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Biography & Autobiography Personal Memoirs


Encounters with My Runaway Mother

by (author) Priscila Uppal

Dundurn Press
Initial publish date
Sep 2013
Personal Memoirs, Women, Cultural Heritage
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2013
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Sep 2013
    List Price

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2013 Governor General’s Literary Award — Shortlisted, Non-Fiction
2013 Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust — Shortlisted, Non-Fiction

Projection is the story of this mother-daughter meeting in Brazil, of how two strangers, connected by little more than blood, spent ten days together trying to build a relationship.

In 1977, Priscila Uppal’s father drank contaminated water in Antigua and within 48 hours was a quadriplegic. Priscila was two years old. Five years later, her mother, Theresa, drained the family’s bank accounts and disappeared to Brazil. After two attempts to abduct her children, Theresa had no further contact with the family.

In 2002, Priscila happened on her mother’s website, which featured a childhood photograph of Priscila and her brother. A few weeks later, Priscila summoned the nerve to contact the woman who’d abandoned her.

The emotional reunion was alternately shocking, hopeful, humorous, and devastating, as Priscila came to realize that not only did she not love her mother, she didn’t even like her.

Projection is a visceral, precisely written, brutally honest memoir that takes a probing look at a very unusual mother-daughter relationship, yet offers genuine comfort to all facing their own turbulent and unresolved familial relationships.

About the author

Dr. Priscila Uppal is a Toronto poet, fiction writer and York University Professor. Among her publications are nine collections of poetry, most recently, Ontological Necessities (2006; shortlisted for the Griffin Poetry Prize), Traumatology (2010), Successful Tragedies: Poems 1998-2010 (Bloodaxe Books, U.K.), and Winter Sport: Poems and Summer Sport: Poems; the critically-acclaimed novels The Divine Economy of Salvation (2002) and To Whom It May Concern (2009); the study We Are What We Mourn: The Contemporary English-Canadian Elegy (2009), and the memoir Projection: Encounters with My Runaway Mother (2013; shortlisted for the Hilary Weston Prize and the Governor General's Award). Her work has been published internationally and translated into Croatian, Dutch, French, Greek, Italian, Korean and Latvian. She was the first-ever poet-in-residence for Canadian Athletes Now during the 2010 Vancouver and 2012 London Olympic and Paralympic games as well as the Roger's Cup Tennis Tournament in 2011. Six Essential Questions, her first play, had its World Premiere as part of the Factory Theatre 2013-2014 season, and will be published by Playwrights Canada Press in 2015. Time Out London recently dubbed her ÒCanada's coolest poet.' For more information visit

Priscila Uppal's profile page


  • Winner, Fellow to the Royal Society of Canada
  • Short-listed, Governor General’s Literary Award, Non-fiction
  • Short-listed, Hilary Weston Writers' Trust for Nonfiction

Editorial Reviews

...deeply thoughtful and carefully constructed...

Literary Review of Canada

This beautifully written memoir goes far to explode many of the myths of family, often made of fantasy.

Owen Sound Sun-Times

Projection is a raw, passionate memoir, a fierce exercise in family exorcism...

The Gazette

Above all, Uppal is an impeccable writer, deftly infusing complex scenes and emotions with power and weight. Though she is deeply invested in the ramifications of her mother's desertion, she has enough distance to assess it clearly. Her questions may not all get answered, but Uppal brings us closer to an understanding of what mothers mean to us, and how being motherless, regardless of circumstance, affects identity, stability, and comfort. The control Uppal exerts over her narrative voice and the unique way she structures this minefield of a tale make Projection a worthy read.

National Post

Uppal immerses us into her complicated world, her strong emotions of resentment and her determined search to overcome her sadness.

Projection is fascinating, compelling, as beautifully written as it is honest. Honest too that there is artifice at work here, that this book is so consciously art instead of a factual record. And yet there is documentation, notes and paragraphs. A fantastic blurring of art and reality, which is the book's very point, how we all do this to suit our own purposes, Uppal's mother escaping to movies in order to justify her own choices.

I highly recommend this book to be read, especially by mothers and daughters across the world. I cannot stress enough on how much you realize what you have after finishing this.

South Asian Woman

The rigorousness of the structure and the sentence-to-sentence quality of the writing here is borderline-heroic considering the rawness of the scenario. The 10 years it's taken Uppal to write this book have done so little to diminish its intimacy and immediacy. Projection is a book that's simultaneously cerebral and visceral, and its ardent refusal of any sort of mind-body split – to sacrifice sophistication for sentiment or vice versa – is the sign of an author who has thrown herself wholly into her work. We're exhausted and relieved when Uppal emerges from her brief encounter in one piece; happily, her volatile, pressurized book holds itself together as well.

National Post

Uppal's carefully crafted memoir illustrates the way art and life mesh in our mental fabric.

Globe and Mail

In this intimate, sad, probing and self-aware, often very funny logbook for a harrowing encounter, she does not indulge in self-pity, and although she puts humour and irony to excellent use, both to preserve her sanity and to entertain her readers, she is rarely mocking.

Literary Review of Canada

...Projection is no weepy Hallmark flick of the week. It doesn't lend itself to a Peaches & Herb sound bite. It's a gritty, insightful, honest and sometimes infuriating read that probes the often messy reality of family ties and mother-daughter relationships.

Winnipeg Free Press

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