School Days: Elizabeth Hay, Alexander Maksik & Suzette Mayr

Recorded at the Revue Stage on Friday, October 21, 2011.

Elizabeth Hay has described school as a place where one is alone with their stupidity and alone with their interests. But there is also the sexiness of learning and the sexiness of teaching, and it is this charged atmosphere that is explored in School Days. Hay’s novel, Alone in the Classroom, spins its narrative web beginning in a small prairie school in 1929. Alexander Maksik sets his novel in Paris at an international high school catering to children of wealthy, influential families. And Suzette Mayr’s novel is set at a Catholic high school in suburban Calgary. Is the classroom more than just a universal experience to which readers can relate? Is there far more significance to the time we spend in that crucible that forms or deforms us all? As Hay says, "everything begins in school and nothing about school ever ends."

Elizabeth Hay is the author of the Scotiabank Giller Prize-winning novel Late Nights on Air (2007) as well as three other award-winning works of fiction, Small Change (2000), A Student of Weather (2001) and Garbo Laughs (2004). Formerly a radio broadcaster, she has spent time in Mexico and New York City and now lives in Ottawa. Her latest novel, Alone in the Classroom, probes the roots of obsessive love and hate across generations.

 

 

 

Alexander Maksik’s writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Harvard Review, Narrative, Strangers in Paris: New Writing Inspired by the City of Light, nthWORD and The Nervous Breakdown, among others. He is the recipient of a Truman Capote Fellowship and a Teaching/Writing Fellowship from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. He lives in Iowa City. His first novel, You Deserve Nothing, delineates the shocking fall from grace of a charismatic young teacher in Paris.

 

Suzette Mayr is the author of three previous novels: Moon Honey (1995), The Widows (1998) and Venous Hum (2004). The Widows was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize (Caribbean and Canada region) and has been translated into German. Moon Honey was shortlisted for the Writers Guild of Alberta Best First Book Award and Best Novel Award. Her latest novel is Monoceros, concerning the aftermath of a teenager’s suicide at a Catholic high school. She lives and works in Calgary.