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Newly named Rising Stars authors share their World Book Day picks

Newly named Rising Stars authors share their World Book Day picks
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If there’s any best way to celebrate World Book Day, announcing a program to highlight emerging authors would certainly count as one.

Unveiled Tuesday by the Writers’ Trust of Canada was Rising Stars, the first in an annual program in which established authors select a writer in the early stages of their career. That writer will be mentored by their selector, receive $5,000, take part in events as well as a two-week writing residency at the Banff Centre.

Chelene Knight was selected by David Chariandy as part of the Writers Trust’s new Rising Stars program.  (The Writers Trust)

Dana Mills was selected by David Adams Richards as part of the Writers Trust’s new Rising Stars program.  (Writers Trust)

Deborah Ostrovsky was selected by Taras Grescoe as part of the Writers Trust’s new Rising Stars program.  (Vivian Doan / Writers Trust)

El Jones was selected by Leanne Betasamosake Simpson as part of the Writers Trust’s new Rising Stars program.  (THOMASLANGDON / Writers Trust)

Melissa J. Gismondi was selected by Charlotte Gray as part of the Writers Trust’s new Rising Stars program.  (Mauricio Jose Calero / Writers Trust)

On the occasion of World Book Day, we asked each of these writers: If you could share one book, what would it be?

El Jones

My immediate answer is Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde.

I call Audre Lorde Saint Audre because, every emotion and experience I have as a Black woman, I feel like Audre has already been through it and felt it, and has told me about it and made it OK. Audre is the writer who walks beside me in my life, grows with me and what she tells me always turns out to be true. In a world that tells Black women in so many ways that our lives, feelings and being are the problem, Audre is the voice assuring, pushing, cradling, kicking and challenging us forward.

Jones was selected by Leanne Betasamosake Simpson , author of, among other books, the acclaimed This Accident of Being Lost.

Melissa J. Gismondi

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King

There are the books you read, and then there are books you read and carry around with you everywhere you go. This is one of those books for me. It’s equal parts information and inspiration, which is something we could all probably use a bit more of.

Gismondi was chosen by Charlotte Gray , three-time Writer’s Trust prize finalist and author of 10 nonfiction books, including The Massey Murder.

Chelene Knight

Amber Dawn’s Sub Rosa was one of the few books that I read from cover to cover in one sitting. This book taught me how to build worlds that are your own and aren’t your own, and there’s power in that. I learned how to get lost in a character’s mind and that you don’t necessarily need a map to navigate all the nooks and crannies. You are comfortable and you are uncomfortable and it’s beautiful. It’s still one of my all-time favourite novels.

Knight was chosen by David Chariandy, whose book Brother won the 2017 Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize.

Dana Mills

I would share Ernest Buckler’s The Mountain and the Valley, essentially a 300-page prose poem. One of the things I love about this novel is how it contrasts the isolation of its protagonist with the physical realities of rural life. It is, to me, the book I think gets the closest to illuminating the inner landscape of an artist.

Mills’ selector was multiple award-winning author David Adams Richards , who won the Writers’ Trust’s 2011 Matt Cohen Award, which celebrates a writing life.

Deborah Ostrovsky

My Conversations With Canadians by Lee Maracle, poet, writer, professor and member of the Sto:Loh nation.

In these essays, Maracle invites Canadians into dialogue about our colonial history but also to take a look in the mirror. Who and what do we see? These are painful questions, but essential reading. Maracle addresses our misconceptions about First Nations, and with grace and humour suggests we take a deep, long look at ourselves.

Ostrovsky’s mentor is Taras Grescoe, who won the 2008 Writers’ Trust Nonfiction Prize for his book Bottomfeeder.

Deborah Dundas is the Star’s Books editor. She is based in Toronto. Follow her on Twitter: debdundas
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