Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

The Dirty Dozen, with Catherine Bush and a Chance to Win a Copy of Accusation!

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Catherine Bush (photo credit: Ayelet Tsabari)

Accusations, whether true or false, change the lives of both the accuser and the accused. Catherine Bush (author of the acclaimed novels Claire's Head and The Rules of Engagement) mines this rich social and psychological territory in her new book, the aptly titled Accusation (Goose Lane). Accusation takes the reader from a touring Ethiopian circus to the streets of Toronto and deep into the disorienting and fascinating quest for truth.

Today Catherine speaks to Open Book as part of our Dirty Dozen series, where authors share twelve unexpected facts about themselves. Catherine not only tells us about camel races and goat milk coffee cocktails, but in the spirit of discussing accusations and the difficulty of finding the truth, Catherine has supplied one false response to the Dirty Dozen. Think you know which one it is? Well, it's time to do some finger pointing of your own, because Catherine is offering a copy of Accusation to the first person to correctly guess the false entry on this list. See item thirteen for more details!

And don't miss the chance to catch Catherine in person at the launch for Accusation on Tuesday, September 17, 2013. Click here for more details about the event.

  1. I once laid my hand on the side of a dead humpback whale, wept at its stench and slipped my fingers into its mouth to touch the baleen.
  2. I took part in a camel race in Maralal, Kenya, the saddle a mattress strapped around the camel’s middle. Attached to it was a horn to hold onto, and stirrups. Poky on the outbound route, the camel went faster on the return leg, the mattress not quite enough padding against his bony bits. I didn’t fall off, which was the important thing.
  3. I recently learned how to make a capraccino: take one cup of hot coffee or tea, hold it under the udder of a goat, squeeze hot foamy goat milk from teat into cup. Drink.
  4. In the space of a couple of months, in two different cities, two squirrels tumbled out of trees and fell to their deaths on the sidewalk in front of me.
  5. I was the last person to interview Salman Rushdie in North America before he went into hiding because of the fatwa against his novel, The Satanic Verses. He was in Toronto for the International Festival of Authors. The book had just been banned in India. The interview got off to a rocky start when he turned to me and said, "Can we get this over with as fast as possible." Once we actually began to talk about the novel, things went much better.
  6. Ethiopian military guards with guns came running toward us from either side of the bridge across the Nile. We had stopped to take a photograph. No photographs of government infrastructure were allowed. Our driver tried to convince the men not to confiscate our camera. The negotiations, in Amharic, seemed to be going well. Then the camera, curled up innocently beside me on the back seat, made a loud whirring noise as it turned itself off.
  7. As part of the after-wedding festivities in Tilting on Fogo Island, I shot a rifle into the air. The men gathered to do this, one group on one side of the church, ours by the post office. The bride and groom waved from the back of a pick-up truck as they circled the harbour. At the guns’ retort, the tourists in their cars looked nervous.
  8. After a sleepless night in the Scottish Chalet Motor Lodge on the outskirts of Schenectady, New York, during which the one-legged former racing-car mechanic drove my car away to repair it and returned with it at some unholy hour, I got up, ate breakfast at the International House of Pancakes, set the cat in his carrier on the car’s front seat, switched on the ignition, and drove into the wall of the lodge.
  9. I have never eaten a MacDonald’s hamburger.
  10. I was ten when I picked up a golf club, swung, and hit Sally Norton on the side of the head — by mistake!
  11. I have never written a scene with a banana in it.
  12. I have been accused of many things.
  13. I sometimes play a game with writing students in which everyone has to write three unusual statements about themselves, two truths and a lie. Then we take turns guessing which of these statements are true and which false. The idea is to show how to create convincing fiction through the use of specific details. One of the twelve statements above is a lie. I’ll send a free copy of my new novel Accusation to the first person who correctly guesses which and writes to me at

Catherine Bush is the author of four novels, including Accusation. Her second novel, The Rules of Engagement, was a national bestseller and chosen as a New York Times Notable Book and one of the Globe and Mail’s Best Books of the Year. Her third novel, Claire’s Head, was shortlisted for Ontario’s Trillium Award. Her nonfiction has been published in publications including the Globe & Mail, The New York Times Magazine and the anthology The Heart Does Break. She lives in Toronto and is Coordinator of the University of Guelph Creative Writing MFA. More info on her and her work can be found at:

For more information about Accusation please visit the Goose Lane website.

Buy this book at your local independent bookstore or online at Chapters/Indigo or Amazon.

Check out all the Dirty Dozen interviews in our archives.

Related item from our archives

JF Robitaille: Minor Dedications


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