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Mercy Gene: The Man-Made Making of a Mad Woman by JD Derbyshire

March 16, 2023 @ 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm PDT

On Thursday, March 16 at 6pm, join Massy Arts Society, Massy Books and Goose Lane Editions for the launch of JD Derbyshire’s debut novel Mercy Gene: The Man-Made Making of a Mad Woman, alongside guest readers Adrienne Wong, Cecily Nicholson and Zsuzsi Gartner.

Traversing genres, memories and time, Mercy Gene is a stunning, honest and humorous examination of queerness, trauma and mental health. Featuring guest readers Adrienne Wong, Cecily Nicholson and Zsuzsi Gartner, this evening is an invitation towards healing, forgiveness and acceptance.

This project has been made possible by the Government of Canada. Ce projet a été rendu possible grâce au gouvernement du Canada.

This project is supported by the British Columbia Arts Council.

Registration is free/by donation, open to all and required for entrance.
Purchase Mercy Gene at the event

Venue & Accessibility

The event will be hosted at the Massy Arts Gallery, at 23 East Pender Street in Chinatown, Vancouver.

The gallery is wheelchair accessible and a gender-neutral washroom is on-site. Please refrain from wearing scents or heavy perfumes.

For more on accessibility including parking, seating, venue measurements and floor plan, and how to request ASL interpretation please visit: massyarts.com/accessibility

Covid Protocols: Masks keep our community safe and are mandatory (N95 masks are recommended as they offer the best protection). We ask if you are showing symptoms, that you stay home. Thank you kindly.

About the Author

JD Derbyshire (they/them) is a Vancouver-based comedian, theatre maker, writer, and mad activist whose work examines mental health, neurodiversity, queerness, and gender exploration. Derbyshire has toured Canada as a stand-up comedian and solo performer; has written over twenty plays that have been produced by companies in Victoria, Calgary, Toronto, and Vancouver; and co-hosts the mental health podcast Mad Practice. Their play Certified, which served as partial inspiration for Mercy Gene, turns the audience into a mental health review board to determine Derbyshire’s sanity by the end of the show. Certified won two Jessie Richardson Theatre Awards in Vancouver and was described by the Georgia Straight as “a testament to a dynamic performance and delicate storytelling.” Mercy Gene is Derbyshire’s first novel.

About The Book

Mercy Gene (Goose Lane Editions)

Think Maggie Nelson meets Hannah Gadsby.

Told in kaleidoscopic bursts of erratic recollections, daydreams, poetry, and lists, Mercy Gene is the powerful, genre-smashing debut work of auto-fiction by acclaimed writer, playwright, and comedian JD Derbyshire. Inspired by Derbyshire’s critically acclaimed and award-winning stage play, Certified, and anchored by protagonist Janice/Jan/JD, Mercy Gene is a beautiful, humorous, and sometimes brutal look at queerness, gender confusion, institutionalization, addiction, and abuse.

Through flashes of memory and imaginings, Derbyshire illustrates the intense and invisible “side effects” of psychiatric treatment and the unreliability of memory. In a stream-of-conscious narrative that provokes and consoles, eliciting tears and laughter at equal pace, Derbyshire re-examines a life of unspoken and repressed trauma. Between devastating bouts of depression, hilarious side-quests into the author’s dryly sardonic inner monologue, helpless moments at the mercy of their own psyche, and tour-de-force appearances by fictional versions of Miriam Toews and the late, great Margot Kidder, Derbyshire leads readers through a non-linear narrative to treatment, forgiveness, and acceptance.

Guest Readers

Adrienne Wong is a theatre maker and cultural producer. She is Artistic Director of Kingston-based SpiderWebShow Performance, and co-curates the Festival of Live Digital Art (FOLDA). Her theatre work has toured nationally and internationally in English and French, and her radio work has been featured on CBC Radio on programs like North by Northwest, Par ce que C’est Samedi, and Q where she was the first (and only?) artist in residence. Adrienne lives with her spouse and their children on the territory of the Lekwungen-speaking people, also known as Victoria BC.

Zsuzsi Gartner is the Vancouver-based author of the Scotiabank Giller Prize finalist Better Living through Plastic Explosives (Penguin Canada) and of the acclaimed story collection All the Anxious Girls on Earth. Her first novel, The Beguiling (Penguin Canada), was a finalist for the 2020 Writers Trust Fiction Prize and a Globe & Mail Best Book of 2020. Her fiction has been widely anthologized and read on CBC and NPR and won National Magazine Awards. She was the inaugural Frank O’Connor International Short Story Fellow for Cork, Ireland, in 2016. She is also the editor of the award-winning fiction anthology Darwin’s Bastards: Astounding Tales from Tomorrow (D&M).

Cecily Nicholson is an Ontario poet, author and administrator based in British Columbia. She has written three poetry collections, Triage, From the Poplars and Wayside Sang. Nicholson has been a writer-in-residence for Simon Fraser University and the administrator of Vancouver-based artist co-operative Gallery Gachet. In 2015, she won the Dorothy Livesay prize for poetry for From the Poplars. Her collection Wayside Sang won the 2018 Governor General’s Literary Award for poetry. Nicholson wrote the essay tally recounted for the special CBC Books series Borders.