JETAABC and JETAA Ottawa hosted an engaging hour with author, Clara Kumagai, on Saturday, April 13, 2024. This hour offered a peek behind the pages of her debut novel, “Catfish Rolling.”

Kumagai has feet in Canada, Japan, and Ireland and has written a number of short stories for the Banshee Press and Stinging Fly. In 2023, she published her first YA novel, Catfish Rolling. This is a summary of how we dived into what inspired her to explore space and time through Sora.

With a cozy group of 8, Clara shared about her writing inspirations. From the varied inspiring authors to the themes that ignite her imagination, every anecdote illuminated her exciting writing process. 

One highlight was how Clara was able to intertwine her observations from the March 11 earthquake in Japan’s Tohoku region, coupled with philosophies around time with fantastical elements of her latest work to create a work she likes to call as “Magical science.” 

 Clara pulled back the curtain on the delicate process of selecting Japanese words and their English translation as chapter titles. It was a fascinating journey through the labyrinth of language, where even fading words are finding new life within the pages of her book. 

The hour was not without moments of laughter, from unexpected Zoom features, pet cameos to excitingly imagining what the Tokyo mascot would look like. Despite the virtual platform, Clara Kumagai effortlessly connected with us, fostering a warm and engaging hour. Clara shared a little about some of her upcoming projects, so please keep an eye out for her next work – trust us, you would not want to miss it!

In the mean time, if you haven’t already done so, purchase or check out her debut novel, Catfish Rolling, at your local library. 

If you are interested in learning more about Clara, follow her on social media at @clarakiyoko on instagram.

JETAABC and JETAA Ottawa expresses a heartfelt gratitude to Clara Kumagai for taking the time to join us and to Penguin Teen CA for making this event possible. Finally, to our fellow attendees, your contribution made this conversational hour truly special. 

If you have not done so, please fill out our post event survey here.

JETAABC Yomi-Kai meets monthly for those who are interested in discussing writings from Japanese authors in translation and Japanese Canadian / American authors. Check out our initiative page, if you are interested to see how you can join our next meeting and find out what we are reading next.

Upcoming Events:

  • May 4 – 5, 2024: Meet up with JETAABC Yomi-kai at LiterAsian 2024: Purchase tickets directly on the LiterAsian Festival website here. JETAABC Yomikai is coordinating a meet up on May 4th. If you are interested to join us for brunch, sign up here before May 1
  • May 11, 2024: Celebrate Asian Heritage Month with JETAABC: We are hosting two events to celebrate May Asian Heritage Month. From 11 am, join JETAABC Yomi-kai and Author Guest Speaker: Terry Watada over Zoom. He is a sansei (third generation) creative who has works in various mediums from plays, novels to even songwriting. After there will be some time for some Q&A. In the evening from 5pm, join us for a social evening in downtown vancouver with great company and singing to your heart’s content to your favourite jam. Sign up before May 8. More details in the sign up link here.