David Gilmour, Extraordinary, HarperCollins Publishers (2013) In a by-now-infamous interview with Hazlitt magazine this fall, David Gilmour, 2005 Governor General’s Award winner for A Perfect Night to Go to China and the current Pelham Edgar Professor of Literary Studies at Victoria College at the University of Toronto, remarked “I’m not interested in teaching books by women… when I […]
Elisabeth DeMariaffi, How to Get Along with Women, Invisible Publishing (2012) Elisabeth De Mariaffi’s short stories focus on female characters and seemingly innocuous moments in their lives that may or may not be pivotal — the author is never explicit about this. Everything Under Your Feet features Lydia Strunk running up a mountain, every day. The character […]
Wayne Johnston, The Son of a Certain Woman, Alfred A. Knopf Canada (2013) Having loved The Colony of Unrequited Dreams, I would be remiss not to warn potential readers that Wayne Johnston’s new novel, The Son of a Certain Woman, is a very different kind of book. In place of the sweeping descriptions of Newfoundland, […]
Joseph Boyden, The Orenda, Hamish Hamilton (2013) Orenda is the power in all things, the life force present in humans, animals, plants, and earth. In the context of indigenous and settler-colonial relations, the word represents a fundamental difference in understanding. While Christophe, the Jesuit missionary in Joseph Boyden’s The Orenda, sees only the human soul, his hosts […]
Louis Hamelin, October 1970, House of Anansi Press (2013) “October 1970 is a work of fiction,” writes the book’s author, Louis Hamelin. It is “a reconstruction in which imagination took the place of historical investigation. The unofficial history was the novelist’s mortar when faced with the patchy official version, which barely stands up to the slightest prodding.” […]
Lisa Moore, Caught, House of Anansi Press I have to admit, having never read a Lisa Moore book before, Caught was not what I expected. The jacket cover promised me “undercover agents,” “adventure” and “many, many bales of marijuana.” Conditioned to believe undercover agents lead to high-stakes shoot outs and drugs to battles between good […]
Hellgoing, Lynn Coady, House of Anansi Press Well-being is a happy state of contentment and acceptance that the characters in Lynn Coady’s Hellgoing, a finalist for this year’s Giller Prize, would find unfamiliar. As the title of her engaging and highly enjoyable collection of short stories suggests, the fate of these characters — mostly, but […]
Canadians across the country have poems in their pockets, from a pretty little haiku to historical epics to the latest pop earworm. Every year new poets give us wonderful and engaging works. But we can’t forget the strong Canadian poetic tradition captured by, among others, Bliss Carman’s romantic odes to landscape, Stephen Leacock’s biting satire, […]
The first national anthology of poetry by African Canadians will be released in celebration of Black History Month this February. Published by Frontenac House, The Great Black North: Contemporary African Canadian Poetry features the works of over 90 poets across Canada.
The poets are a diverse bunch in terms of form, history and geography. From big cities to small towns, the west coast to the Maritimes and beyond Canada’s borders to countries of origin like Somalia, Nigeria, Jamaica and Kenya, these poets bring a diverse voice and a unique history that weaves together the struggles and victories that have formed the African-Canadian experience.
In 1863 a mysterious young Frenchwoman arrived in Halifax on a packet-boat from New York. She spoke broken English and had difficulty asking the carriage-driver to take her to a hotel. He brought her to the Halifax Hotel, where the Ralston Building now stands on Hollis Street, because the proprietor there spoke French and German. The woman registered as ‘Miss Lewley’ and said she wanted to locate a relative in the city. She was directed to Philip Lenoir, a French-speaking lawyer, and told him she wanted to locate her cousin, Albert Pinson, an officer in a British regiment stationed in Halifax.
The end of the year: a time when people reflect on the most significant developments in their field, and, honestly, on myriad unrelated occurrences and happenings as well. Where are we going and what have we done? This year, I think the conversation about literature in Canada belongs to Canada’s female readers and writers for a few key reasons.