After over two decades in molecular genetics research, Beverly Akerman realized she'd been learning more and more about less and less. Skittish at the prospect of knowing everything about nothing, she turned, for solace, to writing. Her story collection The Meaning of Children, now on KINDLE, was released in 2011 by Exile Editions (Canada). Winner of the David Adams Richards Prize, Top 10 for the CBC-Scotiabank Giller Prize Readers' Choice Contest, and many other prizes.
The Globe & Mail said, "This isn't the invented childhood of imagination and wonderment...[here] children both corrupt and redeem: each other, family relationships and the female body." Other recent honours: shortlisted for Aesthetica Magazine's Creative Works Competition, winner of PWAC's 2011 Short Article Award, Pushcart Prize nominations in fiction and nonfiction. Credits include The Hill Times, The Jewish Magazine, Maclean's, The Montreal Gazette, The National Post, The National Review of Medicine, The Toronto Star, CBC Radio One, myriad literary and scientific journals and other publications. She's strangely pleased to believe she's the only Canadian writer to have sequenced her own DNA.
Find out more at:
Beverly's Blog: http://beverlyakerman.blogspot.com/
Beverly's Facebook pages: http://www.facebook.com/TheMeaningofChildren and http://www.facebook.com/beverly.akerman
On Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/Beverly_Akerman
TV & Radio Interviews: http://bit.ly/nJpCHj; http://bit.ly/reqcN3; http://bit.ly/pOGFc9
Reader and Reviewer Response to Beverly Akerman’s The Meaning Of Children:
A keen, incisive vision into the hidden world of children as well as intimate knowledge of the secret spaces that exist between the everyday events of life. A work with a brilliant sense of story…Magical, and so refreshing for me to read. I absolutely loved it and I hope it goes on to do marvellous things. Yours is a luminous talent.
~JoAnne Soper-Cook, Author and Judge, 2010 David Adams Richards Prize
Loved your book; read it in one sitting So each [story] is told either by a child, or it’s about a child. And it’s interesting because I think depending on the age of the person reading it, you relate to different ones. But especially to feminists, growing up with it, wrestling with our beliefs, and whether it worked out or not… a lot of women that you see in this book are trapped. We were trapped by what we were brought up to believe. And then we’re trapped by the marriages we find ourselves in, and the children we have… But on the other hand, each story ends with a certain resolve. There’s that sense of okay this is my situation But. And that’s what the meaning of children is. And yet, it’s about hope. It’s about the future…
~Mutsumi Takahashi, Anchor, CTV News Montreal (interview)
A collection of 14 short stories which covers the range of experience from the point of view of children, mums, and also aging parents as well. It’s all there in this lovely little book, short stories about life in a family that might just resemble yours. I wanted to congratulate you on the publication of this book and I hope it goes far far afield for you. A wonderful gift for mother’s day, perhaps more long lived than the usual cut flowers.
~Anne Lagacé Dowson, CJAD Radio journalist
This isn’t the invented childhood of imagination and wonderment…[here] children both corrupt and redeem: each other, family relationships and the female body.
~Katie Hewitt, The Globe & Mail
Akerman holds up our greatest fears, not to dwell on them, but to marvel at our commitment to life, especially to passing it on to others.
~Anne Chudobiak, The Montreal Gazette, Edmonton Journal, and Regina Leader Post
Haunting and powerfully emotive, drawing on the subtleties of childhood, youth and parenthood that undermine us in strange and unexpected ways. Your writing is polished and mature, something I am always in awe of and why I got into publishing to begin with.
~Meghan Macdonald, Transatlantic Literary Agency
Counter-intuitive to the title, for me these stories resonate with the sad truth of being a grownup. Life is that damn hard and just-under-the-surface tension saturates our existence. But the kids, they know what's going on. They may not understand all the details but they know the score. Akerman nails that sorrow, highlights it with unexpected humour, credits our resilience and almost never skips a beat.
~Chris Benjamin, Author of Drive-by Saviours, on Goodreads (4 stars)
Akerman engages with dichotomies. Childhood is that safe, magical, carefree time and place — but it’s also risky, threatening, ominous and dangerous — full of impenetrable mystery around things seen and experienced, but beyond understanding. And if it’s not too much of a simplification or stating the obvious, life and the world are not gentle on children simply for being children…If, as Dostoevsky once remarked, and as is quoted on the collection’s frontispiece, “The soul is healed by being with children,” it is the tragedy of adulthood that we become so isolated from childhood — and what children offer us. Artfully, evocatively, Beverly Akerman’s The Meaning of Children reminds us of that.
~Darrell Squires, The Western Star
Beverly’s background as a scientist, MSc and twenty years as a molecular researcher, inevitably spills into the stories…characters, the settings and her style. Intelligent, objective, open-minded but not clinical, her prose is refreshing and unprejudiced. Her characters are frank and genuine ...With The Meaning of Children, we get a beautifully written exposé on the meaning of life.
~Francine Diot-Layton, The Rover
Just finished “Like Jeremy Irons.” That was a tough one. Saying I loved it feels contrary to the agony I'm feeling right now. (Perhaps I shouldn't have settled into it with a glass of wine?) Awesome writing - even if my uterus is cramping!
~Lisa Dalrymple, Winner of The Writers Union of Canada’s 2011 Writing for Children Competition
Your book is filled with insight and wisdom and gorgeous moving stories...You are dazzling. (I had read “Pie” long ago. It is just as moving the second time).
~Hal Ackerman (no relation), UCLA Screenwriting Area Co-Chair and author of Stein Stoned and Stein Stung
All I seem to read these days are parenting books. But I think I might be learning more about being a parent from Beverly Akerman's The Meaning of Children than from anywhere else. I can't put it down.
~Jenn Hardy, Writer, Editor and Blogger at mamanaturale.ca
I adore your knack for leaving questions hanging in the reader's mind…and then there are those thought provoking zingers tucked neatly inside the last thought, description or action of your narrators. I haven't enjoyed short stories like this since Margaret Atwood, Barbara Gowdy and Alice Munro.
~Rusti Lehay, Writer and Editor
Beverly Akerman is what Alice Munro was supposed to be.
~Mike Rose (received by my publisher, via email)
A life-altering read is so rare for me, and I imagine for many writers, with a critical eye often hard to keep closed while hoping to get caught up and swept away while reading fiction for pleasure...Her stories are as diverse as her changing career path and yet string together a theme as connected as a genetic chain…Children weave their way through every tale…always sparking the reader to question where in all these stories sits their own story.
~Michelle Greysen, Writer, Editor, and Blogger
I really enjoyed this book. If you like short story collections a la Alice Munro style, I think you will too.
~Julie Harrison, Writer, Editor, and Blogger
[You show us how] our childhood experiences affect us forever. And what we bury comes to the surface from time to time….The story about the woman who couldn't touch anything without it dying was sad and funny - loved the boys next door - and I liked PIE - as you have now given me a simple recipe that I can remember for pie crust -I am a baker. And the poor woman who had entered probably menopause and her marriage had broken without her noticing it. She was just so angry and exhausted. So many women I feel are and hide it.
~Carlene Orefici, via Facebook
I enjoyed The Meaning of Children so much that I wished there were twice as many stories! If I had to pick one, “Pour Un Instant” was my favourite. I was sad to come to the end of the book.
~Lisa De Nikolits, Author of The Hungry Mirror, on Amazon.ca
A great read. I loved this book. The stories are touching without being overly maudlin. It's a true literary feat while remaining a fairly light, pleasurable read.
~Alison Palkhivala, Writer and Editor, on Amazon.ca
Excellent book. Very well written. I felt like I wanted to read an entire book for each chapter rather than a short story. Very engaging. Worth reading.
~Suzanne Boles, Writer and Editor, on Goodreads (5 stars)
This morning I wrote to a friend in Victoria. I told her: ‘I finished Beverly Akerman's book and really liked it. The theme throughout is children: being a child, being pregnant, abortion, losing a child, being a father, giving a child for adoption. Touchy stuff but she has such kindness, such compassion and infuses hope and love in the saddest situation. She offers unique and surprising insights, it's never sappy or cliché. All this within the short story frame, quite a feat in my opinion. If you can't find her book, I'll send you my copy.’ Thank you for writing such an amazing book and for promoting yourself at the gym. It was a bold and creative move. I would have not known about your writing otherwise.
~Diane Des Roches, budding writer