Nick Mount explores the history of CanLit's arrival on the world stage.

Nick Mount

In the mid-20th century, Canadian literature transformed from a largely ignored trickle of books into an enormous cultural phenomenon that produced Margaret Atwood, Alice Munro, Michael Ondaatje, Mordecai Richler and so many others. In Arrival, acclaimed writer and critic Nick Mount answers the question: What caused the CanLit Boom?

Written with wit and panache, Arrival tells the story of Canada's literary awakening. Interwoven with Mount's vivid tale are enlightening mini-biographies of the people who made it happen, from superstars Leonard Cohen and Marie-Claire Blais to lesser-known lights like the troubled and impassioned Harold Sonny Ladoo. The full range of Canada's literary boom is here: the underground exploits of the blew ointment and Tish gangs; revolutionary critical forays by highbrow academics; the blunt-force trauma of our plain-spoken backwoods poetry; and the urgent political writing that erupted from the turmoil in Quebec. (From House of Anansi)

Excerpt | Author interview

From the book

He had a small cross tattooed on his chest and a significant scar on his throat. He told different stories about how he got them. In one version, the tattoo was a grateful reminder of his education in a Canadian church mission school and the scar the remains of a childhood surgery. At another time, for another audience, he might say he picked up the tattoo while drunk on shore leave, the scar in a knife fight.

Harold Sonny Ladoo emigratd from Trinidad to Canada in 1968, an early arrival in a wave of immigration made possible by a new points system that made Canada more open than ever before to immigration from non-European countries. Like most such immigrants, he came to Toronto. He came in his early twenties, already married, with children. And he came determined. You might doubt his stories, but no one who met Harold — never Harry — ever doubted he would tell them.

From Arrival by Nick Mount ©2017. Published by House of Anansi.

Author interview

Nick Mount on his book about the evolution of Canadian literature 3:48
Canadian writing was once thought too boring to bother about. But things have changed, with Canadian books winning international awards and becoming best-sellers around the world. Nick Mount of the University of Toronto explains why. 24:58