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Amber Scorah & Claudia Dey on Leaving the Witness

  • The Ossington 61 Ossington Avenue Toronto, ON, M6J 2Y9 Canada (map)

Flying Books and Penguin Random House Canada invite you to celebrate the publication of Amber Scorah's acclaimed new book, LEAVING THE WITNESS: EXITING A RELIGION AND FINDING A LIFE. The religion in question is the Jehovah's Witnesses, which Amber comes to realize while preaching in China is a cult.

Amber will be in conversation with Claudia Dey, author of the bestselling Trillium Award finalist, HEARTBREAKER, which features a mysterious fictional cult in Northern Ontario.

A third-generation Jehovah's Witness, Amber Scorah had devoted her life to sounding God's warning of impending Armageddon. She volunteered to take the message to China, where the preaching she did was illegal and could result in her expulsion or worse. Here, she had some distance from her community for the first time. Immersion in a foreign language and culture — and a whole new way of thinking — turned her world upside down, and eventually led her to lose all that she had been sure was true.

As a proselytizer in Shanghai, using fake names and secret codes to evade the authorities' notice, Scorah discreetly looked for targets in public parks and stores. To support herself, she found work at a Chinese language learning podcast, hiding her real purpose from her coworkers. Now with a creative outlet, getting to know worldly people for the first time, she began to understand that there were other ways of seeing the world and living a fulfilling life. When one of these relationships became an "escape hatch," Scorah's loss of faith culminated in her own personal apocalypse, the only kind of ending possible for a Jehovah's Witness.

Shunned by family and friends as an apostate, Scorah was alone in Shanghai and thrown into a world she had only known from the periphery — with no education or support system. A coming of age story of a woman already in her thirties, this unforgettable memoir examines what it's like to start one's life over again with an entirely new identity. It follows Scorah to New York City, where a personal tragedy forces her to look for new ways to find meaning in the absence of religion. With compelling, spare prose, Leaving the Witness traces the bittersweet process of starting over, when everything one's life was built around is gone.

AMBER SCORAH is a writer living in Brooklyn, NY. She works as an editor at Scholastic and her articles have been published in The New York Times, and The Believer. Scorah has lived in Shanghai, where she was creator and host of the wildly popular podcast Dear Amber - The Insider's Guide to Everything China.

CLAUDIA DEY is the author of the acclaimed novels HEARTBREAKER and STUNT. Her plays have been produced internationally and nominated for the Governor General’s and Trillium Book Awards. Her writing has appeared in The Believer, Lit Hub and The Paris Review. Dey is also co-designer of Horses Atelier.

Wednesday, July 10, 6 PM
The Ossington, 61 Ossington Ave, Toronto

"A fascinating glimpse into the consciousness of being an outsider in every possible way, and what it takes to find your path into the life you'd like to lead."

"À la Tara Westover's Educated, Scorah's pensive, ultimately liberating memoir chronicles her formative years as a Jehovah's Witness...and captures the bewilderment of belief and the bliss of self-discovery...[Leaving the Witness] is a suture for anyone searching to reconcile their past and present selves."
—O, The Oprah Magazine