A novel that takes place over two periods and a book of poetry inspired by the Chernobyl disaster are the latest releases from Nanaimo writer Robert Hilles.
Hilles, VIU Creative Writing Professor, will unveil his new books, Don’t hang your soul on it and From God’s Perspective: Poems of the Atomic Age, in an online reading hosted by the Vancouver Island Regional Library on October 3.
Don’t hang your soul on it tells two stories set in Thailand. The first, which takes place in the 1970s, follows a woman working in a wealthy family’s home to pay off a debt, while the other story takes place today and involves a Canadian expatriate who witnesses a murder.
âWhat you witness or participate in is a lot more complex than you thought at the time, and he’s learning it slowly,â Hilles said. “And he learns that he has some obligation and eventually the two stories come together.”
Hilles has been visiting Thailand regularly for 11 years and his wife Rain is Thai. Hilles consulted it while working on the book.
âShe helped me confirm that I write things in a way that is respectful of the traditions there and also authentic,â he said. “It was really important to me, that it wasn’t an outsider’s point of view, but that it was written as an insider within this culture.”
Hilles said he had always been aware of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster in 1986, but that his interest in the incident was “accidentally” rekindled after learning more about it from books and magazines. videos. He gives the disaster a poetic treatment by From God’s point of view.
âI was more interested in what had happened over the following years,â Hilles said. “So there is literature on what happened on the day of the accident, but I was more interested, for example, to learn that people still live in the radiation zone.”
Hilles was also fascinated to discover that animal and plant life had returned to the area, which was contrary to his assumption that “it was wasteland over there and it would be wasteland for thousands of years. “. The irrevocable nature of the disaster also appealed to Hilles.
âThe radiation is so powerful that it will kill you in a matter of minutes, so I was interested in that part as well,â he said. âThe fact that it’s like when the genie comes out of a bottle, it’s too late. You cannot undo it.
Don’t hang your soul on it and From God’s Perspective: Poems of the Atomic Age are available from Windowseat Books, 309C Wesley St.
WHAT’S NEWâ¦ The launch of Robert Hilles’ books takes place on Zoom on October 3 at 2 p.m. To register, Click here.