Events this week! Hamilton, Oakville, Toronto

Join us!

Hamilton: reading and Q&A at MacReads, McMaster University. April 28th, 7-8:30pm, Alumni House, (formerly President’s Residence), $5 (includes light refreshments), all welcome. Books available for purchase at Titles Bookstore and Bryan Prince Booksellers.

Oakville: reading sponsored by Halton Pride and Bryan Prince Booksellers. With Liz Bugg and Trish Salah. April 29th, 7pm at CJ’s Cafe, 2416 Lakeshore Rd W. More infoFree, all welcome.

Brockton Writers Series, Toronto: reading with Alissa York, Amy Lavender Harris, Paul Vermeersch, May 4th, 7-9pm, 270 Gladstone Ave. (north of Dundas). Guest host: Susan G. Cole. PWYC (suggested $3-5). Books for sale.

New podcast review by Carole Giangrande

Many thanks to Carole Giangrande for including a review of Six Metres of Pavement in her recent podcast, Words To Go. Listen here  and click on Podcast #28 and click on the grey “pod” button. It begins at the 12 minute mark of the podcast.

Facing Out

I’ll be chatting with Annemarie Shrouder about my new novel In Conversation

Join us in person, or watch the livestream online!

In Conversation is part of Facing Out – a project in collaboration with the Toronto Women’s Bookstore.
Facing Out’s vision is to inspire connection, discussion, and community around arts and politics – here and around the world.

Thursday March 17th, 7-8pm EST

Toronto Women’s Bookstore, 73 Harbord St. Toronto
livestream: or
416 922 8744
Free event
Watch the book trailer:

Toronto launch!

at the Gladstone

My Facebook status update at 11:24pm on March 7th was:

Well! Everyone should have a night like that at least once in their life.

I’ve had two of these fabulous nights so far, first with the launch of Stealing Nasreen, and again with the Toronto launch of Six Metres of Pavement.

There’s nothing quite like getting up on stage and looking out at a packed ballroom full of  family, friends, fans and colleagues, all there to celebrate your work.

Thanks to This Is Not A Reading Series for putting this night together and to Judy Wolfe who MCed. Very special thanks to on-stage interviewer Marc Glassman who stayed up all night to read my book in preparation for standing in for Susan G. Cole (who couldn’t make it due to a death in the family). The folks from 10 1/2 stories and musician Sarah Greene did a lovely job entertaining the crowd.

Most of all, thanks to all who attended or sent good wishes. May everyone have a night like this at least once (or twice or thrice) in their lifetimes.

book signing-photo courtesy Anna Withrow

Publishers Weekly advance review of Six Metres of Pavement

The book’s not out yet, but my first review is in! Publisher’s Weekly says:

“Ismail Boxwala, an ultimately good man haunted by a horrible mistake, provides the focal point of Doctor’s moving second novel in which she examines with crystalline clarity the plight of this gentle, middle-aged Indian immigrant living in Toronto. Twenty years ago, Boxwala accidentally left his baby locked in his car, resulting in her death. The tragedy destroys his marriage and induces a long struggle with drink; still, Ismail keeps his job and home and eventually finds himself drawn to Celia Sousa, a 50-year-old Portuguese widow, left penniless by her gambling-addict husband, and currently living with her daughter on Ismail’s street. Doctor (Stealing Nazreen) charts the growing heat between Ismail and Celia and weaves in a sweet secondary story about Ismail’s fatherly friendship with Fatima Kahn, a bisexual Indian college student. Doctor also folds the past into the present throughout, allowing the dead to haunt the living and providing both a realistic portrayal of suffering and a paean to second chances.”


Many of us take a moment to reflect on our lives at this time of year and set goals for self improvement. How many of you are vowing to go to the gym more often, eat more vegetables, learn a new language, give up shopping? Resolutions (albeit, set at an arbitrary time of year) can help us focus on what we want for ourselves.

I asked this month’s Brockton Writers Series writers to share their annual writing goals. Mary Frances Coady, Nicole Tanguay, Carlyn Zwarenstein and Janice Goveas all had plans to write more, submit more, and complete projects. Each of them are accomplished poets, playwrights, non-fiction and prose writers. I know they’ll get those stories published, finish their manuscripts, find more time to wordsmith.

I’ve been considering my writing goals for the year ahead, but I have to be careful about setting them. Raised by a workaholic, I tend to set my bars pretty  high all year round and sometimes forget to notice how far I’ve come and how well things are going. As a rule, I aim to write 5-10 pages per week, to spend an hour every day on book promo, and meet nearly all the grant application deadlines. I take the work of writing pretty seriously.

I could come up with even more goals. My second novel will be released in March and I should attempt a few readings each month. I’m working on my third novel and would love to have a draft completed by year’s end. All this will probably happen.

But I think I might need different sorts of resolutions this year, ones that allow me to enjoy my writing life just a little more. Its a privilege to be an artist, and a joy to have my work published and read.

So, this year I resolve to: have tons of fun while touring Six Metres of Pavement, delighting in the travel and the lovely people  I’ll meet along the way. I won’t over-focus on sales statistics. I’ll write as though critics don’t exist. Play and work will collide.

Revisions, revisions

I’ve just come through the first stage of revisions and edits with Six Metres of Pavement and I’m pleased with the recent changes. Mostly, it’s small stylistic stuff and catching the strange little time/date/progression inconsistencies. The latter drives my author’s perfectionistic mind a little batty. I’ve been dreaming new scenes that in the middle of the night seem terribly important to add and in the morning are just terribly weird.

It’s been good working with a skilled editor, and I lucked out when I was assigned Dundurn’s Shannon Whibbs, who has been helpful with the story-telling and the tiny details. I’m sure she’d find a grammar issue in that last sentence.

And now I’m working on a glossary. When I went out to do Stealing Nasreen readings, I learned not to assume that people know about pakoras and mamajis. Not every town has a large enough South Asian community to help people learn about such things. And this time around, with a character like Celia, a Portuguese-Canadian widow, I’ve also needed to define terms like frango and bom dia.

The book won’t be available until Feb/March 2011, but you can get a sneak peak of it’s cover here.

Novel in a nutshell

YouTube and Google have a very cool and fun app that helps you create a 35 second video using 7 search terms. Here’s my 35 second rendition of Stealing Nasreen. Check it out and then make your own stories.

I’m having trouble figuring out the 7 search terms for Six Metres of Pavement, my second novel, which will be released in winter, 2011. How do you distill 300 pages into 35 seconds, anyway? Here’s my first attempt

The City as a Character

I love to write about Toronto. I’m not alone; Dionne Brand, David Chariandy, MG Vassanji, Margaret Atwood, Barbara Gowdy, and many others have situated their fiction in this city, often making setting a character.

What makes this city such an inspiration is it diversity. That might sound like a line from a tourist brochure, but I haven’t been anywhere else where so many different people bump up against each other everyday. It’s a place I feel home with all my various identities, a place where I can find community with people who share varied interests, politics and ancestries.

I’m thinking about the city a lot these days. My second novel, Six Metres of Pavement (Dundurn, 2011) takes place in my neighbourhood and all across Toronto. It’s about a middle-aged South Asian man who recovers from the worst mistake of his life through unlikely connections with a Portuguese widow and homeless young queer woman. Toronto facilitates unlikely connections, in my opinion.

I’m also thinking about the city because of our upcoming municipal election. Municipal politics are not always seen as all that important, but it’s this level on which we feel much of our quality of life. It the level where decisions about our libraries, rec centres, transit, parks, local businesses and festivals take place. It’s the level that makes all the difference to neighbourhoods.

Toronto City Council doesn’t currently represent the city’s diversity. There aren’t enough women, or people of colour, or other marginalized folks there. There isn’t anyone there who is vocal about championing the arts. I really hope this changes when Torontonians go to the polls this October.

I’m excited to hear about some new candidates, all women of colour, who are running as independents: Hema Vyas (Ward 18), Karen Sun (Ward 19), and Kristyn Wong-Tam (Ward 27). It’s also exciting to see two transwomen running in Ward 27: Susan Gapka and Enza Anderson.

These elections will define Toronto’s direction in the coming years. Who knows what kind of character our city will be in the future?

Six Metres of Pavement

Novel #2 has a title! After a short process of elimination, Dundurn and I have decided on “Six Metres of Pavement” as the title of my book.

And we have a production schedule–by mid-January, the book will start becoming available. Meanwhile, we’re working away on edits.

Stay tuned!