Farzana Doctor on "All Inclusive" at North York Central Library
On May 24, North York Central Library welcomed Farzana Doctor, award-winning author and past Writer in Residence for Toronto Public Library, as part of The eh List Author Series.
One of CBC's Ten Canadian Women Writers You Need to Read Now, Doctor is also the author of three novels. Her first novel, Stealing Nasreen, was called a "riveting read" by Quill & Quire; her second novel, Six Metres of Pavement, won the Lambda Award for Lesbian General Fiction in 2012 and was short-listed for the 2012 Toronto Book Awards; and her third novel, All Inclusive, has been described by the Toronto Star as, "Ambitious, original, mysterious, sensual...and a terrific read to boot." Doctor was the recipient of the Writers' Trust of Canada's Dayne Ogilvie Prize, and she also curates the Brockton Writers Series.
Doctor read from and talked about All Inclusive, described by Terry Fallis as, "By turns funny, moving, thoughtful and erotic...a powerful meditation on life, love and loss." She said that she had been going to all-inclusive resorts since she was a child,
and while she had enjoyed them when she was younger, when she was older she saw them as walled-in amusement parks. She also realized that the money was going to multinationals, not to the country in which they were located. She based one of her characters, Ameera, on an employee at an all-inclusive resort, and another one, Azeez, came to her during one of her bike rides in Toronto.
In All Inclusive, Ameera works at a Mexican all-inclusive resort, and her pastime of choice is the swingers' scene. Despite Ameera's best efforts to keep her sideline a secret, someone is spreading scandalous rumours about her around the resort, and her job might be at stake. Meanwhile, she is being plagued by her other secret: the identity of her father and why he disappeared. The Globe and Mail described All Inclusive as, "An ambitious, thematically voracious novel on love and the wounds we didn't know we had."
In the question and answer session after her reading, Doctor said that she wrote plays as a child, and performed them for an unwilling audience, her family! She also said that her real-life experiences form only the kernel of a novel, but her upcoming fourth novel will be her most personal. The Air India Flight 182 bombing in 1985 is an element of All Inclusive, and Doctor said that since so few people wrote fiction about it, she decided to do so. She said that the vast majority of people who died on Air India Flight 182 were Canadians, despite public perception being otherwise. Even Prime Minister Brian Mulroney phoned his counterpart in India to express Canada's condolences. Doctor recommended Padma Viswanathan's novel, The Everafter of Ashwin Rao, which is also about the bombing of Air India Flight 182.
The audience enjoyed listening to Doctor's reading, as well as the question and answer session, and found the way that she dealt with the Air India Flight 182 bombing in All Inclusive interesting.