Salutin, Rick 1942-
SALUTIN, Rick 1942-
PERSONAL: Surname is pronounced "Sa-loo-tin"; born August 30, 1942, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada; son of Saul (a salesman) and Freda (a secretary; maiden name, Levenson) Salutin; married Melanie Conn, 1964 (divorced, 1966); partner of Theresa Burke; children: Gideon. Education: Attended Jewish Theological Seminary; Brandeis University, B.A., 1964; Columbia University, M.A., 1967; also attended New School for Social Research. Religion: Jewish.
ADDRESSES: Home—792 Palmerston Ave., Toronto, Ontario M6G 2R7, Canada.
CAREER: Union organizer in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, early 1970s; columnist for This Magazine, 1975–, Toronto Life, 1985–, and Globe and Mail, 1991–. Lecturer, University of Toronto.
MEMBER: Playwrights Union of Canada (past chair), Association of Canadian Television and Radio Artists, Guild of Canadian Playwrights (founding member; chair, 1978).
AWARDS, HONORS: Chalmers Award for an Outstanding Canadian Play, 1974, for 1837: The Farmers' Revolt, and 1978, for Les Canadiens; National Magazine Award, 1981 and 1984; W. H. Smith/Books in Canada Best First Novel Award, 1988, for A Man of Little Faith; Toronto Arts Award, 1991.
Fanshen (two-act play based on the book by William Hinton), first produced in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, 1972.
The Adventures of an Immigrant (play), first produced in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, at Theatre Passe Muraille, 1974.
William Lyon Mackenzie and the Canadian Revolution, Lorimer, 1975.
(With Murray Soupcoff and Gary Dunford) Good Buy Canada, Lorimer, 1975.
I.W.A. (play), first produced in St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada, at Mummers Theatre, 1975.
(With Theatre Passe Muraille) 1837: William Lyon Mackenzie and the Canadian Revolution (includes two-act play first produced as 1837: The Farmers' Revolt in Toronto, Ontario, at Theatre Passe Muraille, 1973), Lorimer, 1976.
Money (one-act musical play), first produced in Toronto, Ontario, at Young People's Theatre, 1976.
Maria (television drama), first broadcast by Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC-TV), 1976.
Les Canadiens (two-act play; first produced in Montreal, Quebec, at Centaur Theatre, 1977), Talonbooks, 1977.
Kent Rowley, the Organizer: A Canadian Union Life, Lorimer, 1980.
The False Messiah (two-act play; first produced in Toronto, Ontario, at Theatre Passe Muraille, 1975), Playwrights Canada, 1981.
Marginal Notes: Challenges to the Mainstream, Lester & Orpen Dennys, 1984.
(With Rosemary Donegan) Spadina Avenue, Douglas & McIntyre, 1985.
A Man of Little Faith, McClelland & Stewart, 1988.
Waiting for Democracy: A Citizen's Journal, Penguin, 1989.
Living in a Dark Age, HarperCollins (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1991.
The Age of Improv: A Political Novel of the Future, HarperCollins (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1995.
The Womanizer: A Man of His Time, Doubleday (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2002.
Also author of plays Nathan Cohen: Revue, Joey (produced at Rising Tide Theatre), and S: Portrait of a Spy (with Ian Adams). Writer for the series "Inside from the Outside," CBC-Radio. Contributor to periodicals, including Harper's, Saturday Night, Today, Weekend, and Maclean's.
SIDELIGHTS: Rick Salutin is a prize-winning novelist, playwright, and left-wing political columnist. "Salutin is one of Canada's most popular and intelligent columnists," Moe Berg stated in the Edmonton Journal. Speaking of Salutin in Toronto Life, Rachel Pulfer described him as being "paradoxical" and "a walking contradiction: a member of the elite who makes a handsome living speaking the voice of the common man—to other members of the elite." Salutin's novels, in which he presents his political ideas, include The Age of Improv and The Womanizer.
After attending college in the United States, Salutin returned to his native Canada in the early 1970s and worked as a union organizer in the garment trade. Because his father was in the business, Salutin often argued with him over his unionizing efforts. The conflict was over more than simple politics. "All the bosses were Jewish, so it often got personal," Salutin explained to Pulfer. The two men were never reconciled. His union activities soon led Salutin to begin writing political drama. His first play, Fanshen, was based on a William Hinton novel about a Chinese peasant uprising. Salutin's 1973 play 1837: The Farmers' Revolt won a Chalmers Award, as did his Les Canadiens, a play about the symbolic role of hockey in the Quebec nationalist movement.
By the mid-1970s Salutin was writing for several Canadian magazines. In 1991 he began writing a column for the Toronto Globe and Mail, Canada's largest newspaper. Often controversial, the column has consistently been a favorite with the newspaper's readers. "Part of what sets Salutin's columns apart is that they're unpredictable," Pulfer noted. "Though often dismissed as a 'token lefty,' he writes from an evolving personal, rather than ideological, centre." "He is one of the few opinion writers in the country who sounds as though he is actually thinking as he writes," according to John Bemrose in Maclean's.
Some of the same concerns found in his newspaper column appear in Salutin's fiction as well. In 1985's The Age of Improv Salutin imagines the world of the future, telling of a Canadian television actor who decides to enter politics in the year 2000. Along the way, he learns that politics is a form of improvisational theatre in which the politician tries out ideas and then responds to his audience's reaction. "Salutin comprehensively sums up the issues that affect politics and the media," according to Donna Lypchuk in Eye Weekly. Bemrose found that the novel "is packed with insight, humor and a peculiar quality of intellectual playfulness that becomes almost a character in its own right."
Salutin's novel The Womanizer concerns a middle-aged economist named Max who, facing bypass surgery, reminisces about his past life, particularly his many sexual exploits. Interspersed with these memories are Max's insights into political and cultural matters. Jeffrey Canton in Quill and Quire dubbed The Womanizer "a delicately balanced cautionary tale that takes a serious look at society's ever-changing attitudes to sexuality." Chris O'Meara in the McGill Daily found that "there is a lot to like in Salutin's novel, particularly in his layered treatment of a subject and a character that might come off as offensive in the hands of a less skilled writer."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Books in Canada, February, 1992, review of Living in a Dark Age, p. 44; summer, 1995, review of The Age of Improv, p. 25; January, 2003, review of The Womanizer: A Man of His Time, p. 13.
Canadian Book Review Annual, 1996, review of The Age of Improv, p. 174; 1997, review of 1837: William Lyon Mackenzie and the Canadian Revolution, p. 250; 2003, review of The Womanizer: A Man of His Time, p. 183.
Canadian Forum, November, 1995, review of The Age of Improv, p. 36.
Canadian Literature, spring, 1997, review of The Age of Improv, p. 242.
Edmonton Journal, October 27, 2002, Moe Berg, review of The Womanizer.
Eye Weekly, July 9, 1997, Donna Lypchuk, review of The Age of Improv.
Globe and Mail (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), October 28, 1989.
Maclean's, July 17, 1995, John Bemrose, review of The Age of Improv, p. 46.
McGill Daily, November 25, 2002, Chris O'Meara, review of The Womanizer.
NOW Magazine, Volume 22, number 4, 2002, Susan G. Cole, review of The Womanizer.
Quill and Quire, July, 1995, review of The Age of Improv, p. 49; October, 2002, Jeffrey Canton, review of The Womanizer, pp. 30-31.
Toronto Life, September, 2002, Rachel Pulfer, interview with Rick Salutin, p. 98.