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Ann Walmsley

25 November 2015 | Email This Post Email This Post | Print This Post Print This Post

The journalist and author Ann Walmsley talks about books and reading in prison and her new book, The Prison Book Club (Viking, 2015), with Joseph Planta.

The Prison Book Club by Ann Walmsley (Viking, 2015).

Click to buy this book from Amazon.ca: The Prison Book Club

Text of introduction by Joseph Planta:

I am Planta: On the Line, in Vancouver, at TheCommentary.ca.

When Ann Walmsley was living in Britain a few years ago, she was attacked in the street, leaving her with anxiety and fear. Upon returning to Canada, a friend suggests she help pick out books for a book club. She soon finds out that the club will meet in prison and its members are inmates. Her new book, The Prison Book Club is a marvelous chronicle of the incarcerated men she encounters, as well as the books they read. Worked through are the readers’s feelings and thoughts about the books they’re reading, the stories they’re exploring and the characters who inhabit them. The books are novels, they’re non-fiction; their subjects are weighty and important. Ann begins to work through her own fears, while she connects with these men who bear their feelings about that which they’re reading. You get a sense of what they’re going through behind bars, and in the end everyone seems to get something meaningful from the book club; the prisoners as well as Ann. Ann Walmsley joins me now. I’ll get her to tell us about this experience, the books and the stimulating discussion had. And the themes of redemption, loss, anger, and connection that resonate throughout the book. It’ll be also interesting to touch upon some of the books featured in the book clubs. She is a magazine journalist whose work has appeared in the Globe and Mail and Maclean’s. She has received four National Magazine Awards, a Canadian Business Journalism Award, and two International Regional Magazine Awards. She lives in Toronto, but joined me from here in Vancouver last week while in town for appearances promoting the book. Which incidentally, has been longlisted for the BC National Award for Non-Fiction. The book is published by Viking. Please welcome to the Planta: On the Line program, Ann Walmsley; Ms. Walmsley, good morning.