What's New - November 2013
We are delighted to learn that Lisa Moore's CAUGHT, and Lynn Cody's HELL GOING are among the finalists for the 2013 GILLER PRIZE.
CAUGHT is described "Here are bravado and betrayal, bad weather and worse seas, love, lust, undercover agents, the collusion of governments, innocence and the loss thereof, and many, many bales of marijuana. Here, too, is the seeming invincibility of youth and all the folly it allows. CAUGHT is exuberant, relentlessly suspenseful, and utterly unique - an adventure novel the way only Lisa Moore could write it.
The story collection HELL GOING has received great praise: "a superb collection"; "searing honesty" "Coady is a writer who increasingly commands attention and respect" In describing HELL GOING it is said "Lynn Coady is quite possibly the writer who best captures what it is to be human at this particular moment in our history"
Another exciting new addition to the store is STUDIO SAINT-EX by Ania Szado. STUDIO is set primarily in New York City, in 1941 and '42. When France fell to Nazi invasion, wealthy Americans were cut off from the French fashion houses and it was at this time that New York became a fashion centre. This elegant novel focuses on a young designer, Mignonne Lachapelle, as she begins building her career as a designer during this period. At the heart of this novel is a much larger character, the real life figure of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, famous author of The Little Prince. Szado's Saint-Exupéry is based on extensive research of his life and relationships. The glittering French ex-pat community form the backdrop for this beautiful love story between Mingonne and Antoine. This novel delivers an intimate experience of fashion, life, and love; the result is a compelling read which will hold you to the very end.
November 2013: The Northern Woman Journal -- one of Canada's longest-running feminist journals -- is now online! Please click on the "NWJ archives" link at the bottom of the menu on the left, or click here to access over 20 years of journal archives.
New Fiction for Summer Reading
Described as Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's most powerful and astonishing novel yet AMERICANAH is a story of love and race centred around a young man and woman who face difficult choices and challenges in the countries they come to call home.
"Fearless, gripping, at once darkly funny and tender, spanning three continents and numerous lives, AMERICANAH is a richly told story set in today's globalized world."
Hard to imagine that any book could surpass Ngozi Adiche's HALF OF A YELLOW SUN, but critics say it will.
An amazing number of adjectives have been used to describe Kate Atkinson's new novel LIFE AFTER LIFE. .. including dazzling, witty, moving, joyful, mournful, profound, inventive, hilarious, humane, wise, bittersweet, comic, poignant. You get the picture.. try this book yourself and see if there are other adjectives to add.
A new author of interest is Corinna Chong, whose novel BELINDA'S RINGS has recently been published. "BELINDA'S RINGS links together the coming of age of a young biracial woman with the mid life crisis of her mother. With warmth, kindness and a boisterous sense of humour Corinna Chong introduces us to two lovable and throughly original female protaganists: persnickety, precocious Grace, and her impractical, impulsive mother Belinda - very different women who nevertheless persistently circle back into each other's hearts,"
An interesting, unique story is told in MATADORA, by Elizabeth Ruth. Set in Spain and Mexico of the 1930s, MATADORA tells the story of Luna, a young woman, servant in the noted Garcia household, whose passion to become a bullfighter will defy both law and custom. "
MATADORA is a powerful, compelling exploration of love, art and politics, and an intelligent mirror for our times. It's exotic setting and bold sensuality will keep readers on the edge of their seats and will easily be one of the most original books of the year"
In a Quill and Quire article Elizabeth Ruth says "A writer's ambition, like a bullfighter's, is profound. It requires risk-taking, faith and dedication. Our ambition leads us into territory we never imagined entering. MATADORA took me to many places literally and metaphorically, and taught me new lessons about the craft of writing, not the least of which was this: a writer is perpetually chasing his or her talent."
Our own Joan Baril has a story (GRACE STREET, 1946) in a new collection of short fiction by Canadian writers. EVERYTHING IS SO POLITICAL, edited by Sandra McIntyre. "EVERYTHING IS SO POLITICAL explores the intersection between politics and the comtemporary short story. From the overt to the subtle, from big "P" politics to the personal, the stories in this collection tackle a broad range of topics and themes, from women's rights and Aboriginal culture to environmentalism, terrorism and totalitarianism. One of the few anthologies to focus on political fiction, EVERYTHING IS SO POLITICAL flies in the face of readers, writers and critics who claim that writing with a political agenda occurs at the expense of literary quality."
New Aboriginal Titles
Listening to Mother Earth and Father Sky Success in Your Studies
Take it Away Bear Creek Ten Legends Workbook
HIV/AIDS - Saje's Story Circle Works
Stepping Up Just Reach Out
Nikik ana Wapus Save the People
Buffy Sainte-Marie: It's My Way
The Struggle for Recognition
NEW FALL FICTION OCTOBER 2012.
Fall is the time of literary awards and many interesting titles are appearing on the varying short lists.
The big winner so far is Hilary Mantel who won her second Booker Prize, for BRING UP THE BODIES, a sequel to her earlier winner Wolf Hall. Mantel “explores one of the most mystifying and frightening episodes in English history: the destruction of Anne Bolyen”.
RU, by Kim Thuy, translated by Sheila Fischman , is short listed for both the Giller and the Governor General’s award. RU: “In Vietnamese it means lullaby; in French a small stream, but also signifies a flow – of tears, blood and money.... RU is literature at its most crystalline: the flow of a life on the tides of unrest and on to more peaceful waters…. Ru is a book that celebrates life in all its wonders: its moments of beauty and sensuality, brutality and sorrow,comfort and comedy”.
Two books that vie for the Writer’s Trust award are THE IMPOSTER BRIDE, by Nancy Richler and THE PURCHASE, by Linda Spalding.
The Winnipeg Free Press call THE IMPOSTER BRIDE.. “Beautiful…. A meticulously rendered character study…. A hopeful testament to the power of family and memory, and the importance and meaning of one’s name”, while author Daphne Kalotay says “ With delicacy and warmth, Richler weaves together the threads of a family; its closeness and secrets, opaqueness and hidden beauty, like the uncut gem whose mystery haunts these realistic characters”.
“Imbued with moral complexity, THE PURCHASE is a powerful novel of sacrifice and redemption, darkly beautiful and as hard-edged as the realities of pioneer life. Its memorable characters, drawn with compassion and depth, are compelling human,with lifes that bring light to matters of loyalty and conscience.”
INSIDE, by Alix Ohlin is short listed for the Giller Prize. INSIDE “is a resonant novel of entwined lives and a woman with an unsettling ability to broach the innermost dynamics of the people around her …. With razor sharp emotional intelligence, INSIDE poignantly explores the many dangers as well as the inperative of making ourselves available to – and responsible for those dearest to us”
A finalist for the Governor General’s award, THE JULIET STORIES by Carrie Snyder is a series of linked stories, each story powerful by itself, but reading like a novel. We follow Juliet from age 10, living in Nicaragua with her activist parents, to adulthood, where she shapes her life with memories of the freedom of her childhood. One of my favorite books of the past year.
The many fans of Louise Erdrich will be pleased to know that Erdrich has published a new novel THE ROUND HOUSE. “Written with undeniable urgency and illuminating the harsh realities of contemporary life in a community where Ojibwe and white live uneasily together, THE ROUND HOUSE is a brilliant and entertaining novel, a masterpiece of literary fiction. Louise Erdrich embraces tragedy, the comic, a spirit world very much present in the lives of her all-too-human characters, and a tale of injustice that is, unfortunately, an authentic reflection of what happens in our own world today.”
The incomparable Alice Munro has given us another literary treat with the publication of her latest collection of short stories DEAR LIFE. In powerful and accessible prose Munro’s stories give us “real” people leading “real” lives. In awarding Munro the Booker prrize for her life’s work the prize jury said “Alice Munro brings as much depth, wisdom and precision to every story as most novelists bring to a lifetime of work”.
THE SELECTOR OF SOULS is a hotly anticipated, richly imagined, fierce and fascinating new novel by bestselling author Shauna Singh Baldwin. Of this novel author Sandra Gulland says “A mesmerizing novel, bravely revealing the harsh realities of an entrenched patriarchy bound by the forces of history. Baldwin’s lush details are vivid and luminous, drawing us into the multitude of cultures and religions, the richly textured worlds of India …. . Sweeping and evocative, but most of all illuminating.” And author Catherine Bush says “ THE SELECTOR OF SOULS is a bold and vivid dramatization of the charged choices shaping women’s lives in 1990s India. Shauna Signgh Baldwin has a gift for warm-hearted and incisive storytelling. This is a novel expansive in its vision and defiantly human in its embrace of the contradition that animate us all”.
FLIGHT BEHAVIOR - BARBARA KINGSOLVER
The latest work of fiction from the wonderful bestselling author of Prodigal Summer and Poisonwood Bible, is Barbara Kingsolver's, FLIGHT BEHAVIOR . "Set in a small town in Tennessee, about a young woman who happens upon a forested valley filled with silent red fire, and whose attempt to share the wonder and find an explanation throws her into a spiraling confrontation with her family, her church, her town, her continent, and finally the world at large."
September 2012 - Nonfiction
KEEPING THE LAND: Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug, Reconciliation and Canadian Law, by Rachel Ariss with John Cutfeet. “When the Kitchenuhnaykoosib Inninusug’s tradtional territory was threatened by mining exploration in 2006, they followed their traditional duty to protect the land and asked the mining exploration company, Platinex, to leave. Platinex left -then sued the remote First Nation for $10 billion. The ensuing legal dispute lasted two years and eventually resulted in the jailing of community leaders. Ariss argues that though this jailing was extraordinarily punitive and is indictive of continuing colonialism within the legal system, some aspects of the case demonstrate the potential of Canadian law to understand, include and reflect Aboriginal perspectives. Connecting scholarship in Aboriginal rights and Canadian law, traditional Aboriginal law, social change and community activism, KEEPING THE LAND explores the twists and turns of this legal dispute in order to gain a deeper understanding of the law’s contributions to and detractions from the process of reconciliation.” Rachel Ariss, a former LU faculty member, is presently an assistant professor in legal studies at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology.
ROCK AND ROLL, CRASH AND BURN: THE DRIVER STORY, a memoir, by Maureen Croissant Prairie.Joining the band DRIVER as keyboardist in 1973 was a dream come true for fifteen year old Maureen , allowing her to escape an unhealthy home environment and create “family” with the other band members. Equally based in Thunder Bay in winter months and London, Ontario in the summers, Maureen spent three years with DRIVER until a tragic car accident killed three band members and DRIVER disbanded. The dream quickly became a nightmare as the band manager (an older man) manipulated and traumatized all the band members with utterly horrendous abuse… sometimes at gunpoint.. forced drug use, beatings, torture, rape, . Attempts to fire the manager resulted in forced overdosing of one or another of the members. Time and again the young people were manipulated into silence. Why did they endure it? Prairie suggests the Stockholm Syndrome phenonemen , but what the story reveals is that they were protecting one another. Following the demise of the band Prairie spent time in Europe, returned to Thunder Bay and created a new life for herself… silencing the DRIVER story for more than thirty years until a chance encounter with a former colleague opened the flood of memories that needed to be told. With grace and great courage Prairie has given us the DRIVER story which I will long remember.
VIVA!: Community Arts and Popular Education in the Americas, edited by Deborah Barndt with VIVA! Project Partners. “This compelling collection of inspiring case studies from community arts projects in five countries will inform and inspire students, artists, and activists. VIVA! Is the product of a five year transnational research project that integrates place, politics, passion and praxis. Framed by postcolonial theories of decolonization, the pedagody of the oppressed…and the burgeoning field of community arts, this collection not only analyzes the dynamic integration of the critical and the creative, it embodies such a praxis. Beautifully illustrated with more than 100 photographs, the book also includes a DVD with videos that bring the project to life.”
RECONSIDERING KNOWLEDGE: FEMINISM AND THE ACADEMY, edited by Meg Luxton and Mary Jane Mossman, examines current ideas about feminism in relation to knowledge, education and teaching in the university context. Connecting early stories of women who defied their exclusion from knowledge creation to contemporary challenges for feminism in universities, this collection assesses how feminist knowledge has influenced dominant thinking and transformed teaching and learning. It also focuses on the challenges for feminism as corporatization redefines the role of universities in a global world.
MOTHER-TALK: Conversations with Mothers of Lesbian Daughters and FTM Transgender Children, by Sarah F. Pearman. A collection of stories of twenty-four mothers – twelve who found out a daughter was a lesbian and twelve who learned that a child, once a biological female, was planning to transition to male, MOTHER-TALK captures the complexity of coming to terms with the loss of a daughter who has changed sex, or an anticipated relationship with a daughter, now a lesbian, who lives in a different world and will lead a different life. This groundbreaking book will help other mothers as well as lesbian daughters and FTM transgender children to understand their own mothers, their changed lives, and their determination to remain connected.”
We were pleased to have Susan Goldberg, Rachel Mishenene and Maegen Eddy read to an “overflow” gathering at the Bookstore a few weeks ago. The evening was also the opportunity to launch HERE COME THE BRIDES: Reflections on Lesbian Love and Marriage which includes an exceptional contribution by Susan. Edited by Audrey Bilger and Michele Kort HERE COME THE BRIDES is a fun, heartfelt, and moving celebration of lesbian unions and the major social change they represent.
STARHAWK has provided a book of great value to organizations working for social change. THE EMPOWERMENT MANUAL : A Guide for Collaborative Groups is a comprehensive guide for those seeking to foster vision, trust, accountability and responsibility through shared power and bottom-up leadership. Drawing on four decades of experience, Starhawk shows how groups can develop the cooperaation, efficacy and commitment critical to success. Including exercises and case studies THE EMPOWERMENT MANUAL will help organiztions avoid disagreement and disillusionment, and become instead a fount of resourcefulness, ingenuity and innovation.
WOMEN, VIOLENCE AND TRADITION: Taking FGM and Other Practices to a Secular State, edited by Tasmin Bradley. WOMEN, VIOLENCE AND TRADITION is a fascinating look into the life histories of women from ethnic minority communities in the West, focusing specifically on their experiences of under-researched cultural practices. It illluminates areas of tension and difficulty when women actively try to reform aspects of their tradition whilst remaining fiercely loyal to their cultural identity. This brave and original book tackles the sensitive and controversial issue of female genital mutilation, as well as surveying changing attitudes and practices around marriage and divorce. Using a cross-cultural perspective, WOMEN, VIOLENCE AND TRADITION draws on the views of activists and community organizations that work with women to confront injustice.
THE NEW MAIDS: Transnational Women and the Care Economy, by Helma Lutz. The 1970’s feminist demand for equal distribution of domestic work between women and men never was achieved. Rather, in THE NEW MAIDS, the author argues that redistribution now occurs between western female employers and migrant women from economically disadvantaged countries. In this scholarly study, which addresses thorny questions surrounding the growing number of migrant cleaners and caregivers, the author argues that domestic work plays the defining role in global ethnic and gender hierarchies. This exciting book not only will enhance the reader’s understanding of the new care economy, it also sets a new standard for feminist methodlogy.
One of our favorite story-tellers (not just in Thunder Bay but across Canada and elsewhere) Ivan E. Coyote has a new book ONE IN EVERY CROWD. With her honest, wry, plain-spoken tales about gender, identity, and family Ivan’s performances in high schools have inspired many young people to embrace their sense of self and to be proud of who they are. ONE IN EVERY CROWD is her first book specifically for queer youth, but is really for everyone, as it is about embracing and celebrating difference and feeling comfortable in one’s own skin, no matter what the circumstance.
Some New Fiction Titles:
Jamrach’s Menagerie by Carol Birch
The Winter Palace by Eva Stachniak
The Juliet Stories by Carrie Snyder
Dogs at the Permimeter by Madeline Thien
Joyner’s Dream by Sylvia Tyson
Now in paperback
Alone in the Classroom by Elizabeth Hay
A Man in Uniform by Kate Taylor
Holding Still For As
Long As Possible by Zoe Whittall
Fauna by Alissa York
Olive Senior. image from Globe & Mail review.
There are numerous new novels on the shelves of the NWB. Two that caught my eye have dancing and the future in their titles.
With the explosion of dance shows and dance classes sending our dreams into our feet with images of grace and fleet-footedness, why not read about dancing, too? Dancing is a trending topic. Who other than the incomparable Olive Senior to write Dancing Lessons?
What’s remarkable about this novel is that it is Senior’s debut novel! Seventy one years old, Senior is well known for her short fiction and poetry. Now this Canadian writer has gifted readers with a novel told through the perspective of Mrs. G., a seventy-something woman.
The novel opens in a senior’s home in Jamaica, where Mrs. G’s daughter has placed her mother. The story unfolds through shifts in time, a back and forth of the past and the present as told through Mrs.G’s reflections that she writes down in a diary. Through the telling of Mrs. G’s life, the reader also learns about events in Jamaican history.
This novel is definitely top of my list. I am teaching a spring online course called Grandmothers & Grandfathers in Literature, and I have been reading writings about older protagonists. Senior’s Mrs. G provides a window into a Jamaican woman’s life as she reflects on her current situation and looks back on her experiences, both personal and political. What will Mrs. G teach me?
Sarah Schulman and The Mere Future front cover. Image source.
The Mere Future is a new novel by Sarah Schulman. American novelist, historian, and playwright. She has written ten novels, five non-fiction books, and two plays. The title immediately caught my eye: what is so ‘mere’ about the future? How is Schulman using the word ‘mere’? I decided to look up the word’s etymology in my beat up 1969 Webster’s Dictionary.
mere, mer, a. [O.Fr. mier, L. merus, pure, unmixed.] This or that and nothing else; simple; absolute, entire, utter (mere folly). –merely, mer-li, adv. Solely; simply; only; for this and no other purpose.
mere, mer, n. [A.Sax. maere, gemaere, O.D. meer, a boundary; Icel. moerr, borderland.] A boundary; a boundary stone.
Well, Schulman could be using the word in either sense: simply the future or the future as a border, a marker towards new territory.
This is a case of: pick up the novel to find out more!
- Engendering Migrant Health Canadian perspectives. ed. Denise L. Spitzer
- Queer Indigenous Studies Critical Interventions in Theory, Politics, and Literature. Ed. Qwo-Li Driskill, Chris Finley, Brian Joseph Gillery & Scott Lauria Morgensen
- Indigenous Women and Feminism Politics, Activism, Culture. Cheryl Suzick, Shari M. Huhndorf, Jeanne Perreault, and Jean Barman. Chapters in this book include "Painting the Archive The Art of Jane Ash Poitras” by Pamela McCallum, and “Affirmations of an Indigenous Feminist" by Kim Anderson.
- Practicing Feminist Mothering. Fiona Joy Green
- Transforming Law's Family. Fiona Kelly
The Strength of Women ... Ahkameyimowak by Patricia Settee, is a collection of candid, first-person stories of fifteen women whose strength and vision has made a difference - for their communities - for everyone. Ahkameyimowak is a Cree word that embodies the strength that helps women to survive, flourish and work for change. Patricia Ningewance, a respected Anishnaabe-kwe linguist and artist, is well known in Thunder Bay and region, her personal stories are told with the titles "Tourist of the white people's culture" and "It is in art we find our way home". The Strength of Women is an inspirational and though-provoking collection.
Hot Topic: Portraits of 20th Century Feminist by Kristen McCrea. the song Hot Topic is a tribute to feminist heroes of all stripes: artists, activists, writers, musicians and others. Montreal-based artist Kirsten McCrea has painted the portrait of every person named in Le Tigre song Hot Topic. McCrea says "Many of the people in the song have strongly influenced my own development as an artist and activist, but are relatively unknown outside of certain subcultures. In a world that celebrates manufactored pop stars but forgets the name of suffragists, I wanted to find a way to solidify the memory of the underground superstars whose creativity and ideas have made such a difference to feminists of my generation." The biographies that accompany the paintings were written by Misty Ericson, founder of HerCircleEzine.com
The first time a feminist interpretation of the news made it into a mainstream Canadian newspaper was in May 1978 with Michele Landsberg's first column for the Toronto Star. For twenty-five years, Landsberg chronicled the lives of women, their struggles and achievements. Her columns covering women's issues - health, violence, work, childcare and many more hotly debated topics were a force for social and legal change. Now Landsberg collects the best of these columns in Writing the Revolution and reflects on the past, present and future of women's lives in Canada, acknowledging the feminist movement's successes while recognizing what remains to be accomplished.
Through Feminist Eyes gathers in one volume the most incisive and insightful essays written to date by the distinguished Canadian historian Joan Sangster. To the original essays, Sangster has added reflective introductory discussions that situate her earlier work in the context of developing theory and debate. Sangster has also supplied an introduction to the collection in which she reflects on the themes and theoretical orientations that have shaped the writing of women's history over the past thirty years.
Approaching her subject matter from an array of interpretive frameworks that engage questions of gender, class, colonialism, politics, and labour, Sangster explores the lived experience of women in a variety of specific historical settings. In so doing, she sheds new light on issues that have sparked much debate among feminist historians and offers a thoughtful overview of the evolution of women's history in Canada.
Published in the Kids Power Books series, Shannen and the Dream for a School, by Janet Wilson, is the story of Shannen Koostachin and her determination to have a new school in Attawapiskat First Nation to replace the few portables that were provided when their school had been closed because of a fuel spill that happened 20 years before. Tired of the freezing cold air that crept through the poorly insulated portables walls, the small smelly bathroom, and the long walks between portables, Shannen and her classmates decided to do something about it. They created a YouTube video which captured the attention of thousands, and travelled to Ottawa to tell federal politicians how they were failing Aboriginal children. An inspiring story of one young woman's commitment to her community, this book is appropriate for young people and adult readers. Sadly, Shannen was killed in an accident when she was only fifteen.
Congratulations to Margie Taylor for her delightful new book. 60 IS THE NEW 20: A boomer’s guide to aging with grace, dignity, and what’s left of your self-respect. Many of us knew Margie when she was 20… she grew up in Westfort, worked at CBC Thunder Bay in the 1970’s and again later, (she now lives in Guelph) and when I read her work I hear her voice.. her humour and her insight and energy. A light-hearted, tongue-in-cheek look at boomers, 60 IS THE NEW 20 will entertain and engage, and suggest boomers face the future with humour, optimism, and a certain amount of irony, fingers crossed that all will be well in the end.
DREAMERS OF A NEW DAY: Women Who Invented the Twentieth Century by renowned historian Sheila Rowbotham. From the 1880s to the 1920s, a profound social awakening among women extended the possibilities of change far beyond the struggle for the vote. Amid the growth of globalized trade, mass production, immigration and urban slums..women broke with custom and prejudice. Taking off corsets, forming free unions, living communally, buying ethically, joining trade unions, these ‘dreamers of a new day’ challenged ideas about sexuality, mothering, housework, the economy and citizenship. Sheila Rowbotham’s ground-breaking new history shows how women created much of the fabric of modern life, raising questions that remain at the forefront of our twenty-first century lives.
DELUSIONS OF GENDER: How Our Minds, Society, and Neurosexism Create Difference, by Cordelia Fine. Brilliantly researched and wickedly funny, DELUSIONS OF GENDER debunks the pseudo-scientific myth of hardwired differences between men’s and women’s brains. Unravelling the evidence behind such claims as men’s brains aren’t made for empathy and women’s brains aren’t meant to fix cars, Cordelia Fine provides us with a much-needed corrective to the belief that “men are from Mars and women are from Venus” – a belief that all too often works to the detriment of ourselves and our society.
With passion and remarkable candor, Carmen Aguirre offers a rare first-hand account of revolutionary life in SOMETHING FIERCE: Memoirs of a Revolutionary Daughter. Aguirre’s family fled to Canada in 1973 after the violent coup removed Salvador Allende in Chili. But five years later Chilean resistance called for exiled activists to return to Latin America and Aguirre’s parents returned and set up a safe house for resistance members in Bolivia. Torn between the political convictions she shared and her longing for an everyday existence, Carmen decided at eighteen to commit her own life to the cause, facing constant fear. As Camilla Gibb says “..through the political landscape of South America during the 1970s and 1980s, told by a brave daughter of the Chilean resistance, SOMETHING FIERCE is an inspiration to anyone who strives to live a life of passion and purpose."
A collection of essays by renowned literary critic and feminist author Sandra Gilbert REREADING WOMEN: Thirty Years of Exploring Our Literary Traditions provides a critique, or rereading of classic works by well-known women authors. Virginia Woolf and other feminist literary critics have argued for generations that if we are women we think through our literary mothers. Gilbert explores this through close readings of writings by Charlotte Bronte, George Eliot and Sylvia Plath (and others). The three sections of this work are titled Finding Atlantis- And Growing Into Feminism; Reading and Rereading Women’s Writing, and Mother Rites: Maternity, Macriarchy, Creativity. Gilbert asks major questions that are as relevant to our lives today as they were half a century ago… what is feminism… what have feminist concepts come to mean in the 21st century.. and, how have our intellectual mothers shaped our thoughts today?
THE ANTAGONIST (Lynn Coady). Against his will and his nature, the hulking Gordon Rankin ("Rank") is cast as an enforcer, a goon -- by his classmates, his hockey coaches, and especially his own "tiny, angry" father, Gordon Senior. Rank gamely lives up to his role -- until tragedy strikes, using Rank as its blunt instrument. Escaping the only way he can, Rank disappears. But almost twenty years later he discovers that an old, trusted friend -- the only person to whom he has ever confessed his sins -- has published a novel mirroring Rank’s life.
With the deep compassion, deft touch, and irreverent humour, Lynn Coady delves deeply into the ways we sanction and stoke male violence, giving us a large-hearted, often hilarious portrait of a man tearing himself apart.
JAMRACH'S MENAGERIE (Carol Birch). London, 1857: meet Jaf, a young street urchin who survives an encounter with an escaped tiger in the city's East End and stumbles into a job for its owner, Mr. Jamrach, a collector and seller of wild animals. Commissioned by Jamrach to find and collect a half-mythical dragon, Jaf joins a whaling ship headed south and begins a wonder-filled voyage of discovery. But when disaster befalls the crew, Jaf's journey becomes a desperate survival tale.
Beautifully written and utterly spellbinding, Jamrach's Menagerie conjures the smells, sights and flavours of the nineteenth century, from the squalor of Victorian London to the lush islands of the Dutch East Indies.
DOGS AT THE PERIMETER (Madeleine Thien). The novel begins one winter, when Janie, a researcher in Montreal, suddenly leaves her husband and young son. She retreats to the home of her friend and mentor, the neurologist Hiroji Matsui, who has mysteriously disappeared. Their friendship, and the world Janie begins to reclaim in the wake of Hiroji's disappearance, are at the heart of Madeleine Thien’s second novel.
Thirty years earlier, in 1975, Janie is a child in Cambodia. When the Khmer Rouge take control of the country, the fallen city of Phnom Penh is emptied. Together with her parents and her younger brother, Sopham, she is forced into the countryside. In the terror that follows, when to remember one’s own past becomes a crime against the revolution, her father, a translator, is taken away, and gradually her mother weakens. Survival depends on escape.
STATE OF WONDER (Ann Patchett). STATE OF WONDER is a provocative and ambitious novel set deep in the Amazon jungle. Dr. Marina Singh, a research scientist with a Minnesota pharmaceutical company, is sent to Brazil to track down her former mentor, Dr. Annick Swenson, who seems to have all but disappeared in the Amazon while working on what is destined to be an extremely valuable new drug. Nothing about Marina's assignment is easy: not only does no one know where Dr. Swenson is, but the last person who was sent to find her, Marina's research partner Anders Eckman, died before he could complete his mission.
Plagued by trepidation, Marina embarks on an odyssey into the insect-infested jungle in hopes of finding her former mentor as well as answers to several troubling questions about her friend's death, the state of her company's future, and her own past. But while she is as threatening as anything the jungle has to offer, the greatest sacrifices to be made are the ones Dr. Swenson asks of herself.
REQUIEM (Frances Itani). Bin Okuma, a celebrated visual artist, has recently and quite suddenly lost his wife, Lena. He and his son, Greg, are left to deal with the shock. But Greg has returned to his studies on the East Coast, and Bin finds himself alone and pulled into memories he has avoided for much of his life. In 1942, after Pearl Harbor, his Japanese Canadian family was displaced from the West Coast. Now, he sets out to drive across the country: to complete the last works needed for an upcoming exhibition; to revisit the places that have shaped him; to find his biological father, who has been lost to him. It has been years since his father made a fateful decision that almost destroyed the family. Now, Bin must ask himself whether he really wants to find him. With the persuasive voice of his wife in his head, and the echo of their great love in his heart, he embarks on an unforgettable journey that encompasses art and music, love and hope.
INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF AUTHORS - BOOKS
In conjunction with the International Festival of Authors (October 16, 2011), we are excited to feature the books that James Bartleman, Johanna Skibsrud and Jane Urquhart will read from at the festival:
We have many other books by these wonderful authors as well. Drop in to see our collection!
THE REVOLUTION STARTS AT HOME: Confronting Intimate Violence Within Activist Communities, edited by Ching-In Chen, Jao Dulani and Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha. It is impossible in one brief paragraph to describe the scope and substance of this thought-provoking book, which provides both individual stories of struggle and success, and descriptions of community activism dedicated to radical approaches to anti-violence work. Quoting from the preface by Andrea Smith:
…. the revolution does indeed begin at home. This phrase should not be interpreted as a depoliticized call to focus on personal self-development instead of movements to dismantle white supremacy, capitalism and imperialism. Rather, this phrase reminds us that for our movements to be successful they must prefigure the societies we seek to build….. movements must dispense with the idea that we can worry about gender violence “after the revolution” because gender violence is a primary strategy for white supremacy, colonialism, and capitalism. Heteropatriarchy is the logic by which all other forms of social hierarchy become naturalized. …. Those who have an interest in dismantling settler colonialism, white supremacy, and capitalism must by necessity have a stake in dismantling heteropatriarchy.
In an ambitious documenting of the history of over two hundred years of feminism, THE FEMINIST PROMISE: 1792 to the Present, Christine Stansell provides a comprehensive and enlightening story of “one of the great democratic movements of our time”. Starting with Mary Wollstonecraft’s The Vindication of the Rights of Women Stansell follows the movement’s surges and set-backs, delving deep into various periods of history; profiles known and unknown achievers; and examines the cultural climate and its influences. The middle years discussed focus primarily on the United States, while the concluding chapter Global Feminism brings international women into focus. THE FEMINIST PROMISE is an excellent resource for all interested in women’s history.
The purpose of the Margaret Laurence Lecture, sponsored by the Writer’s Trust of Canada, is to have writers look retrospectively at their own lives, sharing insights into their work, the profession of writing, the growing canon of our literature, and the cultural history of our country. For the past twenty-five years exceptional Canadian writers (including some of my favorites – Maria Campbell, Mavis Gallant, Timothy Findlay) have shared their insights with each other. Now we as readers benefit with the publication of A WRITER’S LIFE: The Margaret Laurence Lectures. Readers who enjoy Canadian literature will love A WRITER’S LIFE… and treasure the insight, wisdom, humour, candour, from these twenty-five beloved and admired literary figures.
broke but unbroken: Grassroots Social Movements and Their Radical Solutions to Poverty, by Augusta Dwyer.
“Travelling with Dwyer through the slums and villages of Brazil, Indonesia, India and Argentina, we meet organizers from some of the most successful grassroots social movements struggling against poverty. These people have risked their homes, their families and even their lives to affect real change in the world, share their stories of economic and political success, empowerment and hope. In the beautiful prose of an accomplished writer, Dwyer weaves these narratives together to dramatically portray the potency of collective action and offer us important lessons for challenging power and changing the world.”
On the fiction front we have THE FORGOTTEN WALTZ, a new novel by Anne Enright (winner of the Man Booker Prize for The Gathering).
“This sharply observed and intensely compelling novel, played out against the background of Ireland today, brilliantly captures the sudden, momentous drama of everyday life, the volatile and intricate connections between people, the wry truths about marriage and family. THE FORGOTTEN WALTZ is an extraordinary novel of unique intelligence, passion, and real distinction, written by an author at the height of her powers.”
Now in Paperback:
ROOM, by Emma Donague… short-listed for the Orange Prize “Told in the inventive, funny, and poignant voice of five year old Jack, ROOM is a celebration of resilience- and a powerful story of a mother and son whose love lets them survive the impossible”.
A MAN IN UNIFORM, by Kate Taylor… “ .. (a) seductive new novel offers a generous helping of classic noir- with wily femme fatales and hard-nosed villians, double crossings and deceit- while treating the reader to a page-turning jaunt through a richly imagined nineteenth-century Paris.”
SANCTUARY LINE, by Jane Urquhart. “In this eloquent and powerful narrative, Jane Urquhart brings to vivid life the things of the past that make us who we are and illuminates the sometimes difficult path to understanding and forgiveness.”
SUDDENLY, by Bonnie Burnard. “An unassuming masterpiece that transport the life unfolding before our very eyes onto the canvas of the page.” (Globe and Mail)
STRENGTH AND STRUGGLE: Perspectives from First Nations, Inuit, and Metis Peoples in Canada, by Rachel Mishenene and Dr. Pamela Rose Toulouse, is a rich array of short stories, poetry, music lyrics, graphic art, articles, essays and other pieces that will have you laughing, talking and thinking. Although designed as an educational resource for high-school use, the essays and stories deserve a much broader readership that will benefit everyone. Many of the over thirty contributors are from Northwestern Ontario.
Rachel Mishenene (Thunder Bay) is an educator, artist and activist who launched her book at the Northern Woman’s Bookstore in June, to a standing room only crowd... Congratulations Rachel! On Wednesday, July 6th, from 4:45 – 5.30 p.m. Rachel will be signing her book at the Bookstore for anyone who missed her at the launch.
In DANCING ON OUR TURTLE’S BACK: Stories of Nishnaabeg Re-creation, Resurgence, and a New Emergence, writer, editor, and educator Leanne Simpson asserts “reconcilation must be grounded in political resurgence and must support the regeneration of Indigenous languages, oral cultures, and traditions of governance." Simpson explores philosophies and pathways of regeneration, resurgence, and a new emergence through the Nishnaabeg language, Creation Stories, walks with Elders and children, celebrations and protests, and meditations on these experiences. She stresses the importance of illuminating Indigenous intellectual traditions to transform their relationship to the Canadian state.
OSSUARIES: Poems, by Dionne Brand….. "is about the bones of fading cultures and ideas, about the living museums of spectacle where these bones are found. At the centre of OSSUARIES is the narrative of Yasmine, a woman living an underground life, fleeing from past actions and regrets, in a perpetual state of movement. She leads a solitary clandestine life, crossing borders actual (Algiers, Cuba, Canada), and timeless. Cold-eyed and cynical, she contemplates the periodic crises of the contemporary world. This is a work of deep engangement, sensuality, and ultimate craft from an essential observer of our time and one of the most accomplished poets writing today.”
Editors Adebe DeRango-Adem and Andrea Thompson say “OTHER TONGUES: MIXED RACE WOMEN SPEAK OUT was born from a combination of necessity and a desire to see a new and refreshing literature that could be at the forefront on mixed-race discourse and women’s studies…. We hope that OTHER TONGUES can serve as a place to learn about the social experiences, attitudes, and feelings of others, and what racial identity has come to mean today. Herein you will find an incredible range of poetry, spoken word, fiction, creative non-fiction, as well as black and white art work and photography that both uniquely and collectively engage, document, and/or explore the experiences of being mixed-race, by placing interraciality as the centre, rather than periphery of analysis.”
MOTHERHOOD AND FEMINISM by Amber E. Kinser, PhD, traces the history of motherhood from the Industrial Revolution to today. With particular attention to the ways in which race and class affect women’s experiences of mothering, this book addresses how society’s expectations of mothers have changed through time and how mothering has shaped women’s lives. Other authors comment “Drawing from an impressive range of material and voices, Kinser writes lucidly about the struggle to empower mothers in a culture that that undervalues the work of mothering (Heather Hewitt)… Kinser shatters the myths about feminism and child-rearing – and in their place unfolds our true history and experience of oppression, ambivalence, inspiration, and powerful motherhood" (Ariel Gore).
CORE SAMPLES is the literary result of the coming together of five writers, shaped by the environment of the North, who have become a poetic voice for the Northwestern Ontario and the Canadian Shield. Our congratulations to Sue Blott, Cathy Carroll, Mary Frost, Sharon Irvine, Sherri Lankinen and thanks for this lovely gift. As Joan Baril (writer and blogger) says, “Five vibrant poetic voices evoke the elusiveness, the beauty, the intensity and the inscrutability of the boreal landscape. Like sunlight through spruce branches, these poems swoop at us, producing haunting meditations as clear as the aurora, as sharp as northern ice and as enchanting as a summer day at the lake.”
ALONE IN THE CLASSROOM, by Elizabeth Hay. “This spell-binding tale crosses generations and cuts to the bone. It probes the roots of obsessive love and hate, how the hurts of childhood persist and are passed on as if in the blood. It lays bare the urgency of discovering what we were never told about the past. And it celebrates the process of becoming who we are in a world full of startling connections that lie just out of site.” Her first novel since her Scotia Giller prize winning Late Nights on Air, ALONE IN THE CLASSROOM is described as Hay’s most intricate, compelling and seductive novel yet.
Participants in the 2010 Sleeping Giant Writers Festival had the joyful experience of meeting Miriam Toews, who not only is a magnificent writer but also a truly fine person. In her new novel, IRMA VOTH, Toews returns to her Mennonite roots (as with her Governor General award winning A Complicated Kindness) … this time in Mexico, where Irma resists the patriarchal oppression of her father, while shielding her sisters, and hiding a dark secret that she must confront, and finding the strength to endure her difficult reality. Her finest novel yet, IRMA VOTH is a serious book with many deep themes, yet Toews amazing writing style brings humour to the harshness and provides a comfortable space for readers.
Ivan E. Coyote (renowned story-teller) and Zena Sharman (who grew up in Thunder Bay) have edited PERSISTENCE: All Ways Butch and Femme. They say “This book is a testament to the many ways butch and femme can be lived and embodied. It is our homage to the bodies that lived before us, and it is our gift to those just discovering themselves.” The stories in PERSISTENCE resist simple definitions. The people in the stories defy reductive stereotypes and inflexible categories. The pages in this book describe the lives of an incredible diversity of people. PERSISTENCE is a raucous, insightful, sexy, and sometimes dangerous look at what the words butch and femme can mean in today’s ever-shifting gender landscape.
FEMINISM FOR REAL: Deconstructing the academic industrial complex of feminism, edited by Jessica Yee, is an important book that should be read thoughtfully by feminists (old and young, inside and outside the academy). Bringing together stories, poems and essays by an impressive range of voices, the authors share their sometimes uncomfortable truths, not just about feminism, but about who they are and where they are coming from. Against a backdrop exposing a 500+ year legacy of colonization and oppression FEMINISM FOR REAL deals with the conflicts of what feminism means in theory as opposed to real life, and the desire to redefine feminism.