The (original) French language is very interesting because it reminds me very much of the Shéhérezade language. It's all so perfumey and present, despite the fact that it's this very distant but visceral past.
—Measha Brueggergosman, soprano
Canadian singing sensation Measha Brueggergosman sets the world on fire with her stunning, powerful voice and vibrant personality. When she's not singing or taking care of her two-month-old baby boy or judging Canada's Got Talent, Brueggergosman makes time for reading.
Her Bookmarked choice happens to be the book she will be presenting at the upcoming Giller Prize, Ru by Kim Thúy, which has already won a Governor General's Literary Award. The book also happens to be closely related to a piece of music she loves to perform, "Shéhérazade" by Ravel.
Measha Brueggergosman explains:
I love my book! Thúy's a first generation Vietnamese immigrant. It's just such an incredible undertaking. I'm opening myself up to a portion of the world and a portion of
history that I knew nothing about.
The book is an incredible immigrant story of a family that went through the civil war and quasi-genocide in Vietnam and came over on one of the refugee boats to Montreal, which I believe is the experience of the author.
It's told in a caption format, so every page isn't filled and it's like this episodic narrative that shows us snapshots of different moments. The brilliance is found in what is included and also in what is excluded. That's a very, very difficult tightrope to walk and I just feel she does it so brilliantly.
Cover of "Ru" by Kim Thuy (Random House Canada)
There's also this whole generational element and the influence that one generation has on the next. She's very wrapped up in her relationship to her mother. So there is the haunting quality of how that relationship has shaped so viscerally her present and her future and her coming to terms with that.
I'm trying to make my way through the French and English versions. The (original) French language is very interesting because it reminds me very much of the Shéhérazade
language. I feel like they have a similar esthetic because they evoke this
fragrant exoticism, but there's also a tremendous amount of action
outside the frame, violence that we don't necessarily see. You kind
of see the evidence of the violence more than you actually experience
it. So that's why it was important to me to read the French.
Both are tales of survival -- Shéhérazade
in a little bit more distant way just because the stories are a springboard for her necessity to survive, the stories that she has to keep telling so that the king doesn't murder her. I don't know if it's the fact that they're both Asian stories, or if there is kind of an exoticism to the Orient, but I find there's a similar perfume to Ru
. The protagonist in the novel is also saving her life by telling this story. It may have happened in the past, but I think in the telling of it she's saving herself for the future.
There is a real similarity between how a book pushes you through it and how a song cycle takes you on a journey. There's a cadence to both art forms.Measha Brueggergosman perform Shéhérazade with the WSO on October 26 and 27. She will also be one of the presenters at the 2012 Scotiabank Giller Prize announcement. It will be broadcast on CBC Television at 9:00 p.m./ 9:30 p.m. NT on Tuesday, October 30.