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PAPER CHASE: Author turns memoir into one-woman fringe play

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ONTARIO writer Alison Wearing has come up with a clever solution to the challenge of attracting an audience for an out-of-town book tour.

She has turned her memoir about growing up with a gay father, Confessions of a Fairy's Daughter, into a one-women show and taken it on the road to fringe festivals in Winnipeg, Regina and Saskatoon.

Wearing's show, which runs at the Winnipeg Fringe's Venue 11 (Red River College on Princess Street) until next Saturday, is part of the book tour for the memoir, released recently by Random House Canada.

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This year's survey on women and book reviewing, by the organization Canadian Women in the Literary Arts, suggests an increase in reviews of books by women and a more substantial increase in the number of women reviewing books.

The recently released figures, available on the CWILA website, show that 48 per cent of book reviews in 2012 in 25 newspapers, magazines and literary journals had been written by women, compared to 38 per cent in 2011.

CWILA began studying gender differentials in book reviewing in 2011 after a U.S. group made headlines the year before with studies showing under-representation of books by women in the influential New York Times review section.

Overall, the percentage of books by women went up only slightly (from 42 to 43 per cent). In the four newspapers in the survey, including the Winnipeg Free Press, 38-42 per cent of books reviewed were by women, while several literary magazines were in the range of 60 per cent.

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As a science writer, Wayne Grady has written plenty of books and magazine articles about other people's discoveries. But it was a personal discovery that prompted him to write his first novel.

About 20 years ago, Grady looked up some census records in a library in his home town of Windsor, Ont., and discovered that his light-skinned father was in fact African-American.

Grady has now created a fictionalized version of his father's passing from black to white in his novel Emancipation Day, being released by Doubleday Canada, on the anniversary of the end of slavery in the British Empire (Aug. 1, 1833).

Grady will read from the new novel this September at the Thin Air Winnipeg International Writers' Festival.

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Despite all the attention heaped on Canada Reads, the Giller Prize and I Love to Read Month, Canada is far from being a nation of bookworms.

A recent international survey of media habits by British marketing consultancy DJS Research places Canada in 23rd spot internationally in average weekly reading time. Canadians spend an average of five hours and 48 minutes per week reading, just six minutes more than the American average.

According to DJS Research, India is the runaway reading winner, at 10 hours and 42 minutes, while China and Thailand are tied at eight hours and the Philippines comes in at 7:36.

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One of the jurors who found George Zimmerman not guilty of a crime in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin has reportedly signed with a literary agent to write a book that describes her experience and explains how the judge's instructions to the jury left no choice but a not-guilty verdict.

According to the website Gawker, the juror, known as Juror B37, said during jury selection that she doesn't follow the news and only uses the newspaper to line her birdcage.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 20, 2013 A1

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