The Globe and Mail Book Club returns with two-time Giller Prize-winner Esi Edugyan as host and a “deliciously creepy” novel by Edmonton-based author Jacqueline Baker as the next title. Edugyan has chosen Baker’s 2014 book The Broken Hours for Globe and Mail subscribers to read and discuss.
On Nov. 28, Baker and Edugyan will appear onstage at Vancouver’s Performance Works on Granville Island for a subscriber-exclusive event being held in partnership with the Vancouver Writers Fest.
Edmonton-based Baker is an award-winning novelist and creative writing professor from Saskatchewan’s Sand Hills region. Her debut collection, A Hard Witching and Other Stories, was published in 2003 and was nominated for the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize. The Broken Hours is her most recent novel. Read one of her short stories in this excerpt from A Hard Witching and Other Stories.
Edugyan, based outside Victoria, is only the third person to win the Giller Prize twice; she won it in 2011 for Half-Blood Blues – which was also shortlisted for the Booker, the Writers’ Trust and the Governor-General’s Literary Award for Fiction. Her 2018 win for Washington Black marks the first time anyone has received the Giller for back-to-back books.
Week 1: When an author inhabits another author’s world
Russell Smith kicks off the conversation with a look at books that fictionalize the life of another author. The Broken Hours “calls itself ‘a novel of H.P. Lovecraft,’ but that ‘of’ is ambiguous," Smith writes. "Does it mean ‘by’ or ‘about’? Is it a novel set in his fictitious universe – what we would now call fan fiction – or a novel about Lovecraft’s life?”
Baker says while she wanted to stay true to Lovecraft’s history, she filled in the blanks. “I took liberties. It’s a ghost story after all. I made some stuff up. But remarkably so much of it is actually true to the life of the man. It kind of made my job easy.”
Have you enjoyed other books that inhabit another author’s world? Let us know in the comments below.
What you write is fiction, correct? You’re supposed to “take liberties.” You’re expected to “make some stuff up.” Despite what many Canadian “purists” think. As if history is somehow sacred. Besides (admit it now) playing with the facts is fun!
American novelists have always done it. Authors of note have done the same thing with characters from “history” in the American “Wild West”: Richard Matheson with The Memoirs of Wild Bill Hickok and Loren Estleman, with This Old Bill.— Rich Mole
Week 2: The inner workings of horror
Author Andrew Pyper looks at what spectres lie at the true heart of literary horror. “Baker co-mingles the enormity of Lovecraftian cosmic horror with the intimately scaled disruptions of the Victorian-toned (if Depression-era set) ghost story, and the result is a fictional study of the different ways we externalize what makes us afraid. In fact, if measured in comparative weights of intent, The Broken Hours is less a horror novel than a novel about horror. It subtly pinches back the curtain of the form’s mechanics to reveal, in glimpses, some of the working parts behind it.”
What are your favourite horror novels, and why? Let us know in the comments below.
More on Jacqueline Baker
In The Broken Hours, Baker imagines – with the use of deep research – the last year of H.P. Lovecraft’s life, from the perspective of a fictional character. Arthor Crandle has fallen on hard times and accepts a job with room and board, working for a mysterious writer he has yet to meet. Then things really get weird.
Baker wrote the novel during an intense, concentrated whirlwind of inspiration in the remote log cabin where she then lived, writing sometimes 12 hours a day.
More on Esi Edugyan
Edugyan, chosen as The Globe and Mail’s 2018 artist of the year, was already an acclaimed author prior to last year’s publication of Washington Black. The novel further established her as one of the best contemporary writers of English-language fiction – not just in Canada, but in the world.
I missed the last Book Club. How do I catch up?
The inaugural Globe Book Club was hosted by Margaret Atwood, who chose Barbara Gowdy’s The White Bone. You can read all our articles exploring the book’s themes here, and also watch a video of Atwood and Gowdy in conversation at our subscriber-exclusive event held at The Globe and Mail Centre in Toronto last May.
How does the Book Club work? Is it in person or online?
The Globe and Mail Book Club brings subscribers together online to read and talk about a great Canadian book, culminating in a live event. Esi Edugyan and Jacqueline Baker will appear onstage at Vancouver’s Performance Works on Granville Island on Nov. 28 for a subscriber-exclusive event being held in partnership with the Vancouver Writers Fest. This is part of our Member Benefits program, which connects subscribers more closely to our journalism and our network of experts. Tickets to the event are open to Globe and Mail subscribers on a first-come, first-served basis
How do I participate?
Every week for the next four weeks, we’ll publish new discussion topics and essays related to the book on our website and in print. We encourage subscribers to discuss the book in the comments section on the articles. Subscribers can also send questions or thoughts to email@example.com.
How do I get tickets to the live event?
To register for the live event, visit our Member Benefits site. The event is complimentary and open exclusively to subscribers.
What if I can’t go to the event?
A video of the conversation will be available on our website afterward for subscribers.