The Word on the Street Interview Series: David Tsubouchi

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David Tsubouchi

Toronto’s favourite one-day literary festival is only a few days away. We are celebrating The Word on the Street by interviewing some of the authors participating at the festival this year. WOTS promises to be a day full of readings and other events by some of Canada’s best authors. The marketplace will play host to Canadian publishers of your favourite books and magazines. The Word on the Street is also known for its interactive children’s programming, making it a festival for the whole family to enjoy.

Today’s The Word on the Street interview welcomes David Tsubouchi, whose memoir Gambatte (ECW Press) explores his life as the first person of Japanese descent elected in Canada as a municipal politician and, as an MPP, to serve as a cabinet minister.

David tells us about his encounter with Shelley Peterson, his hobby of collecting first editions and his foray into Young Adult fiction.

David will be reading at the Nothing but the Truth tent at the Toronto The Word on the Street festival on September 22 at 4:45 p.m. The Word on the Street will also take place in Lethbridge, Saskatoon and Halifax on September 22 and on September 21 in Kitchener.

And book lovers, don't miss our exciting contests in partnership with The Word on the Street — you can enter now for a chance to win a fantastic non-fiction prize pack!

Open Book:

Tell us about what you’ll be reading in the Nothing but the Truth tent.

David Tsubouchi:

I will be reading from Gambatte, my memoir. As much as it is an insider’s view of politics, I wrote the book to tell the story of struggles of the Japanese Canadians through their imprisonment and being impoverished by the Canadian government and journey for survival and acceptance.

OB:

Have you attended The Word on the Street in the past? If so, tell us about a favourite memory. If not, what are you most looking forward to?

DT:

To a collector of signed first editions (I have over 3,000) being at The Word of the Street is like being a kid in a candy store. One year I ran into Shelley Peterson (former Premier David Peterson’s wife) and bought her book. Years later at an Ontario Media Development Corporation event, David Peterson referenced the meeting.

OB:

The Vibrant Voices tent celebrates Ontario authored and published books. Tell us about a favourite Ontario author or book.

DT:

When I was younger (a lot younger) bpNichol published a number of my poems in grOnk. He would also send me copies of his books and inscribe them. This was the start of my lifelong hobby.

OB:

What’s the best advice about public readings you have ever received?

DT:

Be yourself and speak from the heart.

OB:

The Word on the Street is happening simultaneously in Toronto, Lethbridge, Saskatoon and Halifax on September 22 this year (as well as in Kitchener on September 21). If you could be in two places at once, which WOTS festival, in addition to Toronto, would you attend?

DT:

Kitchener. I have many friends there and the arts and culture community is very active. I attended a photography exhibition by a friend, Susan Campbell. Great people. Great community.

OB:

Do you have a favourite spot in Ontario?

DT:

My front porch on Main Street in Markham where I sit with my Newfoundlander dog, Summer and say hi to people when they walk by. It reminds me of what a town should be like.

OB:

What can you tell us about your next project?

DT:

I have ventured into the young adult genre. It started as a story for my grandson. It is based in Mongolia of 500 years ago. It is a fictional story involving the magic of the shamans and mystic lamas with several twists. I know a little about Mongolia as the Hon. Consul General of Mongolia. I am looking for a home for the book. I have also been encouraged to write a book on the casino industry, as I was the Minister in charge of the expansion of gaming in Ontario.


The longtime resident of Markham, David Tsubouchi was born in Toronto. David is the first Japanese Canadian to be elected to public office in Canada as a municipal councillor, MPP and Cabinet Minister. The former Minister of Culture created the Trillium Book Award for poetry. He currently sits on the Board of Governors of Seneca College and is a partner in the law firm, Fogler, Rubinoff LLP. He was recently appointed as the Honorary Consul General for the Republic of Mongolia.

For more information about Gambatte please visit the ECW Press website.

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

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