Monday, April 23, 2012 | Categories: Episodes |
Canada Writes and The Next Chapter present the seventh great literary smackdown... and this time the gloves come off.
"Write what you know" is probably the most widely touted maxim among writers, but is it always the best advice? Shyam Selvadurai and Robert Hough have very different thoughts on the matter.
Shyam Selvadurai was born in Columbo, Sri Lanka, but ethnic conflict there drove his family to emigrate to Canada when he was a teenager. Shyam's experiences in Sri Lanka form the backbone of his books Funny Boy and Cinnamon Gardens. He has a rich personal history to mine and he can't imagine writing anything other than what he knows. Robert Hough, on the other hand, grew up in Mississauga, Ontario, in a largely peaceful, largely white, largely middle-class neighbourhood. He says his upbringing lacked any of the tension that a good novel demands, so he's had no choice but to explore other worlds in his fiction. His books include The Stowaway, The Culprits, and, most recently, Dr. Brinkley's Tower.
So, what are the benefits and the pitfalls of writing what you know? And which approach leads to the richest fiction? Press 'Listen' to hear Shyam and Robert hash it out. Click here to read their essays on the Canada Writes website.