A story in The Toronto Star asks whether contemporary Canadian literature is or isn’t “anti-urban and anti-modern in spirit, and inimical to experimental writers” – like Douglas Coupland, who sparked the debate with an online rant he penned for an article on New York Times Select, an online service available only by subscription. Coupland charged that CanLit “is when the Canadian government pays you to write about life in small towns and/or the immigrant experience.”
The Star‘s publishing reporter Judy Stoffman writes that Coupland “blamed entrenched, aging authors (none named) who suck up all the attention. The piece also takes aim at the system of government grants, supposedly limited to those who ‘follow CanLit’s guidelines.’ (Coupland has never received Canada Council money.)”
Publisher Patrick Crean of Thomas Allen & Son and Melanie Rutledge, head of the Canada Council writing and publishing section, argue in Stoffman’s piece that CanLit is edgy and that emerging writers are funded and published. But Toronto author Andrew Pyper, who has received grants from the council and also sat on a peer jury, agreed with Coupland up to a point. “We have done a very good job of creating a brand, a tone of fiction about distinctive Canadian topics,” he says. “But now, on the occasion of a new century, it might be useful to expand that brand, if not explode it altogether. Where I would part with Coupland is the blaming of the granting bodies.”
Quillblog reserves judgment until we can ask Alice Munro what she thinks about all this.
Read The Toronto Star story here.