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CBC Interview/article

Posted on Feb 10, 2016

CBC Interview/article

CBC interview and article My last blog post (on sexual assault, truth, trauma, and the body) got a great deal of attention, and during the unexpected flurry of that attention, I was approached by CBC Vancouver to interview about it. Here is that interview, embedded in an article discussing both the interview and the original blogpost. The interview is archived under the photograph, to the left. Thank-you for your response to this. It has meant a great deal to me....

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Is That A Wiggle or a Broken Hip?

Posted on Feb 5, 2016

Is That A Wiggle or a Broken Hip?

Is That A Wiggle or a Broken Hip? ©2016 Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer     When I published my first novel in 2005, a dear friend of mine pointed out to me that it seemed to have escaped most people that the book was basically a wide-open vagina, that it was, in its deepest purpose, a feminist cri-de-coeur. He also pointed out that the reason that the book was not noticed as such was that to most people strong articulate women are fucking terrifying. I did not know this. Or, to be fair, I knew I terrified certain men and certain women — I’d seen it on the faces of people and in their body language — but I didn’t know it was a generalized thing. I didn’t know how bad things were for women, and for men. The central story of that novel is rape. The rape of a girl obsessed with an ancient rape story, and also, as a allegorical corollary, the rape of the earth. In these themes, my story is a kind of historical novel. Perhaps that is glib but I think you see my meaning. Rape adheres to the body. This is why it is an age-old aggression. I’ve been suffering this last year from Achilles Tendinitis. That is to say, I have Achilles Heel, for real. It hurts to walk and I haven’t been able to run for more than ten months. The physiotherapist noticed that when I stand, I lock my knees up. “Oh,” I say. I soften them and a gush of tears come with that softening. What we hold in the body. Later, she notices that I toe in a little, and shows me how to walk. At 50 I learn how to walk. I notice two things: 1. It feels like I am wearing diapers when I walk properly, and 2. I remember that in grade three or four the boys used to sing at the girls, “Is that a wiggle or a broken hip?” So. I used to walk properly as a baby and I stopped around the age of ten, when the boys noticed I had an ass. I have not wiggled my ass in forty years. And now, as a result, I have Achilles Heel. The body is the first mechanism of defense. And relationships are complex. We live in a complex. Right now as I write, a lengthy, three month, court case is going on involving a man who is purported to have assaulted women and those women accusing him of assault. I never knew this man, except as a celebrity, a smooth drone on the radio. Most times I turned the radio off when he came on, not because I knew, but because I knew men like him. I won’t get into the details of my own personal story. It’s my story, after all. It’s all coded in the novels and stories I’ve written — the writing helps, and even if I once thought it might heal, it does not. What it does is show me the symptom. It reveals, like a dream does, the nugget of information I might need to look upon. Anyway, I have started to wiggle my ass, again. I forget and then I remember, so I go from tight to loose, from tight to loose. The sway of my ass makes me feel massive — like a giant. I do not know the parameters of my own body anymore, assume I am making a spectacle of myself. And I have been dreaming about prosthetics. I am reconstructing myself, so I guess...

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The Oxford Companion to Fairy Tales

Posted on Jan 18, 2016

The Oxford Companion to Fairy Tales

The Oxford Companion to Fairy Tales Edited by the fairy tale scholar, Jack Zipes, the second edition of The Oxford Companion to Fairy Tales includes over a hundred new entries, including J.K. Rowling, Suzanne Collins and…me! This is about the most exciting thing in the entire world, because the acknowledgement is nestled in amongst some of my very favourite people. Not only the more obvious entries like Charles Perrault, Andrew Lang, Brothers Grimm but MRS. PEPPERPOT, and Wanda Gag, and Sara Maitland, and Angela Carter!!! Pippi Longstocking! What made me especially happy was to see that Helen Oyeyemi and Yoko Ogawa are also listed. As well, the brilliant fairy tale writer, Lyudmilla Petrushevskaya, the Nigerian storyteller Amos Tutuola, beloved Franz Kafka, ingenious artist Kiki Smith. Swoon! I feel very completed tonight, browsing through this. It came completely unexpectedly, as so much fortune does. I feel like I have won a magic tablecloth that provides or a golden-egg goose or that a bird has spoken to me. Magic!! The screen capture below is from Pippin, the storyteller’s of Toronto journal, and is a short piece I wrote when All The Broken Things came out about writing fairy tales and writing about and for Toronto. All the Broken Things makes use of the 14th century romance Sir Orfeo as a structuring device. I flipped around to see if I could find it in the Oxford Companion, and sure enough, there it is. Ah, blissful luck. Thank-you, wood sprites and faeries....

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Canada Reads Longlist 2016

Posted on Dec 17, 2015

Canada Reads Longlist 2016

Canada Reads 2016 Just a quick happy post to let y’all know that All The Broken Things has been long listed for Canada Reads 2016. And guess what: they nominated Ethel Wilson’s Swamp Angel, too. So, that makes me extra happy. Here is a pic of the first edition cover:     And here is a link to the full list: Canada Reads...

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The Toronto Book Awards

Posted on Sep 16, 2015

The Toronto Book Awards

All The Broken Things is nominated for The Toronto Book Awards, along with Margaret Atwood, André Alexis, Emily St. John Mandel, and Bruce McDougall. The City of Toronto has built a page for my book, which you can access by clicking through on the title of the stub below: Toronto Book Awards All the Broken Things 2015 Toronto Book Award Finalist September, 1983. Fourteen-year-old Bo, a boat person from Vietnam, lives in a small house in the Junction neighbourhood of Toronto with his mother, Thao, and his four-year-old sister, who was born severely disfigured from the effects of Agent Orange. After being recruited for the bear-wrestling circuit, Bo is matched with a bear of his own, and together they set off on an extraordinary journey through the streets of Toronto. All the Broken Things is a spellbinding novel, at once melancholy and hopeful, about the peculiarities that divide us and bring us together, and the human capacity for love and acceptance. What the judges said . . . All the Broken Things explores the challenges of 14–year–old Bo, a Vietnamese immigrant, as he attempts to make his way in his newly adopted surroundings of Toronto. When his father dies on the boat after leaving Vietnam, Bo takes on the responsibilities of looking after his mother and younger sister, whose physical deformities (the aftermath of Agent Orange) are kept a family secret. Bo’s life is turned around when, through a chance encounter, he finds himself charged with training a bear cub to wrestle as part of the CNE attractions. Bo’s indomitable spirit and determination lead him on a course of self-discovery. All the Broken Things is an inspiring novel about confronting the prejudices and assumptions that often dictate our actions. It is also a sensitive exploration of the human dimension and all that it encompasses—friendships, betrayal, human frailty and compassion. Kuitenbrouwer’s book offers an insightful perspective on our ability to overcome our fallibilities....

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The Children We Saved

Posted on Sep 16, 2015

The Children We Saved

I wrote a piece for The Walrus about the discrepancies between Canada’s response to refugees fleeing Indochina in the late 7os and our current response to the Syrian crisis. Here is the opening; you can click through for the full piece.   The Children We Saved Is Canada still a safe haven for immigrants? POLITICS BY  KATHRYN KUITENBROUWER WEB EXCLUSIVES •  957 WORDS PUBLISHED ON SEPTEMBER 15, 2015 PHIL EGGMANVietnamese refugees awaiting rescue. I AM NOT the first person to make a connection between Canada’s response to the Syrian refugee crisis and to the humanitarian crisis that happened when refugees fled the Indochina region after the Vietnam War. The website CompassionateCanada has begun documenting the stories of refugees to Canada, among them the brilliant writer Souvankham Thammavongsa. She writes, “I am the child Canada saved.”  ...

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