For most of her adult life, Beverly Akerman was a molecular genetics researcher at McGill University and the Montreal Children’s Hospital. But in 2003, after several years of feeling an underlying malaise and professional unhappiness, she decided to make a mid-life career switch. Following dreams she set aside for 20 years as a busy working mother of three, Akerman became a fiction writer. She published her first short story in early 2006, making her the first Canadian fiction writer ever to have sequenced her own DNA.
Akerman, a 52-year-old lifelong Montrealer, has published more than 20 stories to date, 14 of which are included in a 2010 collection titled, “The Meaning of Children.” Her fiction has appeared in Canada, the U.S. and Germany and has received numerous recognitions, including the David Adams Richards Prize, the J.I. Segal Award, nominations for a Pushcart Prize, and a place among the CBC-Scotiabank Giller Prize Readers’ Choice Top 10. Akerman spoke to the Sisterhood about her book, her hometown, her Jewish identity and her aversion to happy endings.
THE SISTERHOOD: All of the stories in “The Meaning of Children,” except for one, are written from the perspectives of girls or women. Do you generally only write from the female point of view?
BEVERLY AKERMAN: I’m a strong feminist and I don’t think that there are enough women’s stories told. Literature is full of women’s books, but not these kinds of stories… There are things that girl children go through that are interesting to me. I do have more stories now that are written from a male point of view, but I intended to write from a woman’s point of view.