I first came to Toronto last year for an artist residency. About eight months later, I submitted an application for Canadian permanent residency that was framed around my work as an artist and the contribution that I could make to Canada’s cultural life. In my application, I nominated Toronto as the city in which I wish to settle. Although I don’t intend to cut artistic and personal ties with Australia (and with Melbourne especially) – and I also hope to live in other cities over the course of my life – Toronto and I are getting to a stage where if I am away from this city for a while, I start to miss it.
That’s a little backstory of sorts concerning myself and the good city of Toronto. Now to the present plot, which is that my collection of fictions, Look Who’s Morphing, is being launched in Toronto. Here are the details from the publicly-available Facebook event listing:
Tues April 29 2014 @ 6:00pm for a 6:30pm start
Story Planet and Intergalactic Travel Authority
1165 Bloor St West (west of Dufferin on the south side of Bloor), Toronto
- a performance by Tom Cho and special guest Vivek Shraya
- a conversation facilitated by Punam Khosla
Books available for sale at the launch, through Glad Day Bookshop
Story Planet is a wheelchair accessible space. There is an entry ramp at the front entrance (note: the door opens manually and outwards). There are ramps (and no steps) throughout the entire venue. There is one wheelchair accessible, gender neutral washroom with an assistive bar.
Look Who’s Morphing is a funny, fantastical, often outlandish collection of stories firmly grounded in pop culture. The book’s central character undergoes a series of startling transformations, shape-shifting through figures drawn from film, television, music, books, porn flicks, and comics. Often accompanied by family members, this narrator becomes Godzilla, Suzi Quatro, Whitney Houston’s bodyguard, a Muppet, a gay leatherman, a nun who becomes a governess to the von Trapp children, and, in the book’s lavish climax, a 100-foot-tall guitar-wielding rock star performing for an adoring troupe of fans in Tokyo. Throughout these stories, there is a pervasive questioning of the nature of identity―cultural, racial, sexual, gender, and what lies beyond. Look Who’s Morphing is a stylish, highly entertaining literary debut in which nothing, including one’s self, can be taken for granted.
First published to acclaim in Australia, this collection was shortlisted for various literary awards, including the 2010 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Book.
Tom Cho is an artist whose fiction has appeared widely, including in such publications as The Best Australian Stories series, Asia Literary Review and The New Quarterly. Like his favourite pop stars, Tom enjoys trying new guises on for size, and his work has been described as “transgenre, transgender and transcultural all at once”. He has performed his work on the stages of many festivals, from Singapore Writers Festival to Sydney Mardi Gras. Born and raised in Australia, Tom has applied for permanent residency in Canada. He has a PhD in Professional Writing and is currently writing a novel about the meaning of life. [www.tomcho.com]
Vivek Shraya is a Toronto-based artist working in the media of music, performance, literature and film. His collection of stories God Loves Hair was recently released by Arsenal Pulp Press. [www.vivekshraya.com]
Punam Khosla is a scholar-activist doctoral candidate at York University in Toronto. She has a long record as a LGBTQ organizer, cultural innovator and popular educator and thinker.
PS My launch venue, Story Planet and Intergalactic Travel Authority, is a café, store and storytelling space with an intergalactic theme! Check out the gallery of images below. These images are arranged in order: from arriving outside the building, then entering the café/store area, then walking through the building until finally arriving into the back room (see last two photos), which is where the performance and Q&A will take place.