Quill and Quire


« Back to

Fear of Toronto fiction

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).

Related links:
Read the Toronto Life roundtable