There have been more reasons than usual in recent years to wonder about the connection between the worlds authors create on the page and the lives they in the real world. I’ll cite the most famous examples here: the controversy surrounding the “unveiling” of Elena Ferrante’s identity, and the almost polar opposite case of Karl Ove Knausgaard, who has deliberately placed almost his entire existence in view of the literary public.
Or has he?
It’s possible that the days when authors could speak only through their books are over, or at the very least, it’ll take exceptional luck and/or persistence to be able to succeed commercially while retaining a fully private life. In the social media era, can anyone afford the luxury of privacy?
Madeleine Thien and Heather O’Neill are two of Canada’s most critically acclaimed writers and in this issue of carte blanche they’ve reflected with beautiful sincerity and eloquence about defining themselves and their home cities through fiction. It’s a valuable reminder of the roots of the word author: “one who causes to grow” or “to increase.” Are Montreal and Vancouver bigger and richer cities for their authors’ inventions? I think so. How empowering to hear an author like O’Neill say, “Montreal, you think you can imagine me, well I will imagine you. And you think you will define me, nope, I will define you.”
That spirit of invention, of defining and self-defining are everywhere in Issue 28, whether it’s writing from Quebec, elsewhere in Canada, or from our international contributors. We hope you enjoy exploring the diverse worlds that these creators worked so hard to form out of the clay of life.
–Laurence Miall and Gregory McCormick