Long-time English and Creative Writing Professor Patricia Keeney has launched the first of two new books this fall with a standing-room-only reading at the Women’s Arts Association in downtown Toronto recently.
The new book, a novel called One Man Dancing is based on the true story of a professional acting company in Uganda doing politically provocative theatre during the murderous reign of Dictator Idi Amin. When Amin sends out an order to have the entire company assassinated, the company’s artists are forced to flee Uganda for their lives. The story follows one of them through his exile in Kenya and Italy and his ultimate move as a refugee to Canada where he runs into some danger of a totally different sort.
Published by Inanna Press of Toronto, the book has been called by Canadian novelist and critic Gary Geddes “a paean to the heroic figures who struggled to resist the [Amin] regime and retain their own dignity” while Ethiopian stage and film star Debebe Eshetu, the Founding President of the Union of African Performing Artists, says that “this moving story of an African dancer whispers rage in every line….it is a story of power walking out of a theatre in fury…[a] wonderful novel about art and artists.”
Emmanuel Dandaura, president of the Nigerian Society of Theatre Artists, wrote this about the book: “Africa’s theatrical secrets are starting to get out and we are all the better for it….well worth reading for those who know Africa and its theatre and especially good reading for those who are meeting it for the first time.”
This is Keeney’s second novel. Well-known for her ten volumes of poetry which have been translated into numerous languages (most recently First Woman also published by Inanna) her first novel, The Incredible Shrinking Wife, is currently being translated into French. She is working on a third novel during her sabbatical this year.
A new volume of her poetry, Orpheus in Our World, will make its debut at a December launch at York.