The Meagre Tarmac by Clark Blaise

The Meagre Tarmac by Clark Blaise

Biblioasis, Emeryville, Ontario, 2011

From my TBR pile.

I had never heard of Clark Blaise before seeing this book nominated for the 2011 Scotiabank Giller prize.  It turns out Blaise founded the postgraduate Creative Writing Program at Concordia University, served as the Director of the International Writing Program at Iowa from 1990 to 1998, and is the President of the Society for the Study of the Short Story.  He is married to author Bharati Mukherjee and has spent time traveling in India.

The Meagre Tarmac is a novel made of linked stories strung together like an assortment of beads, exploring the places where tradition, culture and change meet.  First and second generation Indo-Americans face intimate struggles of immigration and identity, trying to find home.  What do they cling to and what do they leave behind?

Initially it was difficult for me to accept stories of East Indians written by a white North American, but I believe Blaise’s connections through family and travel bring truth and compassion to his writing.  He is a master story-teller, this is a beautiful collection and I will search out more of his work.


Filed under Canadian, CanadianBookChallenge6, GillerPrize, Immigration, India, LiteraryFiction, Thoughts

9 responses to “The Meagre Tarmac by Clark Blaise

  1. That is a sign of a good writer if they can immerse themselves in another culture and write about it.

  2. He didn’t have an easy task. I like what you write about the book. It sounds the stories were all like vignettes containg different elements of the same theme.

  3. I read this almost a year ago, when it appeared on the Giller Prize list early September, and I can *still* remember several of the characters in this collection which, when it comes to my poor reader’s memory, compounded by the fact that you are only briefly acquainted with them because it’s not a novel, really stands out for me; I haven’t read any of other stories, but I did pick up another collection. I’ll be interested to see which you read next!

  4. Pingback: Sunday Caught My Interest « Reflections from the Hinterland

  5. I’ve been reading quite a few linked stories as of late as well as Giller Longlits/Shortlisted books, so this should be right up my alley. Thanks for sharing this review, the book sounds interesting!

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