John Ralston Saul [ Canada ]

 

© Hartwig Klappert

© Hartwig Klappert

Guest 2015

Bibliography

Dark Diversions, 2012
De si bons américains, 1994
The Paradise Eater, 1988
The Next Best Thing, 1986
Baraka, 1983

Other languages:
Der Markt frisst seine Kinder, 1998
Raubvögel, 1988

 

Biography

John Ralston Saul was born in 1947 in Ottawa, Canada. After completing an undergraduate degree in history and political science at McGill University, he received his PhD in 1972 at Kings College London with a dissertation on the modernization of France under President Charles de Gaulle.

This era is the setting of his debut novel, »The Birds of Prey« (1977), which became an international bestseller. Saul‘s »The Field Trilogy«, which comprises »Baraka or The Lives, Fortunes and Sacred Honor of Anthony Smith« (1983), »The Next Best Thing« (1986) and »The Paradise Eater« (1988), also addresses political themes such as the effects of power crises on individuals. The third book in Saul‘s trilogy won Italy’s 1990 Premio Letterario Internazionale. Another grand narrative followed in 1994, »De si bons américains« (tr: some good Americans), a picaresque novel, written in French, in which Saul scrutinizes the lives of America’s nouveau riche in the modern era.  In 2012 Saul published a revised and expanded edition of the book, in English, titled »Dark Diversions«. Aside from his novels, Saul has become known above all as an essayist, with texts addressing not only philosophical questions, but also national politics and larger geopolitical issues. In 1996 he received Canada’s Governor General’s Award for Non-Fiction for his »Unconscious Civilization« (1995), in which he lays out the dangers inherent in a tyranny of reason and pleads that we allow reason to strike a balance with other intellectual human capabilities like creativity and memory. In »Reflections of a Siamese Twin« (1997), Saul applies these theories to his native country, coining it the »soft country«; he beholds Canada’s »softness« as a positive feature of the flexibility and complexity of its identity in comparison to the static self-images of other countries. In 2009, in reaction to the previous year’s financial crisis that he had predicted, Saul published »The Collapse of Globalism«, a revised new edition of earlier essays on this topic. After his extended stays in Northwest Africa and Southeast Asia, where he saw firsthand the political suppression suffered by authors in these regions, he became president of the writers association, PEN International, to champion, among other things, the right to freedom of expression and the recognition of indigenous cultures, as he also did in his 2014 book »The Comeback«.

John Ralston Saul, holder of honorary doctorates from 17 universities worldwide, lives in Toronto.