile and in prison.

You can order it here

or, better yet, go to your local independent bookstore and pick up a copy. And if you like the book, or just the idea, please feel free to forward this.”

I would just like to add that my neighbour, critically acclaimed author Steven Heighton has also contributed to Finding The Words (Edited by Jared Bland) so I’m doubly interested in this book as I know two of its contributors.

About this Book

Celebrated writers reveal surprising truths about the joys, challenges, and importance of finding the words, in this special fundraising anthology for PEN Canada.

In Finding the Words, thirty-one well-known writers share deeply personal discoveries and stories that will surprise, delight, and stir the mind and heart. By turns inspiring, provocative, witty, and compelling, these diverse and original pieces explore home, exile, and the search for a place to belong; community, creativity, celebrity, and the many forms power can take.

Among the pieces in the anthology: Diana Athill and Alice Munro discuss the consequences of writing about other people; Gord Downie meditates on what it means to be a songwriter by considering one of his own songwriting heroes; Guy Gavriel Kay reflects on how his relationship with his own readers continues to change; Elizabeth Hay searches for inspiration in the fallow period between books; Rawi Hage meditates on writing rooted in the universal experience of exile; Pasha Malla and Moez Surani present a funny and confounding list of “rules for writers” solicited from non-writers; Heather O’Neill tells the story of an illiterate and underage wannabe gangster in mid-century Montreal; Michael Winter pieces together court transcripts, newspaper accounts, and other primary sources to take us into the dark heart of a real-life Newfoundland crime story.

Proceeds from this volume will go to PEN Canada in support of its vital work in defence of freedom of expression and on behalf of writers around the world who have been silenced.

Finding the Words Contributors List:
Diana Athill
Tash Aw
David Bezmozgis
Joseph Boyden
David Chariandy
Denise Chong
Karen Connelly
Alain de Botton
Emma Donoghue
Gord Downie
Marina Endicott
Stacey May Fowles
Rawi Hage
Elizabeth Hay
Steven Heighton
Lee Henderson
Guy Gavriel Kay
Mark Kingwell
Martha Kuwee Kumsa
Annabel Lyon
Linden MacIntyre
Pasha Malla
Lisa Moore
Alice Munro
Stephanie Nolen
Heather O’Neill
Richard Poplak
Moez Surani
Miguel Syjuco
Madeleine Thien
Michael Winter

With cover design and illustration by Seth

JARED BLAND is the managing editor of The Walrus and sits on the board of directors of PEN Canada. His writing has appeared in The Walrus, the Globe and Mail, and Toronto Life. He lives in Toronto.

1 Comment

  1. Steph says:

    I’ve read some excerpts from this book and I really need to get a copy! I’ve enjoyed what I read.

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