Michelle Good on her win and on “why can’t you just get over it?”

Michelle Good is super-smart, super-talented, and, frankly, the leading light for me on how to reevaluate my thinking on, and culpability in, the Canadian genocide of Indigenous peoples. Here she is talking to Tom Power on CBC. She’s coming to Newfoundland for Woody Point this summer and I’m very excited to share a stage with her!

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) documented the deaths of more than 6,000 children as a result of the residential school system that ran from the 1830s to 1996, but suggested the figure is likely higher.

The Canadian flag at the Peace Tower in Ottawa was lowered to half-mast on Sunday in honour of the 215 children. But Good believes Prime Minister Justin Trudeau needs to go further.

“I don’t care about half-masts. That doesn’t do anything for those children, their little spirits, or for their parents, grandparents and living relations,” she said.

“What I care about is the concept that [Prime Minister Trudeau] is continuing in that speech that this is historical, that this is something in the past. It’s not. The impacts continue today and they will continue for many, many years to come.”

Publishing’s reckoning with so-called “cancel culture”

Alison Flood in the Guardian looks at where we stand in the culture vs business wars raging in publishing. It’s sure an interesting debate. One that I see two sides of. It’s more nuanced than just right and wrong. But one thing we lose track of in these sorts of debates is that right and wrong still exists.

Publishers today are teetering on a tightrope. Which voices should they amplify with a publishing deal – those their staff agree with, or those with an audience who agree with them? How far does an author have to go before their views are deemed unpublishable? What about when the personal views of an author, say JK Rowling, are condemned and staff object to working on her next children’s book? Where to draw the line?

It is a “watershed moment”, literary agent Clare Alexander told a House of Lords committee investigating freedom of speech online last month, highlighting the gap she saw between “older management” and “younger refuseniks”. Hachette chief executive David Shelley added that new staff needed to be told they “might need to work on books they don’t agree with … I think in the past possibly, not having seen this coming, maybe we haven’t been clear enough with people about what sort of organisation we are, what that is.”

But speaking to publishing staff for this article – particularly those at the big conglomerates, and more junior staff worried for their jobs – most are wary of speaking on the record regardless of their perspective, fearful of what one described as the “raging binfire” which followed on social media after the House of Lords hearing.

Governor General’s Awards announced

The ever-amazing Michelle Good has won the Governor General’s Award for Fiction (Canada’s Pulitzer, for you Yanks) with Five Little Indians. a book that could not be more important to the national conversation. Go snap it up, if you haven’t already. It should be required reading for all of us. Anne Carson also won for poetry, but my favourites on that list were Canisia Lubrin and Donna Kane.

“Intimate and ambitious, Michelle Good’s Five Little Indians is a heart-breaking account of lives shaped and destroyed by the residential school system. Here is powerful testimony, expertly crafted and wisely observed, tragic yet full of redemptive moments. An unflinching, compassionate and moving novel about the struggle to live and love in the wake of deep trauma.”

—Peer assessment committee: Anne Fleming, Ariela Freedman, Rabindranath Maharaj

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