Audience hushed as André Alexis reads

York’s 2003-2004 Canadian Writers in Person series opened on Sept 25 with André Alexis reading from his internationally acclaimed novel Childhood (1998).

Alexis was born in Trinidad in 1957 and grew up in Canada. Published in 1998, his novel, Childhood, won the Chapters/Books in Canada First Novel Award, shared the Trillium Award, and was shortlisted for the Giller Prize and the Rogers Communications Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize. It has been translated and published around the world.

Alexis has also published an internationally acclaimed collection of short stories, Despair and Other Stories of Ottawa (1994 – shortlisted for a Regional Commonwealth Prize), and the play Lambton Kent (1999).

Series organizer Professor John Unrau of the English Department, Atkinson School of Arts & Letters, sent this account of the Sept. 25th Canadian Writers in Person event at York with Alexis:

Right: André Alexis (Photo by Sari Ginsberg)

The audience was hushed as Alexis, who speaks very quietly, read one of the most amusing, yet touching, sections in the book – about a young boy’s search for understanding in a world full of mystifying adult secrets, infidelities, betrayals.

During the question period that followed the reading, the author responded thoughtfully to questions from the audience about the genesis of the novel and how he had approached the development of his characters. A lengthy session of book-signing followed, during which Alexis spoke individually to almost everyone in attendance.

The Canadian Writers in Person series of public readings at York, which is free and open to the public, is also part of an introductory course on Canadian literature.