The Challenge of Words: What is the future of literary writing in the digital age?

In our hyperfast, overcaffeinated, 140 character, social-media-blasted, Facebook-overloaded age, there are still people writing serious books. The novel -- an art form that's centuries old -- still has the capacity to hold our attention from subway commute to library chair. But we tell ourselves we’re in a different era now. What’s to become of serious writing in the digital age?
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In our hyperfast, overcaffeinated, 140-character, social-media-blasted, Facebook-overloaded age, there are still people writing serious books. The novel -- an art form that's centuries old -- still has the capacity to hold our attention from subway commute to library chair. But we tell ourselves we're in a different era now. What's to become of serious writing in the digital age? From the 2016 Stratford Festival, a discussion featuring writers Shani Mootoo, Charles Foran and Monia Mazigh. **This episode originally aired June 6, 2016.

Monia Mazigh talking about the writer's fear of failure, and how one good reader, one word of encouragement, can turn that around. 1:13


 

"As a younger writer I considered it my primary task to never write dull and/or bad prose. I still believe that is the principal challenge -- to write in a manner that avoids, as best I can, the triple failure of what the novelist Martin Amis calls 'cliches of the pen, cliches of the mind, cliches of the heart.'" 
-- Charles Foran

Guests in this episode:

  • Shani Mootoo is a writer and visual artist who has made the cut for both the Giller Prize and the Man Booker Prize; her most recent book is Moving Forward Sideways Like a Crab.

  • Charles Foran has won a number of awards for his novels, his non-fiction and his journalism; a past president of PEN Canada, his most recent book is a biography of Mordecai Richler.
     
  • Monia Mazigh is a writer and human rights advocate, perhaps best known for her efforts to free her husband Maher Arar from a Syrian prison; her most recent book is Hope Has Two Daughters.


Some books by Shani Mootoo

  • ​Cereus Blooms at Night (1996)
  • He Drown She in the Sea (2005)
  • Valmiki's Daughter (2009)
  • Moving Forward Sideways like a Crab (2014)

Some Books by Charles Foran

  • Butterfly Lovers (1996)
  • Carolan's Farewell (2005)
  • Mordecai: The Life & Times (2010)
  • Maurice Richard (2011)

Some books by Monia Mazigh

  • Hope and Despair (2009)
  • Mirrors and Mirages (2014)
  • Hope Has Two Daughters (2017)


 

** This episode was produced by Philip Coulter. It was recorded at the the Stratford Festival, thanks to Melissa Renaud and David Campbell. Special thanks also to Ann Swerdfager and Antoni Cimolino.

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