Catherine Bush & Saleema Nawaz in Conversation

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Bestselling author Catherine Bush in conversation with award-winning, Montreal-based writer, Saleema Nawaz.

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Reflecting on human connectivity amidst world-changing events, both writers will speak about their timely novels, Blaze Island and Songs for the End of the World, which incorporate largely-realistic fictional narratives to reimagine the contemporary global threats of climate change and pandemic.

Catherine Bush’s Blaze Island is “a beautiful, far-seeing, and fiercely intelligent novel,” writes author Claudia Dey, “about the most critical question of our time: the weather systems that threaten to collapse us both from outside and from within.” The novel asks how far a parent will go to create a safe world for a child and what the children of today will need to do in order to imagine a future for themselves. Can we truly find a haven by sheltering in place? How do you imagine a tomorrow when the present seems, whichever way you look, to be hovering on the brink of catastrophe?

Written between 2013 and 2019, and brilliantly told by an unforgettable chorus of voices, Saleema Nawaz's Songs for the End of the World is a moving and hopeful meditation on what we owe to ourselves and to each other. It reminds us that disaster can bring out the best in people – and that coming together may be what saves us in the end. As author Sean Michaels explains, “In these dark days, Saleema Nawaz dares to write of hope. Songs for the End of the World is a loving, vivid, tenderly felt novel about men, women, and a possible apocalypse. I couldn't put it down.”

Catherine Bush is the author of four novels, including the Canada Reads long-listed Accusation, the Trillium Award shortlisted Claire’s Head, and the national bestseller The Rules of Engagement — a New York Times Notable Book and a Los Angeles Times Best Book of the Year. Blaze Island is her fifth novel. Bush was recently a Fiction Meets Science Fellow at the HWK in Germany and is Associate Professor and Coordinator of the Creative Writing MFA at the University of Guelph. She lives in Toronto.

Saleema Nawaz is the author of two novels, most recently, Songs for the End of the World. Her first novel, Bone and Bread, won the Quebec Writers' Federation Paragraphe Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction and was a finalist for the 2016 Canada Reads competition. She is also the author of the short story collection Mother Superior, and a winner of the Writers' Trust of Canada / McClelland & Stewart Journey Prize. Born and raised in Ottawa, she currently lives in Montreal.

Presented together with Ben McNally Books.

Books & Ideas: Fall 2020 Series

Our year-round Books & Ideas series spotlights provocative writers, novelists and thinkers, celebrating literary excellence and fostering critical dialogue through compelling book launches, author talks and in-depth interviews. This fall, in conjunction with programming across the Koffler's multidisciplinary art streams, Books & Ideas takes up themes of youth activism, food culture and politics, and environmentalism, presenting a series of virtual events on our online platform.

Books & Ideas was launched with the generous support of Dorothy Shoichet & Family and the Estate of Joseph Koenig.

Books & Ideas Media Partner: The Toronto Star.

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