Wednesday, April 16, 2008


I'm getting curious about left-wing Canadian fiction. How much of it is there? Most of what I encounter in the Canadian literary scene could probably be classified as "small l" liberal, but I am not that widely read when it comes to radical Canadian fiction. Can anyone recommend some good left-wing Canadian novels? Especially stuff from the last, say, 30 years or so.


Kathleen Molloy said...

Roxy, if there is small l liberal CanLit I wonder if us lefty authors consider ourselves Capital L Lefties. It is a strange question you pose but what is even weird is that I was wondering the same thing this morning when I was taking out the garbage. I don't know why I was feeling philosphical when I loaded the non-biodegradable diapers into the trash but I posed that exact question to my puppy who ran off with the garbage can lid. First, what makes CanLit Canadian? Do we always have to write about small town angst and hockey and bi-cultural conflict to get a good Canadian story on the shelves? I hope not. But who then are Canadian readers? And to extend the question, what makes Canadians more Canadian than say Americans. My short answer is that Canadians liberally apply the Golden Rule and have a fair sense of justice. We don't always act on this, in fact, when anyone raises a stink the crowds boo with chants of "Oh how unCanadian". So where then are our lefty writers? And what makes a lefty writer? I ask these questions because I've been called a socialtist through gritted teeth. I asked hte reader if by calling me a socialist does that mean they think my writing evokes discussion on human rights, environmental conservation, and neighbourly community building? Well that reader left the reading. And at that point I had to confess to the crowd that if they hadn't figured out from the jabs at social (in)justice issues in my story Dining with Death, that I am left leaning, leaning left to the point that I can touch my toes without bending my knees. I write about issues that get readers to jump out of their seats. I try to amuse more than I offend but all the same, when the cages rattle...

Kathleen Molloy, author - Dining with Death

Roxy Katt said...

Hi Kathleen,

I do have the impression that Canlit is obsessed with "small town angst" and such, as you say. I am also under the impression that Canadians are expected to write specifically about something Canadian -- their particular region or their ethnic background, etc. These are all good things to write about, but it strikes me as a curious reversal of what used to the situation: the belief Canadian writers usued to have that Canada wasn't worth writing about. I haven't read enough to say for sure, but it seems to me that those from Alberta are expected to write about Alberta somehow, those from Newfoundland must say something about the Newfoundland experience, etc. The bigger name writers can get out of this obligation, but the rest seem to be stuck in it. We went from being expected NOT to write about Canada, to the obligation always to write about Canada.