Gene Stewart Lecture presents Anna Porter

The Gene Stewart Lecture Presents Anna Porter

Anna Porter is the speaker for the annual Gene Stewart Lecture, scheduled for February 10, 2010, at 8:00 p.m. at St. Thomas's. Tickets for the lecture are $25; premium tickets are $50 (includes a pre-lecture reception in the rectory at 6:30). They are being sold at coffee hour and can also be reserved at 416-961-4565 or suejoel@sympatico.ca OR by contacting the church office at 416-979-2323, ext. 5 or saintthomas@rogers.com. 

Anna Porter will be discussing the fragile democracies of Eastern Europe and the demons they are facing, issues she is writing about for her new book, The Other Europe (Douglas & McIntyre), to be published in late 2010. "The worldwide financial crisis has been testing central Europe's determination to live peaceably," says Porter, who has travelled to various parts of central Europe to interview leading intellectuals, politicians, former dissidents, the newly wealthy, the poor and disenfranchised. "It has brought into question its ability to reform its elites, to effectively control public demonstrations of hatred and spite, the rise of racial tensions along borders, and the emergence of fascist parties, such as the Jobbik in Hungary. Democracy is messy, irreverent and, in its drive to be inclusive of everyone, often exclusionary of some," she says.

Anna Porter was born in World War II Budapest. She and her mother left Hungary for New Zealand in 1956 to escape the increasing Soviet presence. Porter received her MA in English Literature from the University of Canterbury. She began her publishing career in England, eventually moving to Canada to assume an editorial role in the Toronto office of Collier Macmillan. She joined McClelland & Stewart in 1969 and quickly became the president and publisher of Seal Books. She left Seal in 1979 to found Key Porter Books. In recognition of her achievements, and for being "instrumental in bringing Canadian titles to the attention of the international marketplace," she was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1992. In 2003, she was awarded the Order of Ontario. She has also received several honorary degrees.

Porter has written three crime novels, as well as a biography of her grandfather. Titled The Storyteller, it won the 2001 Canadian Authors Association/Birks Family Foundation Award for Biography. Her non-fiction book Kasztner's Train (Douglas & McIntyre, 2007) won the Nereus Writers' Trust Non-Fiction Prize and Jewish Book Award for History. The Other Europe (Douglas & McIntyre) will be published in December 2010.

Julia Armstrong

The Gene Stewart Lecture was established in 2008 in honour of Gene Stewart, a much-loved parishioner and warden who died in 2006. The theme of the series, "Repairing the World," was selected because it conveys a message that was very important to Gene. The inaugural Gene Stewart Lecture was given by General Roméo Dallaire in 2008. The 2009 lecture was given by Roberta Bondar.