Books·Magic 8 Q&A

Kim Thúy on the zeros she got in creative writing class

The author of Canada Reads 2015 winner Ru answers eight questions submitted by eight other authors.
Kim Thúy is the author of the novel Ru. (Benoit Levac)

Kim Thúy's slim novel Ru won Canada Reads 2015, and picked up the Governor General's Literary Award for French-language fiction in 2010.

Below, Kim Thúy answers eight questions submitted by eight of her fellow writers in the CBC Books Magic 8 Q&A. 

1. Charlotte Gray asks, "Do you think creative writing courses encourage or discourage originality?"

I had one creative writing class in university where I got two zeros at mid-term: one for my (lack of) knowledge of French and one for my participation in class. I am still extremely thankful to this professor who had the courage to tell me the truth. Because of him, I did study harder and try harder to do the different exercises on the various genres and styles of writing presented in class. So, for me, it was beneficial and necessary, since originality would not exist if I don't have the tools and the language to express it. 

2. Shyam Selvadurai asks, "What is the hardest thing about being a writer?" 

Keeping your body from becoming soft! 

3. Pasha Malla asks, "Which would be preferable: a life of relative contentment and comfort, and having your books die alongside you, or being miserable and destitute, and having your books read long after you are dead?"

The beauty of death is that we no longer know or care about what would happen after. So, I don't need the book to be alongside me or for it to keep on "living." My books and my happiness are almost not linked one to the other — I am content with or without my books. 

4. Todd Babiak asks, "Do you write sex scenes? Why or why not?"

I would love to know how to write them! Because sexuality is part of our daily lives. So, the characters should also have sexuality in theirs. But it is so difficult to write sex scenes…

5. Graeme Smith asks, "As the American performance artist Laurie Anderson said: 'What I really want to know is: Are things getting better? Or are they getting worse?'"

Both. Things are getting better at the same time as they are getting worse. There are always two sides to the same coin. For example, technology makes information and contacts more accessible; but at the same time, it breaks/changes our way to relate with others.

6. Helen Humphreys asks, "Which of your books is your favourite?"

The last one is always the favourite one for a little while… like a new toy.

7. Zsuzsi Gartner asks, "Have you ever written a sentence you think could save lives?"


8. Charlotte Gill asks, "What does your afterlife look like?"

I hope it will be just plain nothingness.