Inspired by an idea from Joy Kogawa, this series is designed to create a space for conversations with these Japanese Canadians and the broader JC community. Encouraging dialogue, reconnecting over common interests and priorities, and opening doors to creating a vibrant inter-generational community.
We are thrilled and honoured to annouce our speakers for our author conversation will be Lynne Kutsukake, Kyo Maclear, Leslie Shimotakahara and Alexandra Shimo.
A third-generation Japanese Canadian, Lynne Kutsukake worked for many years as a librarian at the University of Toronto, specializing in Japanese materials. Her short fiction has appeared in The Dalhousie Review, Grain, The Windsor Review, Ricepaper, and Prairie Fire.
Kutsukake's first novel, The Translation of Love was released in April 2016. It explores the relatively unreported experiences of Japanese Canadians who repatriated to Japan after internment, told through the eyes of a young girl. Her life intersects with a classmate looking for her older sister in the Ginza district and young Japanese American man dealing with the loss of his older brother in the war.
Maclear is a novelist, essayist and children’s author. Maclear's first novel, The Letter Opener was a finalist for Books in Canada First Novel Award (Amazon.ca) in 2007 and lead to her receiving the K.M. Hunter Artist Award in literature. Her second novel, Stray Love received a starred review from Quill and Quire and an Amazon editor's pick.
Maclear holds an honors B.A. in fine arts and art history and an M.A. in cultural studies from the University of Toronto, and has several scholarly publications to her credit. She is a doctoral candidate at York University where she holds a Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship.
A former English professor who returned to her childhood love of creative writing, Leslie Shimotakahara is the author of the memoir, The Reading List: Literature, Love and Back Again (2012). The Toronto-based author won the Canada Council for the Arts 2012 Canada-Japan Literary Prize and was short-listed for the Ontario Art Council's KM Hunter Artist Award for her memoir.
In The Reading List, Shimotakahara tackles her relationship with her father while they both faced crises in their lives. Shimotakahara is questioning her career choice as a professor in a small town and her father is dealing with his mother dying. Looking for a distraction from death, Shimotakahara's father asks her to put together a reading list of her favourite books. From this reading list a dialogue begins between father and daughter, and they see sides of each other they have never seen before. Shimotakahara is currently completing her first novel, After the Bloom.
Alexandra Shimo is an award-winning journalist and author based in Toronto. After completing a BA in politics, philosophy and economics at Oxford University, she completed her master's of journalism at Columbia University. A former editor at Maclean’s and producer at CBC, Shimo is the author of several books. Co-author of Up Ghost River with Edmund Metatawabin, the memoir was awarded the CBC Bookie and Speaker's Book Awards. The memoir follows former a First Nations' Chief Metatawabin's journey to healing after surviving one of Canada's worst residential schools, St. Anne's.
Shimo's passion for social justice is clear with her work in economic empowerment, environmentalism, and native rights. She is on the executive board and the media consultant for Up With Women, a non-profit which helps homeless women and children rebuild their lives. She also volunteers with DreamCatcher Mentoring, which offers support and mentorship to First Nations youth.