Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Naming rights

Joseph Boyden is going to auction off a name in his new novel to the highest bidder. The auction will take place next week (on Nov. 18) at the Writers' Trust 25th Anniversary Gala, and the money raised will go toward supporting other authors through the Writers' Trust's various programs.

Of course, this isn't the first time a character has been named by the highest bidder. Margaret Atwood has auctioned off the right to name characters on numerous occasions, always to benefit charity. In most cases these characters are fairly minor, but the name Amanda Payne, which first appeared in her novel Oryx and Crake and then again in The Year of the Flood was definitely more than minor.

If this is a trend that gets people excited about reading and buoys good causes, I'm all for it. Goodness knows novels contain a lot of characters, all of whom need names. If an author feels comfortable letting people bid on the right to name a character, that seems alright to me. Not that I'd necessarily give my name to a novel, though – I have some more creative ones to offer up first.

Joseph Boyden's first novel, Three Day Road, won the Writers' Trust Fiction Award in 2005; its sort-of sequel, Through Black Spruce, won the Giller Prize in 2008.

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