"How are citizens to enter into a public debate if the concepts which define our society and decide the manner in which we are governed are open neither to understanding nor to questioning?"According to bestselling novelist and essayist John Ralston Saul, the ramifications of asking this question are enormous. We live in an era of specialization, where decision makers, administrators, and process-minded experts have fortified their positions of authority by insulating themselves from public accountability. An important instrument in their ascension has been language; or more precisely, a language so technically specific and laden with jargon that it has isolated the individual citizen.
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John Ralston Saul is the International President of PEN International, an essayist, novelist, and long-time champion of freedom of expression. His works have been translated into twenty-three languages in thirty countries, are widely taught in universities, and central to the debate over contemporary society in many countries. They include the philosophical trilogy: Voltaire's Bastards: The Dictatorship of Reason in the West, The Doubter's Companion, The Unconscious Civilization, and its conclusion, On Equilibrium. In The Collapse of Globalism, he predicted today's economic crisis. In the autumn of 2012, he published his first novel in fifteen years, Dark Diversions: A Traveller’s Tale, a picaresque novel about the life of modern nouveaux riches.
His awards include South Korea’s Manhae Grand Prize for Literature, the Pablo Neruda Medal, Canada’s Governor General’s Literary Award for Nonfiction, the inaugural Gutenberg Galaxy Award for Literature, and Italy's Premio Letterario Internazionale. He is a Companion in the Order of Canada and a Chevalier in the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres of France. He is the recipient of seventeen honorary degrees.
John Ralston Saul is Canada’s leading public intellectual. Declared a “prophet” by Time magazine, Saul has received many awards and prizes, including Chile’s Pablo Neruda Medal. He is president of PEN International, an organization dedicated to freedom of expression. He has published fourteen works, which have been translated into twenty-five languages in thirty-six countries, the most recent of which is The Comeback, an examination of the remarkable return to power of Aboriginal people in Canada. Saul lives in Toronto.
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