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PEN Canada Hosts Wade Davis & John Vaillant

abstract:Elegist, advocate, or dispassionate observer? What role should writers play in a world of transient landscapes, and ever-changing languages and cultures? Anthropologist Wade Davis and author John Vaillant consider the ethics of storytelling, reportage and bearing witness in the twenty-first century. Moderated by poet and novelist Karen Connelly. If you live in or around Toronto and want to hear a stimulating discussion, look no further than PEN Canada's spring event "Still Points in a Changing World"

I have had the good fortune to host John Vaillant twice in Whistler for Whistler Reads, and he is a compelling speaker whose book topics have led him into the wilds of Eastern Russia and the ancient forests of the Pacific Northwest. His GG award-winning non-fiction reads like a gripping novel; part eco-thriller, part psycho-social detective. That single earring and faded denim shirt make women swoon.

As for Wade Davis, he is a consummate orator. His introductory speech for Margaret MacMillan at this year's Canadian NonFiction Awards was breathtaking. Margaret had a tough time getting out of her seat!

Anyone attending this discussion will be on the edge of their seat.


April 30, 2014
— Wade Davis is an Explorer in Residence at the National Geographic Society. In recent years his work has taken him to East Africa, Borneo, Nepal, Peru, Polynesia, Tibet, Mali, Benin, Togo, New Guinea, Australia, Colombia, Vanuatu, Mongolia and the high Arctic of Nunuvut and Greenland.

An ethnographer, writer, photographer, and filmmaker, Davis holds degrees in anthropology and biology, and received his Ph.D in ethnobotany, all from Harvard University. He is the author of 15 books that have been translated into 16 languages, including the international best seller, The Serpent and the Rainbow.

John Vaillant is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, National Geographic, and Outside, among others. His first book, The Golden Spruce: A True Story of Myth, Madness and Greed (Norton, 2005), was a bestseller and won several awards, including the Governor General’s Award for Non-Fiction (Canada). His most recent book, The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival< (Knopf, 2010), is also an award-winning bestseller.

Of particular interest to Vaillant are stories that explore collisions between human ambition and the natural world.

Karen Connelly is the author of ten books of best-selling nonfiction, fiction, and poetry. Much of her work explores linguistic and cultural immersion, dissident politics, and exile, though her recent book, Come Cold River, is a song in several movements about Canada. She has won various national and international awards for her books, which have been translated into a dozen languages. Her novel of Burma The Lizard Cage has been compared to the works of Orwell and Solzhenitsyn, and hailed as “one of the best modern Canadian novels.” She divides her time between an olive grove in rural Greece, travels abroad, and her home in Toronto.



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