So last night I attended the annual Henry Keissel lecture (I attended the first one in 2007 which was by Joseph Boyden and was absolutely amazing, but I missed the 2008 one). Dany Laferriere was the speaker (he is the author of Comment faire amour avec un Negre sans se fatiguer, a truly famous (infamous for its title!) book which has been translated into many languages and made into a movie).
He had a lot to say that interested me, but I'm not about to quote him here. I had an excellent time at this lecture, which was conducted pretty much entirely in French. He made some great points about the struggle of the immigrant, and the writer's identity, purpose, etc. I was clearly impressed, and I really want to read his children's book now too (especially after he explained that he didn't write children's books, though he did win a Governor's General award for his book).
The audience was very spread out in the Timms Centre. I think it was mildly poorly attended due to the fact that the talk was in French. But it was highly humorous, and very engaging.
After the talk, there was a reception with yummy food (very yummy food in fact!). And then I got my book signed. This was far more interesting than I would have imagined for two reasons:
1. The book I was having him sign was a first edition. I had guessed that it was after purchasing it at the second hand bookstore in Montreal in 2006, but his shock came as a surprise to me: apparently my copy is VERY RARE. Why? There was a lawsuit over its publication with a Matisse painting on the cover, and it was pulled from circulation.
2. He complimented me on my name. I'm used to people not understanding why I might have a common male Muslim name, but instead he remarked at how it is a beautiful name for a woman, as well as mentioning that it is one of the most common (if not THE most common) names in the world. I rather liked how he signed my book, drawing flowers on the page and doing what good book signers do: dating it and writing the location of the signing.
I am rather glad to have attended this talk. It was eye opening, plus it proved that I can indeed still understand enough French to enjoy a lecture of this type without having to work too hard at understanding what is going on.