An evening of wine & cheese with the team at Penguin Group Canada and Chatelaine Books, who hosted a lovely, fairly intimate, reception for Gurjinder Basran – author of Everything Was Good-bye.
After meeting up with Wendy (A Cupcake and a Latte), Evie (Bookish), Angel (Mermaid Visions), Christa (Hooked on Books) and Andrea (Cozy Up With a Good Read) at Indigo first, we headed over to the Penguin office at 6pm where we were greeted by a lovely set-up in the lobby area. Just around the corner, the reception was already in full swing with lots of familiar faces as well as new bookish friends!
Once the guests had mingled for a bit with some snacks and glasses of wine, we were introduced to Gurjinder Basran; a woman who exuded classiness & grace, wearing a gorgeous vibrant orange dress. She read the first page and a half from Everything Was Good-bye and turned it over to some Q&A time.
She spoke of her inspiration for writing this book, and how it had originally begun as a love story but evolved into something more. Gurjinder realized the story was falling flat, that it was too perfect. She wanted to show the different layers of Meena, the protagonist in this story. She started delving into Meena’s personality and relationships with her mother and other characters, and what started as a love story became more of a family story.
The book seems to have struck a chord with all different generations and cultures of people. The tale is significant for immigrants & first generation children who are breaking free from their parents’ traditional ways. Gurjinder admits it was originally unintentional until reading it back and realizing the message lying within it. Personally, this part of the discussion and story stood out for me. As a first generation child, I could already get a feel for this book from the first pages that Gurjinder read aloud. And, as mentioned during the Q&A, there are not enough books out there that play to that type of character and family life.
Everything Was Good-bye is not indicative of her & her sister’s lives by any means, and it’s not meant to be a thinly veiled memoir. There are definitely moments in the book that would bring up memories from their childhood but the story is fictional. The narrative plays out over the course of several decades, beginning in the 90’s. At that time, there wasn’t as much diversity as the present day. It wasn’t just a clash of culture, but of generations, so Gurjinder felt it relevant and appropriate to set it in that particular time period.
When asked on what the hardest part about writing this book was, she said it was trying to separate herself from Meena. She had to get over the worry that people would think Meena was her, and that she was writing about her own life. And because Meena would do things she didn’t necessarily approve of, she had to consciously distance herself from her character. She also learned a lot about herself with the writing of this novel. That you can’t escape your background, your culture and your heritage. It’s important to understand, to know and to revere it but it doesn’t need to define you.
After the Q&A discussion, we were given her book (which I cannot WAIT to dive into!) and she sat down to chat with everyone as she signed our copy of her book. It was such a enjoyable evening, hearing about this new book and getting to chat & listen to Gurjinder speak. She is such an elegant woman; poised and eloquent, taking her time to think about her answers to each question.
A big thank you to Penguin Canada, Chatelaine and Gurjinder Basran for the opportunity to attend this event!
And some pics that Evie took!