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Writer Sean Michaels Credits Café Olimpico With Top Literary Prize Win

The Montreal-based journalist and blogger won the Giller Prize this week for his novel Us Conductors.

The road to the Giller starts here
The road to the Giller starts here
Café Olimpico

A landmark Mile End coffeehouse deserves partial credit for a Montreal writer's big Giller Prize win, writes journalist Graeme Hamilton.

In a post-Giller ceremony article about Café Olimpico and Sean Michaels in the National Post, the Montreal writer tells Hamilton that he wrote the bulk of Us Conductors at the keystone café because "there’s something really helpful to be able to look up from the page."

"When everything’s flowing, you’re never going to look up …. But when things are trickier, you can kind of look up from the page and see this tiny story play out, or see a face, or watch a person, and then when I look back down at the page, it’s like my brain has had a chance to shuffle the deck and I can go on from there."

The 32-year-old author even went so far as to thank Café Olimpico baristas Vince Spinale and Vito Azzue (now of Café Vito) in his book's acknowledgements. Now that Olimpico has Wi-Fi, Michaels' next novel may have a different muse, however.

"They know that I gnashed my teeth when they added a Wi-Fi signal. Now I have to steel myself, or sometimes I use a silly piece of software to turn off Internet access. It remains to be seen."

Café Olimpico

124 Rue Saint Viateur Ouest, Le Plateau-Mont-Royal, QC H2T 2L1 (514) 495-0746 Visit Website