Award-winning writer Alistair MacLeod took his place at the front of Steadman Lecture Hall D on Jan. 30, and within a moment, held the packed audience in the palm of his hand. As he read a selection of his short stories, students, staff, faculty and members of the public leaned forward with interest, seeming to be experiencing the emotions of his characters.
MacLeod’s appearance at York was part of the Canadian Writers in Person Reading Series and course organized by John Unrau of the English Department, Atkinson School of Liberal & Professional Studies.
Specialist in 19th century British literature, professor of English and creative writing at the University of Windsor and recipient of an honorary doctorate from York, MacLeod took questions from the audience for one-and-a-half hours after his readings. With some urging from a listener – and to much laughter – he recounted a hair-raising taxi ride with writer W.O. Mitchell as they headed from Calgary to Banff. One member of the audience arose and presented MacLeod with a medal she said fondly was for the “longest trip to the beer story in literature”, referring to his book, No Great Mischief.
As well as the prestigious IMPAC Dublin Literary Award in 2001, MacLeod has received the Thomas Head Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award, the Dartmouth Book and Writing Award for Fiction and the Atlantic Provinces Booksellers Choice Award.
The Canadian Writers in Person Reading Series, which is free and open to the public, is also part of an introductory course on Canadian literature.