Saturday, November 17, 2007

Liam Durcan

Liam Durcan is currently a staff neurologist at the Montreal Neurological Hospital and an assistant Professor in the Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery at McGill University. He has published short fiction since 2000 in a variety of Canadian and American Journals. His short fiction has won the 2004 Quebec Writers Federation/CBC prize and he work has been shortlisted 3 times for the CBC National Literary Awards. His novel Garcia's Heart was published in Canada by McClelland & Stewart and in the U.S. by Thomas Dunne Books.

From a Q & A with the publisher:

McClelland & Stewart: García’s Heart is your debut novel. It follows a short story collection that was named a top book of the year by the Globe and Mail. When you are not writing fiction, you are a neurologist at the Montreal Neurological Hospital and an assistant professor at McGill University. Can you tell us how your work informs your fiction? What lead you to explore, in this novel in particular, the moral and medical issues around neurology in a fictional way?

Liam Durcan: None of the stories in my first book had anything to do with medicine, which was a conscious decision when I stared writing short fiction, I suspect to prove to myself that medicine wouldn’t be a subject by necessity. But I can’t deny that medicine, or perhaps more specifically, the habits acquired in medical training — systematic observation, a consideration of various possibilities to explain a situation — have informed everything I’ve written. If there is any one source that led me to explore deeper issues in García’s Heart, it was The Nazi Doctors by Robert Jay Lifton, a book that examines the process through which individuals become able to commit atrocious acts. I found myself thinking about the doctors that Lifton described, people who were sophisticated and educated and yet could rationalize their acts on a daily basis for years before returning to live seemingly normal lives. One of the descriptions I found most troubling was that of a doctor who, despite his obvious acceptance of genocidal policies of the Nazis and the workings of the death camps, was highly thought of by many of the prisoners. I hadn’t understood that a relationship under those circumstances could be anything other than outright hatred. Understanding how complicated those sorts of relationships can be led me to start writing the book.
Read the entire interview.

--Marshal Zeringue