Joseph Boyden may be best known for his Giller prize winning book Through Black Spruce. His latest novel, The Orenda, has also been getting rave reviews and recently landed on the short list for the Governor General's lit awards.

But did you know that the mild-mannered writer-in-residence at the University of New Orleans is also a black belt in American kickboxing, and an avid cyclist and racquetball player? 

Here are five more things you probably didn’t know about Boyden

  1. He didn’t have a sense of smell for a decade. It wasn’t until Boyden’s ear, nose and throat specialist suggested he may be allergic to gluten and dairy, that the author gave up those foods and his sense of smell returned.The smell he missed the most? “Wood smoke. When I smelled it again…hundreds of memories came rushing back.” 
  2. The one item he never travels without is his passport. “That’s not a very good answer, is it?” he asks rhetorically. He reconsiders for a moment and changes his answer to his laptop so he is able to write when he wants, and then adds if he can’t bring his laptop he makes sure he has a pen and paper with him.
  3. It’s no secret that Boyden has really great hair, but it was a secret until now, that he doesn’t wash it that often. He also uses Aveda grooming clay to give his curls that look that just make you want to run your fingers through them. “I like that it doesn’t have a lot of chemicals in it,” he claims.
  4. The Orenda

    The Orenda was short-listed for the 2013 Governor General's Literary Awards, which will be awarded November 13th.

    He hasn't read 50 Shades of Grey. In fact, ​“there are no books that I’m embarrassed to admit reading,” says Boyden,
  5. But he perhaps should be embarrassed to admit that he can stick a quarter up each nostril and make them disappear. How did he figure out he could do this? “One of my sister’s friends did it, and I asked him to show me.” He laughs, adding “One day I want to be able to put a loonie up one nostril, and give four quarters change out of the other one.”

Joseph Boyden will be reading from The Orenda at events across the city this week. 

Thursday, October 17th you can catch him in the main foyer of the Aboriginal Student Centre at the University of Manitoba at 1 p.m., or at Neechi Commons on Main Street at 6 p.m.

Friday, October 18th sees the author speaking at 7:30pm at the Centre Culture Franco-Manitobain at 340 Provencher Boulevard.