Friday, 20 July 2018

Summer Reads: Eli

It's a busy and rocky year with many ups and downs but something that's persisted is a plethora of amazing books to read. I've been trying to read books exclusively by BIPOC and queer writers which has been easy this year since so many have been published!

 Ask a Virgo to make a list and they'll go wild so here we go!
Here's a few titles you might find me enjoying in a park or somewhere
in front of D&Q on my breaks:

Freshwater - Akwaeke Emezi

Freshwater is one of the most beautiful and innovative books I've read in 2018. Freshwater tells the story of Ada, a Nigerian Igbo woman born ''with one foot on the other side''. We see her life through chapters told by her alters, Gods in her body that pull her this way and that way, but also help her through tough moments where Ada cannot be in her body. Emezi's style is unlike many other writers, and I'm super looking forward to reading whatever next book they put out. I read it during one Toronto to Montreal bus ride, and I really recommend reading it in one sitting to really get immersed in Ada's world. Also it's  extra great to read work written by a non-binary writer! How many non-binary writers do you know who are published? Probably not many.

Bad Endings - Carleigh Baker
If you don't know, well now you know, Indigenous literature has been on a roll this year (probably has something to do with Indigenous folks actually being published and Canlit suddenly recognizing Indigenous talent...), and Bad Endings is part of this roll. I follow Carleigh Baker on Twitter and her engagement with and critiques of Canlit are always very on point and led me to want to read her work. A collection of short stories that ''pushes readers to reconsider their desire for resolution'', it sounds like a perfect read for a semi-aimless summer.

Sick: A Memoir - Porochista Khakpour

Sick was great and hard and a lot. It’s one of those stories your POC mom might tell you about when you’re complaining about your life to show you someone who’s had it harder. Because for sure Porochista Khakpour has it “harder”. But that’s not what this book is about. Retelling her life and her long and arduous journey towards a Lyme disease diagnosis, Khakpour describes the ways many women, especially women of colour, are not believed by doctors. I was particularly interested in reading about physical illness and race, the ways in which stressors like 9/11 and the Muslim ban and Tr***’s election can aggravate physical illnesses and disabilities, the ways in which illnesses of the body and mind are more connected than we believe, and the ways in which women of colour are not meant to be sick. Read this on a sunny day to counter balance the intensity. Do not read in one sitting.
The Map of Salt and Stars - Jennifer Zeynab Joukhadar

The Map of Salt and Stars merges the stories of Nour, a young woman fleeing Syria with her family across many countries, and the story of Rawiya, a twelfth century girl who, in order to apprentice herself to a famous mapmaker,  disguised herself as a boy. While fleeing, Nour and her family take the same route Rawiya took and the stories of the two main characters start to overlap. As an Arab writer and avid reader, I'm so excited to see so many great novels coming out by other Arab writers and I've been pacing myself trying to read them all! I'm especially excited by the gender bending aspects of Rawiya's journey and the stories being told of Syria that are a) told by Syrians and b) reflect the lives and humanity of Syrian people and not just the violence and deaths of the war.

Edinburgh - Alexander Chee

I'm really excited to read this book after reading How To Write An Autobiographical Novel given how much I loved it. Chee writes a lot about Edinburgh in the aforementioned work so it's exciting to read the novel knowing how it came to be. I only found out about Chee's work this year which seems like a shame because I've been missing out! His launch at D&Q around two months ago was fantastic and got me even more excited to read the rest of his work. Telling the story of the main character Fee, who deals with the aftermath of childhood abuse by his choir director, this book will not be easy to read, but knowing the care Chee takes in writing difficult situations, I'm excited to delve into the book and return to Chee's beautiful writing and voice. 

Ma Très Grande Mélancholie Arabe -Lamia Ziadé

Je viens tout récemment de lire Bye Bye Babylon de Lamia Ziadé. Même si je l'ai beaucoup aimé il y avait quelque chose de perdu étant une traduction. Par contre, j'étais surpris par la capacité des images de pouvoir transmettre l'émotion qui manquait dans les mots. Son livre le plus récent, Ma Très Grande Mélancholie Arabe, est illustré dans son style à crayon habituel, pleins de colours et de dynamise, un style unique et charmant. Le livre déconstruit l'orientalisme,  laissant les lecteurs ainsi découvrir le monde Arabe d'une nouvelle perspective ainsi que réinterpreter les conflits avec plus de nuances. Si vous aimez l'histoire enrobé de récit personnel, je pense que vous aimerez bien les oeuvres de Lamia Ziadé. 


Dear Current Occupant: A Memoir - Chelene Knight

I've been meaning to read this since it came out in March but there's just so many books to read! Dear Current Occupant is a mix of letters, essays, poems, messing with genre, a memoir about home and belonging set in the 80s and 90s of Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. As someone who has moved a lot during my childhood, I'm really interested in Knight's experience looking at the twenty different houses she lived in and at  who currently occupies these spaces. Set against current Vancouver gentrification, new condos, and sky rocketing rent prices, this book is so important. Exploring familial love in the face of systematic racism and classism, I've heard it is beautifully crafted and I really can't wait to dive in.

Trap Door - Ed. by Reina Gossett, Erica A. Stanley & Johanna Burton

I hadn't heard about this book until someone I know special ordered into the store. I immediately ordered it for the store when I saw it come in. This beautiful and extensive essay collection on trans cultural production and the politics of visibility is so timely. I'm so excited to read essays and conversations with stars like Che Gossett, Miss Major Griffin-Gracy, Sara Ahmen, Fred Moten, Morgan M. Page and many more. It looks like a beautiful coffee table book but I will definitely be reading this much more attentively than I'd read any coffee table book. I'm a huge fan of Reina Gossett (excited to hopefully get to see her short film, Happy Birthday, Marsha!) so this anthology is extra exciting.

A few books that are not yet out: 

Holy Wild by Gwen Benaway. Cover Imagejpg     
Holy Wild - Gwen Benaway

This cover is so wonderful, I can't stop looking!
I love lyric poems! I love Gwen Benaway's poetry! I love trans poems!
Maybe you can tell I'm really excited for this book to come out? Benaway writes into the beauty, the complexity, and the legacies of violence and resistance of been an indigenous trans woman. Benaway's essays are always stunning and captivating, her work honest and so important. An author who gives so much of herself to her writing, I'm so excited for this expansive long poem that I know will be so generous in its sharing. I've heard Gwen say countless times that her work about love and sex with partners is a step towards normalizing trans women's sexuality and intimacies, work that is so important to the lives of trans women everywhere. I'm so grateful and excited for Holy Wild.

You Have The Right To Remain Fat - Virgie Tovar

Books about body positivity and fatness!! We need these books!! In a culture steeped in fatphobia and fat shaming, I suggest that every person read at least one book that talks about fatphobia and body positivity to help  you rewire your brain and recognize the beauty and possibility of different bodies. Others that are also on my list include My Body Is Not an Apology and Landwhale. I was lured in by the title of this book ! Tovar writes about the intersections of race and gender and fatness in interesting ways and I'm awaiting the pub date impatiently.

If They Come For Us - Fatimah Asghar

I've been waiting for this collection of poems ever since reading the titular poem and watching Brown Girls (a must-watch web series that's been picked up by HBO!). Asghar's poetry addresses race, queerness, what is means to be living in America as a brown Muslim, what it means to grow up without parents. Her verse is rich and filled with images, accessible (I heard her say on a podcast that she wanted to write poems that her aunties and family members might read). She tells a story of kin, and really revels in her love for her community, beautiful, tender. Also what the heck!!
This is  another beautiful cover and I'm so excited to have it on my bookshelf.
Thursday, 19 July 2018

Summer Reads: Alyssa

If you've talked to me at any point in the past few months, you've likely heard about my thesis ad nauseum (sorry). But I'm finished now, and one of the loveliest side effects is that I now have time to read for pleasure again. Here's what I have been (or will be) working through:

Graphic Novels

Culottées T01 et 02 (Pénélope Bagieu)
I've been recommending the two volumes of Culottées (recently translated into English, as Brazen, by Montana Kane) to just about everyone. Bagieu's short illustrated biographies of unconventional women are uncomplicated and uncompromising.

Shit is Real (Aisha Franz, trans. Nicholas Houde)
Franz gives life to our worst and most understandable impulses in a surreal, technocratic futurescape where, still, there's nothing as destabilizing as heartbreak.

XTC69 (Jessica Campbell)
Intrepid explorers from the planet L8DZ N1T3 are on the hunt for men to breed with. But are their spoils even worth the effort?

Sabrina (Nick Drnaso)
No one does dread and melancholy like Drnaso. His meditation on ambiguity, unconcluded grief, conspiracy theories, and sexual violence is so timely it's almost hot to the touch.


The Dark Forest (Cixin Liu, trans. Joel Martinsen)
I had a lot of fun discussing The Three Body Problem, the first installment in Cixin Liu's Remembrance of Earth's Past trilogy, with the store's Reading Across Borders book club. We're meeting again (August 7th!) and I'm already deep in the second book. 

The Philistine (Leila Marshy)
When Palestinian-Canadian Nadia decides not to take her return flight home, choosing instead to stay in Cairo, she leaves open the space needed to navigate family relationships, notions of home, queer desire, and Middle Eastern identity.

The Mars Room (Rachel Kushner)
Another upcoming book club selection, I can't wait to fully melt into Kushner's novel of agency, youth, and the prison industrial complex.

Poetry and Nonfiction

Full-Metal Indigiqueer (Joshua Whitehead)
Following the character of Zoa -- indigiqueer Trickster figure, cyborg of decolonized digital landscapes -- Whitehead's poetry collection is the best kind of virus: infiltrating, reprogramming, leaving nothing unchanged.

Eye Level (Jenny Xie)
There's motion in Xie's poems, they go abroad, inward, toward something that can't quite be captured. It's the best travel guide that charts an interior world.

How to Write an Autobiographical Novel (Alexander Chee)
I've been savouring these essays: reading just one at a time, with several days in between to let the richness of Chee's writing percolate. There's so much to work one's fingers through, with writing so finely crafted that reading becomes a tactile experience.

Policing Black Lives: State Violence in Canada from Slavery to the Present (Robyn Maynard)
Maynard's meticulous research is intensely necessary as it works to undermine the national narrative of Canada as the utopian end point of the Underground Railroad.
Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Summer Reads: Chantale P

I am a seasonal reader - my reading habits and tastes change seasonally, yearly.
Autumn reading was crisp and bite-sized. 
Winter reading was voracious, as if books could provide warmth. 
Spring reading was languid and fleeting. 

This summer's reading will be inquisitive and piercing, heart-burning and out-of-this-world.

Chantale P's Summer Reading - 2018

Shit is Real, Aisha Franz
For Selma, the heartbroken millennial cool cat at the center of the story. She's trying to find her way through the halls of mirrors and neighbourly portals surrounding her in a futuristic unknown (Berlin-like) city.

Sabrina, Nick Drasno
For a silhouetted portrayal of loss, trauma, fear and its out-stretched reach.


The New World: Comics from Mauretania, Chris Reynolds
For stories that are just a bit off, every-so slightly - so minutely that it's barely perceptible - just so that they become overcast with knowing strangeness.

A Western World, Michael Deforge
For Deforge! For his chromatic, shape-shifting, porous comics about being a body in a westernly desiring world.

My Year of Rest & Relaxation, Ottessa Moshfegh
For a darkly humourous journey through existential ennui and prescription pills in the year 2000.

Brother in Ice, Alicia Kopf
For a novel about polar exploration, told through the form of research notes, diary entries and travelogue. A hybrid, fragmentary novel? I'm in!

Confessions of the Fox, Jordy Rosenberg
For an immersive story about eighteenth century pickpocket and jailbreaker Jack Sheppard. It’s both historical, based on a true figure, and theatrically speculative and political, imagining Sheppard as an anarchist trans man.

Convenience Store Woman, Sayaka Murata
For an account of a woman who rejects capitalist cultural expectations requiring her to desire more than she has. A woman works at a convenience store, and loves it. She is satisfied. But nobody around her understands how and why.

Kudos, Rachel Cusk
To complete the walking-talking-listening-retelling trilogy that Cusk so gloriously started years ago. About how stories make the lives of those who tell them and those who hear them.

Some TrickHelen DeWitt
For a collection of shorts starring savants, weirdos, and artists. For readers of DFW and Deforge - those who want to read brilliance and comedy with clear-vision precision on the bureaucracies of life.


A Handbook of Disappointed Fate, Anne Boyer
For smooth, lyric essays from the author of Garments Against Women. I turn to her to ask unthinkable questions with impossible answers.

Red Colored Elegy, Seiichi Hayashi
To revisit the quiet, sparse, lazy days of the couple at the center of this classic manga recently re-issued by D+Q.


Mirror Shoulder Signal: a novel, Dorthe Nors
For a story on learning to drive at the age of 40, but more urgently, it is about feeling and understanding that the world isn't always cut to accommodate the shape of oneself. 

Wait, Blink, Gunnhild Oyehaug
For a Norwegian bird's-eye view of three women living separate lives and how they begin to converge through an affair, an unplanned motherhood, an ambitious artistic project.

Meaty, Samatha Irby
For the laughs! So many happy, belly, blurt laughs.

Calypso, David Sedaris
For additional trustworthy laughs! After reading Theft by Finding earlier this year, admiring every diary entry and every page, I felt very home in Sedaris' wry essay story-telling.

Border Districts, Gerald Mernane
Stream System, Gerald Mernane

For two new mysterious books from the inscrutable Australian author of The Plains. A review of Border Districts perfectly captures the appeal of Mernane for me: "Relentlessly introspective but dependably playful."

Junk, Tommy Pico
For Pico's ability to deliver an epic poem with oomph, guts, tristesse, and lust.

Break.up, Joanna Walsh
For e-romancers, a novel about an affair (and break up) mostly conducted in cyberspace.

Maman Apprivoisée, Geneviève Elverum 
For new heart pounding work from Geneviève Castrée, written while terminally sick after the birth of her daughter. They are a collection of graceful poems in French and English passed forward from the now-deceased artist.

Vies Parallèles, O. Schrauwen
For a collection of short stories that propel readers into futures with sophisticated and perilous tech. We follow different versions of the artist into alternative realities brimming with acid riso tones digital chrome highlights.

The Mushroom Fan Club, Elise Gravel
To serve as a guide for our wild-intrepid-family-summer mushroom hunting.

Be Still, life, Ohara Hale
For the gentle reminder to take sweet simple pauses with the kids.

And of course, there are forthcoming books, that I'm oh-so eagerly anticipating:

The Cost of Living, Deborah Levy (Aug 2018)

Things I Don't Want To Know, Deborah Levy (Aug 2018)

Women Talking: A Novel, Miriam Toews (Aug 2018)

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Summer reads 2018: Sophie

L'été est le moment idéal pour se réfugier dans un parc à l'abri des regards, et finalement dévorer les magnifiques et (souvent immenses) livres que j'ai vu défiler sur nos tablettes au cours des derniers mois.

Voici ce qui m'attend au cours des prochaines semaines!


Acadie Road - Gabriel Robichaud
Rien de mieux qu'un roadtrip en format papier quand on est pris dans la jungle urbaine pour l'été. J'adore les routes des Maritimes, et j'ai hâte de découvrir les mots de Gabriel Robichaud pour y retourner.

La fatigue des fruits - Jean-Christophe Réhel
c'est l'été il fait déjà froid / et je réalise que je tiens la main au vent / toujours debout dans l'esprit fragile
Il y a des journées d'été qui seront pluvieuses, et je les attends pour me lover dans la poésie de La fatigue des fruits.

Dopamine - Jeanne Dompierre
La Shop a le don de nous faire découvrir de nouvelles voix fascinantes et originales, et celle de Jeanne Dompierre ne fait pas exception, si je me fis à toutes les recommendation que j'ai reçues!

Vers la beauté - David Foenkinos
Je l'avoue, je suis en retard dans mon Foenkinos, simplement parce que tous ses livres me semblent passionnants. Son dernier se déroule dans un musée, et je compte bien l'amener avec moi pour une visite climatisée au MBAM.

Miley Cyrus et les malheureux du siècle - Thomas O. St-Pierre
Je suis de ces gens qui disent toujours qu'on vit dans une époque plutôt terrible, et je n'ai aucun doute que Thomas O. St-Pierre et Miley Cyrus sauront me convaincre du contraire.

M.I.L.F. - Marjolaine Beauchamp
Utiliser le jeu Marry/Fuck/Kill pour aborder les enjeux de la maternité et de la sexualité est le tour de force que Marjolaine Beauchamp propose avec M.I.L.F. Une pièce de théâtre qui se lit comme un roman, et que j'espère dévorer sans trop me fâcher.

Tristesse - Collectif
Le second numéro de la revue Tristesse est enfin arrivé sur nos tablettes il y a quelques semaines, et je suis déjà en pâmoison devant le line-up qui le compose. Le choix parfait pour ces jours où on n'arrive pas à choisir entre essai, poésie, BD ou photo - tout y est!

I'm every woman - Liv Strömquist
Liv Strömquist a une voix mordante comme nulle autre, et nous sommes franchement chanceux d'avoir ses livres traduits en français. Elle revisite ici l'histoire de femmes extraordinaires, dont l'histoire a été tristement gâchée par des relations amoureuses ou des pressions sociales - le tout avec beaucoup d'humour et d'ingéniosité!

 Montréal, ville dépressionniste - Collectif
Ce recueil d'essais sur Montréal me fait de l'oeil depuis un bon moment, mais j'attendais le retour de jours plus lumineux pour enfin le lire, question de ne pas trop déprimer/m'emporter/vouloir déménager. Maintenant que la tempête du 375e est passée et que les élections sont à nos portes, je suis enfin prête à de nouveau haïr d'amour Montréal.

Autoportrait de Paris avec chat - Dany Laferrière
Je suis une fan numéro 1 de notre cher académicien, et encore plus lorsqu'il s'attarde à la non-fiction. Bonus ici : le tout est illustré et manuscrit de ses douces mains, dans un format ma foi épeurant, mais surtout séduisant.

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