Governor General’s Literary Award to be announced in Montreal

One novel that stands apart from the pack in this year’s Governor General Literary Award nominees is Enter the Babylon System. A non fiction book which was spawned by two high school friends Rodrigo Bascunan and Christian Pearce. It’s written in a documentary style which examines our fascination with violence and guns from a hip hop generation’s perspective.

One novel that stands apart from the pack in this year’s Governor General Literary Award nominees is Enter the Babylon System. A non fiction book which was spawned by two high school friends Rodrigo Bascunan and Christian Pearce. It’s written in a documentary style which examines our fascination with violence and guns from a hip hop generation’s perspective.
On Dec 13 2003 Toronto resident Clayton Kempton Howard was shot and killed. The media and police were quick to look for a scapegoat to blame this on.
Fault was quickly laid on Hip Hop music which has a large focus on tales of gangsters and slum street life. Enter the Babylon System examines if it’s really music that is to blame for a recent spike of gun violence in Canada.
In a recent interview Rodrigo said “the book was intended for a younger audience more in touch with hip hop culture, however realistically speaking that niche is to small”. He went on to say that although Enter the Babylon System is probably being read by an older generation he is still happy to expose them to issues surrounding younger people.
Rodrigo elaborated further on his book “At one point I was one of them, seeking strength for unconstructive means”. He hopes that, “The younger generations need to learn the value of life; things that they value are meaningless, like the sole quest for money”. He stated that young people need to learn that rap is just entertainment, there is nothing glamorous about it. “If you get shot once there is a high probability that you will die”.
Rodrigo said “hip hop is like folk music in the way that its reflective of the people who make it, the vanguard of hip hop are poor black Americans, as long as they suffer, the reality of what they see will come across in their music”.
Enter the Babylon System was originally a column dealing with various political issues in his magazine “Pound”. In 2003 Rodrigo and Christian were approached to write a book.
Originally it was going to deal with a wide spectrum of social issues, but got narrowed down to just gun culture in hip hop. The book has only been released in Canada despite the very American content. Rodrigo explained why that is eloquently. “It would be like an American writing a book about hockey”.
Another nominee in the fiction category was The Assassins Song by M.G. Vassanji. This two-time winner of the Giller prize is about a young Indo-Canadian’s struggle to deal with the burdens of his religious obligations. Wanting a “normal life”, Karsan applies to Harvard, and moves to Cambridge leaving his family heartbroken and distraught, as he was next in line to succeed his father as the avatar of Pirbaag, the shrine of a 13th-century Sufi mystic.
Karsan eventually settles in Canada however in light of violence in western India in 2002 he returns to India to discover what remains for him in his native land. The complexities of Karsan’s spiritual and emotional life play out against India’s religious and political tensions.
The Governor General Literary Awards is an annual prize which Canadian novels are eligible to receive. They are seven categories of Fiction, Literary Nonfiction, Poetry, Drama, Children’s Literature (text and illustration) and Translation (from French to English).
Each winner receives $25,000 and a specially crafted copy of the winning book. In addition, publishers of winning titles receive a $3,000 grant for the promotion of the prize-winning book. Runner ups each receive $1,000.
The winners will be announced on Tuesday, Nov. 27 at 10 a.m. at La Grande Biblioth

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