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Whither Canadian satire in a post-Richler world?

Canadian author Mordecai Richler

Brian Willer/Brian Willer

Who has filled the post-Richler satirical void, or can it even be filled at all? On Thursday, Charles Foran moderates a discussion between the great U.S. humorist Calvin (Bud) Trillin and the exceptional surrealist Seán Cullen. The topic is to be life after Mordecai Richler (1931-2001) – a dialogue on the man's particular voice and his commitment to what Robert Fulford described 40 years ago as the "loyal opposition to the governing principles of Canadian culture."

Mr. Foran, when writing his numerously awarded biography Mordecai: The Life & Times, was struck by how many people missed the man. "His sensibility, the purposeful outrage, the sarcasm and the satire," explained Mr. Foran by phone earlier this week, "all those qualities that he brought to public discourse."

The discussion on Mr. Richler, which is in benefit of PEN Canada, is to serve as a point of departure on the nature of satire. As well, the audience is invited to pose questions of their own.

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One wonders what the late author and essayist would make of such a Richler-centric discussion. "Without making a big deal of it, I think he was aware that he was a singular voice," says Mr. Foran, who describes the man as a natural pugilist, a Montrealer, a Jew and an asker of tough questions. "I suspect he would appreciate the assertion that he's left this great hole in Canadian culture."

Funny Strange: Satire After Mordecai Richler happens May 17, 7 p.m. $40. Royal Ontario Museum, 100 Queen's Park, pencanada.ca.

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