Staff Picks 2017: Saelan

Every year, I complain about how grad school and parenthood keep me from reading for pleasure as much as I'd like. Well, this year my partner and I had our second child, so suffice it to say that not much has changed as far as my reading habits go, though I did manage to find time for a lot of graphic novels. As for the rest, I'll leave you guessing as to which titles I've actually read and which are patiently waiting on my desk or night table.

Jillian Tamaki - Boundless and Tove Jansson - Moomin and the Brigands

I'm going to limit myself to two books, here. Jillian Tamaki's Boundless was my favourite graphic novel of 2017 pretty much hands-down (see my mid-year round-up for a longer write-up) and Moomin and the Brigands (just re-issued!) is the very first of Tove Jansson's almost unspeakably charming Moomin comics -- an absolute treasure for readers of any age.

Sophie Goldstein - House of Women; Jaakko Pallasvuo - Mirror Stage & Easy Rider; Patrik Kyle - Everywhere Disappeared; Jesse Jacobs - Crawl Space; Sophia Foster-Dimino - Sex Fantasy

Look at this bumper crop! I remember a few years ago when Sophie Goldstein (then an intern at the D&Q office) brought in House of Women as a zine for consignment and it blew me away. Now this fabulous feminist sci-fi horror comic is available in a gorgeous hardcover from Fantagraphics! Jaakko Pallasvuo, one of my favourite artists (full stop) had two comics this year: a little one from Latvian press Mini Kuš, and a longer one from Landfill Editions (sadly, his book from 2dcloud is postponed, hopefully not indefinitely). Koyama Press also had a fantastic year, with stellar titles from Patrick Kyle, Sophia Foster-Dimino, and Jesse Jacobs.

An honourable mention goes to Manuele Fior's The Interview (not pictured), an interesting near-future sci-fi romance.

Matthias Enard - Compass; Otessa Moshfegh - Homesick for Another World; Laurent Binet - The Seventh Function of Language; Elif Batuman - The Idiot; Leanne Betasamosake Simpson - This Accident of Being Lost

I'll refrain from individually pitching you these five excellent books. Mathias Enard's Middle-Eastern fantasia, Compass, already comes decorated with the Prix Goncourt, while Moshfegh and Batuman's books will likely appear on many of my coworkers' lists, too. You can look here for my earlier praise of Leanne Simpson. As for Laurent Binet, The Seventh Function of Language is a madcap, postmodern detective novel in the vein of Umberto Eco's Foucault's Pendulum. We all know that Roland Barthes died in 1980 after being struck by a laundry van -- what Binet's novel presupposes is...maybe he was murdered?

Naben Ruthnum - Curry: Eating, Reading, and Race; Daphné B. & Kathy L. - I Love Dick (a fanfic); Marcela Huerta - Tropico

It's a special pleasure to read books written by people you know, especially when the books are personal, as each of these are. This year, my friend Naben published a long essay (via Coach House's Exploded Views imprint) on the idea of the ''currybook,'' the literary subgenre of the South Asian diaspora in which food is so often a metaphor for the irretrievable homeland. My current and former coworkers Kate and Daphne published a fan-fictional take on Chris Kraus' iconic I Love Dick that examines the trope of unrequited love as a spur to creativity. And, finally, another former coworker, Marcela Huerta, wrote a poignant collection of poems mostly inspired by her late father, a Chilean political refugee.

Honourable mention, as well, to Daphné's Delete and to Julie Delporte's Moi aussi je voulais l'emporter, both of which I have to miss out on, since my French reading skills aren't really up to par.

Hito Steyerl - Duty Free Art; Michael Robbins - Equipment for Living; Chris Kraus - After Kathy Acker

Three of my favourite living cultural critics published book this year! Hito Steyerl's Duty Free Art is an anthology of her indispensable essays on contemporary art (mostly drawn from e-flux journal) and Equipment for Living collects Michael Robbins' adroit essays on pop music and poetry. Chris Kraus' After Kathy Acker is a frank, critical biography of the late punk-postmodernist writer that avoids the usual hagiography and romanticization that tends to accrue to accounts of 1980s New York.

An honourable mention goes to Malcolm Harris's Kids These Days: Human Capital and the Making of Millennials (not pictured).

Raymond Roussel - Locus Solus; Leonora Carrington - Complete Stories; Robert Musil - The Man Without Qualities

You can look here for my recommendations of this year's reissued works by Raymond Roussel and Leonora Carrington. Kudos as well to Picador for finally putting a decent English edition of Robert Musil's classic modernist novel of fin-de-siecle Austria back in print. An honourable mention goes to New Direction' handsome new edition of Fernando Pessoa's Book of Disquiet (not pictured).

bell hooks - The Will to Change; Sarah Schulman - Conflict is Not Abuse

I feel like the most important book I've read this year is bell hooks' The Will to Change, which was published in 2004. Even at that date, hooks was lamenting the lack of serious efforts by men (as well as by female-identified feminist thinkers) to understand how patriarchy (aside from the obvious harm it does to women and gender-nonconforming people) also harms men and boys. She tries to envision what a non-patriarchal masculinity not based on domination and repression might look like. Thirteen years later, we need that vision more than ever, though it's tragic that we've made so little progress on this front. Conflict is Not Abuse, meanwhile, instructs us on how to avoid reinforcing toxic behaviour patterns even as we seek to confront abuse in our communities.

And make sure to check out all the staff picks from my colleagues, as they appear:
Alyssa \\ Kate \\ Lauriane \\ Luke \\ Kennedy \\ Chantal \\ Arizona \\ Chantale \\ Benjamin \\ Kalliopé \\ Anna \\ Sophie \\ Eli

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