25th Trillium Award

Trillium Testimonial: Greg Hollingshead

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This year marks the 25th Anniversary of Ontario's illustrious Trillium Book Award/Prix Trillium. To celebrate this silver milestone, Open Book has asked members of the literary community to tell us what they love about their favourite award-winning Trillium title. If you're looking for a recommended read (or re-read), follow these Trillium Testimonials on Open Book: Ontario from now until the winners of the 2012 award competition are announced. Today, award-winning novelist Greg Hollingshead tells us why he's chosen Alice Munro's Friend of My Youth (McClelland & Stewart), winner of the 1990 Trillium Book Award.

Open Book:

What do you love about this book, and when did you first read it?

Greg Hollingshead:

One of my favourite Trillium winners is Alice Munro’s Friend of My Youth.I am in awe of the amazing hat trick of The Moons of Jupiter (1982), The Progress of Love (1986) and Friend of My Youth (1990). By The Moons of Jupiter I was into Munro, and I read Friend of My Youth as soon as it came out. Like most of Munro’s stories, the ones in Friend of My Youth make right-angle and dog’s-leg turns and double back on themselves in the most natural ways.

People say Alice Munro gives us short stories that have all the incidence and depth of novels, and this is true. But those who don’t appreciate how difficult and innovative are the things she is doing accuse her of being old-fashioned. This is because her narrators reflect on the stories they tell. In this they may seem to be authorial stand-ins in the manner of the nineteenth-century novel, but Munro is too canny for that. These are dramatic creations; their reflections say as much about them as do the stories they tell. I love the way the ease and apparent ordinariness with which all this is done hides the fact that Munro is a virtuoso performer. Any contemporary fiction writer must read her and learn, and Friend of My Youth is a good place to start.

Greg Hollingshead has published six books of fiction. He has won the Governor General’s Award and the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize and been shortlisted for the Giller Prize. His fiction has appeared in the U.S., the U.K, Germany, and China. He is professor emeritus at the University of Alberta and director of the Writing Studio at the Banff Centre. Currently he is Chair of the Writers’ Union of Canada and working on a new novel. Greg and his wife live in Edmonton. Visit him at his website.

You could be reading your top Trillium titles on a new Kobo eReader! Click here for details on our Trillium 25th Anniversary Contest.

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