Those who attended March 2016’s Off the Page panel “A Queer is a Queer is a Queer” were lucky enough to witness a dynamic discussion between some of the most interesting voices in literature today, among them former Concordia student Zoe Whittall, a novelist and poet now based in Toronto. Her reading from her first book, Bottle Rocket Hearts, was especially poignant for many of the audience members, as its story grapples with issues still very much relevant today, told against the backdrop of Montreal during the 1995 referendum.
Zoe’s latest book, The Best Kind of People, from House of Anansi Press, is a 2016 Scotiabank Giller Prize finalist. It explores the aftermath of rape allegations leveled against the father, a prep school teacher revered for tackling a school shooter a decade prior. The family’s ostracism from their upper middle class suburban community, and the powerlessness each member experiences as they locate themselves as individuals, propels a narrative that is both poetic and timeless. While Whittall has been working on the novel for the past six years, the topic of rape culture has been steadily gaining attention in that time, making the timing of the book extremely relevant.
Whittall will be returning to the Off the Page Festival this fall on November 3rd, 2016.