In the mid-twentieth century, Canadian literature transformed from a largely ignored trickle of books into an enormous cultural phenomenon that produced Margaret Atwood, Alice Munro, Michael Ondaatje, Mordecai Richler, and so many others. In Arrival, acclaimed writer and critic Nick Mount answers the question: What caused the CanLit Boom?
Written with wit and panache, Arrival tells the story of Canada’s literary awakening. Interwoven with Mount’s vivid tale are enlightening mini-biographies of the people who made it happen, from superstars Leonard Cohen and Marie-Claire Blais to lesser-known lights like the troubled and impassioned Harold Sonny Ladoo. The full range of Canada’s literary boom is here: the underground exploits of the blew ointment and Tish gangs; revolutionary critical forays by highbrow academics; the blunt-force trauma of our plain-spoken backwoods poetry; and the urgent political writing that erupted from the turmoil in Quebec.
Published to coincide with the 150th anniversary of Canadian Confederation, Arrival is a dazzling, variegated, and inspired piece of writing that helps explain how we got from there to here.
NICK MOUNT is a professor of English literature at the University of Toronto and an award-winning critic. He regularly gives public talks on the arts in Canada, and has appeared on TVO’s Big Ideas and CBC Radio’s Sunday Edition. In 2011, he was awarded a 3M National Teaching Fellowship, the country’s highest teaching award. He lives in Toronto.
Praise for Nick Mount and Arrival:
A GLOBE AND MAIL TOP 100 BOOK
NATIONAL POST 99 BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR
“The most important book to be written in more than 40 years about the rise of Canadian literature . . . Arrival: The Story of CanLit brims and crackles, in equal measure, with information and energy.” — Winnipeg Free Press
“Arrival: The Story of CanLit is a fine gathering together of so many people — critics, publishers and, of course, writers — to explore and explain the eruption that took place in the 1960s and early 70s in our culture. . . . A kaleidoscope of fascinating people who shaped our country’s growth into a literature respected around the world.” — Globe and Mail
There’s passion in these pages that’s infectious to read . . . Arrival is Mount's second book and, in many ways, he’s the only one who could possibly have written it. By turns professor, editor, advocate and critic, Mount's voice is rarely absent from any meaningful discussion of Canadian literature.” — National Post
“[Arrival offers] a vivid sense of the times. . . . Hats off to Arrival for its engaging coverage of a pivotal period in Canadian letters.” — Literary Review of Canada
“Arrival: The Story of CanLit . . . transform[s] our literature into a hothouse of eye-catching personalities. . . . Not only is Mount’s prose readable, but he has a Malcolm Gladwell–esque flair for mining history for little-known anecdotes.” — The Walrus
“Arrival is Mount’s second book and, in many ways, he’s the only one who could possibly have written it. By turns professor, editor, advocate and critic, Mount’s voice is rarely of people whose real lives are stranger than fiction.” — National Post
[A] fascinating overview of [Canadian literature] from the 1950s to the early 1980s. . . . Highly entertaining . . . Mount does an excellent job in showing the roles of the different regions in so much of the country’s writing.” — The Georgia Straight
“[Arrival] provides a textbook’s richness with a tell-all’s familiarity. . . . Mount's portraits are personal and artful.” — BookShelf
“[A] quick and genuinely informative read, even for those who think they know the story [of CanLit] well.” — Toronto Star
“An excellent view of the period in question . . . Arrival will not disappoint. . . . Mount brings it all together in a fresh and compelling way.” — Canadian Writers Abroad
“If you want to know how Canadian writers and publishers slipped the noose of colonialism and created a vibrant international literature, including a Nobel Prize, this is the book to read. Impious biography, bureaucrats one-upped, politics, history — Arrival has it all, and best is Mount’s outrageous sense of humour. Essential reading.” — Rosemary Sullivan, author of Stalin’s Daughter: The Extraordinary and Tumultuous Life of Svetlana Alliluyeva
“A kaleidoscopic, exuberant, ferociously well-informed reading of the social and psychic forces that erupted to create Canadian literature. Sharing Mount’s discerning enthusiasm for books and writers of the ’60s and ’70s is a rare pleasure. Arrival has the power to transform the way we see Canadian writing.” — Roy MacSkimming, author of The Perilous Trade: Publishing Canada’s Writers
“Arrival is the CanLit account: wise, smart, sweeping, and rich in literary character and destiny. Nick Mount knows all and tells all width concision, snap, and a charming swagger. This important book itself arrives not a moment too soon.” — Charles Foran, author of Mordecai: The Life & Times and Planet Lolita
“This is the absorbing and often exciting story of talented writers and determined publishers creating a crucial change in the life of Canada. Nick Mount wisely emphasizes the dozens of individuals whose separate ambitions came together in the making of a Canadian literature. His searching insights explain this important movement and set it in the larger context of Canadian social and economic growth.” — Robert Fulford, celebrated journalist and critic