Monday, January 9, 2012

Katherine Govier

Katherine Govier is the author of nine novels and three short story collections. Her most recent novel The Printmaker's Daughter is about the daughter of the famous Japanese printmaker, Hokusai, creator of The Great Wave. Her novel Creation, about John James Audubon in Labrador, was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year in 2003.

Govier's fiction and non-fiction has appeared in the United Kingdom, the United States, and throughout the Commonwealth, and in translation in Holland, Italy, Turkey, and Slovenia. She is the winner of Canada's Marian Engel Award for a woman writer (1997) and the Toronto Book Award (1992).

Recently I asked her what she was reading. Her reply:
I just finished The Beak of the Finch by Jonathan Weiner. I was in the Galapagos so this recent non-fiction Pulitzer Prize-winning book about evolution was perfect to read in the evenings after a day of seeing the many species of Galapagos finch, the giant tortoises, the sea lions and the little penguins. It was amazing to learn about how fast evolution happens and is constantly happening--whether it is in the bird world or the insect world or even in our world.

On the flight home I bought Sue Miller's Lake Shore Limited and really enjoyed that too, the kind of novel you can sink in to and let the hours go by while tuning out your too-close neighbour. It is told from the point of view of about five different characters, who meet and change, or have the chance to change, each other's lives. It broke one of my cardinal rules, which is that I don't read books about writers. Generally their problems seem self indulgent and they bore me. But in this case there was a playwright, and the way she used the "material" that came to her- i.e. everyone else's lives- was ingenious and gave me a few shudders of recognition.

And this afternoon I went out and bought Per Petterson's I Curse the River of Time. He's a Norwegian. I read his Out Stealing Horses when I was in Oslo. It was terrific. So I'm excited about this latest.
Visit Katherine Govier's website.

--Marshal Zeringue