Diaspora Dialogues: TOK 7

December 3, 2013 § 1 Comment

During one of my frequent reorganisations of the TBR bookcase pile I recently discovered a slim volume that had slipped off the shelf and got hidden in another book. Given that this is absolutely the neatest, cleanest and tidiest part of my house, it’s hard for me to believe that a book could have disappeared for almost a year, but there it is. The volume in question is Diaspora Dialogues’ TOK 7 (the final number in this anthology’s series), published last autumn. When it turned up this time I immediately started reading and was drawn in by Andrew Pyper’s story about a sleep clinic. Since I am a lifelong insomniac the subtext of my reading was clearly a search for answers, but Pyper’s excellent and subtly sinister story thwarted my expectations. I like my novels to have two feet on the ground, but with short stories I’m happy, perhaps even happier, for them to hop a little, which this one does. It’s clever and well done.

There were intriguing similarities of theme between James Papoutsis’ “Centennial Year” and Vania Selvaggi’s “Pack Your Temper” as Mediterranean ways of dealing with problems lead to problems with the law in Canada. It’s curious that fathers, or men of a certain age, are always the people most resistant to change. I loved Catriona Wright’s “The Copyeditors” and Moez Surani’s concrete poems. The most moving piece of all, though, was Jungyeon Jennie Heo’s “Dear Professor L.” Fiction or memoir or both together, this is the story of a young immigrant girl struggling with her mother’s ill health, with writing university papers in her second language and, above all, with the burden of knowing her parents’ hard life, even their move to Canada, was to give her a better future.

§ One Response to Diaspora Dialogues: TOK 7

  • Jen Able says:

    Some really great writing here. I loved Andrew Pyper’s story and one not mentioned here that is really good, Mia Herrera’s. A very moving and touching work by a talented writer. My personal favourite though was James Papoutsis’ story “Centennial Year.” It was a fantastic read, I loved the characters, and it gave me a great sense of what Toronto was like for Greek immigrants in the 60s. It’s poignant, sad at times, and also incredibly funny. Not many writers can do that. I looked him up and there’s a review online that compares him to Mordecai Richler and I think that’s pretty accurate. When I was reading it it actually reminded me of Philip Roth. The ending to this story is marvellous and so beautifully written. I hope that he turns this into a book because I’d love to read more about this family and these characters.

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