Campus News

Published by Communications and Public Affairs (519) 824-4120, Ext. 56982 or 53338

News Release

March 10, 2003

Author Alistair MacLeod to give talk at U of G

Alistair MacLeod, author of No Great Mischief, will speak to University of Guelph students and community members March 13 at 7 p.m. in the Ontario Veterinary College's Lifetime Learning Centre. The event is free.

"An Evening With Alistair MacLeod" is part of the College of Arts speaker series on books and publishing. The goal of the series is to expose the community to the world of writing and publishing in Canada. The lecture is sponsored by the U of G Alumni Association.

No Great Mischief, a 1999 novel that follows the lives of several generations of a family that emigrates from Scotland to Cape Breton, won the world's richest book prize in 2001, the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, worth $172,000. It was also one of the New York Times Notable Books of 2000, won two Canadian Bookseller Awards and Ontario's Trillium Award, and has been translated into more than 14 languages.

MacLeod was born in North Battleford, Sask., in 1936 and was raised on Cape Breton Island. After completing his PhD in 1968 at the University of Notre Dame, he taught English for three years at the University of Indiana and then moved to the University of Windsor where he was a professor of English and creative writing until his recent retirement.

Jacqueline Murray, dean of the College of Arts, got to know MacLeod during the 13 years she spent at the University of Windsor. "He has a charm and an affability that are really extraordinary," said Murray. "Alistair was a bit of a legend. He disappeared to Cape Breton in the summer and came back with his notebook filled with utterly brilliant prose."

Before No Great Mischief, MacLeod's published work consisted of two collections of short stories, The Lost Salt Gift of Blood (1976) and As Birds Bring Forth the Sun (1986). Island: The Complete Stories (2000) is a collection of his previously published short stories in chronological order, as well as one new story.

Murray said MacLeod was "a great mentor for his students." While the author is in Guelph, he will also be meeting with the university's creative writing students.

"His writing talks about the enduring strength of Scottish culture within a Canadian context, so it's a perfect link with our Scottish studies program and the fact that Guelph was also founded by a series of immigrant Scots," said Murray. "There may be some enduring truth for all Canadians, but in particular for those who are interested in Scottish-Canadian heritage."

Douglas Gibson, president and publisher of McClelland & Stewart, published No Great Mischief and spoke at length about his professional and personal relationship with MacLeod at the first College of Arts speaker series lecture in January.

"There was a piece of serendipity in that I happened to meet Douglas Gibson right around the time that Alistair won the Dublin IMPAC prize, so there was a nice connection there to know publisher and author," said Murray. "The series is looking at the stages of publishing, from the editorial process to the author. We hope to have a reviewer as our third speaker."

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt (519) 824-4120, Ext. 53338, or Rachelle Cooper, (519) 824-4120, Ext. 56982.

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