Tuesday, June 2, 2020
With financial support from the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences’ Aid for Interdisciplinary Sessions Fund.
Born in Dublin in 1969, Emma Donoghue is an Irish emigrant twice over: she spent eight years in Cambridge, England, before moving to Canada’s London, Ontario. She is best known for her novels, which range from the historical (The Wonder, Slammerkin, Life Mask, The Sealed Letter) to the contemporary (Akin, Stir-Fry, Hood, Landing). Her international bestseller Room was a New York Times Best Book of 2010 and was a finalist for the Man Booker, Commonwealth, and Orange Prizes; her screen adaptation, directed by Lenny Abrahamson, was nominated for four Academy Awards.
“Generation Gaps” by Emma Donoghue
The women and men who people Emma Donoghue’s fiction come from a wide range of eras (medieval to near-future) and countries (France to California). What’s less often discussed is that they also cover a wide age span, from five-year-old Jack in ROOM to eighty-year-old Noah in her most recent novel, AKIN, about a retired professor on a quest to uncover his mother’s World-War-II experiences. Three of Donoghue’s books explore close relationships between children and grandparent or pseudograndparent figures (two generations apart): ROOM, AKIN, and her book for younger readers, THE LOTTERYS PLUS ONE. In this talk (with short readings), Donoghue will discuss challenges - technical, psychological, political and even ethical - raised by writing youth and age. She will offer insight into the struggle to get the language right, make the bodily sensations and rhythms real and unstereotyped, the behaviour and manners convincing, and the cultural references meaningful to readers of a wide range of ages. If writing a child demands a sort of deep excavation of one’s own memory of having been that young, creating a character who is ‘other’ by virtue of being considerably older than oneself calls for a different kind of work: a sort of empathetic extrapolation. A separate but inextricable issue is how to capture the flavour of each historical generation, formed by their distinct experiences, as well as how different generations do or don’t talk to each other.
This event will take place in Eastern Daylight Savings time.
- Emma Donoghue, Novelist, screenwriter, and playwright