Biography Writing as Public Scholarship

Book covers for Tiff: A Life of Timothy Findley by Sherrill Grace with black and white photo of Findley, and Philip Roth: A Counterlife by Ira Nadel with Roth reclining on a seat beside a stack of books on the floor, advertising the "Biography Writing as Public Scholarship" conversation with the authors, moderated by Minelle Mahtani, March 11, 3-4:15pm PST.

A book launch and conversation with Sherrill Grace and Ira Nadel

Please join us for a conversation with two UBC authors on their recent biographies of writers Timothy Findley and Philip Roth. They will discuss their writing process, how they approached telling the life story of their subject, and the places their research has taken them.

Book cover for Tiff: A Life of Timothy Findley by Sherrill Grace, with black-and-white close-up of Timothy Findley leaning forward toward the camera, smiling slightly, wearing collared shirts.Tiff: A Life of Timothy Findley
(Wilfrid Laurier University Press)
Dr. Sherrill Grace, Professor Emerita, English Language & Literatures

Tiff is a biography of one of Canada’s most important, award-winning authors: novelist, playwright, short story writer, and non-fiction writer. Findley (1930-2002) was central to the development of Canadian culture during the 1970s and 1980s. Author of the iconic WWI novel The Wars, he was friends with many distinguished writers and actors, from Alec Guinness and Thornton Wilder to Margaret Laurence, Margaret Atwood, and William Hutt. Grace provides what has been called a “superb in-depth” exploration of his life, his private journals, his acting career and his writing.


Book cover for Philip Roth: A Counterlife by Ira Nadel, with portrait of Roth reclining in a chair in a room with bare wall and a rug, beside a stack of books on the wood floor

Philip Roth: A Counterlife
(Oxford University Press)
Dr. Ira Nadel, Professor Emeritus, English Language & Literatures

This new biography of famed American novelist Philip Roth offers a full account of his development as a writer.
Philip Roth was much more than a Jewish writer from Newark, as this new biography reveals. His life encompassed writing some of the most original novels in American literature, publishing censored writers from Eastern Europe, surviving less than satisfactory marriages, and developing friendships with a number of the most important writers of his time from Primo Levi and Milan Kundera to Isaac Bashevis Singer, Saul Bellow and Edna O’Brien. The winner of a Pulitzer Prize, National Book Award, and the Man Booker International Prize, Roth maintained a remarkable productivity throughout a career that spanned almost fifty years, creating 31 works. But beneath the success was illness, angst, and anxiety often masked from his readers. This biography, drawing on archives, interviews and his books, delves into the shaded world of Philip Roth to identify the ghosts, the character, and even identity of the man.

Moderator: Dr. Minelle Mahtani is Associate Professor at the Institute for Social Justice at UBC, and the Senior Advisor to the Provost on Racialized Faculty where she supports the recruitment and retention of racialized faculty. She is also a former national television news journalist at the CBC and was previously a journalism and geography professor at University of Toronto. She is the author of Mixed Race Amnesia: Resisting the Romanticization of Multiraciality with UBC Press.

Thursday, March 11, 2021
3:00 – 4:15 pm Pacific Time
Online via Zoom

This event is free and open to the public. The Zoom link will be sent to attendees 1-2 days before the event.


Co-sponsored by the UBC Public Humanities Hub, the Department of English Language & Literatures, and the Faculty of Arts.

This event is being broadcast from the unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Nations.

Please note that this event will be recorded via Zoom and posted publicly. The recording may contain attendees’ names and images. We recognize that this may be undesirable for some participants. If you do not wish for your name or image to be used in the video, please leave your video turned off during the event. You may also change your name to something generic like “Participant” or “Anonymous” in the Zoom meeting room by selecting yourself from the participants list and editing your name. By registering for this event and clicking the Zoom link that will be emailed to you, you consent to being recorded and are aware of actions you can take to anonymize yourself during the event. If you do not want to participate in the live session, the recording will be posted at a later date to our YouTube channel.