Prof. Priscila Uppal to talk about Canadian books on radio

York English Professor Priscila Uppal (BA Hons. ’97, PhD ’04) has found a new way to indulge her passion for the written word. She is now a reviewer for Radio Canada International, talking, of course, about all things bookish and Canadian.

On various Wednesdays between 11 and 11:30am, including tomorrow, Uppal will discuss what she has been reading lately as part of “Biblio-file”, a segment on the “The Link”, a live radio show broadcasting out of CBC’s Montreal studio with host Mark Montgomery, although Uppal will be ensconced in the Toronto studio.

It’s a perfect fit. Uppal says she “basically reads so many books anyway and loves to talk about them” that this just gives her another opportunity to do so, and at the same time “influence an audience,” introducing people to great Canadian literature and quirky items with which they may not be familiar.

For her first show, Uppal spoke about her favourite Canadian playwright, George F. Walker, and his six-play cycle Suburban Motel, set in the same rundown motel room. It was the first time “Biblio-file” has featured a playwright’s work. “It gave me an opportunity to reread his plays,” says Uppal. “He’s just a whiz with words. His narratives are filled with desperate people…they’re just really trying to get themselves out of a hole…it’s great though, because he’s able to see tragedy as absurd.”

Tomorrow, she will discuss Jessica Grant’s debut novel Come, Thou Tortoise – Uppal was on the jury that awarded Grant’s book the 2010 Amazon First Novel Award. Talking about it on air gives her the chance to explain why the book was chosen and what’s so great about it.

On Dec. 22, Uppal will look at the poetry collection 38 Bar Blues by blues, hip hop, folk and rock musician C.R. Avery. “I would think most people wouldn’t know he writes poetry,” says Uppal. Most people think of him as a spoken word artist and he is also not considered a mainstream poet. Not only that, few poetry titles actually make it into a bookstore where people can come across them on their own.

Left: Priscila Uppal

And this is what really excites Uppal – she will be able to bring not only mainstream titles, but more obscure novels, plays and collections of short stories and poetry to her audience’s attention. Works they should pay attention to, works that will intrigue, fascinate and inspire.

“The Link”, a two-hour daily radio show aimed at connecting people to Canada and Canada to the world, includes daily current affairs and culture stories, from 11am to 1pm, via the Internet, short wave and satellite radio. It is rebroadcast from 2 to 4am as part of CBC Radio One’s overnight programming.

To listen to “The Link” or the “Biblio-file” segment, visit the “The Link” website.

To listen to last week’s segment on George F. Walker’s Suburban Motel, click here.

By Sandra McLean, YFile writer