Literary Lecture Series 2019-20 (tuesdays)

July 14 clock 07:24 PM


Heliconian Hall
Toronto, ON

plus Radar

Ticket Booth

Includes 13% HST (108122466RT0001)

Presented by:

The Heliconian Club

Event Details

This popular series has been described as a cross between a traditional book club and a university course without exams.  This year it will consist of two separate series consisting of nine two-hour sessions, each including a lecture, question period and refreshments. Both series run from September 2019 to June 2020.  

Subscription cost for non-members of the Heliconian Club is $235 including HST (108122466RT0001) and a $15 Capital Improvement fee. 

2019-20 Tuesday Events:

  • September 17-  Uzma Jalaluddin:  Ayesha, At Last
  • October  1-  Kate Harris:  Lands of Lost BordersOut of Bounds on The Silk Road
  • November 12 -  Kathy Page Dear Evelyn
  • January 14 -  Zalika Reid-Benta:  Frying Plantain
  • February 25 -  Carrianne Leung: That Time I Loved You
  • March 24 -  Sally Rooney: Normal People with Sandra Martin
  • April 14 - Carol Bishop-Gwyn: Art and Rivalry: The Marriage of Mary and Christopher Pratt
  • May 5 - Tamara Faith Berger: Queen Solomon
  • June 9 - Constance BackhouseTwo FirstsBertha Wilson and Claire L’Heureux-Dubé at the Supreme Court of Canada


Featured Program

  • September 17 - Uzma Jalaluddin:  Ayesha, At Last

A modern-day Muslim Pride and Prejudice for a new generation of love. Ayesha Shamsi has a lot going on. Her dreams of being a poet have been set aside for a teaching job. She lives with her boisterous Muslim family and is always being reminded that her flighty younger cousin, Hafsa, is close to rejecting her one hundredth marriage proposal. Though Ayesha is lonely, she doesn't want an arranged marriage. Then she meets Khalid, who is just as smart and handsome as he is conservative and judgmental. She is irritatingly attracted to someone who looks down on her choices and who dresses like he belongs in the seventh century.

  • October  1 - Kate HarrisLands of Lost Borders: Out of Bounds on The Silk Road

Winner of the 2018 RBC Prize

 As a teenager, Kate Harris realized that the career she most craved--that of a generalist explorer had gone extinct. From her small-town home in Ontario, it seemed as if Marco Polo, Magellan and their like had long ago mapped the whole earth. So she vowed to become a scientist and go to Mars. To pass the time before she could launch into outer space, Kate set off by bicycle down a short section of the fabled Silk Road with her childhood friend Mel Yule, followed by study at Oxford and MIT. Eventually the truth dawned on her: an explorer, in any day and age, is by definition the kind of person who refuses to live between the lines. Kate hit the Silk Road again with Mel, this time determined to bike it from the beginning to end.

  • November 12 - Kathy PageDear Evelyn

Winner of the 2018 Rogers’ Writer’s Trust Fiction Prize. 

The novel tells the tender and unsettling story of working-class Londoner, Harry Miles, and the ambitious Evelyn Hill who fall in love as the world around them goes to war. What initially begins as a familiar wartime love story morphs into a startling tale of time’s impact on love and family, as well as one’s complex search for personal meaning and truth. The protagonist, Harry Miles, is born on a working-class London street, wins a scholarship, and grows into a sensitive man torn between a love of poetry and a more prosaic ability to understand what is required of him and do it. Evelyn, the magnetic and demanding woman whom he marries as WW2 breaks out, increasingly tests Harry’s capacity to love.             

  • January 14 - Zalika Reid-Benta:  Frying Plantain

Kara Davis is a girl caught in the middle — of her Canadian nationality and her desire to be a “true” Jamaican, of her mother and grandmother’s rages and life lessons, of having to avoid being thought of as too “faas” or too “quiet” or too “bold” or too “soft.” Set in “Little Jamaica,” Toronto’s Eglinton West neighbourhood, Kara moves from girlhood to the threshold of adulthood, from elementary school to high school graduation, in these twelve interconnected stories. Frying Plantain shows how, in one charged moment, friendship and love can turn to enmity and hate, well-meaning protection can become control, and teasing play can turn to something much darker.

  • February 25 - Carrianne Leung: That Time I Loved You

The suburbs of the 1970s promised to be heaven on earth — new houses, new status, happiness guaranteed. But in a Scarborough subdivision populated by newcomers from all over the world, a series of sudden catastrophic events reveals that not everyone's dreams come true. Moving from house to house, Carrianne Leung explores the inner lives behind the tidy front gardens and picture-perfect windows, always returning to June, an irrepressible adolescent Chinese-Canadian, coming of age in this shifting world.

  • March 24 - Sally Rooney: Normal People with Sandra Martin

Connell Waldron is one of the most popular boys in his small-town high school--he is a star of the football team, an excellent student, and never wanting for attention from girls. The one thing he doesn't have is money. Marianne Sheridan, a classmate of Connell's, has the opposite problem. Marianne is plain-looking, odd, and stubborn, and while her family is well-off, she has no friends to speak of. There is, however, a deep and undeniable connection between the two teenagers, one that develops into a secret relationship. Everything changes when both Connell and Marianne are accepted to Trinity College. Suddenly Marianne is well-liked and elegant, holding court with her intellectual friends while Connell hangs at the sidelines, not quite as fluent in the language of the elite. Sally Rooney brings her brilliant psychological acuity and perfectly spare prose to a novel that explores the subtleties of class, the electricity of first love, and the inescapable challenges of family and friendships. 

  • April 14 - Carol Bishop-Gwyn: Art and Rivalry: The Marriage of Mary and Christopher Pratt.

She painted as if with pure light, radiant colours making quotidian kitchen scenes come alive with sublimated drama. He painted like clockwork, each stroke precise and measured with exquisite care, leaving no angle unchecked and no subtlety of tone unattended. Some would say Mary Pratt was fire and Christopher, ice. And yet Newfoundland's Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera (or Jackson Pollack and Lee Krasner...) presented their marriage as a portrait of harmony and balance. But balance off the canvas rarely makes great art, and the Pratts' art was spectacular. As a youth at Mount Allison University in New Brunswick, Mary pursued her future husband, a prodigious art talent, and supported his determination to study painting instead of medicine. They married and removed themselves to a Newfoundland outport where his painting alone provided the means to raise a family. But as Mary's own talents became evident and she sought her own hours at the easel, when not raising their four children, and as rumours of Christopher's affair with a young model spread, the Pratts' harmonious exterior slowly cracked, to scandal in Newfoundland and fascination across the country. A marriage ended, and gave way to a furious competition for dominance in Canadian art.

  • May 5 - Tamara Faith Berger: Queen Solomon

The erotic awakening and mental disintegration of an intense young man who leaves home and enters the phantasm of Israel. It's just another boring summer for our teenaged narrator - until Barbra arrives. An Ethiopian Jew, Barbra was brought to Israel at age five, a part of Operation Solomon, and now our narrator's well-intentioned father has brought her, as a teen, to their home for the summer. But Barbra isn't the docile and grateful orphan they expect, and soon our narrator, terrified of her and drawn to her in equal measure, finds himself immersed in compulsive psychosexual games with her, as she binge-drinks and lies to his family. Things go terribly wrong, and Barbra flees.

  • June 9 - Constance Backhouse: Two Firsts: Bertha Wilson and Claire L’Heureux-Dubé at the Supreme Court of Canada

It is the story of Bertha Wilson and Claire L’Heureux-Dubé who were the first women judges on the Supreme Court of Canada. Their 1980s judicial appointments delighted feminists and shocked the legal establishment. Polar opposites in background and temperament, the two faced many identical challenges. Constance Backhouse’s compelling narrative explores the sexist roadblocks they faced in education, law practice, and on the courts. She profiles their different ways of coping, their landmark decisions for women’s rights, and their less stellar records on race. To explore the lives and careers of these two path-breaking women is to venture into a world of legal sexism from a past era. The question becomes, how much of that sexism has been relegated to the bins of history, and how much continues?