Friday, June 22, 2007

Shaena Lambert

Shaena Lambert is the author of a book of short stories, The Falling Woman, which was chosen by The Globe and Mail as a top book of the year and was short-listed for the Danuta Gleed Award.

Radiance, her first novel, is about an enigmatic Hiroshima survivor who comes to New York for surgery on her face and the complex relationship she has with her hosts.

From a Q & A with Lambert:

What inspired you to write Radiance? Is there a story about the writing of this book that begs to be told?

I wrote most of Radiance over a five-year period, from 2001 to 2006 – but the first inspiration may have come years earlier, when I had the job of unpacking a collection of "Hiroshima Artifacts" for an exhibition in Vancouver in 1986. As I unpacked these "artifacts" one by one – a blackened pocket watch with a stopped minute hand, a piece of concrete printed with shadows – my skin began to feel itchy and hot, as though these objects still held a radioactive residue that could leach into me, taint me. This sensation must have stayed with me for years, drawing me towards my subject matter.

When I was pregnant with my daughter, Lucy, I travelled to Hiroshima to visit the Hiroshima Peace Museum. I hoped that a journey to Ground Zero would help me find my way deeper into my material. Paradoxically, what I saw at the museum – similar to the artifacts I had unpacked years earlier but magnified tenfold – was so terrible, so overwhelming, that I ended up putting my draft away for several years. It was only after September 11th that I again felt moved to write about this subject. The material that had felt too hard to write, now felt like material I was once again compelled to explore.
Read the entire interview.

The Page 99 Test: Radiance.

--Marshal Zeringue