Some French reviews of Dans la Cage

I’ve been catching up on some of these after a busy labour day weekend, but there are a few good reviews of Dans la Cage, just published, as I mentioned in the last post, by the mighty Editions Albin Michel. There are also some bad reader reviews I’ve seen on social media, but I am not posting all of those too because this is my crappy wordpress and I do whatever I want on it and everything will be fine…

The first one, and the one that I’ve found from a regular publication, is from Page des libraries, “a literary magazine created by Sidney Habib in the late 1980s to deal with the advent of cultural superstores… distributed free of charge in participating bookstores and sold by subscription.” (from wiki). In that one, according to google translate, they said the following:

“Blood and blows: this first black, bitter and sometimes sensual novel by Canadian Kevin Hardcastle offers us two magnificent portraits: one of a man who knows he is lost but continues to fight until the end; the other of his wife who tries to save him. Magistral.”

Read the full review here, and my thanks to Madeline Roth of Librarie L’Eau vive, Avignon for the kinds words.

Here you can find another review on the blog of Les Miss Choclatine Bouquinent, and this reader managed to see through the blood and guts to get to the story of the family at the heart of the novel, and talks about the writing itself, which I like. Check it out.

And, here’s another from Le nuit je mens, which I first saw from an Instagram post by the author, who goes by @FlyingElectra/theflyingelectra on social media. These all seems to be blogs by avid readers and often published French authors, but they’re all quite impressive and well curated, as opposed to this piece of shit I’ve made. Take a gander here…

There’s a few more if you look for the book or my name on social media, but these were some of the most thorough and positive. Hopefully there’ll be some more to come, and I’ll be able to talk to some of these keen French readers at Festival America in a few weeks. It’s hard to guess at how the novel will do from over here, but Albin Michel clearly has a magical reputation and they’re doing a great job of getting the word out.

More to come soon. Take care, all.

Dans la Cage published in France

As of last week, Dans la Cage, previously known around the land as In the Cage, has been published by Albin Michel, one of the leading literary publishers in France, and the kind of house that publishes translations of writers like Donald Ray Pollock, Stephen King, Claire Vaye Watkins, Colson Whitehead, and this random guy from Midland, Ontario.

I’ll be heading over to Vincennes in a few weeks for Festival America, where I’ll be participating in a number of events with far fancier people, and where I’ll be lucky enough to share the stage with John Irving (the guest of honour this year, on the 40th anniversary of The World According to Garp), Nathan Hill, David Chariandy, Heather O’Neill, Ivy Pochoda, Aura Xilonen, Michael Farris Smith, Baird Harper, and Dan Chaon. That’s not a bad list of authors to talk with about writing.

The festival has a Canadian focus this year, with a bunch of English and French language authors heading over. So, I think it’ll be an interesting experience talking about what is really going on over here, and especially about what is going on at a community level in the CanLit scene. I’m very happy that the organizers of the festival, and my fine editor at Albin Michel, Francis Geffard, have put together such comprehensive panels where we can really dig deep into that, and maybe get a conversation going about the actual guts of the place and people that we write about in a way that they’ve not quite read or heard before.

So, I’ll be posting some reviews and response to the book leading up to the fest, and my thoughts on it after, and perhaps during if I have the gumption. But, in the meantime, tell everyone you know in France from anytime in your life about this. I’ll high five you a number of times if you do.

Thanks everybody. And, believe in your dreams, as always…

Hazlitt Interview with Daemon Fairless, author of Mad Blood Stirring

A little while back I heard about an author called Daemon Fairless, who had been a reporter for the CBC but moved on to work on a novel about male violence, called Mad Blood Stirring. After talking with a number of people about the book, and learning a bit more about it, I got the chance to interview Daemon and dig deep into the topics he covers in this fascinating debut work of non-fiction. That interview is up on Hazlitt now.

I’ve yammered at length on panels, on the radio, and at readings, about how readers’ inability to squarely look at violence as it truly is, as opposed to some hyper-realized version, or some opaque idea of it, is a real problem. It is especially apparent in how we absorb popular Canadian literature, as evidenced by when viewers had to sit through Canada Reads and see brilliant, important books like Cherie Dimaline’s The Marrow Thieves, and Omar El Akkad’s American War, get dismissed by baffled panelists as too “alienating.” (That is in here too).

Unfortunately, violence in literature and in life is not really what the average reader, or writer, believes it to be. It changed my outlook on everything when I read how Hemingway wrote physical violence (I discussed that at length in this WIR post for Open Book Ontario from 2015, along with my whole take on writing violence well), and the writers I admire all have found ways to write violent and despairing things while maintaining a beauty and artfulness in the craft of their writing. If you want to write about violent things, and deadly, catastrophic things, you have to write them properly. If you do, the weight of those words increases exponentially, and the impact will be real and lasting.

I was sent Fairless’ book, Mad Blood Stirring, by two different people at Penguin Random House, and I can see why they sent it over. We had a lot of shared experience with violence, though very different lives, and we both recognized each other as people who have just put their toe in the water, but at least have an idea how deep that water gets. As a result, we had a long, open talk about the book, and the ideas within.

So, check out this talk on Hazlitt if you like, by clicking this line, and, if any of it intrigues, you should pick up this book and dig in. I know there are a lot of “maleness” books out there these days, but I also know that we need the good ones to stem the tide of dipshit “public intellectuals” who are peddling their wares and doing their damage for ego and profit only. Further, books like this, and a few others out there, are a welcome reminder that we should look at an issue like male violence for what it is, equal parts horrifying, complicated, and important. In any case, we follow these threads and more in the interview, and I hope you’ll give it a look.

Thanks for reading. Cheers. KH

In the Cage optioned for film/TV

Now that it has been finalized, I can tell you all that my debut novel, In the Cage, has been optioned for film or TV. This has been in the works a little while, but a lot of these deals take some time to get done. The rights were sold to Jason Buxton and Festina Lente by Paige Sisley at Cooke McDermid, on behalf of Biblioasis. Buxton is developing the project for screen.

These film options don’t always lead to Winter’s Bone level magic, and that is why you need an agent to make sure that you’re selling rights to a place that actually intends to produce the film or show, but Jason has a great vision for the adaptation, and I think this has some legs. It’s still early days, but I’ll share news as it comes.

You can read the Book to Film release on this in Publisher’s Weekly right here. And you can find In the Cage here, if you haven’t checked it out already.

Literary critic Steven W. Beattie on my story, Old Man Marchuk

Literary critic Steven W. Beattie, regularly of the Quill & Quire, among other publications, has been doing a series called 31 Days of Stories for May, where he talks about a different work of short fiction every day. Turns out that he decided to cover Old Man Marchuk, the lead story from my 2015 collection, Debris.

Beattie had one of my favourite reviews of the collection back when it came out, and that showed up in The Globe & Mail. My editor, John Metcalf, was a fan of that review also. Mainly because Beattie really dug into the writing at a sentence level, and broke down the stylistic choices that were being made below the surface. He does that again here, but goes even deeper into this one specific story.

Anyways, you can check it out by clicking this line. And you can still find Debris, as well as my novel, In the Cage, online and at many actual real-life bookstores. Thanks to Beattie for continuing to champion the work. Cheers.

Prairie Fire Magazine reviews IN THE CAGE

Hey everyone. I hope everything is going swimmingly. Here’s a review in a very good Canadian literary journal, Prairie Fire, about this novel I wrote called In the CageIt’s been out there for about a month or so, but I’ve been waylaid by writing things and jurying writing things, so I’m getting to a number of book updates now.

“Hardcastle’s writing could be compared to that of Hemingway, Cormac McCarthy or Ken Bruen. His pared down sentences scrutinize a way of life that is rough and unrelenting… the author has found his own style, is in command of his pen and knows his subjects. He strips the facades from our comfortable lives and jolts us into the hard lane of life, and we soon acknowledge that living on the edge is difficult and downright heart-breaking.” – Mary Barnes – Prairie Fire

I sincerely thank the writer Mary Barnes for this one, and I really do appreciate her close reading of the novel. I didn’t think anymore reviews were coming in at this point, so I was pretty jacked up on mountain dew when I saw her take on the book. You can read the full thing by clicking this line.

Thanks a bunch, Prairie Fire, for putting this up. You are good folks. Cheers. KH


Things that I’m doing in 2018

Hello everyone. It has been pretty quiet over the last little while, what with book things winding down at the end of 2017 and winding back up somewhat at the beginning of 2018. Nonetheless, I do have a few readings and events coming up that are worth mentioning, for folks that might be interested.

  • Common Reading Series – The Bell Jar Cafe – Toronto, Ontario – With Amy Jojo Jones & Cherie Dimaline – February 19th, 2018
  • IFOA Weekly presents ‘What’s Life Got To Do With It?’ – Toronto, Ontario – With Mayank Bhatt, Terri Favro, Catherine Graham, Kevin Hardcastle and Grace O’Connell – Hosted by Lisa De Nikolits – March 7th, 2018
  • Junction Reads – Toronto, Ontario – Guest Author – March 25th, 2018
  • GritLit: Hamilton Readers & Writers Festival – Hamilton, Ontario – Guest Author – April 12th to April 15th, 2018
  • Talk at the McLaren Art Centre – Barrie, Ontario – Guest Author – May 4th, 2018
  • Festival America: Littératures et les cultures d’Amérique du Nord – Vincennes, France – Guest Author – September 20th to September 24th, 2018
  • Wordstock Sudbury – Sudbury, Ontario – Guest Author – November 1st to November 3rd, 2018

These are all findable on my readings & events page on this site, and I’ll update any new readings or appearances there as they emerge.

I’m looking forward to the festivals especially, including GritLit in Hamilton, and Wordstock Sudbury, which both seem like great municipal literary happenings. The craziest one of the year is my being asked to participate in Festival America, an international literary festival that takes place in Vincennes, which coincides with the French publication of In the Cage, by the renowned Parisian publishing house, Albin Michel.

I’ve been working on translations of both In the Cage & Debris with Janique Jouin-de Laurens, and my editor there is Francis Geffard. They’ve published translations of writers like Donald Ray Pollock, Marlon James, and Stephen King, and are a formidable literary force in Europe. So, I’m very interested in seeing how the French receive my work. I’ve heard only good things about their passion for good writing, and for their enthusiasm for reading literary crime and the like, and novels authored by those that I truly admire and have looked up to over the years.

Otherwise, I’m some chapters into the next novel, and will be back in the short story tumbler soon enough. It took a lot of time and energy to get the first novel to where it got to, and I’ve been busy with some prize juries and other endeavours, but it is time to cut my teeth on some new writing, and lots of it.

Take care. KH