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Producing Canadian Literature

Authors Speak on the Literary Marketplace

By Kit Dobson & Smaro Kamboureli
Series TransCanada Hide Details
Paperback : 9781554583553, 268 pages, June 2013
Ebook (EPUB) : 9781554586400, 268 pages, June 2013
Ebook (PDF) : 9781554586394, 268 pages, June 2013

Table of contents

Table of Contents Producing Canadian Literature: Authors Speak on the Literary Marketplace, by Kit Dobson and Smaro Kamboureli
Foreword: Producing a Globalized Canadian Literature and Its Communities | Jeff Derksen
Introduction | Kit Dobson
1. Too Bloody-Minded to Give Up: Interview with Christian Bök | Kit Dobson
2. The Politics of Our Work: Interview with Ashok Mathur | Smaro Kamboureli and Kit Dobson
3. Change the Way Canada Sees Us: Interview with Lee Maracle | Smaro Kamboureli and Kit Dobson
4. A Very, Very Uncertain Way to Make a Living: Interview with Jane Urquhart | Smaro Kamboureli and Kit Dobson
5. To Hear This Different Story: Interview with Daniel Heath Justice | Smaro Kamboureli and Kit Dobson
6 Crossing Borders with Our Work: Interview with Erín Moure | Smaro Kamboureli and Kit Dobson
7. No Reason to Fool Yourself: Interview with Aritha van Herk | Kit Dobson
8. Literature Survives through Its Variety: Interview with Stephen Henighan | Kit Dobson
9. Under Conditions of Restraint: Interview with Larissa Lai | Smaro Kamboureli and Kit Dobson
10. A Book of Poetry in the Mix: Interview with George Elliott Clarke | Smaro Kamboureli and Kit Dobson
Appendix: Timeline of Canadian Cultural Bodies since the Massey Commission


Producing Canadian Literature: Authors Speak on the Literary Marketplace brings to light the relationship between writers in Canada and the marketplace within which their work circulates. Through a series of conversations with both established and younger writers from across the country, Kit Dobson and Smaro Kamboureli investigate how writers perceive their relationship to the cultural economy—and what that economy means for their creative processes.
The interviews in Producing Canadian Literature focus, in particular, on how writers interact with the cultural institutions and bodies that surround them. Conversations pursue the impacts of arts funding on writers; show how agents, editors, and publishers affect writers’ works; examine the process of actually selling a book, both in Canada and abroad; and contemplate what literary awards mean to writers. Dialogues with Christian Bök, George Elliott Clarke, Daniel Heath Justice, Larissa Lai, Stephen Henighan, Roy Miki, Erín Moure, Ashok Mathur, Lee Maracle, Jane Urquhart, and Aritha van Herk testify to the broad range of experience that writers in Canada have when it comes to the conditions in which their work is produced.
Original in its desire to directly explore the specific circumstances in which writers work—and how those conditions affect their writing itself—Producing Canadian Literature will be of interest to scholars, students, aspiring writers, and readers who have followed these authors and want to know more about how their books come into being.


Smaro Kamboureli's TransCanada Institute produces cultural interventions that actively conjugate Canadian literary study into the present progressive tense.... Shifting the Ground of Canadian Literary Studies and Producing Canadian Literature ... make important contributions to the groundswell of methodological shifts in contemporary criticism seeking to unsettle the ‘national’ and ‘literary’ assumptions evoked by the category of ‘Canadian literature,’ from its production to its reception.... Producing Canadian Literature makes visible how authors respond to what Jeff Derksen's foreword calls the ‘forces we now rather casually generalize as “the market.”’.... [The] writers' diversity in terms of form, genre, politics, age, gender, race, and success reverberates in their wide-ranging opinions, suggesting these positionalities significantly inform literature's political economy.... Most notably, these writers all reveal a keen awareness of the expectations engendered by a cultural economy that tends to cater to the middle.... Producing Canadian Literature will be valuable to writers as well as scholars of Canadian literatures, particularly those interested in print culture and sites where the arts, markets, and public policy intersect. Together with Shifting the Ground, these TransCanada books should be read by Canadianists not for what they say about actual literary works—which is little, and not really their project—but for how they open the field itself by crossing it from exterior entry points. Absent of the literature, their contribution is more to the study of the study of CanLit—an increasingly undisciplined discipline.

- Brendan McCormack, Canadian Literature, 220, Spring 2014, 2014 October

A literature, if you can get someone to read it, will form a nation, will change that nation's form. We often think about ways in which the nation expresses itself through its writers; a few decades of Canadian criticism was promulgated on that notion. But writers are citizens, they live as citizens must, and they act politically as they write. They make a nation, but they do so by making a living. In Producing Canadian Literature a good sample of Canadian authors describe the text-making life as it has to be lived in our political reality.

- George Bowering, professor emeritus, Simon Fraser University, author of Words,Words, Words: Essays and Memoirs (2012), 2013 April