Giller-prize winner Michael Redhill visits York University

On Jan. 15, the Canadian Writers in Person Lecture Series featured a presentation by author Michael Redhill about his book Bellevue Square. York University Teaching Assistant Dana Patrascu-Kingsley sent the following report to YFile.

Acclaimed author Michael Redhill visited York University on Jan. 15 as part of the Canadian Writers in Person series to talk about his novel, Bellevue Square, winner of the prestigious Scotiabank Giller Prize in 2017. He is a novelist, poet and playwright. His novel Consolation was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, and Martin Sloane was a finalist for the Giller Prize.

Michael Redhill

His recent novel, Bellevue Square, took almost seven years to write. “I obsessively go back to my work and revise it,” Redhill said. “I think of rewriting as putting down layers of paint.”

The presiding consciousness of Bellevue Square is Inger Ash Wolfe, who has written a book about her doppelgänger (Ingrid Fox), who also has a doppelgänger (Jean Mason). Bellevue Square starts in Jean’s voice, who is confronted with the idea that she might not be as unique as we all imagine ourselves to be.

Redhill said that how we conceive of ourselves is something we keep very private. “Ultimately this is a book about how safe our conceptions of ourselves actually are,” he said, noting that our selves are reflected back to us by other people. This novel examines what happens when that reflection is taken from us.

Redhill plays with the trust that readers invest in the narrator’s voice. When that trust is broken, it dislodges us from the reading experience, he says. The relationship the readers have with the book is worth playing with because “books have a chance to be disruptive of the readers’ perceptions of reality.”

Keri Sakamoto will be coming to the Canadian Writers in Person reading series on Jan. 29, to talk about her novel Floating City.

Readings are free and open to any member of the public. For more information, contact Professor Leslie Sanders at or Professor Gail Vanstone at All readings are held Tuesdays from 7 to 9 pm in 206 Accolade West Building, Keele Campus.