What’s not to love.
At Diaspora Dialogues – Readings from the Underground on Saturday, May 24, authors read from the work of a banned writer followed by an excerpt from their own writing. The ever-engaging Garvia Bailey of the CBC hosted the first half of the program. The readings were part of year-round programming by Diaspora Dialogues which supports:
the creation and presentation of new fiction, poetry and drama that reflect the complexity of Toronto—and Canada—back to residents through the eyes of its richly diverse communities. Our focus is on the development of both artist and audience, and on working toward redefining the “mainstream” in the arts sector, and ensuring it is as diverse as the country itself.
The authors included Wayson Choy, Lillian Allen, Karen Connelly, Shyam Selvudarai, Anthony De Sa, Marina Nemat, Sanjay Talreja, Farzana Doctor. The writing (in Marina Nemat’s and Lillian Allen’s cases, their own) were from countries including but not limited to Burma, China, India, Iran, and Eastern Europe. The reasons they were banned included politics, sexuality or sexual explicitness.
Some authors from immigrant communities commented on their parents’ or communities’ romanticisation of their past in their countries of origin. Others spoke of how fear keeps diasporic communities from acknowledging or recalling terrible events such as Tiannenmen Square or the anti-muslim pogroms in India, thereby risking a collective amnesia in these communities.