Q&A with Noah Richler, author of What We Talk About When We Talk About War

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Wednesday, February 13, 2013 View Count = 1047

Q&A with Noah Richler, author of What We Talk About When We Talk About War

In today's edition of Wednesday Q&As with Shaughnessy Cohen Prize nominees, we sit down with Noah Richler, award-winning author of This Is My Country, What's Yours? A Literary Atlas of Canada to talk about his most recent book, What We Talk About When We Talk About War. Richler has worked as an editor and columnist for the National Post, a documentarian for BBC Radio, and a contributor to many publications including the Guardian, Punch, and the Walrus.

Don’t forget! You can submit your guess for who you think will win the prize. Even if you guess wrong, you’ll still be entered in a draw to win all 5 nominated books!
And now, Noah Richler....

Can you describe the genesis of What We Talk About When We Talk About War? What brought you to the subject?

My book What We Talk About When We Talk About War had its genesis in the Northrop Frye-Antonine Maillet Lecture that I gave at l’Université de Moncton in 2010. A few years previously, in 2006, I had listened to Shelagh Rogers interview Master-Corporal Paul Franklin, a soldier who had lost both his legs after the car he was driving in Kandahar was blown up in the explosion that killed the diplomat Glyn Berry. That was the beginning of a very tough year for the Canadian Forces. The inference of Franklin’s conversation with Shelagh was that if, subsequently, Canada pulled out of Afghanistan then he would have lost his legs for nothing. It occurred to me then, as it would have done to many, that while that may have been true it was not a sound argument for staying on. This is but one of the many paradoxes of war but it was the one that invited me in, so to speak, to writing a book that allowed me to discover just how upset I was with the proponents of Canada, the so-called "warrior nation." Canada, under the Harper government, has undergone a radical change that has been shrewdly pushed forward by a manipulation of views about our history. This project is deliberate, and ongoing, and was hugely facilitated by the way the war was promoted. My book, however, is neither a judgment of the Canadian Forces nor even a judgment about the validity of the war. But it is a judgment concerning the language, stories and many self-deceptions that Canadians have either supported or not objected to, ones that have been used to enable our new, apparently jingoistic self and to do away with the better, more generous Canada that I grew up in, a Canada that I believe still exists.

Read the rest of the Q&A here


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