Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Pasha Malla

Share |
Pasha Malla’s first collection of short stories, The Withdrawal Method, a Globe and Mail and National Post book of the year, won the Danuta Gleed Literary Award and the Trillum Book Award and was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Prize (Best First Book, Canada & Caribbean) and longlisted for the Giller Prize. A frequent contributor to The Walrus, the Globe and Mail and CBC radio, he is also the winner of an Arthur Ellis Award for crime fiction, two National Magazine Awards for humour writing and has twice had stories included in the Journey Prize anthology. He was born in St. John’s, Newfoundland, grew up in London, Ontario, and now lives in Toronto, Ontario. His latest book, People Park, is forthcoming from Anansi in July 2012.

Please send your questions and comments for Pasha Malla to

The Proust Questionnaire, with Pasha Malla

Pasha Malla is Open Book's June 2012 Writer in Residence. In his answer to the Proust Questionnaire, Pasha tells us about his greatest accomplishment, his principal fault and his dream of a house by the ocean.

The Proust Questionnaire was not invented by Marcel Proust, but it was a much loved game by the French author and many of his contemporaries. The idea behind the questionnaire is that the answers are supposed to reveal the respondent's "true" nature.


What is your dream of happiness?

People Park

By Pasha Malla

From the publisher's website:

It's the Silver Jubilee of People Park, an urban experiment conceived by a radical mayor and zealously policed by the testosterone-powered New Fraternal League of Men. To celebrate, the insular island city has engaged the illustrationist Raven, who promises to deliver the most astonishing spectacle its residents have ever seen. As the entire island comes together for the event, we meet an unforgettable cross-section of its inhabitants, from activists to nihilists, art stars to athletes, families to inveterate loners. Soon, however, what has promised to be a triumph of civic harmony begins to reveal its shadow side. And when Raven's illustration exceeds even the most extreme of expectations, the island is plunged into a series of unnatural disasters that force people to confront what they are really made of.

Recent Writer In Residence Posts

Beefsteaks and Heartbreaks: A Writing Workshop for Jerks with Pasha Malla


Sunday, June 2, 2013 - 1:00pm


Story Planet
1165 Bloor St. W.
Toronto, ON
M6H 1M9


Join the wonderful author Pasha Malla for this one-of-a-kind writing workshop.

Not only will this workshop blow your mind, but all proceeds will go towards supporting Story Planet’s free writing programs for kids.

Cost: $40

RSVP to or call 416-645-1049.


Story Planet
1165 Bloor St. W.
Toronto, ON M6H 1M9 43° 39' 33.174" N, 79° 26' 17.0808" W

Pasha Malla's People Park Book Launch Today!


Wednesday, July 11, 2012 - 6:00pm


High Park
1873 Bloor Street West
Covered picnic area #15
Toronto, ON
M6R 2Z3


Join House of Anansi and come celebrate Pasha Malla's launch of his book People Park, at High Park (covered picnic area #15) tonight from 6:00 - 8:00p.m. Click here for the map.

So people park yourselves at High Park tonight, Wednesday, July 11th and bring blankets, chairs, a picnic perhaps, along with outdoor games such as bocce, croquet and beanbag toss.

Q&A and book signing- Rain or shine!



High Park
1873 Bloor Street West
Toronto, ON M6R 2Z3 43° 39' 6.012" N, 79° 27' 55.0512" W

The last post

Here's a good list of 100 great novels. I'm not sure about "the best" -- two Dostoevsky titles, but no Brothers Karamazov, WTF? -- but it's still a good resource, with plenty of authors on here I'd never heard of, or had heard of but had never considered reading (Howard Norman, John Williams, etc.)

Shopping for knowledge

I was talking to someone who works in the movie/TV business last night, and at one point he offered an opinion that rankled me a bit: "People go to the movies to learn something." And then we drank.

An innocuous enough thing to say, sure. And this movie-man qualified it by adding, "Even about themselves," which, again, probably seems fair enough. But it bugged me because it smacks of the expectation of the consumer: movies are for something, they serve a purpose, and we can judge them on how well they fulfill or fail to fulfil this purpose.

Cave painting

So Ridley Scott was (sort of) right: Planet Earth's earliest artists might not have been human.


Here is the second and possibly last of the alleged weekly interviews with writers about whom I know nothing. Turns out, bi-weekly, or bi-monthly; I can never get those two straight.


1) Who are you?

I am a kevin. Usually a full kevin mcpherson eckhoff. And occasionally even a faux jaroslaw.

2) What do you do?

Yes. I do whats. And I do a lot of hows. Days equal unteaching English. Dusks equal unediting journals. Nights equal unwriting a novel. Dawns equal unemailing friends. Weekends equal drive-in movies & community-strength-building exercises of unpoetry readings & yordwark & book-thing-makings & floating down the Shuswap River & cooking spaghet & curating guerilla art galleries on mountain lookouts & sleeping in hammocks.

Stephen Harper and the Guinness Book

I followed Yann Martel's project of sending Stephen Harper books with mild, occasional interest. I'm not sure what I thought of it. Or, more, I had conflicted thoughts about it. As a reading list, at least, it's pretty good.

Famously (maybe apocryphally?), Stephen Harper once told a reporter that his favourite book is The Guinness Book of World Records. This caused a lot of hand-wringing among Canadians of various intellectual stripes -- Martel presumably among them.

Imaginary Friends

I see that the main character of Ryan Oakley's new book is named Budgie. It's a strange name for "a knife wielding, brass knuckled young man from the impoverished and brutal red section of Toronto’s T-Dot Center." Though I mostly say this because, when I was two or three years old, my imaginary friend was named Budgie, too.

Nathalie Sarraute!

There are a lot of truly great moments in the Paris Review interviews, from V.S. Naipaul opening the conversation by demanding, "Let me know the range of what you are doing and how you are going to approach it. I want to know with what intensity to talk," to Harry Mathews' polymath humility, to William Gaddis's beleaguered genius, to this gem from Don DeLillo:

Easy reading

Lately I've been having trouble reading difficult books. It's likely a result of an annoying case of sciatica, two bruised ribs, the fact our apartment flooded and we're living in our landlord's attic, my summer class got cancelled so I'm out $2700, and we've had a couple deaths recently of close family and friends. Not to complain. I still feel like my brain should be working better than it is.

Flannery O'Connor on the Grotesque

I was just poking around Open Culture's Free Audio Books library (tons of gems here: Hemingway reading "In Harry's Bar," Rushdie reading Barthelme, Jeannette Winterson reading Calvino, etc.) and came across something very exciting indeed.

So many masterpieces!

I'm not going to post the video, because it's so Not Safe For Work I feel like your boss might fire me for linking to it, but there's a nice bit in Louis CK's recent stand-up special, "Hilarious," about the way we overuse certain words.

Describing comedy is stupid, so I'll give you the gist: he starts with "hilarious," then talks about "amazing" (describe a basket of chicken wings as "amazing" and "you've limited yourself to a shit life") and "genius," which "you used to have to invent a number" to be called.

Add "masterpiece" to this list.


I had lunch with my friend Jaspreet yesterday. He asked me what I've been reading lately. My reply was exhaustive, frantic, probably meant to impress him -- or at least not to humiliate myself.

The Friday interview with a writer about whom I know nothing: Jake Kennedy

Each Friday during my tenure as Lord of Open Book Toronto, I will interview a writer about whom I know nothing. First up is someone named Jake Kennedy. I'd never heard of this person -- a poet, apparently -- until my friend Katie told me about him last week. He sounded worth interviewing. Please enjoy the following. I know I did. (And feel free to suggest writers about whom I know nothing for future interviews!)


A few years ago my friend Sam and I went to hear Pico Iyer read/speak at the Blue Metropolis Literary Festival in Montreal. Afterward we were in the festival's pop-up bookshop, browsing the table of Iyer's numerous essay collections and travel memoirs, and a voice came booming down from above: "Stealing books?"

The voice belonged to George Bowering.


This is how I feel in bookstores, sometimes. The sheer volume of books, their physical sameness, all those spirits and lives sunk into unending shelves of ignored words... I get dismayed, I feel hopeless, I wonder what the hell I'm doing with my life.

Uncle Drew

Here's my favourite thing-of-the-week on the internet (click for video):

The Composites

Late to this, but I just spent the past half hour clicking through Brian Joseph Davis's Composites project. Weird to see faces put to characters I feel like I've known -- particularly Judge Holden, Woland and Pinkie Brown.

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.