Caroline Adderson

Caroline Adderson, writer and educator (born at Edmonton, AB 9 Sept. 1963). While Caroline Adderson studied education at the UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA her creative writing professor suggested she dedicate a year to writing after graduation. Adderson did so, and the following year attended a writing program at the BANFF CENTRE, "a pivotal writing experience in my life." Throughout her career Adderson has taught English as a second language, another influence on her writing, as it gives her "a deep appreciation of other cultures and a treasure trove of stories."

Adderson's first SHORT FICTION collection, Bad Imaginings (1993), features her most anthologized story, "The Chmarnyk," in which a young immigrant brings rain to the Depression-era prairies. In trance-induced tongues he proclaims, "Every great change is wrought in the sky," while asking women to urinate into the dry soil. Shortlisted for a 1993 GOVERNOR GENERAL'S LITERARY AWARD, Bad Imaginings won the 1994 Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize.

Adderson's first NOVEL, A History of Forgetting (1999), presents two hairdressers: Malcolm, whose lover is disappearing into Alzheimer's disease, and Alison, whose client's tattoo unlocks the history of the Holocaust for her: "History that the present rests upon ... now and then the then rears up and knocks down the now." With vivid reality Adderson details the costs of forgetting human evil and suffering. A History of Forgetting was shortlisted for the 1999 Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize and the 2000 Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize.

In her novel Sitting Practice (2003) Adderson explores how a moment can alter lives in unimaginable ways. Newly married, Ross and Illiana experience a freak car accident which leaves Illiana paralyzed. Soon guilt, grief and growing silences create a life completely lacking in intimacy: "Ross wondered which one had been paralyzed." A friend leads Ross to a Buddhist retreat where he begins his "sitting practice," learning how to accept Illiana's own sitting practice: her future in a wheelchair. They both recognize love is as soothingly mysterious as meditation, if allowed in. Adderson won the 2004 Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize for Sitting Practice and was shortlisted for the VanCity Prize.

Caroline Adderson returned to short fiction with her collection Pleased to Meet You (2006, longlisted for the SCOTIABANK GILLER PRIZE). Her subtly constructed story "Shh" presents a BBC sound editor who polishes the voices of the world's "mighty mouths" during radio interviews, cutting Freudian slips, curses and silences. He saves these edits because "It was the silence he was interested in...what Reagan didn't say." In retirement he reassembles these silences into a work of art that brings others to tears.

Adderson calls writing CHILDREN'S LITERATURE a "gift to myself." Her books Very Serious Children (2007), I, Bruno (2009), Bruno for Real (2009), Jasper John Dooley, Star of the Week (2012) and Middle of Nowhere (2012) are all widely acclaimed, featuring characters who reflect the real changes and experiences Adderson witnesses in her own world.

Caroline Adderson's 2010 novel The Sky Is Falling is set in the world of 1980s university politics, where Jane shares a house with single-minded characters furiously dedicated to anarchical scheming. Jane learns from her Russian professor that literary plots ultimately change more than her housemates' plots: "Literature will make you better person... teach you sympathy and compassion... but not if you read it with closed mind. Not if you read to prove your closed mind is right." The Sky is Falling garnered nominations for the 2012 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and the 2011 Commonwealth Writers' Prize (Canada and the Caribbean), and was listed as a best book of 2010 by both QUILL & QUIRE and the GLOBE AND MAIL.

A three-time winner of the CBC Literary Prize for short fiction, Caroline Adderson received the 2006 Marian ENGEL AWARD in recognition of her mid-career body of work. She has taught at the Banff Centre and SIMON FRASER UNIVERSITY, and regularly conducts writing workshops. She lives in Vancouver with her family.