February 3, 2011

A Tribute to Michael Van Rooy

The service for Michael Van Rooy will be this Saturday, February 5, at Chapel Lawn, 4000 Portage Avenue at 10:00 am. 

Please join us to say goodbye.


In honour of the recent passing of Michael Van Rooy, the great crime writer and pillar of Winnipeg's writing community, Aqua Books is hosting a formal tribute on 
Saturday, February 12 from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm. 

From Kelly Hughes:
You may have read that writer Michael Van Rooy died of a heart attack in Montreal. He was 42.
Michael Van Rooy was our second writer-in-residence at Aqua, and I almost instantly liked him. I was a little intimidated by him, because of his imposing stature (6'6", 20+ stone), and also because of the rumour of his prison time. But although he wrote some dark and wonderful stuff, there was no secret menace he was masking. He was just truly kind and soft-spoken.
He was someone who almost never let an opportunity pass him by. Most recently, he was Winnipeg's Arts Ambassador for Lit, Thin Air Winnipeg publicist, Prairie Fire board president, and administrator for the Writers' Collective and also for CMU's writing program. 
And he seemed tireless. Despite all the extra work he took on to support his family and advance his career goals, he never stopped honing his craft. Most of A Criminal to Remember was written in a studio right above my head. This was while he was here as writer-in-res, and while he was working all of his various jobs, teaching and being a husband and father.
When a friend dies halfway through their life, it's a tragedy because they're not finished yet. So many wonderful things done, so many to do. 
Michael Van Rooy truly belonged to so many of us in the writing community and beyond. 
We will have an open mic, food, and drinks. In addition to an opportunity to publicly remember Michael, we will give people a chance to help in a practical way. A writer's living in Canada is a tenuous one, and we're setting up a bank account in the name of his three kids. I will also have an announcement about another way we'll be honouring Michael, long term. 
So I hope to see all of his friends, students, admirers, readers and fellow writers that evening. 
Bring your memories, stories, favourite MVR passage. 
See you then.


And from The Manitoba Writers' Guild:

The Manitoba Writers' Guild board and staff were deeply saddened to hear of the sudden death of Winnipeg author and writing community advocate Michael Van Rooy.  

Van Rooy had served on the MWG board and was the recipient of the Manitoba Book Awards 2009 John Hirsch Award for Most Promising Manitoba Writer.  In 2006, his novel An Ordinary Decent Criminal was awarded the Eileen McTavish Sykes Award for Best First Book.  

His dedication to the writing community included extensive involvement in local writing organizations including The THIN AIR International Writers' Festival, Prairie Fire, The Winnipeg Writers' Collective, and the CMU School of Writing as well as his selection as Literary Arts Ambassador for the 2010 Winnipeg Cultural Capital campaign and his continued involvement in events and programs at Aqua Books.  

His popular Monty Haaviko crime series was set for a fourth instalment with Turnstone Press.  The MWG wishes to express our sadness at this tremendous loss to our writing community and to extend our condolences to Michael's family and friends.

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