The Wheeler Centre
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Nation, Clan, Self: Paul Beatty, Susan Faludi and Ivan Coyote in Conversation
‘Is identity something you "choose," or is it the very thing you can't escape?’
In 2017, the personal has never been more political – and the political never more personal. Still, even as we obsessively unpack how to best define ourselves and others, a clear understanding of ‘identity’ can prove frustratingly elusive.
'Community’s not something you consume. It’s something that you build.'
There are few better placed to untangle our often divergent conceptions of identity than Paul Beatty, Susan Faludi and Ivan Coyote.
Paul Beatty’s bitingly funny work – including the satirical, Man Booker Prize-winning The Sellout – explores the complexities and contradictions of what it means to ‘be black’ in a ‘post-racial’ world.
Susan Faludi’s examinations of what it means to ‘be a woman’, meanwhile, have driven her to explore the shifting sands of gender inequality. Her latest work, In The Darkroom, explores the failure of existing transgender narratives to account for the complexity of her father’s late-in-life gender transition.
Transgender Canadian spoken word artist Ivan Coyote is well aware of how complicated gender-based conceptions of identity can be. The author and lead performer of Tomboy Survival Guide, Coyote’s books and performances are designed to guide their audience toward circumnavigating the gender binary ‘in seven thousand easy steps’.
What does it mean to write the self, or to write about nationhood – and how do we best fight to ensure others understand how we want to be seen? Host Jane Caro talks with three acclaimed international authors and artists whose work is driven by a challenge to interrogate how we move between categories, or are forced to inhabit them.
Jane Caro is an author, novelist, speaker, broadcaster, columnist, advertising writer and media and social commentator. She has published seven books, including two novels about Elizabeth Tudor. Her memoir, Plain Speaking Jane, was released in September 2015. She writes regular columns in the Sun Herald Sunday Life magazine, MT magazine and Mamamia Debrief Daily. She appears often in the media, including on the Gruen Transfer, Agony, Q&A, The Drum, Sunrise and Weekend Sunrise.
Ivan Coyote is the award-winning author of 11 books, the creator of four short films, and has released three albums that combine storytelling with music. Ivan is a seasoned stage performer and long-time road dog, and over the last two decades has become an audience favourite at storytelling, writer's, film, poetry, and folk music festivals from Anchorage to Amsterdam to Australia.
Ivan often grapples with the complex and intensely personal issues of gender identity in their work, as well as topics such as family, class, social justice and queer liberation – but always with a generous heart, a quick wit, and the nuanced and finely-honed timing of a gifted raconteur. Ivan's stories remind of us of our own fallible and imperfect humanity while at the same time inspiring us to change the world.
Ivan’s 11th book is the Tomboy Survival Guide and recently was awarded a Stonewall Honor Book Award by the American Library Association, and was long-listed for the BC National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction.
Susan Faludi is a Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist and the author of the bestselling Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction, Stiffed: The Betrayal of the American Man, and The Terror Dream: Myth and Misogyny in an Insecure America, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism.
Her most recent book, In the Darkroom, won the 2016 Kirkus Prize for Non-Fiction and was named one of the top ten best books of the year by the New York Times. Faludi's work has appeared in the New Yorker, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Harper’s and many other publications.
Paul Beatty is the author of three novels – Slumberland, Tuff and The White Boy Shuffle – and two books of poetry: Big Bank Take Little Bank and Joker, Joker, Deuce. He is the editor of Hokum: An Anthology of African-American Humor. He lives in New York City.
Named as one of the best books of the year by the New York Times Book Review; the New Yorker; Wall Street Journal; Boston Globe; BuzzFeed; Huffington Post; New York Times; Men’s Journal; Newsweek; NPR and Publishers Weekly.