Meet the Jury: Randy Boyagoda

January 30, 2019

Randy Boyagoda is the author of five books, including three works of fiction. His debut novel, Governor of the Northern Province, was nominated for the Scotiabank Giller Prize in 2006. His second novel, Beggar’s Feast, was nominated for the IMPAC Dublin Literary Prize and selected as a New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice. His most recent novel, Original Prin, was published in 2018 and was named a Globe and Mail Best Book of the Year. He is the Principal and Vice-President of St. Michael’s College at the University of Toronto, a Professor of English, and holds the Basilian Chair in Christianity, Arts, and Letters. Boyagoda served as President of PEN Canada from 2015-2017 and lives in Toronto.

When did you first know you wanted to be an author?

When I wrote an acrostic poem for a girl I liked, in grade 2, and my teacher confiscated it and had a strong reaction – unsettled laughter. I liked that and wanted to write things that would inspire more such strong reactions.

What is your writing routine?

I wake up around 4 AM and write for two hours, then my wife and our four daughters wake up and family life begins before the school and work day start. I often take a nap on my desk in the middle of the day. I also take notes for novels in meetings at the university. My colleagues think I’m a very diligent administrator.

What are you working on now?

I’m writing the second novel in a trilogy that began with Original Prin. This novel is set at a Dante theme park in an opioid-wrecked small town in Indiana.

Who is your favourite Canadian author?

I need to be careful here…Malcolm Lowry?

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

Take more time and be less clever.

Where is your favourite place to write?

Anywhere I can.

If you didn’t write, what would you do for work?

English professor and college dean…wait…

Submissions for the 2019 Scotiabank Giller Prize are open. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for the latest news and updates.