Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Weston Words, with Ray Robertson

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Ray Robertson

The Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction carries not only the name of Ontario's former Lieutenant Governor, but also one of the most significant purses for a literary prize in Canada, with $60,000 awarded to the author judged to have written the finest work of non-fiction. New this year, the prize constitutes a partnership between the philanthropic Weston family and venerable literary non-profit the Writers' Trust of Canada.

Open Book is thrilled to introduce a dedicated interview series with this year's finalists for the prize. Today we speak with Ray Robertson, author of Why Not? Fifteen Reasons to Live (Biblioasis).

Open Book:

Tell us about the book for which you were shortlisted.

Ray Robertson:

Shortly after completing my sixth novel during the summer of 2007, I suffered from a depression of suicidal intensity. A year later, after physically and mentally recovering, I found that I’d been provided with a rare opportunity: to write a book exploring from a uniquely advantageous perspective two of life’s most central and enduring questions: What makes human beings happy? What makes life worth living?


Where were you when you received news of your nomination?


There was a message on the answering machine when we got home from the cottage saying to please call the Writers’ Trust. I’m glad I called them back.


What unique experience or benefit does non-fiction provide for readers?


I’m not sure if there is any — good writing is good writing, whether it be a novel, a biography or a collection of essays. That said, well-written non-fiction is increasingly rare, as “facts” and “information” seem to be enough to satisfy most readers and writers. But, of course, ultimately a book — however illuminating informationally — will only endure if it is well-written.


Tell us about a favourite non-fiction book.


Any of Mordecai Richler’s books of essays. What I want most from a writer is a strongly defined voice — a voice not like any other — and Richler’s essays are inimitably his: funny, caustically smart and deeply human, just as his novels.


What can you tell us about your next project?


It’s a novel entitled I Was There the Night he Died. I was actually halfway through it when I stopped to write Why Not? Fifteen Reasons to Live.

Ray Robertson is the author of the novels Home Movies, Heroes, Moody Food, Gently Down the Stream, What Happened Later and David, as well as a collection of non-fiction, Mental Hygiene: Essays on Writers and Writing. His most recent book is a collection of essays, Why Not? Fifteen Reasons to Live.

For more information about Why Not? Fifteen Reasons to Live please visit the Biblioasis website.

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

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JF Robitaille: Minor Dedications


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