25th Trillium Award

The WAR Series: Writers as Readers, with Ailsa Kay

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Ailsa Kay

The WAR Series (Writers As Readers) is our newest interview series at Open Book, and gives writers an opportunity to talk about the books that shaped them, from first loves to new favourites.

Ailsa Kay is a novelist whose first book is Under Budapest (Goose Lane Editions), which is set to be published on April 16th, 2013. Today she tells us about two books she?s read where the main characters die, the book she feels she should have read but hasn?t and how Dickens is a gateway author who wrote for adults, but about children. Also revealing some of her favourite novels including the ?heart-rending? The Roundhouse and Everything is Illuminated, Ailsa offers up some book recommendations that we should all pay attention to.

Ailsa will be launching her debut novel on April 11, 2023 in Toronto, at an event with fellow authors Natalee Caple and Jonathan Ball. Please visit Open Book: Toronto?s Events page for full details.

The WAR Series, Writers as Readers

The first book I remember reading on my own:
Charlotte?s Web. I read it on the bus to school.

A book that made me cry:
Tess of the d?Urbervilles. I sobbed. I was 16 and I really believed, right up until the execution, that she?d find a way out. Funny — after Charlotte?s Web, I probably should have been better prepared for tragic deaths of title characters.

The first adult book I read:
I read a lot of Dickens when I was a kid. Dickens is kind of a gateway author though, isn?t he, written for adults, but so much about children.

A book that made me laugh out loud:
Everything is Illuminated, Jonathan Safran Foer. Alex Perchov has got to be one of the most ?first-rate? first-person narrators ever.

The book I have re-read many times:
Roxana, Daniel Defoe.

A book I feel like I should have read, but haven't:
Josip Novakovich?s April Fool?s Day. Novakovich, a Canadian writer originally from Yugoslavia, was nominated for the Booker, and I?d never heard of him. I would have liked to read his work while I was writing Under Budapest.

The book I would give my 17-year-old self, if I could:
Drawing a total blank on this.

The best book I read in the past six months:
The Round House, Louise Erdrich. The structure is a heart-rending whodunit, as a 14-year-old Ojibwe boy tries to figure out who brutally raped his mother. It?s also a funny and tender story of boys? friendships and a damning critique of the tangled jurisprudence governing Aboriginal lands in the U.S. I?m in awe.

The book I plan on reading next:
I?ve got at least these two on my list: Shadow Tag, Louise Erdrich. In Calamity?s Wake, Natalee Caple.

A possible title for my autobiography:
Life?s Too Short.

Ailsa Kay fell in love with Budapest on a 2004 visit and has since lived there off and on for short intervals. She has taught writing at college and university where she has learned from her students to laugh a lot, swear occasionally and always risk that leap of faith. Kay?s short fiction has appeared in literary journals such as Exile and The New Quarterly. After 20 years in Toronto, she recently returned to her hometown of Fergus, Ontario. Under Budapest (Goose Lane Editions) is her first novel.

For more information about Under Budapest please visit the Goose Lane Editions website.

Buy this book at your local independent bookstore or online at Chapters/Indigo or Amazon.

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