Pages UnBound is pleased to present the unique Toronto launch of Kevin Chong's The Plague. Accompanied by his writing friends Naben Ruthnum, Kathryn Mockler and Michael LaPointe, Kevin will be spreading his vital and viral dystopian thoughts throughout the evening.
We will plague you a two-pronged presentation. First there will be an interview round robin. The writers can ask each other any question: worst concert you've ever attended, best piece of clothing, why you write, favorite food, etc? The writers will interview each other in round-robin style. Writer A (Kevin) will start by interviewing B (Naben) for five minutes. Then Naben will interview C (Kathryn). After five minutes, Kathryn will interviews D (Michael). Then Michael will interview Naben; Naben will interview Kathryn, who, in turn, will interview Kevin.
And so it will go, until each writer has been interviewed and been the interviewee for every other author. The first round lasts five minutes, the second will be three minutes and the last will be just a minute.
After an intermission, each writer will read for 10 minutes.
There will be snacks!
Kevin Chong (born 1975) is a Canadian author. Born in Hong Kong, Chong studied at the University of British Columbia and Columbia University, where he received an MFA in fiction writing.
He's the author of six books of fiction and nonfiction and teaches at UBC and the Writer's Studio at SFU. His work has recently appeared in the Walrus, Cosmonauts Avenue, and the Rumpus.
Kathryn Mockler is a writer, screenwriter, and poet. She is the author of the poetry books Some Theories (Some Theories Press, 2017), The Purpose Pitch (Mansfield Press, 2015), The Saddest Place on Earth (DC Books, 2012) and MOnion Man (Tightrope Books, 2011). She is the Canadian Editor of Joyland: a hub for short fiction and the publisher of The Rusty Toque.
Her writing has been published most recently in Lemon Hound, Entropy, Cosmonauts Avenue, The Butter, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, Found Press, and Geist.
She attended the Canadian Film Centre's Writers' Lab and wrote two short films for the NBC/Universal Short Dramatic Film Program. Her work has been broadcast on TMN, Movieola, and Bravo and has screened at festivals such as the Toronto International Film Festival, Palm Springs International Festival, Worldfest, Cinequest, and EMAF.
She lives in Toronto and teaches creative writing and screenwriting at Western University.
Naben Ruthnum is a Toronto-based literary journalist, critic, and novelist. His 2017 book Curry: Eating, Reading, and Race parallels the evolution of the incredibly varied dish the subcontinent is perhaps best known for with the narrow ways in which South Asian identity in the West is often received. Beyond his critical interest in the interactions between history, colonialism, and emigré storytelling on the plate and on the page, Ruthnum also writes fiction, which has been published in magazines ranging from Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine to Granta. He is a winner of Canada's Journey Prize for short fiction. His first thriller, Find You In The Dark, was published in North America by Atria / Simon and Schuster and in the UK by Text Publishing in 2018.
Michael LaPointe is a writer in Toronto. He contributes to the Times Literary Supplement and has written for he Atlantic, The New Yorker and The Paris Review.
A modern retelling of the Camus classic that posits its story of infectious disease and quarantine in our contemporary age of social justice and rising inequity.
At first it's the dead rats; they start dying in cataclysmic numbers, followed by other city creatures. Then people begin experiencing flu-like symptoms as well as swellings in their lymph nodes. The masses react in disbelief when the official diagnosis comes in and later, when a quarantine is imposed on the increasingly terrified city.
Inspired by Albert Camus' classic 1947 novel, Kevin Chong's The Plague follows Dr Bernard Rieux's attempts to fight the treatment-resistant disease and find meaning in suffering. His efforts are aided by Megan Tso, an American writer who is trapped in the city while on a book tour, and Raymond Siddhu, a city hall reporter at a daily newspaper on its last legs from the latest round of job cuts.
Told with dark humour and an eye trained on the frailties of human behaviour, Chong's novel explores themes in keeping with Camus' original vision — heroism in the face of futility, the psychological strain of quarantine — but fraught with the political and cultural anxieties of our present day.
“The complexities of racial tensions and income inequality are explored through the lens of The Plague, Kevin Chong's nuanced study of human nature under biological siege, and a terrific riff on the Camus classic. It combines all the horror of The Walking Dead's best episodes with a timely investigation of moral and philosophical courage, failures, and the grey spaces between.”
— Eden Robinson, author of Son of a Trickster
“The Plague is Kevin Chong's artfully wry parable of contemporary social relations. Gripping, funny, and engagingly metafictional, it offers a timely reboot of the modern classic.”
— David Chariandy, author of Brother and Soucouyant
“Chong's rendition of The Plague stands up as a dystopian drama with nuanced characters and tense relationships… In reworking Camus, Chong manages to frankly confront the ailments of an urban environment that is sick in more ways than one.”
— Quill and Quire