Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

The WAR Series: Writers as Readers, with Maria Coletta McLean

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Maria Coletta McLean

Today we speak with Maria Coletta McLean, the author of Summers in Supino: Becoming Italian (ECW Press).

A professor and a mother of six, Maria, along with her husband Bob, spends her summers in the tiny Italian town where her father grew up. A memoir of that unique place, Summers in Supino is as lush as its namesake, transporting readers from Canadian chilliness to the vivid Italian countryside. From artichoke festivals to electrical cords shared between neighbours, Maria's experiences of Supino will have readers queuing up at the airport.

Maria talks to us a part of our WAR Series: Writers As Readers, which asks writers to talk about the books that shaped them, from first loves to new favourites. Read on to hear from Maria about a librarian-issued challenge, the Italian way of life and our reigning Queen of CanLit.

The WAR Series, Writers as Readers

The first book I remember reading on my own:
The first book I remember reading on my own was Reddy Fox which I read as a six-year old simply because the librarian said it was too difficult for me and I wanted to prove her wrong.

A book that made me cry:
A book that should be sold with a complimentary handkerchief (because you’ll need it) is The Kite Runner.

The first adult book I read:
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is the first adult book that I read (I was twelve years old) and when I finished it, I turned to the first page and read it again. I love strong heroines.

A book that made me laugh out loud:
Which book made me laugh out loud? The City of Falling Angels because I capisco the Italian way of thinking.

The book I have re-read many times:
Life is short so it’s difficult to re-read a book many times but I have re read many of Amy Tan’s books.

A book I feel like I should have read, but haven't:
I certainly intend to read Middlemarch, but when?

The book I would give my seventeen year old self, if I could:
If I was seventeen, I might enjoy A Fine Balance because it’s a fine introduction to life in India. At seventeen, I knew next to nothing about that country.

The best book I read in the past six months:
Without a doubt, the best book I’ve read in the last six months is Canada by Richard Ford. What a strong storyteller’s voice!

The book I plan on reading next:
Alice Munro’s latest collection of short stories, Dear Life, is sitting on my end table and my plan is to read a story a day unless of course I can’t put the book down and read the whole thing in one or two sittings. Naming an Alice Munro book almost seems like a given but she’s the Queen of the Canadian Short Story and deserves to be mentioned again and again.

A possible title for my autobiography:
My autobiography would be titled, And Then She Went To Italy.

Maria Coletta McLean is the author of the bestselling memoir My Father Came From Italy and the editor of Mamma Mia! Good Italian Girls Talk Back. In 2002, she was awarded the Queen's Golden Jubilee Medal for her contribution to the Canadian Literary landscape. Maria is also a member of the Toronto Supino Social Club and maintains a home in Supino, where the patio is still under construction. Otherwise, she lives in Toronto, Ontario, and can be found online at

For more information about Summers in Supino: Becoming Italian please visit the ECW Press website.

Buy this book at your local independent bookstore or online at Chapters/Indigo or Amazon.

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