This spring [Roseway Publishing] also released The Tailings of Warren Peace, the debut novel by Nova Scotia’s Stephen Law. A big”P”political work - Law himself is an”ecological farmer and social activist”- it tells the story of a young man who has buried his past that changed his family forever confronted with a mysterious Guatemalan woman in Toronto who can’t let go of her family’s tragic history. I t seems with his protagonist, the titular Warren, Law understands what makes for strong political writing. Warren, who works at a graveyard, has the unique ability to sometimes immerse himself for a few moments in someone else’s life by touching their tombstone. The brief moments leave a taste that would linger long after the vision. Law is able to channel this powerful storytelling briefly, but The Tailings of Warren Peace quickly turns into political thriller.
Although The Tailings of Warren Peace is about politics, it is not a political act, does not constitute what contemporary philosopher Slavoj Žižek calls an “authentic act.” Everything may be political, but only the rarest, most precious moments are political acts - “a leap which isn’t not covered in advance by any rules but reconstitutes your subjectivity,”according to Žižek.”In an authentic act I do not simply express, or actualize my inner nature. I rather redefine myself, the very core of my identity.”
Yes, everything is political, which is why embracing politics, in whatever form, as writer isn’t enough. Perhaps this is why”literary”writers shirk the title. The political is unavoidable, but embracing and approaching your work as a political act is a decision. Making such a choice is what creates political writers, not subject matter.