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Q&A: Nancy Richler



richler_nancy.jpgTo celebrate this year's Scotiabank Giller Prize longlist, we asked each longlisted author a series of questions to help us gain insight into their work and their thoughts on the craft of writing. Here is Nancy Richler, author of The Imposter Bride.

Q: What inspired you to write The Imposter Bride?

A: My paternal grandmother immigrated to Montreal from eastern Europe for the purposes of marriage only to be rejected by her prospective bridegroom at the moment of her arrival. When I started writing The Imposter Bride I wanted to explore what it might be like for a young woman alone in the world to be rejected on sight by the man on whom she depended to build her new life.

Once I wrote that scene, though, I realized I wanted to set the arrival of my protagonist Lily in the time period immediately following the Second World War because I was very interested in capturing the feel of Montreal in those immediate post war years when so many refugees and Holocaust survivors arrived in Montreal. I wanted to explore the many crosscurrents operating in the Montreal Jewish community at that time and the many issues raised by a young woman arriving after the war who had stolen someone else's identity as a way to begin anew.

Q: What would you say is at the core of your book?

A: How people build new lives after experiencing overwhelming loss and trauma, and the continuity/discontinuity of identity over the course of a lifetime.

Q: If your book was being made into a movie, which actors could you envision taking on the main characters?

A: I could see Tilda Swinton as the older Lily. 

Q: Which Scotiabank Giller-longlisted book (other than your own!) would you most like to see take home the prize?

A: I haven't read all the other books yet so I can't choose one over another.

Q: Where is the absolute best place for you to write?

A: The Calabria Bar café in Vancouver, B.C. I wrote The Imposter Bride and Your Mouth is Lovely at one of the window tables at that café.

Q: Is there a specific subject matter, event or location close to your heart that you'd love to write about in the future?

A: I'm interested in divided cities -- cities divided along religious, ethnic and/or linguistic lines. The tension between the different groups can make these cities particularly creative and dynamic but can also flare into animosity, violence and war. Montreal and Jerusalem are the most personally compelling to me.

the_imposter_bride.jpgQ: What book has moved or affected you most in the past year?

A: Running the Rift by Naomi Benaron.

Q: What is one insight into the craft of writing or the writing life that you wish you'd known much earlier?

A: How I feel about a book while I'm writing it -- i.e., the constant judgements I make about its quality and the process of writing it -- is irrelevant and a distraction from the work.

Read more longlist Q&As

 


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