The Heliconian Literary Lecture Series

20th Anniversary: For busy people who like to read

stack of booksThe Heliconian Literary Lecture Series will run from September 2016 until June 2017.  This popular series has been described as a cross between a traditional book club and a university course without exams.  This year it will consist of two separate series consisting of nine two-hour sessions, each including a lecture, question period and refreshments.  The doors will open at 6:45 pm with lectures beginning at 7:30 pm.  Subscription cost for non-members of the Heliconian Club is $165 plus HST ($186.45) and members of the Heliconian Club $135 plus HST ($152.55). BOTH SERIES ARE NOW SOLD OUT. 

For more information please contact the Heliconian Club.

Series I – Tuesdays 

Tues, Sep 13 Sandra Martin Sandra Martin A Good Death
Tues, Oct 25 Peter Behrens Peter Behrens Carry Me
Tues, Nov 22 Kim Thuy Kim Thuy Man
Tues, Jan 10 Ian Brown Ian Brown Sixty
Tues, Feb 7 Terry Fallis Terry Fallis Poles Apart
Tues, Mar 7 Nazneen Sheikh Nazneen Sheikh The Place of Shining Light
Tues, Apr 18 Cecilia Ekback Cecilia Ekback Wolf Winter
Tues, May 9 Suanne Kelman Anthony Marra The Tsar of Love and Techno
Tues, Jun 6 Ann Y K Choi Ann Y K Choi Kay’s Lucky Coin Variety

Series II – Thursdays

Thu, Sep 22 Rosemary Sullivan Rosemary Sullivan Stalin’s Daughter
Thu, Oct 27 Pauline Holdstock Pauline Holdstock The Hunters and the Wild Girl
Thu, Nov 10 Heather O’Neill Heather O’Neill Daydreams of Angels
Thu, Jan 19 Camilla Gibb Camilla Gibb This is Happy
Thu, Feb 9 Katherine Govier Katherine Govier The Three Sisters Bar and Hotel
Thu, Mar 9 Sandra Martin Yann Martel The High Mountains of Portugal
Thu, Apr 20 Ann Walmsley Ann Walmsley The Prison Book Club
Thu, May 18 Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer All the Broken Things
Thu, Jun 15 Suanne Kelman Han Kang The Vegetarian

Tuesday Series 1 Details

 Sandra Martin:  A Good Death: Making the Most of Our Final Choices, confronts our fears about dying, our struggle for meaning, and our dread of being trapped by a voracious medical technology intent on curing rather than caring for the patient.

Peter Behrens: in Carry Me, an intriguing cast of characters braid this harrowing story together, transporting the reader from a golden Edwardian summer on the Isle of Wight, to London under Zeppelin attack, to Ireland on the brink of its War of Independence, and at last, to Germany during the darkening Weimar period.

Kim Thuy: Man is a seductive and luminous novel about a young girl who has three mothers; the one who gives birth to her in wartime, the nun who plucks her from a vegetable garden, and her beloved Maman, who becomes a spy to survive. Kim Thuy’s book, Ru, won the nationwide contest, Canada Reads in 2015.

Ian Brown: Sixty: A Diary of My Sixty-First Year is a wickedly honest and brutal account of the year in which Ian Brown, author of The Boy in the Moon, realized that the man in the mirror was actually…sixty. Sixty is a report from the Maginot Line that divides the middle-aged from the soon to be elderly.

Terry Fallis: Poles Apart. What happens when a young man joins the battle for the equality of women by writing a blog entitled, Eve of Equality, which becomes an overnight sensation with 250,000 hits. Terry Fallis is at his best confirming his status as the king of CanLit comedy.

Nazneen Sheikh: The Place of Shining Light takes readers on a wild journey from the valleys of Afghanistan, to the magical mountain kingdoms of Northern Pakistan, and the diplomatic enclaves of Islamabad. It is a riveting and timely story of art and war; greed and spirituality.

Cecilia Ekback: Wolf Winter takes place in Swedish Lapland in 1717: Maija, her husband, and two daughters arrive, yearning to forget the traumas that caused them to abandon their native Finland to start life anew in the shadow of the grim mountain, Blackasen, whose dark mythology lies at odds with the repressive control exerted by the church.

Anthony Marra: The Tsar of Love and Techno with Suanne Kelman. In the 1930’s, a portrait artist is tasked by Soviet censors to erase political dissidents from official images and art works-beginning with his disgraced brother. He subversively draws his brother in every picture he censors, a decision that echoes through the decades.

Ann Y. K. Choi: Kay’s Lucky Coin Variety will resonate with those of us who head into our local convenience store, often owned by a Korean family, for milk and a newspaper. This novel is a revealing look into life behind the counter, and into the private lives of these families whose parents worked long and hard to put their progeny through school and who could never sit down for a meal together because one of them had to attend to the customers.


Thursday Series 2 Details

 Rosemary Sullivan: Stalin’s Daughter is a painstakingly researched, revelatory biography of Svetlana Stalin, a woman fated to live her life in the shadow of one of history’s most monstrous dictators-her father, Josef Stalin. As she gradually learned about the extent of her father’s brutality after his death, Svetlana could no longer keep quiet and in 1967 shocked the world by defecting to the United States-leaving her two children behind.

Pauline Holdstock: The Hunter and the Wild Girl is the story of a feral girl and a bereaved father who lives in self-imposed exile in rural 19th century France. Possibly the most arresting aspect of the novel, apart from the exquisite sense of place, is Holdstock’s implied invitation to consider the essence of a human being. Freedom and connection are essential, the novel suggests, and the bonds that hold us together can also destroy us.

Heather O’Neill: Daydreams of Angels is a collection of stories that are funny and sad: a naïve cult follower will instruct you on how to live; Jesus will struggle to make new friends in elementary school; a generation of failed Nureyev clones, in a secret Soviet experiment, will attempt to defect.

Camilla Gibb: The Happy Life: This memoir is an exquisite, agonizing and, above all, uplifting memoir. It shows how comfort can be found in the most unlikely places and from the most unlikely people; a Filipina nanny, a recovering drug addict and a homesick PHD student from the Maritimes. It demonstrates that blood is simply one of several metrics when defining what is a family.

Katherine Govier: The Three Sisters Bar and Hotel.  Katherine Govier proves she is one of Canada’s master storytellers with this new novel, which is a ground breaking portrait of Western Canada’s past, with all its contradictions and complexities, an intimate story of romance and family, and a tantalizing historical—and prehistorical—mystery.

Yann Martel: The High Mountains of Portugal with Sandra Martin is part quest, part ghost story, and part contemporary fable. In Lisbon in 1904, a young man named Tomás discovers an old journal which hints at the existence of an extraordinary artefact; thirty-five years later, a Portuguese pathologist, devoted to the murder mysteries of Agatha Christie, finds himself at the center of a mystery of his own; fifty years on, a Canadian senator takes refuge in his ancestral village in northern Portugal, grieving the loss of his beloved wife. The novel is a haunting exploration of great love and great loss.

Ann Walmsley: The Prison Book Club follows six book club members, who kept journals at Ann’s request and participated in candid one-on-one conversations. Graham the biker, Frank the gunman, Ben and Dread the Jamaicans, and the robber duo Gaston and Peter come to life as Ann reconciles her knowledge of their crimes with the individuals themselves, and follows their lives as they leave prison.

Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer: All the Broken Things begins in Toronto in 1983. Bo, a refugee from Vietnam, lives with his mother, and his four year old sister who is disfigured from the effects of Agent Orange. It is a spellbinding novel, at once melancholy and hopeful, about the peculiarities that divide us and bring us together, and the human capacity for love and acceptance.

Han Kang, The Vegetarian with Suanne Kelmann. Yeong-hye and her husband are ordinary South Koreans: he is an office worker with moderate ambitions and mild manners; she is an uninspired but dutiful wife. The acceptable flatline of their marriage is interrupted when Yeong-hye commits a shocking act of subversion. Winner of the International Booker Prize for 2016.