Because Somebody Asked Me To: Observations on History, Literature, and the Passing Scene

Author: Guy Vanderhaeghe
ISBN: 9781771872584 Categories: Non-fiction, Essays Tag:
Publication Date: 17 September, 2024
Dimensions: 6 x 9"

Canadian literary great Guy Vanderhaeghe’s eclectic and wryly insightful collection of nonfiction pieces spans his forty-year writing career.

Many editors and publishers over the years have asked Guy Vanderhaeghe for his thoughts on books and writers, on history, literature, and his own specialty, the historical novel. Because Somebody Asked Me To has all the hallmarks of the author’s fiction: it is intelligent, wise, wry, and a pleasure to read. These essays, reviews, and occasional pieces are about the difficult craft of fiction, about growing up on the prairies, and about the struggle to find his own voice as a writer, as well as about novels by writers he deeply admires. And, throughout, he casts a bemused eye on the entire human comedy.

In 1982, when Guy Vanderhaeghe’s first book appeared, Canadian literature was beginning to be recognized at home and abroad as culturally engaging and significant. Because Somebody Asked Me To gives readers a glimpse into those beginnings and how they shaped the author and his generation of fiction writers. The book also examines how the Canadian literary scene has shifted during the course of his career—the economic, societal, and cultural changes that have made the old world of writing and publishing scarcely recognizable. Because Somebody Asked Me To invites readers to ponder the transformations Canadian writing has undergone, where it is now, and where it might go from here.

About the Author

Guy Vanderhaeghe is a three-time winner of the Governor’s-General Award for English language fiction for his collections of short stories, Man Descending and Daddy Lenin, and for his novel, The Englishman’s Boy, which was also shortlisted for the Giller Prize and The International Dublin Literary Award. His novel, The Last Crossing, was a winner of the CBC’s Canada Reads Competition. August into Winter, his most recent novel, won the Saskatchewan Book Award for Fiction and the Glengarry Book Award and was shortlisted for the Writers’ Trust Atwood Gibson Fiction Prize. He has also received the Timothy Findley Prize, the Harbourfront Literary Prize, and the Cheryl and Henry Kloppenburg Prize, all given for a body of work.


“This marvelous stash of nonfiction reveals Guy Vanderhaeghe’s full palette. All his strengths are visible whether in a review, a speech or an essay. Reading this volume, I felt all my circuitry light up like a flash of fireflies, as Nadine Gordimer would say. I’m just so glad somebody asked him to.”
—Shelagh Rogers, former CBC host of “The Next Chapter”

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