Episode #2 Sharon Bala on The Boat People – an Eden Mills Writers’ Festival podcast
by Anna Bowen
The second episode of Bookish Radio features an interview with Sharon Bala about her debut novel The Boat People. This interview is part of the Eden Mills Writers’ Festival (EMWF) podcast, airing monthly on Bookish Radio at CFRU 93.3FM and online at EdenMillsWritersFestival.ca.
Hailing from St. John’s Newfoundland, Sharon is part of the Port Authority writing group and was the winner of the 2017 Journey Prize for her story “Butter Tea at Starbucks” published in The New Quarterly. The manuscript of the Boat People won the Percy Janes First Novel Award (May 2015) and was short listed for the Fresh Fish Award (October 2015). The book is now a finalist for CBC’s Canada Reads.
The Boat People takes a sharp look at Canada’s immigration system and tells a tale of human survival. Inspired by the 2010 arrival of a merchant vessel ship off the coast of British Columbia with almost 500 Tamil refugees on board fleeing Sri Lanka after the civil war, the book looks at how the refugees are received in the place they hoped would welcome them.
One of my favourite things Sharon Bala said over the course of this interview: “You must turn and go toward that thing you don’t want to write about, and write that thing.”
Don’t forget — you can come and see Sharon Bala read from her book at the 2018 EMWF. The festival will be happening September 7-9, 2018, in the village of Eden Mills, just east of Guelph, Ontario. This year is the 30th anniversary — watch for the complete line up announcement in the spring (or better yet, sign up for the Eden Mills Writers’ Festival e-newsletter, “The Millwright,” by scrolling down to the middle of the website , to receive all sorts of goodies — including Q&As from this very podcast — straight to your inbox!)
Finally, I was delighted to see that Sharon shared a bonus excerpt of the book, “More Folly than Sense” which was published at the Newfoundland Quarterly. You can read that here if you’re finished the book and want more!