Hello, friends! Tomorrow, I have the joy of moderating a talk with two profoundly talented writers, Lynne Kutsukake and Michael Prior. We’ll be at Kingston’s WritersFest and the title of our session is “Two Worlds: Who Am I When Cultures Clash?” I read Kutsukake’s and Prior’s debut books – an historical novel set in 1947 Tokyo and a collection of poems, respectively – over the summer and they’re both thrilling and absorbing and absolutely gripping.
Part of my job as a moderator is to introduce the writers to the audience and I thought I’d share those details here, to entice you to read their work! Here we go:
Lynne Kutsukake was born in Toronto to parents who, as Japanese-Canadians, were interned by the Canadian government during the Second World War. She earned a master’s degree in East Asian Studies and worked as a librarian at the University of Toronto before turning to fiction. In 2010, she was a finalist for the Journey Prize for her short story, “Mating”. The Translation of Love, her first novel, received starred reviews from Kirkus, Library Journal, and Booklist, and is a New York Times Book Review’s Editor’s Choice. Kutsukake’s prose is called “spare and elegant” by Helen Humphreys, and “beautifully wrought” by Lisa Gabriele. Chris Bohjalian praises the novel as “a rarity: a haunting mystery that is also a moving coming-of-age story”. The Translation of Love is an exemplar of historical fiction doing what it does best: opening up the past and making it feel present.
Michael Prior began winning prizes for his poems pretty much as soon as he began publishing them. Between 2012 and 2015, he won poetry prizes from Vallum Magazine, Magma Poetry, Grain Magazine, The Walrus, and Matrix Magazine. He’s also been a finalist in many, many other contests hosted by publications, including The Malahat Review, The Fiddlehead, and the New Quarterly. He holds a Master’s degree in English literature from the University of Toronto and is presently an MFA candidate at Cornell University. Model Disciple is his first full-length poetry collection. Hannah Sanghee Park praises its “beautiful precision of detail, defamiliarizing language, resonant music, and deep intimacy”, all of which, Quill and Quire observes, “create a visceral effect”. With their uncommon blend of wit, candour, and ferocity, Prior’s poems invite you to see the world anew.
If you’re in the Kingston area, I hope you’re planning to come to WritersFest. See you there?