To mark its (final) Summer Fiction issue, Toronto Life is running a web-only roundtable discussion with three Toronto authors: Shyam Selvadurai, Sheila Heti, and Andrew Pyper.
The subject is “Toronto literature,” and a couple of themes emerge in the early parts of the discussion. One is that it’s hard to assign a general notion of place or style to a community as varied as Toronto’s. Another is the fear that if you do write about Toronto, readers elsewhere in Canada will resent you for it. Says Pyper: “there’s almost an apologetic reflex to set stories elsewhere so as to not upset fellow Canadians—’Oh, here we go, not Toronto again.’ I’m writing a novel right now that’s set in Toronto—and no one’s going to stop me, damn it—but I’m aware of that being a factor. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone said, with an eye roll, ‘Oh, a Toronto novel,’ whereas I don’t think someone would have that same cynicism with regard to a Vancouver novel.”
Once the digressions kick in, though, things actually get more interesting. The three writers also discuss e-books, the mechanics of plot-driven fiction, and the merits and importance of books in relation to other art forms (and no, they don’t all necessarily agree that Books Are Best).
Read the Toronto Life roundtable