In this panel, Montreal-based writer Taras Grescoe and Chinese-born author Xue Yiwei discuss their most recent works: Shanghai Grand and Dr. Bethune’s Children. Grescoe’s historical non-fiction is a portrait of the opulent world of 1930s Shanghai, whereas Xue’s novel oscillates between Montreal and China, via the memories of a nameless narrator writing to Dr. Norman Bethune. From present-day Montreal to pre-revolutionary China, this panel draws out the contrasts and connections between these differing cultural landscapes.
Taras Grescoe is the author of six books, including the bestselling Bottomfeeder, which won the 2008 Writers’ Trust Non-Fiction Prize and the Mavis Gallant Prize for Non-fiction, and Straphanger, which received critical acclaim around the world. Straphanger was a Globe and Mail best book of 2012, and won The Quebec Writers’ Federation Mavis Gallant Prize for Non-Fiction. Two other titles, Sacré Blues and The End of Elsewhere, were shortlisted for Writers’ Trust awards. His most recent book, Shanghai Grand, has received international critical praise, and was a finalist for the BC National Award for Non-Fiction. His work has appeared in The New York Times, The New Yorker, National Geographic Traveler, The Wall Street Journal, Gourmet, The Globe and Mail, The Guardian, The Times (UK) and The Independent. He lives in Montreal.
Photo credit: Katia Taylor
Xue Yiwei, BA in Computer Science, MA in English Literature, PhD in Linguistics, is an acclaimed author of 18 books in Chinese, including five novels, five collections of short stories and novellas, and five literary essays. “A maverick in contemporary Chinese literature”, to quote Ha Jin, winner of the National Book Award, he has been living in Montreal for 16 years. His works have been translated into English, French, Swedish, German and Italian. The English version of Dr. Bethune’s Children, a novel banned in China for more than six years, was released in 2017 and has since drawn international attention.
Photo credit: Isabelle Lafontaine
Host: Louisa Blair