272 pages Freehand Books reviewed by Christine Hearn

Oh to be young again – and cynical, world-weary, jaded, beyond ennui. Where your greatest worry is whether the pizza will be delivered on time.

Michael Hingston’s (CLA’06, BA Hons’08) first novel, The Dilettantes, is set at SFU, specifically at The Peak, where today’s Peakies don’t seem much different from those of the sixties, give or take a flavoured latte or two. Conspiracy theories abound, the administration is the enemy, and myths (SFU has more suicides than any other university of its size) are passed down from student to student.

Alex and Tracy are two Peak editors, both a little more self-aware than the average student journalist. When The Peak is threatened by a daily giveaway newspaper, the two must try to save it. But what will it take?

Hingston, books columnist for the Edmonton Journal, pokes sly fun at student mores, journalistic conceits, and SFU academic life. SFU architecture plays a key role and anyone who has spent time at the university will recognize the settings.  The book is lauded by the CBC, Vancouver Weekly,  the Winnipeg Review, and Quill and Quire.


Sharon Hanna (BGS’97) gives us 80-plus recipes in The Book of Kale (Harbour Publishing). The superfood is easy to grow (even on balconies) and tasty, and yes, kids will eat it. Hanna received the Mayor’s Prize for Environmental Excellence in 2005 for her gardening program at Queen Alexandra School in Vancouver.

Contemporary Novel

Melinda A. Di Lorenzo (BA’03) publishes her fourth novel, Long Way from Home (Createspace). She has also written Snapshots by Laura and two other books self-described as “life stories, not love stories.”

Children’s Fantasy

Nelson’s Dawn Rodman (BA’83) is an author, illustrator, and songwriter. Her first children’s story, Hideous Horrible Bart, comes complete with illustrations and a musical score.

First Novel Prize

Anakana Schofield wins the 37th annual First Novel Award for Malarky (Biblioasis). Schofield is a graduate of SFU’s The Writer’s Studio.

New Mystery

Linda L. Richards (Five Star) comes out with her third Kitty Pangborn novel, Death Was in the Blood, set in Los Angeles just before the 1932 Olympic Games. Richards teaches in SFU’s Writing and Communications Program.

Homage to a Sixties Classic

Stan Rogel’s (BA’82) Love’s Not the Way (Bookland Press) is a haiku tribute to American writer Richard Brautigan, author of the best-selling Trout Fishing in America. This is Rogel’s 18th book.

Writer’s Studio Shines

Five graduates are reaping praise: Shana Myara wins the international PRISM fiction contest for her short story “Remainders.” Books coming out are Ayelet Tsabari’s The Best Place on Earth (HarperCollins), Wanda John-Kehewin’s In the Dog House (Talonbooks), Joan Flood’s New Girl (Musa Publishing), and Janie Chang’s (BA’83) Three Souls (HarperCollins).

Bad Data

Economics professor Morten Jerven says most development statistics on sub-Saharan economies are all wrong and, as a result, foreign aid is misdirected. Jerven argues in Poor Numbers: How We Are Misled by African Development Statistics and What to Do About It (Cornell University Press) that governments need better information on how to spend their $50 million in foreign aid.

Prize Winners

Caroline Adderson, Writing and Communications Program instructor, wins the Sheila Egoff Children’s Literature Award at the B.C. Book Prizes for Middle of Nowhere (Groundwood Books). Joel Bakan (BA’81), Outstanding Alumni Award winner, receives the George Ryga Award for Social Awareness in Literature for Childhood under Siege: How Big Business Targets Children (Penguin/Free Press).

It’s Complicated

Heather Latimer (PhD’10) looks at the how we talk and think about abortion rights in Reproductive Acts: Sexual Politics in North American Fiction and Film (McGill-Queen’s University Press). She analyzes works by authors Margaret Atwood, Kathy Acker, and Toni Morrison and films by director Alfonso Cuaron to deal with issues that are still crucial 40 years after the Roe v. Wade decision.


Catherine Owen (CLA’98, BA’99, MA’01) is a poet, writer, musician, and promoter of the arts. Check out her website at Her next book is scheduled for 2014.

History’s Not a Mystery

Scott Sowerby’s (BA’96) Making Toleration: The Repealers and the Glorious Revolution (Harvard University Press) explores the reign of King James 11 of England. He concludes that the Roman Catholic James was not the villain he is painted to be, but was in fact a proponent of religious tolerance.

Greek Fire

The Winnowing Circle (Pilot Hill Press) by Kevin Roberts (MA’69) tells the story of a young Greek woman and her Australian boyfriend who return to Greece during the repressive reign of the Greek colonels. Roberts has written five novels, two books of poetry, and two plays. (See more about Roberts in Alumni Watching)


Patrick McGrath’s (PDP’75) Constance (Bloomsbury) is the story of the disintegration of both a marriage and a psyche. McGrath is the author of several acclaimed novels, including Asylum, Martha Peake, Port Mungo, Trauma, and Spider.

The Symbolic Power of Railroads

Michael Matthews (MA’80) explores the tremendous influence of trains and tracks in The Civilizing Machine: A Cultural History of Mexican Railroads, 1876–1910 (University of Nebraska Press). The book will be available in January 2014.

Wit and Wisdom

Canada Wide Media’s Peter Legge shares the lessons learned from Chancellor Emeritus Joe Segal in Lunch with Joe (Eaglet Publishing). Both Legge and Segal are honorary degree recipients. Legge is the author of 16 other books.

Book jacket courtesy Freehand Books