Thursday, May 29, 2014

History of writing in Canada: Carmen Aguirre's Gran Malon


A few years ago Carmen Aguirre of Vancouver wrote Something Fierce, a memoir of her childhood living underground in various South American countries as part of a Chilean-Canadian family working against the Pinochet dictatorship.  It's a significant contribution to immigrant literature and Chilean-Canadian history, I think, but it is also a terrific read and a fine memoir. Winning the CBC Radio "Canada Reads" thing helped it to sell a ton of copies (by Canadian weighting, anyway).

And then her publisher Douglas & McIntyre of Vancouver, went bankrupt, and all the revenues from sales of Something Fierce went to the banks.  The publishing house was soon revived under new ownership, but as always, the authors, as unsecured creditors, lost all they were owed. Aguirre's loss in unpaid royalties was $60,000.

Friends of Aguirre, including D&M staff, have organized a Gran Mal√≥n  -- a fundraiser, though the term has a different origin, as you can see from the link -- in Vancouver in June. If you feel some writerly solidarity and live in Vancouver, you could go, and if you don't live there, you could go virtually or just donate.

You could read the book too; it's still available.  Doing something to require publishers to put their owed royalties into trust accounts ... that still seems to be a bridge too far.
 
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