A Goodbye Playlist from Publicity Director extraordinaire, Laura Repas

Today is my last day working at House of Anansi. I got the job here in Fall 2002, and barring two years of leave, I’ve been here since. I don’t know how to say goodbye to my friends here, to the memories, to the place that introduced me to my husband, some of my closest friends, and to many, many of my favourite books. So I’ve made a playlist to help me out!

1 – Hey Ya! – OutKast

In 2003, the year this song came out, our then-publisher Martha Sharpe started wearing a super-cute, bright Kelly green sweater. I immediately went out and bought a similar one, and she was cool enough to not mind me biting her look. We called our new favourite colour ‘André Green,’ after the cardigan André Benjamin wears in the video for “Hey Ya!”. Subsequent Anansi staffers started calling their Kelly green stuff ‘André Green’ too, because Andre is awesome, and none of could remember who the Kelly person was. Also, this is the best pop song ever recorded.

2 – French Navy – Camera Obscura

I met my husband, Ken Babstock, right here in the Anansi offices the first month I started work. Various work events kept bringing us together over the following months, as if Anansi was trying to make us fall in love. This song reminds me of him every time I hear it.

3 – Communist Daughter – Neutral Milk Hotel

My close friend Colleen Wormald was our very first intern in the newly-independent Anansi of 2002. That’s how we met. We sat across from each other for four months and discovered we shared a brain. Sure we were separated by an age gap, ethnicity, and some minor socioeconomic stuff, but other than that, it was like we were the SAME PERSON. Not only has Anansi employed me all these years, it also conveniently laid a few soulmates in my path. She introduced me to this beautiful Neutral Milk Hotel CD, and we liked to go to the tiny Dundas Street bar of the same name as this song, when we could fit inside.

4 – Everyday I’m Hustlin’ – Rick Ross

This song reminds me of Sarah MacLachlan, our president and publisher. SURE Ross has some unsavoury controversy around him, and sure we’re not in Miami, and certainly not dealing anything illicit (honest), but every day Sarah Mac is hustlin’. She has an inspirational amount of energy, a talent for seeing all the angles, swears like a thug, and has ALL THE HUSTLE.  Change one word and lyrics can even work:

I’m into distribution, I’m like Anansi
I got them motherf***ers flying across the Atlantic

5 – Have You Ever Had It Blue – The Style Council

Years ago I nicknamed my female colleagues at Anansi the Lifestyle Panel. I found that if I wanted to make a decision about where to eat, what to buy, what shoe looked best with what pants, and other such questions, I could put it out to the group here and get the best feedback. Once I bought two pairs of boots on sale and stomped around the whole office with a different boot on each foot and had everyone here vote on which one they liked better so I could decide which one to return. You don’t find that level of patience and taste just anywhere. I’ll miss my friends. There’s no song I know to describe our relationships, but the name Style Council sure fits.

6 – Dick in a Box – The Lonely Island featuring Justin Timberlake

Do you have a beloved Christmas song that puts you in the mood for the holidays? Is it “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” – so sad yet hopeful, poignantly sung by Judy Garland? Is it “Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth,” the duet by Crosby and Bowie, their surprising, cross-generational pairing feeling so moving, so right for the season? At House of Anansi we always get into the spirit of the season with a delicious potluck lunch, a staff gift exchange, and “Dick in a Box” on a loop in the boardroom.

7 – We All Lose One Another – Jason Collett

Once, at an IFOA event for our Broken Social Scene book, I tipsily promised the lovely Jason Collett that Anansi would publish anything he may want to write, ever. Novels, lyrics, recipes, pensées, anything. I really feel I should set the record straight… Offer still stands, Jason! Just call Sarah Mac.

8 – 1 2 3 4 – Feist

While we’re on a BSS tip, Sarah Mac introduced me to Leslie Feist when she was one of the judges of our BSS short story contest. Our conversation went like this:

Feist – Have we met before? You look really familiar.

Repas – I don’t think so, but maybe. I’ve been around.

Feist (knowingly, with a hint of ennui) – Yeah, I’ve been around too.

I swooned.

9 – Jenny and the Ess-Dog – Stephen Malkmus

When I first saw Patrick deWitt’s author photo I thought he looked like my long-time crush Steve Malkmus, from Pavement. Then I MET Steve Malkmus in a park in Berlin, and realized he looked nothing like Patrick deWitt. But he was still an indie-rock dreamboat, and genuinely friendly and cool, totally worthy of a two-decades-and-counting crush. And DeWitt’s not so bad either.

10 – Annabel – Goldfrapp

This song is based on Kathleen Winter’s gorgeous novel, Annabel. It was such a pleasure to work on that book, and to get to know Kathleen.

Also, there is an album called February by Joanna Barker, which was partly inspired by Lisa Moore’s novel of the same name. Joanna’s not on Grooveshark, so I couldn’t put her on the playlist, but I recommend her CD. And Lisa Moore is a great friend, and my absolute favourite person to take a drive with, hands down.

11 – To Sir With Love – Lulu

The time has come for closing books
And long last looks must end
And as I leave I know
That I am leaving my best friend

The lyrics say it all, I don’t know a more fitting farewell song.

So that’s my playlist for the end of my Anansi era. If you need me, I’ll be the one crying on the Queen streetcar.


The Anansi crew all put our cellphones together to gather up some of our favourite picture of Laura throughout the years. We’ll miss you, Laura! It’s the end of an era.

Check your answers! Here are the authors in our #ReadWomen2014 video

Last month we asked you to identify the authors in this video. Hundreds of your responded, and one of you won a fabulous prize. If you didn’t get the package of books this time around, you might want to study up for next time, and so we humbly present the authors from our #ReadWomen2014 video: the women Anansi publishes (in chronological order).

Here goes!

1. Margaret Atwood
2. Marian Engel
3. Anne Hébert
4. Doris Lessing
5. Erin Mouré
6. Jean Bethke Elshtain
7. France Daigle
8. Daphne Marlatt
9. Marie-Claire Blais
10. Lynn Crosbie
11. Ursula Franklin
12. Sharon Thesen
13. Janice Gross Stein
14. Lisa Moore
15. Margaret Visser
16. A.L. Kennedy
17. Sheila Heti
18. Suzanne Buffam
19. Margaret Somerville
20. Dr. Maria Tippett
21. Siobhan Roberts
22. Terry Murray
23. Elena Forbes
24. Gil Adamson
25. Lana Slezic
26. Lynn Coady
27. Maureen Medved
28. Elise Partridge
29. Shani Mootoo
30. Dr. Bonnie Henry
31. Emily Schultz
32. Heather McHugh
33. Helen Garner
34. Karen Solie
35. Zoe Whittall
36. Alison Pick
37. Kathleen Winter
38. Marjorie Harris
39. Tessa Virtue
40. Diana Athill
41. Georgia Nicols
42. Julie Booker
43. Karin Altenberg
44. Marie Michaud
45. Roberta Lowing
46. Alix Ohlin
47. Carrie Snyder
48. Clare Conville
49. Claudia Hammond
50. Deborah Levy
51. Erin Knight
52. Frances Harrison
53. Marie-Reneé Lavoie
54. Sandra Martin
55. Threes Anna
56. Cathi Unsworth
57. Charlotte Grimshaw
58. Maude Barlow
59. Camille Paglia
60. Hanna Rosin
61. Maureen Dowd
62. Caitlin Moran
63. Parinoush Sanie
64. Perrine Leblanc
65. Ru Freeman
66. Saleema Nawaz
67. Sara Peters
68. Théodora Armstrong
69. Sarah Lang
70. Anne-Marie Turza
71. Eve Harris
72. Nadia Bozak
73. Lynn Thomson
74. Elizabeth Renzetti
75. Sarah Boston
76. Monia Mazigh
77. Dr. Dona Matthews
78. Dr. Joanne Foster
79. Mareille Silcoff
80. Jacqueline Park
81. Sofi Oksanen
82. Adrienne Clarkson


How many of these authors have you read?


It’s fair to say that House of Anansi has always published great women writers, so when Joanna Walsh of the Guardian began her #readwomen2014 initiative we decided to do a Vida Count of our own. We were pleased and fascinated by what we discovered.

In 1967, our founding year, Anansi published Janis Rapoport’s debut poetry collection, Within the Whirling Moment, in the Young Poets series (YPS) and the young Margaret Atwood’s second collection, Circle Game, winner of the Governor General’s Literary Award, was published under the House of Anansi imprint (HAP 3).

This was an auspicious beginning to be sure, however, over the next twenty-two years Anansi published only twenty female authors. That’s not a high number, but in the ensuing twenty-five years, since 1987, the house has published more than seventy women writers — a 300% increase! We’re happy to report that women writers have very strong representation at Anansi, across all genres. Our women authors write about everything: health and wellness, science, history, astrology, memoir, poetry, and fiction.

We have decided to take up #readwomen2014 as our campaign slogan for the upcoming fall season largely because we have a plethora of fabulous women writers on our list and want the world to know about them. More importantly, we want everyone to read their books! So please take a look at what we have to offer you in the coming months. Enter our contest to win wonderful prizes. And please, please read and share these extraordinary writers! #readwomen2014

House of Anansi President and Publisher, Sarah MacLachlan


Enter to win!

My Yorkville: a guide by Ava Lee


I know that with its glitz and international corporate residents it may seem strange that I refer to Yorkville as a neighbourhood. But it’s always been one. Originally it was the self-governing Yorkville Village until it was annexed by the City of Toronto in 1883, and it has somehow retained at least some of that charm especially on streets like Scollard and Hazelton where houses as old as the village are crammed side by side and high rise development has been generally spurned.


I live on the north side of Cumberland in what used to be the second building east of Avenue Road. The Four Seasons Hotel was the first until they ripped it down and left nothing but a gaping hole. I liked the Four Seasons, especially during the days when it was the hotel of choice for the movie stars attending the Toronto International Film Festival. Occasionally, the lines of limos and the sidewalks crowded with cameras and gawkers were a bit much, but there were compensations, and for a girl who spends a lot of time in places like Hong Kong and Bangkok, crowded sidewalks are no rarity.

As for the compensations, well I sat next to Kim Basinger at Akusa. Like me, she was by herself – which looking back was rather odd – and the two of us had a little chat until she asked me what movie I was in Toronto to promote. When I said I wasn’t in the business, she lost interest in me.


Akusa, for those of you who don’t know it, is a Japanese restaurant on the north side of Yorkville Avenue, just west of Bellair. It’s on the basement level of a building, and you have to go down steps to get to it from the main street. I’ve been going there for as long as I’ve lived in Yorkville and I’ve never had a bad meal.

My other run in with a star took place at the Dynasty Chinese Restaurant when it was still on Bloor Street on the second floor of the Esplanade. I was there for dim sum with my friend Mimi when a clamour broke out at the entrance. It was Gong Li with an entourage. She sat four tables away from us and I tried hard not to stare too much. She looked absolutely stunning from that distance, and five minutes later I found out she looked stunning from any distance because I bumped into her as I leaving the washroom and she was entering it. I mumbled something worshipful in Mandarin. She just smiled.


When I found out the Dynasty was going to close that location I was quite upset. It was the only Chinese restaurant in easy walking distance that served good dim sum. Then to my delight, I discovered it had moved right into the village and was now on Yorkville Avenue, just west of Bay Street.

I had no such luck when the Cumberland Cinemas closed. They were almost directly across the street from me and – except during TIFF – I could go on a whim a few minutes before screening time and expect to get a good seat for the eclectic mix of mainly independent and foreign films they showed. Now the closest movie house is the ManuLife Center at Bay and Bloor. It’s only a ten minute walk, but the movie selection is more mainstream, and it is always more crowded. Normally when I go there, I include a trip to the LCBO to get some wine, and I always stop in at the Indigo book store. Indigo is large, and is part of a chain, but the service in that store is so terrific that despite its size it feels like a cozy neighborhood operation.



One of my definitions of a neighbourhood is that I can get anything I need within walking distance. And I can. There’s a Whole Foods store on Avenue Road, just five minutes northwest from me, and another five minutes to the east on Bay Street there’s Pusateri Fine Foods. Between the two of them there isn’t any food – except for my Chinese staples like ten pound bags of fragrant rice – that I can’t buy. And next to Pusateri’s, on the corner of Cumberland and Bay, there’s a Starbucks and my supply of VIA instant coffee.


Whenever I go to that Starbucks, I invariably go north to Yorkville Avenue and then east towards Yonge Street to visit the Yorkville Public Library. I don’t know how this gem of a Beaux Arts building has survived. It was built in 1907 with money endowed by Andrew Carnegie. I always stand outside for a few minutes to admire its façade – two pairs of columns, Doric capitals, a bracketed cornice and stone quoins. It reminds me of several buildings on the Bund in Shanghai, but in miniature form.

Thousands of visitors treat Yorkville as a tourist destination. They can’t see past Bloor Street’s Mink Mile, the boutiques, art galleries and antique shops that dot Cumberland, Yorkville and Hazelton Avenues and Scollard Street, and the patio restaurants that pop up like dandelions the moment the outside temperature is bearable. But I have been living in Yorkville for so long now that it I don’t only think of it as the place I live, I think of it as my home and my neighbourhood.

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About Ava Lee

Ava Lee is a young Chinese-Canadian forensic accountant who specializes in recovering massive debts that aren’t likely to be recovered through traditional methods. Independent, intelligent, and creative in her methods, Ava does whatever needs doing to get the job done. Ava’s motto is: “people always do the right thing for the wrong reason.” Her challenge is to always find that wrong reason.

Even though she’s petite, it’s a serious mistake to underestimate her physical abilities. She is well trained in martial arts and uses her abilities to get her out of dangerous circumstances. She is also accustomed to working alone, to the point of obsession, which becomes interesting when she is forced to negotiate with powerful and unfamiliar alliances.

When Ava isn’t travelling the world solving crimes, she lives in Toronto’s exclusive Yorkville neighbourhood.


Meet Ian Hamilton, author of the Ava Lee novels, at the Yorkville Library

IanHamiltonApril 29, 6:30pm
Yorkville Library
22 Yorkville Ave
Toronto, ON
Free event, everyone is welcome.
For more information, please call 416-393-7660.

Meet the Massey Lectures App

Hello world.

Uncover the full legacy and history of the Massey Lectures Series, from 1961 to today. Learn more about selected Massey authors, their lives, achievements, and beliefs. Explore the complex web of themes within the Massey universe, and hear unique thoughts and insights from the lecturers themselves. And then contribute to the conversation yourself.


Download the Free Massey Lectures App


 “The Massey Lectures series is so unique and special. The Massey Lectures iPad app further engages with the audience and livens up the conversation, supporting the original format beyond what it was capable of before.”

— Renowned author Lawrence Hill, 2013 Massey Lecturer

For more than 50 years, the annual Massey Lecture series, broadcast on CBC Radio’s IDEAS, has brought contemporary thinkers with unique perspectives and experiences to a national and international audience. Notable Massey Lecturers include Northrop Frye, Noam Chomsky, Margaret Atwood, Doris Lessing, Stephen Lewis, Thomas King, Margaret Somerville, and Wade Davis to name but a few.

During the week of the rebroadcast of Lawrence Hill’s Massey Lectures, Blood, on CBC Radio’s IDEAS, House of Anansi in co-operation with the CBC and Massey College, and with the support of the Ontario Media Development Corporation, unveils its first iPad app. Now available for free in the iTunes App Store, the Massey Lectures iPad app lets readers explore some of the most complex and thought-provoking topics of our age, and reveals the depth and breadth of Canada’s preeminent public lectures series in a totally new way. The app includes nearly 200 hours of text, audio lectures, interviews, talks, and exclusive footage.

Massey Sets

For the first time, the audio and text of selected lectures are brought together in one specially priced package available for purchase within the app. Each selected Massey Lectures e-book is illuminated with vibrant images and videos and includes the five-hour audio lectures. At launch, the app adds nearly 40 pieces of additional video and audio content. Also available for the first time are curated bundles of books and lectures that are divided by connected ideas across lectures called “themes,” such as “Constructing and Deconstructing Identity” and “Rationalizing the Truth.”

Watch the app in action


About the Massey Lectures Series


The Massey Lectures Series was created in honour of the Right Honourable Vincent Massey, former Governor General of Canada, and was inaugurated in 1961 to provide a forum on radio where major contemporary thinkers could address the important issues of the day. Each year a noted scholar or public figure is invited to give a series of topical lectures. The Massey Lectures are co-sponsored by CBC Radio, House of Anansi Press, and Massey College in the University of Toronto. For more information, go to cbc.ca/masseys.


The Massey App is created by House of Anansi in co-operation with the CBC and Massey College, and with the support of the Ontario Media Development Corporation. The Massey Lectures iPad App was concepted, designed and developed by Critical Mass, a global digital marketing agency.


Join us on Twitter this Friday at 4pm for #Publidash


The golden era of long boozy Mad Men-style publishing lunches may be over, but that doesn’t mean we don’t still know how to get down. Publishing professionals still throw good parties…they’re just on twitter now!

This Friday at 4 p.m. EST we’re getting together with Coach House Books, ECW Press, Invisible Publishing, and The Porcupines Quill for a little Balderdash-style competition amongst friends.

It works like this

  • Each publisher will bring along one author for the game.
  • Each author will lead one round of Publidash. He or she will pick an obscure word and announce it with the hashtag #publidash.
  • We indie presses will DM the author with our short twitter-friendly definitions.
  • The author will tweet each false definition and the real one anonymously. And that’s where you come in.
  • You have 10 minutes to vote for your favourite #publidash definitions. Favourite the one you think is right, and retweet the one you think is funniest, or most clever. The definition with the most favourites will earn 2 points, and the definition with the most retweets will earn 1. We’re playing for bragging rights, and this is how we’ll try to earn them.

You could walk away with a really great haul

Every vote you cast gets you one ballot in a draw for a pack of books by the participating authors

978-0-88784-236-8_l  bookreview1_46862  41EDSG+5B1L  RU-REVPROOF  9780889843561RH

This is how you play

  1. Follow the hashtag #publidash at 4pm on Friday, February 28
  2. Favourite  the definition you think is correct. The publisher whose definition earns the most favourites will get two points.
  3. Retweet the definition you think is the funniest. The publisher whose definition earns the most retweets will get 1 fan favourite point.
  4. Each round you vote on earns you one entry in our draw. There will be five rounds, so you can earn up to 5 ballots.
  5. Stay tuned for the announcement of the winner of our draw at the end of the game!

Here’s what the publishers are playing for

Bragging rights. Bragging rights and this badass Publidash trophy illustrated by man-for-all-seasons Evan Monday.


This whole thing started with a clandestine late-night twitter meeting. We’ve captured our tweets on Storify to show you how: The genesis of #Publidash

Listen to this while you read Serafim & Claire – guest post by Mark Lavorato

Serafim & ClaireAside from my writing, I’ve also done work composing music for a few film projects over the years. While doing so I came to realize that I loved the process, and that mixing images with my music felt like a really good fit. So I recorded an album that would act as a kind of portfolio for potential film-score/documentary work. Below are two tracks from that album which I thought might be of interest to Anansi readers.

What You Do Not Understand

The first I composed while I was writing Serafim & Claire. I was living in Brittany at the time, housesitting a white mansion on a hill with a massive bit of land that I was left to take care of. I set up my writing desk right in front of this unloved grand piano. It hadn’t been tuned in years, and I didn’t have the money to pay to do it myself, so I found a wrench that sort of fit the piano pins and tuned it as best I could (which wasn’t fantastic, let me tell you). It was while steeped in the story of Serafim & Claire that I wrote the song.

Last Train

Train sounds create all the percussion in this song. It’s sort of an era piece. I think there are elements from the story that definitely come through in the music here.

Serafim & Claire was published today. Get it on our website or at your favourite bookstore.

You can buy Mark Lavorato’s album In Autumn on iTunes or at marklavorato.com.

Read what Mark has to say about stealing moments, fielding death threats, and writing about what you don’t know in his blog post Learning how to steal.