When Richmond author Danny Unrau published his first two books, he remembers travelling to the different Chapters locations in his city for small, intimate readings.
That was back in the late ’90s when the now mega-bookstore wasn’t so mega, and focused more on the local, unique aspects of a community.
However, with a new general manager in town, this intimate feeling is coming back.
Ryan Genoe wants to shift focus to community involvement and created a “local authors night” as part of the national rewards members evening this Thursday.
Unrau brought the idea to Genoe’s attention when he was “shamelessly promoting” his latest novel, You Are The Boy.
“I remember when Chapters was a little less corporate back in the ’90s and wanted to see if I could bring that back,” said Unrau, who was a high school teacher in northern B.C. and a clergyman at Fraserview Church.
Wanting to showcase local talent, Genoe invited Unrau, and two other authors, yet to confirm, to set up a table and an opportunity for them to mingle with the community.
As a first-timer, Genoe is unsure how the night will unfold, but wants to encourage readings from the authors as well.
“This gives us the opportunity to try something new,” said Genoe. “We’re trying to build a stronger relationship with the city.”
As for Unrau’s new novel, it also focuses on the interconnectedness of community, particularly when it comes to the family.
It tells the mysterious tale of Ben who finds historical connections to a Jewish infant left on a Mennonite family’s doorstep and to the grandfather of a close friend.
The readers have the thrill of discovering these connections — as Unrau saw when reading to an engaged class at Hugh Boyd — but the characters don’t always see them.
“This is true to our lives,” said Unrau. “Things went on before us and continue to go on after us, we don’t know everything.”
The family systems theoretician was inspired by the universal search for one’s ethnic roots. He remembered watching a Canadian show about ethnicity.
“It allowed me to go into my own background, and be curious about it, which Canadian society didn’t really encourage when I was growing up,” said Unrau, whose parents came from Russia.
Though somewhat autobiographical, You Are The Boy largely mixes truth with fiction, a mixture Unrau is hesitant to separate, even for his own family. “If they ask me, I think I’ll just shrug,” said Unrau with a laugh. But he enigmatically added, “We write what we know. Truth is a lot more interesting. I don’t think there really is such thing as fiction.”
Thursday’s event runs from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Chapters in Richmond. Genoe hopes to continue with similar events such as free seminars and knitting circles.
“Some people don’t always have a place to go, so we want Chapters to be that place.”