Back in 2002, Nancy Lee released a collection of stories called Dead Girls. The response from readers and critics was overwhelming; the book was nominated for numerous prizes, won the Vancity Book Prize and left readers wanting more. Nancy has just released her follow-up -- a novel called The Age which is already creating a buzz. It's reason to celebrate, and to consider the places that stories can take you -- those "magical doorways" as Nancy calls them. Today, Nancy is making some Bookmark magic herself: if you make a Page Turner donation today, Nancy will match it. How's that for incentive? And of course, one lucky Page Turner will also win a copy of The Age. Let's begin...
In 2010, I had the honour of working as Writer-in-Residence at Historic Joy Kogawa House in Vancouver’s Marpole neighbourhood. As the childhood home of celebrated Canadian author, Joy Kogawa, the house had been appropriated by the government of Canada as part of the internment of Japanese Canadians during World War II. Years later, the house served as the setting for Joy’s award-winning novel, Obasan. Historic Joy Kogawa House stands as a testament to an often-forgotten period of darkness in Canada’s past and also, to the power, possibility and transformative quality of literature.
While I programmed many projects during my time as Writer-in-Residence, my favourites, by far, were the school group visits. Elementary school children from the surrounding neighbourhoods would crowd together to sit cross-legged on the living room floor and marvel, wide-eyed, that they were sitting in the house depicted in Obasan and Naomi’s Road, or that they were moments away from rushing out into the back yard to see the cherry tree that inspired Naomi’s Tree.
As we huddled together on that living room floor, remembering our favourite parts of Joy’s books, or scratching our pens across paper in writing exercises inspired by her work, we sat at the intersection of history and imagination. It was as close as I have ever come to finding the magical doorway I’d read about so often as a child, a gateway to the past, a portal to a fictional world.
Project Bookmark Canada is all about magical doorways. It celebrates Canada’s landscape, neighbourhoods and history through the lens of Canada’s literature. As our connection to the light and dark of the past erodes, Project Bookmark Canada offers a chance for us to look again, through an artist’s language, at the meaning of the places we inhabit.
To show my support for this incredible project, I’ve pledged $20 to become a Page Turner. I urge you to do the same. Pledge today and you’ll be entered to win a copy of my new novel, The Age, the story of a teenaged girl in 1980s Vancouver who, driven by her fear of an imminent nuclear war, joins a radical peace group that plans to detonate a bomb during a peace rally.
As an added incentive, I am also offering to personally match all Page Turner donations made on my campaign day (Saturday, April 5th, 2014). You show me your support, and I’ll show you mine. I look forward to a near future when Bookmarks all over BC will offer glimpses through magical doorways, whether it’s to Joy Kogawa’s Marpole, Daphne Marlatt’s Steveston, Laisha Rosnau’s Okanagan or John Vigna’s Elk Valley.