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Exclusive interview with author Jocelyn Parr, nominated for the International Dublin Literary Award

For the announcement regarding the Dublin Literary Award, click here.

Jocelyn Parr’s celebrated novel Uncertain Weights and Measures, winner of the 2017 Quebec Writers’ Federation Concordia University First Book Prize and shortlisted for the 2017 Governor General's Award for Fiction and the 2018 Kobo Emerging Writer Prize, has earned another astonishing accolade with its making the longlist for the 2019 International Dublin Literary Award

We tracked down Jocelyn at Dawson College and begged her to stop marking history papers for a few moments to allow us this exclusive interview:

Jocelyn ParrWhere/how did you find out you were on the Dublin longlist?

As with most news —fantastic and otherwise — I found out that I was on the longlist by opening an email on my computer.

Who was the first person you told and how did they react?

The first person I told was my partner, Mark Mann. He was thrilled!

What are the celebration plans?

Until the semester is over, all celebrations are on hold, but when the grades are in, I'm sure we'll toast to the longlist and all the fine books that are on it.

Are there any books you like and have read on the longlist?

I read and thoroughly enjoyed Mona Awad's 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl, Katherena Vermette's The Break, and Rachel Cusk's Transit; it's a tremendous honour to be listed among them. I really want to read Yaa Gyasi's Homegoing and Catherine Leroux's The Party Wall.

If someone had told you when you started writing this book, that you’d be here today, how would you have reacted?

I don't think I would have believed it. Just finishing the book seemed way beyond my wildest dreams for a really long time.

If someone is inspired to read their way through the longlist, what is the first thing you’d want to tell them about your book?

I spent a lot of time researching the science, art, and politics of 1920s Russia, but readers are often surprised at my goal. I wasn't aiming to get the history right, per se, as a historian might, but rather to make the history partial, skewed, or even a little wrong, so that it would feel true to the characters who were experiencing it. We're all a little blind to the history we live in, since we don't know how any of it is going to end, and it was that bewilderment and blindness that I wanted to capture most of all.

What do you take away from this awards process?

Oh, this is a big topic! I've been thrilled to be nominated for every award I've been nominated for — or won, for that matter. All the same, these lists are always terribly partial. So many other exceptional books didn't make it on this list that it would be foolish to think that this list, or any other, captures the very best of a certain year. In this case, though, it's lovely to think that the longlist was arrived at through the recommendations of libraries and their librarians. I love that librarians get their say with this award.

What do you hope people take away from reading your book?

Whatever they need a story to give them, just then.

Thank you, Jocelyn!

The shortlist for the International Dublin Literary Award will be unveiled on April 4, 2019. Fingers crossed! 

awards Interview Jocelyn Parr Uncertain Weights and Measures

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