A-R International: Sharon Butala

Sharon Butala
Authors-Readers International


Sharon Butala is the author of twenty books of fiction and nonfiction, numerous essays and articles, some poetry and five produced plays. She published her first novel in 1984, Country of the Heart, which was nominated for the Books in Canada First Novel Award, followed closely by a collection of short stories, Queen of the Headaches (shortlisted for the Governor General’s Award). She was born in Nipawin, Saskatchewan. After graduating from the University of Saskatchewan, she taught English in Saskatchewan, British Columbia and Nova Scotia. She eventually returned to Saskatoon, before moving near Eastend, Saskatchewan, to live on her husband, Peter Butala’s ranch. Since her husband’s death in 2007 and after 33 years on the land, Sharon now lives and writes in Calgary, Alberta.

In the last few years her interest has turned to the lives of aging people, and to the condition of being old in this society, and inevitably, to the issue of ageism and how it blights the lives of those advanced in years, but still very much alive and capable, and also, how society is greatly diminished by its unwillingness to accept aging and the aged. Beginning with a “Walrus Talk” on ageism in 2017, she is in demand to give talks on these subjects, which inevitably also touch on grief and loss, as well as on the richness of the inner lives of the thoughtful old, and the gifts they have to offer others and to society.

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The first time I met Sharon Butala was in 1992 when I was her sales rep for the book Harvest: A Celebration of Harvest on the Canadian Prairies published by Fifth House. Sharon was invited to attend my Canadian Day presentations I gave in Regina for the benefit of my customers, the booksellers and librarians in Southern Saskatchewan. Gail Bowen also took part in this same event. After that time Sharon went on to write and publish many more books, but unfortunately for me none were published by companies I represented. It wasn’t until we were both living in Calgary again that we reconnected. I’ve been doing some promotion for Sharon (see below for her listings on Reading Recommendations) over the past few years, and I’ve always enjoyed what I’ve read that she’s been publishing. But I absolutely loved reading Sharon Butala’s latest collection of short stories, Sound of Fury and Wonder because, as a woman in her (now) senior years, it spoke to me. And I have so many friends who are of the same vintage and would “get” the stories and characters in this book. I want them all to read this! It’s a book I would also like to put into the hands of those who are not older women, so I could say to them, “Read this. Understand us and know that this is who we are and this is how we feel.” Thank you, Sharon, for speaking so eloquently for us about all our lives.

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Season of Fury and Wonder

“Crone lit” stories that are examples of the wisdom and insights of older women and at the same time tributes to the classic literature that inspired them.

“There are things that it is impossible to learn when you are young, no matter how much you read and study.” The season of fury and wonder, in Sharon Butala’s world, is the old age of women. These stories present the lives of old women – women of experience, who’ve seen much of life, who’ve tasted of its sweetness and its bitter possibilities, and have developed opinions and come to conclusions about what it all amounts to. These are stories of today’s old women, who understand that they have been created by their pasts.

Not content to rest on her considerable literary laurels, Sharon Butala continues to push the boundaries of her art. The stories in Season of Fury and Wonder are all reactions to other, classic, works of literature that she has encountered and admired. These stories are, in their various ways, inspired by and tributes to works by the likes of Raymond Carver, Willa Cather, James Joyce, Shirley Jackson, Flannery O’Conner, John Cheever, Alan Sillitoe, Ernest Hemingway, Tim O’Brien, Edgar Allan Poe and Anton Checkov.

For more information about Sharon Butala, her writing and her books, please see her website.

Sharon Butala has been featured twice on my Reading Recommendations blog: Oct. 2015 & April 2017.

5 responses

  1. My dad, a friend of Peter Butala, gave me a copy of Queen of the Headaches a number of years ago and I fell in love with Sharon’s writing. How wonderful that she is championing senior women.

    1. So interesting to hear that you had a connection with Sharon and her writing, as well, Darlene!

      1. I am just loving these posts about Canadian writers.

      2. Not all Canadian, but it’s mainly Canadian authors I’ve met in person throughout my career. Thanks, Darlene!

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