A legend in Claire Battershill’s family history says her great-grandfather ran away to join the circus – and the title story of her forthcoming debut short-story collection, Circus, kicks that basic plot up a notch.
The piece, which won a CBC Literary Award in 2008, recounts the coming-of-age struggles of the granddaughter of a former circus performer – one who wrestled other men while dressed in a bear costume.
“Circus seemed like an appropriate name for the entire collection because each story is like an individual act within one big show,” says Battershill (PhD 2012). “All the performances explore how spectacular events come into contact with the ordinary.”
While Circus is due for release in April, Battershill has already garnered attention from the Canadian Authors Association, which last year named her co-winner of its Emerging Writer Award, and from PEN International, which shortlisted another piece from Circus, “The Collective Name for Ninjas,” for the 2013 New Voices Award.
Battershill, who currently teaches creative writing at the University of Reading in the United Kingdom, is now in the early stages of experimenting with a new genre – the novel. “Genres are like hats,” she says. “You won’t know which one suits you until you’ve tried it.”
Read an excerpt from Claire Battershill’s title story “Circus.”
Excerpted from Circus by Claire Battershill. Copyright © 2014 by Claire Battershill. Excerpted by permission of McClelland & Stewart, a division of Random House of Canada Ltd. All rights reserved.