In spring 2014 Ottawa poet Stephen Brockwell sat down with three writers to talk about how language becomes more than a means for storytelling but an active player in the story. He talked with Alena Graedon, Ghalib Islam and Peter Norman about their debut novels that are pushing the boundaries of language.
"Emberton" is a literary gothic novel for lovers of books and language who appreciate a dash of humour. From satire of a doldrum workplace to horror-tinged mystery, Peter Norman’s debut brings us to a world in which it is dangerous to be curious and the fate of human language itself at stake.
"The Word Exchange" by Alena Graedon is at once a technological thriller, and a thoughtful meditation on the dangers of the digital age and the power of the printed word set in a not so distant future where bookstores, libraries and newspapers are a thing of the past, and handheld devices called Memes keep us in constant communication and are intuitive enough to hail us cabs before we leave our offices or order take out at the first growl of a hungry stomach.
The universe is shaking as Hedayat, the "glossolalist" narrator of Ghalib Islam’s "Fire in the Unnameable Country" is born on a flying carpet in the skies above an obscure land whose leader has manufactured the ability to hear every unspoken utterance of the nation. Islam's ingenious construction sends the plot twisting down rabbit holes and caterwauling through secret doorways to emerge anywhere from a domestic living room to a bomb technician's workshop to the deep recesses of the state's repressive political apparatus.