Jian Ghomeshi has worn many different hats throughout his career.
Ghomeshi, the son of Iranian parents, is arguably best known these days of the critically acclaimed CBC Radio program Q, which boasts the largest audience of any cultural-affairs program in Canada.
Before having the opportunity to play host to the likes of Leonard Cohen, Paul McCartney, Neil Young and author Margaret Atwood, Ghomeshi was one quarter of folk-pop band Moxy Fruvous who found moderate success in Canada with their hit “King of Spain.”
The newest title on Ghomeshi’s resume is that of author. Of course, Ghomeshi is not new to the world of writing, having been a contributor to the National Post while also having been featured in the Washington Post.
In late September, Ghomeshi released his debut novel entitled 1982, a book that chronicles the desire of a 14-year old Ghomeshi to become a New Waver, inspired by the likes of the one and only David Bowie. In the book, Ghomeshi explores themes of young love, heartache and conformity as seen through the eyes of a young Persian-Canadian trying his best to fit in with his peers in suburban Toronto.
In the book, Ghomeshi explores young love, heartache, conformity and the nature of cool, within a loose chronological narrative. Set in Thornhill, Ont., to the soundtrack of 1980s glam rock, the book also serves as a cultural history of Canadian suburbia and the challenges of fitting in as a young Persian-Canadian.
Jian Ghomeshi visits Metro Moncton this Sunday for a 1982 book launch at Theatre L’Escaouette, located at 170 Botsford St.
Asked why he chose now to write and release his first book, Ghomeshi says that, quite simply, it felt like the right time.
“I’ve been very fortunate to have been approached by publishers in the past that were interested in me telling my life story,” Ghomeshi says from his Toronto office. “I always seemed to have an aversion to that; I wanted to feel creative instead of simply running through a list of accomplishments or ups and downs of my life. I knew that wouldn’t really satisfy me but the year 1982 in particular really stood out to me personally. It was definitely a kind of eureka moment, thinking about telling the story of a 14 year-old me desperately trying to fit in.”
Ghomeshi hypothesizes that desire to emulate David Bowie stemmed from the fact that he was able to identify with the singer on a certain level. Admitting the subtext of the book centres around him feeling like a fish out of water, he found an ally of sorts in the music of Bowie.
“As an immigrant living in Canada, feeling like an outsider, David Bowie was the ultimate role model for a guy that was different. Bowie was a chameleon of sorts and not afraid to set himself apart. You listen to his song ‘Changes’ and that track was like a love letter to a kid that feels like an outsider.
“The fact is, I believe if you were born in the ’60s or ’70s, you are going to understand a lot of the references included in my book.”
Given his popularity as a radio host, the success of 1982 shouldn’t be all that surprising.
Perhaps the person most surprised by the success of the book is Ghomeshi himself. Since its release on Sept. 18, 1982 has been one of the country’s best-selling books.
While the success of his first book is still fresh, Ghomeshi is unsure about when exactly he might tackle a follow-up book let alone what subject that the book will cover. He looks back upon the writing of 1982 in the last year with a mix of wonderment and exhaustion.
“In a sense, writing is very cathartic for me. I definitely see myself writing more in the future,” he said. “I look back upon writing 1982 remembering that I was devoting virtually every minute that I wasn’t doing my show or anything else that I do. It was excruciatingly busy at the time but when you are done and look back upon it, you don’t tend to focus upon those hellish moments. I feel that another book is definitely in the cards for me.”
Article published in the November 9, 2012 edition of The Times & Transcript