Priscila Uppal leads animated discussion

On March 6 York”s Canadian Writers in Person course and reading series presented Priscila Uppal (left), who as the guest speaker. Uppal, who is completing her PhD in English literature at York, has recently accepted a full-time appointment in the Creative Writing Program, Division of Humanities, Faculty of Arts. She has published a novel, The Divine Economy of Salvation, and three collections of poetry, How to Draw Blood From a Stone, Confessions of a Fertility Expert and Pretending to Die.

Series organizer John Unrau of the English Department, Atkinson School of Arts & Letters, sent the following report of the evening.

Members of the audience were intrigued to discover that Priscila Uppal never attended a convent school (the novel from which she read, The Divine Economy of Salvation, is set almost entirely in a convent in Ottawa). This led to an animated questioning, by people who had attended such a school, of how she managed to capture the atmosphere so perfectly. Had she read York Professor Susan Swan”s Wives of Bath as part of her preparation for writing? No, she had been strongly tempted, but held off until the first draft of her novel was complete.

Uppal said that one thing had come as a particularly big surprise to her in the research for and writing of the book: she had come to like nuns very much, and to admire and envy much about their lives.

Many members of the large audience stayed after the question period to have their books (which included not only the novel, but copies of Uppal”s three poetry collections) signed by the author.

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.