Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

The WAR Series: Writers as Readers, with Robert Rotenberg

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Robert Rotenberg

The WAR Series: Writers As Readers gives writers an opportunity to talk about the books that shaped them, from first loves to new favourites.

Today we welcome Robert Rotenberg, the author of Strangehold (Simon & Schuster Canada). Strangehold is the latest in Robert's popular Ari Greene series. Canada's own John Grisham, Robert is a lawyer turned writer of legal thrillers and readers have been snapping up his addictive pageturners since Old City Hall was published in 2009. Strangehold is the fourth book in the series and the stakes have never been higher when Ari himself is arrested for murder.

Read on to hear from Robert about early experiences with Scarlett O'Hara, a book so good it merits abandoning your friends and family and some very Canadian autobiography titles.

The WAR Series, Writers as Readers

The first book I remember reading on my own:
The Good Earth by Pearl Buck — then my mother, who never had a daughter, tried to get me to read Gone with the Wind. First book I never finished. Couldn’t get past Scarlett worrying about what dress to wear.

A book that made me cry:
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck — now I cry at everything.

The first adult book I read:
I guess I never read kids books.

A book that made me laugh out loud:
Catch 22 by Joseph Heller. I can still see myself laughing as Yossarian is editing the soldier’s letters. “Next I declared war on pronouns.” I finished it, and turned to page one and re-read the whole book right away.

The book I have re-read many times:
Great Scandinavian mystery/thriller. Starts with a murder, then a suicide, another murder, attempted kidnapping. All the good stuff. It’s a bit old. Five hundred years in fact. Called Hamlet. I can’t remember the name of the author.

A book I feel like I should have read, but haven't:
Do you have a month for me to make a full list?

The book I would give my seventeen year old self, if I could:
The Razor’s Edge by Somerset Maughan. Hey I read it when I was seventeen. Just re-read it last year. What an amazing novel.

A book I feel strongly influenced me as a writer and why:

The day I got my agent I told her that for me the ‘holy trinity’ of terrific books was The Day of the Jackal, The Eye of the Needle and The Spy Who Came in from the Cold. Maybe I should write a book with a ‘The’ in the title.

The best book I read in the past six months:
If I could lead my whole life over, I'd do every single thing the exact same. Except. I wouldn't have waited a month before reading Vincent Lam's The Headmaster's Wager. Best novel I have read since Vikram Seth's A Suitable Boy. And it was published in...yikes...1993. I hear Seth is working on a new novel, A Suitable Girl. And so is Dr. Lam. When either of these come out, abandon your friends and family immediately. Charge over to the nearest bookstore, rent a room in a cheesy motel with no internet, leave your cell phone at home and read and eat broccoli. At least, that's what I intend to do.

The book I plan on reading next:
The one I’m writing, and re-writing, and re-writing. As per usual.

A possible title for my autobiography:
I Was a Better Than Average Jewish Hockey Player...or...If Only I had a Better Slap Shot I’d be a Better Than Average Jewish Hockey Player...or...Legal Fiction: My life in Court and in Books. (Hey, that’s not bad.)

After graduating from law school in Toronto, Robert Rotenberg became the managing editor of Passion, the English-speaking magazine of Paris. He then returned to publish and edit his own magazine, T.O. The Magazine of Toronto. Eighteen years ago he opened his own law practice and is today one of Toronto’s top criminal lawyers, defending, as he likes to say “everything from murder to shoplifting.” Rotenberg lives in Toronto with his wife, television news producer Vaune Davis, their three children. Please visit his website at

For more information about Strangehold please visit the Simon & Schuster Canada website.

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

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