After a mini-tour of Toronto and Kingston, Halifax writer Anna Quon finally gets a hometown reception with launch of her debut novel Migration Songs, tonight, Tuesday, November 3, 6-8pm at The Company House.
Quon began writing the book back in 2006, gathering feedback and encouragement during a summer literary program in Russia. She then put the manuscript away for about a year and a half, but did show it to Invisible Publishing’s Robbie MacGregor, who saw the book’s raw promise. Then came an intensive editing process with Stephanie Domet (whose Homing was also published by Invisible), which involved tossing out about 90 pages and rewriting the back-end of the book. Quon is happy with the outcome though, calling it a “collaboration” and modestly claiming, “It belongs to a few people who should be recognized.”
Migration Songs gets deep into the struggles of Joan, a jobless 30-year-old loner who feels isolated and out of place wherever she goes. But when Quon first started the novel she began by constructing Joan’s parents’ story—-still a prominent thread that occasionally overshadows Joan’s quietness—-giving life to her main character’s staunch Mao-supporting British father and her Chinese-Canadian immigrant mother. But the novel really belongs to Joan, part of a new generation of Atlantic Canadian fictional heroes.
Though Quon relates to Joan, don’t mistake fiction for fact: “I feel very close to her—-my interior life is connected to her, my voice is like hers and the ambivalence towards school and relationships, but the details are not.”