Sean Michaels (writer)

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Sean Michaels
Sean Michaels (2014)
Sean Michaels (2014)
Born1982 (age 39–40)
Stirling, Scotland
OccupationNovelist, music blogger
Notable worksUs Conductors

Sean Michaels (born 1982) is a Scottish-born novelist, music critic, and blogger. Based in Montreal, Quebec, he has written about music for publications such as The Guardian, McSweeney's, The Believer, Pitchfork, Maisonneuve, The Observer, The Wire and The National Post. His weekly music column, Heartbeats, debuted in The Globe & Mail in 2015.

His novel Us Conductors won the 2014 Scotiabank Giller Prize.

Early life[edit]

Michaels was born in Stirling, Scotland. He was raised in Ottawa, Ontario. He relocated to Montreal, Quebec to study at McGill University.

Early career[edit]

Michaels initially came to prominence as founder of Said the Gramophone, one of the first mp3 blogs, where he was among the first music critics to write about Arcade Fire, Beirut, Nicolas Jaar and Feist. His music criticism is known for a dreamy, literary writing style, contributing to his work as a writer in residence for events like the Dawson City Music Festival and, since 2009, Sappyfest. Six years after its founding, Said the Gramophone was recognized by Time as one of the world's 25 best blogs.[1]

His articles about travel, food and culture have appeared in Brick, The Walrus, Resorts and Great Hotels, and Reader's Digest. In 2010, Michaels was awarded a gold prize at the Canadian National Magazine Awards for a feature concerning the Parisian art guerrillas Les UX; this article first appeared in Brick and was later re-published by Gizmodo.[2] He received a second National Magazine Award in 2013, for an article on Canadian circus, published by The Walrus.[3]

Michaels also writes short fiction; his short stories has been published in Maisonneuve, The New Quarterly, The Lifted Brow, and the anthologies We Are the Friction and The Art of Trespassing.

Since 2009, Michaels has given several lectures on contemporary journalism and the music industry, including appearances at McGill University, Emerson College, Concordia University, and the Pop Montreal Symposium. He is a member of the Polaris Music Prize jury[4] and assisted on the grand jury[5] which selected Godspeed You! Black Emperor's 'Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend! as the best Canadian album of 2013.

In 2010, Michaels formed an absurdist improv duo with Vinny Francois called Venezuela. They performed several early shows at the Montreal Improv Theatre. In 2011, they were featured at the Montreal Fringe Festival and opened for Tig Notaro. His most recent theatrical credit is in Mark Slutsky's acclaimed short film Sorry, Rabbi as Hasid #5.

Us Conductors[edit]

Michaels' debut novel, Us Conductors, was published by Random House Canada and Tin House Books (US) in 2014.[6] This book is inspired by the lives of Léon Theremin, inventor of the theremin, and the musician Clara Rockmore.

Us Conductors was named the winner of the 2014 Scotiabank Giller Prize.[7] In his acceptance speech for the award, Michaels said that as a new author, it was an "unimaginable gift" to receive support from writers and publishers. He also addressed recent scandals surrounding abuse in arts communities - notably claims against former Giller host Jian Ghomeshi. "There are people in our little corner of culture who behave monstrously," he said. "We have to reckon with that, and change it. Each of us does." The novel was also subsequently awarded the Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction[8] and named as a nominee for the International Dublin Literary Award,[9] the First Novel Award,[10] the inaugural Kirkus Prize[11] and the CLMP's Firecracker award for fiction.[12]


  1. ^ "25 Best Blogs 2009". Time. February 13, 2009. Archived from the original on February 20, 2009. Retrieved May 23, 2010.
  2. ^ "The Lizard, the Catacombs and the Clock: Paris's Most Secret Society". Time. February 13, 2009. Retrieved June 20, 2011.
  3. ^ "Ringmasters". Time. June 25, 2013. Retrieved June 25, 2013.
  4. ^ "Jury - Polaris Music Prize". Polaris Prize official website. Retrieved September 17, 2014.
  5. ^ "Polaris Gala Performers Revealed, Grand Jury Announced". Polaris Prize official website. August 20, 2013. Retrieved September 17, 2014.
  6. ^ "Publishers Weekly - London Briefcase". Time. April 1, 2013. Retrieved April 7, 2013.
  7. ^ "Sean Michaels awarded Giller Prize for his book ‘Us Conductors’". The Globe and Mail, November 10, 2014.
  8. ^ "2014 QWF Literary Awards Gala". Time. November 19, 2014. Retrieved April 2, 2015.
  9. ^ "Dublin Award long-list". Time. Archived from the original on November 24, 2015. Retrieved September 13, 2016.
  10. ^ " and the Walrus Foundation Unveil Short List for 2015 First Novel Award". Time. April 1, 2015. Archived from the original on April 5, 2015. Retrieved April 2, 2015.
  11. ^ "Inaugural Kirkus Prize nominees". Time. Archived from the original on September 27, 2018. Retrieved September 13, 2016.
  12. ^ "CLMP Firecracker awards 2015". Time. April 2, 2015. Retrieved April 2, 2015.

External links[edit]