June 19

I Know What I Am Doing This Summer


(No awkward man-hug with the Mayor this time.)

Hello all.

Here are a few updates on Walls, and other upcoming projects.

Last week, Walls: Travels Along the Barricades was awarded The City of Calgary W. O. Mitchell Book Prize. The prize was given out at the annual  Calgary Awards which honours citizens who contribute to making Calgary a better city. The award winners included Sheldon Kennedy, whose foundation advocated for children at risk of sexual abuse; Jean Grand-Maître, the artistic director of Alberta Ballet; longtime local news anchor Darryl Janz; and organizations such as Fresh Start Recovery Centre, the Calgary Folk Music Festival and Calgary’s Child Magazine. It was very humbling to be in such company, especially since all I did was write a book.

I have a busy summer ahead. In July, Walls will be released in the U.K. and will coincide with a story about ‘wall tourism’ I wrote for the U.K edition of Condé Nast Traveller – my first overseas publication since my profile of a Jerusalem tour guide appeared in Cairo Times way back in 2000. Also in July, I will return to Wordsworth where I will teach a week-long nonfiction workshop to some gifted (and inspiring) teenage writers. Then I will be part of a Banff Centre discussion (in Canmore) called “Breaking Walls.” I’ll post more about these events closer to the dates.

In the middle of all of this, I am working on something new. As followers of this blog know, I spent last June as the writer-in-residence at the Palestine Writing Workshop. (My posts from Palestine can be found here.) During my time there, I became very interested in Palestinians relationship to books and literary culture. Now, finally, I am putting together all that I learned. Perhaps this is the beginning of a new book, I am not sure yet, but I am enjoying putting the pieces together and seeing what I’ve got. And the more research I do and the more books by Palestinian writers I read, the more threads I find to follow. I suspect they will lead me back to Palestine sooner than later.