Priscila Uppal releases book version of her memoir-inspired play

Priscila Uppal
Priscila Uppal
Priscila Uppal
Priscila Uppal

York English Professor Priscila Uppal will celebrate the launch of her newest book on Nov. 2 when it is featured during the Playwrights Canada Press Fall Launch event taking place at The Garrison in Toronto.

The author, poet and playwright will release 6 Essential Questions at the event, a book version of her play of the same name, which is an adaptation of her acclaimed memoir Projection: Encounters With My Runaway Mother.

The memoir, which was short-listed for the Governor General’s Literary Award and the Hilary Weston Prize for Non-Fiction, gives readers a glimpse into Uppal’s past when at age eight she was abandoned by her mother. The book follows Uppal’s journey 20 years later when she accidentally locates her mother and decides to reconnect with her.

About eight years into the writing of the memoir, which in total spanned 10 years, Uppal said she began to work on the play version. A little unorthodox, perhaps – typically an adaptation comes from an original text – but the play began to take shape and she continued to work on both simultaneously.

uppal 6 essential questionsThe memoir was released in September 2013; the play had its world premiere on stage at Toronto’s Factory Theatre in March 2014.

The play, she said, is quite different from the memoir in its tone, approach and also its intent.

“When I was writing the memoir, I had to stick to the facts, but with the play I had the freedom to express what it felt like … the emotions and the turmoil,” she said.

The characters in the play portray real people, but at the same time also portray something more mythical.

“It’s very absurd,” she said of the play. “The memoir was a tragedy that was trying to pretend it was a comedy, and the play is a comedy trying to forget it’s a tragedy.”

The release of the play in book form will immortalize that version of her story, she said, and allow access to it in other theatre houses, in classrooms, in homes.

“That’s what I’m really excited about,” she said. “The potential of it being remounted and to see what someone else will make of it” and that it will be available for people to study, to read and to discuss.

The book launch takes place at 7pm on Nov. 2 and is hosted by Jon Kaplan and Susan G. Cole of NOW Magazine. The evening will include a reading from Uppal, as well as Maja Ardal (HER2), Tony Burgess (Pontypool), Brad Fraser (Kill Me Now), Colleen Murphy (Pig Girl), Donna-Michelle St. Bernard (A Man A Fish), Anita Majumdar (Boys with Cars – from Love, Loss, and Longing: South Asian Canadian Plays), and Anusree Roy (Pyaasa – from Love, Loss, and Longing: South Asian Canadian Plays).

Admission to the event is free. For more, visit the event page on Facebook.

Uppal will also make a guest appearance at two upcoming events during the International Festival of Authors. On Oct. 30, Uppal will read from her poem To My Suicidal Husband during the Launch of the Best Canadian Poetry event. She was invited to read, as her poem was one of 50 selected for The Best Canadian Poetry 2015 anthology.

On Nov. 1, Uppal will participate in the festival’s Poetry Games event that features readings from 11 poets. The readings will take place in a competitive format before a panel of judges, who will select one writer to participate in the Bookworm International Literary Festival in Beijing in March 2016.

For more on the International Festival of Authors, visit

By Ashley Goodfellow Craig, YFile deputy editor