Executive Reads: Jason Ryle

Jason Ryle is the Executive Director at imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival, which will take place this year from October 17 though 21. Jason oversees all aspects of the organization including programming, operations, finance, and the annual Festival. He sits on the Board of Directors for Vtape, an independent video distributor, and is a script reader for The Harold Greenberg Fund, which provides financial aid to Canadian filmmakers. As an award-winning writer, Jason has written for the Smithsonian Institution and numerous publications throughout North America. 

A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry
Rohinton Mistry has long been one of my favourite authors (years before Oprah book clubbed him, I feel it’s important to add). I have yet to travel to India physically but truly feel I know this beautiful country and its people through his words. There’s a love and a tenderness in how he writes about the terrible circumstances that happen to good people in A Fine Balance. I read this novel when I was relatively young and its central message that life is “a fine balance between hope and despair” has resonated with me ever since. 

The Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst
Nick Guest, the central character of Hollinghurst’s Booker Prize-winning Thatcher-era novel, is someone I strongly identify with, much to my chagrin. Spending my childhood between cultures and countries often made me feel like an outsider. And like Nick Guest (his surname clearly speaking to his lot in life) I was an observer rather than a participant in certain social settings that enticed and repelled in equal measures. But unlike Mr. Guest, the travel I’ve done for work that has taken me around the world has given me a different, positive perspective on where I fit in (and where I don’t). When I think of this book it reminds me what a powerful gift becoming an adult can be. 

The Chrysalids by John Wyndham
I am a proud sci-fi and comic book nerd so I can’t let ‘proper lit’ steal all the thunder. The brilliant His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman almost made the cut, but I’m choosing The Chrysalids as my final notable novel. Written sometime when the Earth was still cooling (c. 1955) this sci-fi treat is one of the rare books I re-read every few years. I’m a sucker for anything post-apocalyptic (not sure exactly what this says about me) and the 10-year-old me loved that it was set in what was once Newfoundland & Labrador. Its story of evolution, acceptance, and escaping rural life still continue to capture my imagination.