Daniel Karasik: a wunderkind voice in Canadian fiction
April 20, 2012 | Suri Epstein - CorrespondentcloseAuthor: Suri Epstein - Correspondent
Name: Suri Epstein
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TORONTO?– Imagine being a playwright, theatre company director, professional actor, poet and the recent Grand Prize winner of the CBC short story contest.
And you’re only 25 years old.
Meet Daniel Karasik, emerging voice in the Canadian literary scene. He’s been writing since he was a youngster growing up in Thornhill. The Westmount Collegiate graduate began with short and long fiction but was writing for the theatre by his mid-teens.
“I got some encouragement,” he said. “Some plays were accepted by professional festivals with youth components. So by my late-teens I was producing plays at the Summerworks Theatre festival.”
Karasik was fortunate to receive mentoring from a number of leading theatrical companies in Canada, including Tarragon Theatre, Stratford, Canadian Stage Company and the Factory Theatre.
He’s now artistic director of his own company, Tango Co. The multi-talented Karasik writes, directs and acts in his own plays.
Besides racking up production credits, Karasik has also been collecting awards for his writing. His most notable achievement to date is earning the recent CBC short story Grand Prize. Chosen from among 3,000 entrants, the prize comes with a $6,000 cheque, a two-week residency at the Banff Centre for the Arts, and publication in Air Canada's in-flight magazine, enRoute.
“It’s a big vote of confidence in my work, the value of which can’t be over-stated,” he said. The story, Mine, portrays a dying man’s recollection of a past lover while in the arms of his wife. The first draft of the story was written when he was only 19 – a testament to the remarkable maturity and sophistication of his writing.
“I stumbled on the voice and followed where it went.”
Karasik’s fiction is populated with Jewish characters. “[It’s] my Jewish experience, being part of a Jewish family and a Jewish community,” Karasik said. “That’s in me so much that I have access to so many details.”
His last play, Haunted, was the winner of the 2011 Canadian Jewish Playwriting Competition. It details a budding relationship between an older university professor and her synagogue’s young rabbi, all while her 21-year-old daughter claims to see the ghost of her recently murdered father.
He’s currently producing his play The Innocents, in which he will play the lead role. You can catch it from April 26 to May 13 at the Tarragon Theatre Studio in downtown Toronto. The play focusses on the transformative relationship between a 25-year-old wunderkind lawyer and a client accused of a senseless crime.
Up next for Karasik?
A poetry collection will be published next year by Cormorant Books. His latest novel is receiving interest from a number of major publishers, and he’s got a few plays at different stages of development.
Off to a spectacular start, this wunderkind is a Canadian literary voice worth keeping an eye on.
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