Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

The Proust Questionnaire, with Nora Young

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Nora Young

Author and broadcaster Nora Young is the host of CBC's Spark. In her new book, The Virtual Self: How Our Digital Lives Are Altering the World Around Us (McClelland & Stewart) she explores the virtual information we release about ourselves and how it impacts our lives.

The Virtual Self asks timely questions about data sharing, government influence and privacy, and examines how our data might be used to create better communities.

In her answers to the Proust Questionnaire, Nora tells Open Book about the allure of Sicilian pizza and also updates one of the Proust Questionnaire queries for the modern age.

The Proust Questionnaire was not invented by Marcel Proust, but it was a much loved game by the French author and many of his contemporaries. The idea behind the questionnaire is that the answers are supposed to reveal the respondent's "true" nature.


What is your dream of happiness?
Enjoying a late-night pizza and talking with people I care for, at a sidewalk pizzeria in Sicily.

What is your idea of misery?
The self-induced kind.

Where would you like to live?
Where I live now; if not, see Sicilian pizzeria, above.

What qualities do you admire most in a man?
Decency and integrity.

What qualities do you admire most in a woman?
Bravery and strength.

What is your chief characteristic?

What is your principal fault?

What is your greatest extravagance?
I’m not, by nature, an extravagent person. Wine, I suppose, or perfume.

What faults in others are you most tolerant of?

What do you value most about your friends?
Charm, humour and generosity of spirit.

What characteristic do you dislike most in others?

What characteristic do you dislike most in yourself?
My tendency toward chronic fretting.

What is your favourite occupation?
Riding my bicycle.

What would you like to be?
What I am meant to be.

What is your favourite colour?

What is your favourite flower?

What is your favourite bird?
Do people really have favourite birds?

Who are your favourite prose authors?
Jose Saramago, Barbara Gowdy.

Who is your favourite painter?
I’m going to update this for our multi-media age: James Turrell, who creates sculpture and installations with light.

Who is your favourite musician?
John Coltrane.

What is your favourite food?
Fresh, perfectly ripe tomatoes.

What is it you most dislike?

What natural talent would you most like to possess?
Musical ability.

How do you want to die?
I have to die?

What is your current state of mind?

Nora Young is a writer-broadcaster, producer, and documentary-maker. She was the founding host and producer of Definitely Not the Opera and currently hosts CBC's national radio show Spark. She is fascinated with the intersection of technology and culture: how changing technology affects the way we see ourselves and each other.

For more information about The Virtual Self please visit the McClelland & Stewart Ltd. website.

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

Check out all the Proust Questionnaire interviews in our archives.

Related item from our archives

JF Robitaille: Minor Dedications


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