Throughout September and early October of this year, Atwood will make several stops around Canada to read from The Testaments and answer audience questions.
The relationship between grandparent and grandchild is a sacred thing. Those of us who have been lucky enough to know our patriarchs and matriarchs cherish the memories we have of them. And the food. Oh, the food: grub that often we weren’t even hungry for. The cookies they baked (and lowkey ate half of), the cars they drove us around in (so slow, and often in silence, that all we could do was ponder the concept of time) and the tissues they gave us (that always seemed to come out of nowhere). All these things pale in comparison to the most important lesson they ever taught us: hide valuable things in places so safe that even you will forget to check.
My grandpa used to hide money in picture frames; I once found a fifty-dollar bill behind one of my school pictures. I confessed to the unintentional theft and was rewarded with the very money I had found behind my own face. I can’t remember what I bought with it—probably a lot of cheeseburgers. If I had found it today, I would put it towards rent… But my memory of my grandmother was the first thing I thought of when I read an article about a Canadian couple winning the lottery thanks to a bookmark.
Image Via Bbc.com
Canadian Nicole Pedneault’s methods of financial security are in line with that of my G-Pa’s. She hid a lottery ticket in a book a year ago. Nicole Pedneault and Roger Larocque bought this ticket last year on Valentine’s Day to shy away from your typical “flowers or chocolate” gifting cliché. The couple found the ticket days before the deadline to turn it in.
Nicole Pedneault’s grandson was preparing a presentation on Japan for school, so she shuffled through souvenirs from a trip she once took to Japan—she wanted to help him with his project. It was in her shuffling that she found the ticket tucked between the pages of a book. She had unwittingly forgotten she hid the ticket there. I mean, who doesn’t use lotto tickets and other random pieces of paper for makeshift bookmarks?
“If my grandson hadn’t asked to borrow those items for his show-and-tell presentation, I would never have found the ticket on time,” she said.
The original drawing for their ticket was 5 April 2018; lucky for them, winners have a year to claim the prize. Even luckier for them is the fact that this ticket won them one million Canadian dollars (which is roughly… well, not as much in USD). It would seem that the ‘sacred thing’ I referred to earlier has truly paid off for Nicole; however, she will probably not be hiding the winnings in a picture frame.
Roger, on the other hand, shares my appreciation for cheese:
We have no plans to celebrate tonight. We will go to a small restaurant, and we’ll spoil ourselves by ordering poutine, double sauce, and double cheese.
Well played. While you guys feast, the rest of us will be frantically flipping through the pages of books we never finished.
Featured Image Via Afroditacurlymind Etsy Store.
The former First Lady has a smash hit on her hands. According to The Guardian, Michelle Obama’s autobiography, Becoming, has sold more than 10 million copies and is on track to become the most successful memoir in history. Penguin Random House has revealed that the book was their biggest success of last year and is still growing. Becoming has been a global sales juggernaut since its release in November of last year, having been translated into thirty-one languages and the audiobook becoming Random House’s fastest seller ever.
Image Via The Guardian
Michelle Obama has been promoting the book on a press tour, having been visiting Copenhagen, Paris, Amsterdam, the USA, and Canada. The tour has proven to be hugely popular and she next plans to visit London on April 14th. The book itself details her life, chronicling her early childhood in the South Side of Chicago to her years as an early mother to her time serving as First Lady. Let’s hope it continues to keep climbing and breaking new records!
Featured Image Via Goodreads
We’re all pretty familiar with the short story vending machines that are sprinkled throughout Europe, but now there is a new vendor in town. The Monkey’s Paw in Toronto, Canada is home to the Biblio-Mat, a vending machine that randomly distributes an “old and unusual” book for only $2 CAD (~$1.50 USD).
Image via Vimeo
The Monkey’s Paw is known for and specializes in lesser known and appreciated books spanning the 20th century. The vending machine was created as a kind of alternative to the typical discount or clearance racks and bins often seen outside of bookstores.
Stocked with books that don’t have any practical retail value, but are still interesting and worth distributing, the machine whirrs to life when the coin is inserted, completing the transaction with the ring of an antique telephone bell.
Image via Craig Small
Explaining to Quill & Quire, owner Stephen Fowler originally imagined the Biblio-Mat “as a painted refrigerator box with one of my assistants inside; people would put in a coin and he would drop a book out.” Thanks to a friend of Fowler’s, that version of the machine never made it, but the current version created in 2012 is completely automated.
Adding even more charm to an already charming used bookstore, the Biblio-Mat has become an extension of the store, providing new and otherwise unknown books to customers. One of those customers being The Handmaid’s Tale author Margaret Atwood.
Featured Image Via OnFiction
What do you do if you’re an author whose home country refuses to publish the most important books you’ve ever written in your career? If you’re Chinese author Xue Yiwei, you move all the way across the world.
Mr. Xue, known in China as one of their “most charismatic literary stylists,” is largely unknown in the English-speaking part of the world, but that’s about to change. In 2010, he wrote a book entitled Dr. Bethune’s Children, which is a book of letters addressed to Norman Bethune, a Canadian doctor who died on the front lines of the Communist resistance to the Japanese occupation in 1939. An English translation of the book just came out in Canada, his new home country.
What was wrong in his old home country of China? For a long time, nothing. Mr. Xue has written sixteen novels and essay collections. Thirteen have been published in China. The last three, including Dr. Bethune’s Children, were rejected.
In China, authors who write about controversial topics like Communist resistance often have all their works banned. Authors whose works are constantly in print are suspected of self-censorship. Nearly all published authors belong to the China Writers Association. This group demands their members pledge their loyalty to the Communist party. Perhaps this is the reason Mr. Xue never joined. He couldn’t if he wanted to have a chance of getting Dr. Bethune’s Children published.
However, it seemed he may never get that chance. Editor after editor rejected the manuscript. One editor told Mr. Xue this, “Dr. Bethune’s Children couldn’t appear because the attitude of the novel’s expatriate narrator was judged as harmful to China’s reputation.”
Another editor gave Mr. Xue a detailed plan on how to rewrite the novel and omit all references to the Cultural Revolution and the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, two subjects that are taboo in China. This response is what prompted Mr. Xue to seek publication outside of China. Dr. Bethune’s Children was first published in Taiwan in 2014.
Image via Amazon
The release of Dr. Bethune’s Children in Taiwan found Mr. Xue in a peculiar situation. He was neither completely banned nor completely accepted in his native country. However, he did not regret seeking publication elsewhere. He deemed Dr. Bethune’s Children one of his most important works.
A fellow Chinese author based in Boston, Mr. Ha, commented on Mr. Xue’s tendency to write books that are the opposite of the kind of books other Chinese authors write. “Established writers in China may pay attention to big ideas but they are so isolated and confined within the system they can’t really think differently.”
Dr. Bethune’s Children is not the first controversial piece Mr. Xue has written, and his other controversial works got him in trouble. In 1989, he wrote a book called Desertion about an amateur philosopher’s efforts to quit his government job. Soon after the book was published, he joined the Tiananmen Square protests, and wrote another controversial piece, a novella called December 31, 1989. It was about the mood of dejection among his friends over the suppression of protest. The novella was published in magazines in Taiwan and Guangzhou. When the publication got back to China, the reaction was severe.
They never came at me personally, but they came to my friends. They tried to shut down the magazine I had written for. I still don’t know who ‘they’ were. Somebody, a friend, told me I should not write anymore. For my own benefit.
Mr. Xue took those words to heart. He went back to school and studied linguistics. He wrote infrequently, and what he did write and sent for publication, he sent under a pseudonym.
In 1997, Desertion, which was largely ignored when it was first published, won a major award in Taiwan. This event prompted a leading critic in Beijing to count Desertion as one of China’s most important philosophical novels. The validation came too late however, as Mr. Xue had already decided to move to Montreal, unable to handle his native country any longer.
I could see what was happening in China. At the high point of my writing, I had to hide myself. Even after that, conversation with publishers was not comfortable.
Mr. Xue wanted to remain a current writer in China, but did not feel safe writing there, so he moved to Montreal, took some classes at a university there, and welcomed a period of great productivity. “I marginalized myself…but I remained an essential writer on the literary scene in China,” he said.
Image via The New York Times
Michael Berry, a UCLA contemporary Chinese culture professor understood exactly why Mr. Xue moved to Montreal to remain current in China.
It makes sense that Xue wants to be removed from the cacophony of changes happening in China every day. The outsider perspective living in Montreal lets him explore opinions a writer in China wouldn’t dare touch upon.
In the recent years, Montreal went from a safe haven to write to his new home. He gained a fluency in English and began translating passages in Dr. Bethune’s Children into English. He’s happy about his growing popularity in his new land, but he remains devoted to getting his content out there in China. “In this materialistic era, I believe literature is more crucial than ever for the conscience of my motherland.”
Mr. Xue is clearly devoted to his country (or rather, one of his countries), and keeps hoping his writing will help things change for the better.
Featured Image via ChinaAid