Saturday, 29 March 2008

Saturday Photo: African Violets and The Violets of Usambara

The ancestral African Violets were first collected in the East Usambara Mountains of Tanzania in the 1890s. Since then they've become everybody's favourite houseplant, grown by people all over the world.

I've often grown them, but have been unsuccessful in getting them to rebloom after their intitial splendour. This year, however, I was able to coax three plants ino blooming. A combination of a mild fertilizer and winter sunshine brought on the buds, I think. But I'm not sure: I'll have to wait to see if it works next year.

That the plants are blooming now is a very happy coincidence. My novel The Violets of Usambara whose heroine loves the plants has just been published. We had the first launch on Tuesday, which was great fun--lots of friends, and Marc Côté, the publisher of Cormorant Books, was there to introduce Hélène Dorion (whose Days of Sands was also being launched), her translator Jonathan Kaplansky and me.

Wednesday we'll have a second launch, this time for my novel alone, at a bookstore in the Mile End district of Montreal, where part of the book takes place (the rest is in Burundi.) If you're nearby, it would be a pleasure to meet you:

7 p.m., Wednesday, April 2, at Librairie L'écume des jours, 125 St. Viateur West.

And if you want to order it, tell you bookseller the ISBN number is 978-1-897151-25-9 and that Cormorant Books are distributed by the University of Toronto Press. and Chapters/Indigo says it's available for pre-order, while doesn't have it listed yet, but hopefully that will be corrected soon.

Note from Valentine's Day 2009: There's a new reading guide available for The Violets: Click here to find it.

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