Giveaway: A ticket to hear Rohinton Mistry, Wayne Johnston, James Bartleman in Toronto

I am SO THRILLED to offer readers of this blog a chance to witness three literary superheroes in action. In association with World Literacy Canada, I’m giving one person a $60 ticket to see Rohinton Mistry, Wayne Johnston, and James Bartleman read at the Kama Benefit Reading Series.

World Literacy Canada is a Toronto-based NGO supporting women and children’s literacy through non-formal education programs in South Asia.  Their initiatives include adult literacy programs, community libraries, skills training (such as tailoring), and much more.  The Kama Reading Series is WLC’s flagship fundraising event. The first Kama reading featured writers such as Michael Ondaatje and Margaret Atwood; 2012 marks the twentieth anniversary of this  event. This giveaway is for the last event in the series, and will be held at 6:30 at the Park Hyatt Toronto on May 30.

(You may remember that I’d done a blog giveaway earlier this year for the January event. )


Please leave a comment letting me know you’d like to win a ticket, along with your email address.

This giveaway is about promoting WLC’s work, so we’ll all be very happy if you like WLC on Facebook ( ) and  follow them on Twitter (@worldlit). And if you’d share news about this event and giveaway on your blogs and on social media, well, more good karma will flow your way.

Earlier this year, WLC announced to widespread dismay that their CIDA funding had been cut. So, please do check out how you can help WLC continue their important work–you can donate, volunteer, or choose to help in some other way. (Contact them here.)

Small print:

1.  This giveaway closes on May 18, 2012.

2. One winner will be picked by random number generator. If you have left a comment but are not in the Toronto area, or do not wish to enter the draw for any other reason,  please mention this information in your comment.

3. World Literacy will mail the winner’s ticket to a Canadian mailing address, or will hand it over at the venue, depending on the winner’s preference.

4. I have no professional or personal involvement with World Literacy, and am running this giveaway in order to promote a cause I support.  For all legalese, please contact World Literacy Canada.

Here’s a  brief note about each of the featured authors

Rohinton Mistry: India-born, Canada-based Mistry is the author of Tales from Firozsha Baag (1987), Such a Long Journey (1991), A Fine Balance (1995), Family Matters (2002), and The Scream (2006). He’s received too many honors to note here.

Wayne Johnston is the author of eight celebrated novels. Johnston’s fiction deals primarily with the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, often in a historical setting. His breakthrough novel, 1998’s The Colony of Unrequited Dreams, was acclaimed for its historical portrayal of Newfoundland politician Joey Smallwood, and was chosen for the 2003 edition of CBC Radio’s Canada Reads competition.

James Bartleman is a Canadian diplomat and author who was Lieutenant-Governor of Ontario from 2002 to 2007. He initiated the Lieutenant-Governor’s Book Program in 2004, and has collected over 1.2 million books, donated from all corners of the province from both institutions and individuals, to stock school libraries in First Nations communities.

(All writer bios from Wikipedia.)

Thank you for reading, and thank you for helping.


Update: The winner is entrant #5, Mayank Bhatt, chosen by Congratulations, Mayank! And thanks to all those who entered!

Please sign this petition protesting the ban of Mistry’s book

So happy to see concerned citizens are speaking out against the University of Mumbai dropping Rohinton Mistry’s Such a Long Journey from their syllabus due to pressure from a right wing group. I received a message from a Mumbai University student asking me to publicize an online petition protesting the ban of Misty’s work, and am glad to oblige. Here is an excerpt from the petition; the link  to sign the petition is here, and also provided below the text.

“To:  Governor of Maharashtra (Chancellor of the University of Mumbai)


If you strongly feel that voices of dissent need to emerge against the shrinking democratic spaces within the university and the city of Mumbai in general, then please lend your support by endorsing the statement and signing the letter, and replying to the person who has sent you the email so that signatures can be collated.

Please feel free to forward this to friends and colleagues who will be interested, and get back to me when you get signatures from them, latest by Wednesday the 13th of October, 2010.


The full text of the petition is here. Please go here to sign this online petition.  I’m also posting the link on my Facebook account. Please tweet,  share this link on FB or any other platform of your choice if you are so inclined.

Thank you.

University bans Rohinton Mistry’s Such a Long Journey

I am the planet’s most lackadaisical blogger, but this made me angry enough to dash off a post NOW. The University of Mumbai has removed Rohinton Mistry‘s Such a Long Journey from its syllabus because of complaints that the book portrayed the Shiv Sena (a right-wing Indian political group) in a poor light. The originators of the complaint? The student wing of the Shiv Sena.

“Following complaints from some BA students about ‘anti-Shiv Sena passages’ in Rohinton Mistry’s 1990 Booker-nominated novel, Such A Long Journey, Aditya [grandson of Shiv Sena founder Balasaheb Thackeray] convened a meeting of the students wing of his party at Sena Bhavan […]

Copies of the novel were burnt and a 24-hour notice was given to vice chancellor Dr Rajan Welukar to drop the novel from the second year syllabus.

The very next day the university cravenly bowed down to this demand and issued notices to all colleges dropping the novel from the syllabus, regardless of the fact that it was mid-term, and papers for the first semester were being set.” (From Mumbai Mirror) 

I don’t know where to begin.  Mistry is one of the foremost authors of our generation, notable as much for his humanity as his writing, and to have his work held to ransom by a group of ill-informed,  ill-opined thugs is as almost as maddening as the University’s decision to buckle. I don’t doubt for a minute that the concerned authorities were threatened and bullied into submission, but we are talking about a respected institution of learning here.  From their site: “The University of Mumbai (known earlier as University of Bombay) is one of the oldest and premier Universities in India. It was established in 1857 […]  and it is one amongst the first three Universities in India.” If they do not have the will or ability to resist, who does?

As a reader, as a writer, as a Mumbai-lover, as someone who respects the book and admires the author (who, incidentally, lives in a neighboring city), as someone who believes education is (or ought to be) fatal to bigotry, I am upset on more counts than I can keep track of. Damn. Just…damn.

UPDATE: Here’s Mistry’s response to the ban, including a gracious thank you to all those stood up for the book.