Randy BoyadogaNovelist Randy Boyadoga will share what he learned from having read a canto a day of the Divine Comedy for the past five years in a presentation Thursday, Feb. 16. Photo by Derek Shapton.

Life-and-death lessons from Dante topic for lecture

Author, scholar, and public intellectual Randy Boyagoda will make the case that who and what we read can be life-or-death decisions in a free public presentation Thursday in the Performance Hall at the SoCA Armouries.

A professor of English at the University of Toronto, Dr. Boyagoda also serves as vice-dean, undergraduate, in its Faculty of Arts and Science. He is author of six books, including four novels. His research and writing, supported by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council, the Canada Council for the Arts, and the Ontario Arts Council, has been nominated for the ScotiaBank Giller Prize, the IMPAC Dublin Literary Prize, and named a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice and Globe and Mail Best Book of the Year.

Thursday’s talk, entitled “Why’d you put the book down, Francesca? Life and Death, Reading and Dante,” will explore signal moments in the Divine Comedy with life-and-death stakes based on the decisions individuals make about who and what they read, how, and why.

Having read a canto a day of the Divine Comedy for the past five years while writing a Dante-inspired novel, Boyagoda will read from his most recent novel Dante’s Indiana, published by literary press Biblioasis, about people whose lives have been radically changed by the books they took up at high and low points in their lives.

Hosted by the Humanities Research Group as part of its Distinguished Speakers Series, the lecture will begin at 5 p.m. Feb. 16. The event will conclude with an audience question-and-answer session and refreshments.

The Armouries is located at 37 University Ave. E. Enter through the doors on Freedom Way.