New Reads Book Club: The White Book by Han Kang

The New Reads Book Club focuses on contemporary literature and is hosted by Drawn and Quarterly staff members. The book club meetings take place every 4-6 weeks, and are open to all. 

For our next meeting, on Wednesday, June 20th, we will meet at La Petite Librairie Drawn & Quarterly (176 Bernard O.) at 7 pm to discuss The White Book by Han Kang. The evening will be hosted by Librairie D+Q staffer Benjamin. Join us for discussion and drinks!

**We offer a 20% discount on The White Book from now until the meeting date.**

We regret that the bookstore is not wheelchair accessible. There is a step at the entrance, followed by a half step and a door that opens inward. Once inside, there are no additional steps to access the bathroom, although the bathroom space is narrow. Alcohol will be served.


From the author of The Vegetarian and Human Acts comes a book like no other. The White Book is a meditation on colour, beginning with a list of white things. It is a book about mourning, rebirth and the tenacity of the human spirit. It is a stunning investigation of the fragility, beauty and strangeness of life. 

Translated from the Korean by Deborah Smith.

Event Recap: Alexander Chee Launches How to Write an Autobiographical Novel

A big thank you to Alexander Chee for joining us last week, for the launch of How to Write an Autobiographical Novel (in stores now!). And a big thank you to Guernica co-editor Hillary Brenhouse for being in conversation. The two had such an interesting talk, much to the delight of our packed house.

Of his transition into essay writing, Chee located it in the writing process of his novel. “When I would be stuck with the novel, I would work on an essay. And it was a way of just feeling like I wasn’t... spinning” he said.

Chee outlined the care he approaches to his work, and brought up a writer friends fascinating methodology to her own work. She, a tarot reader, combined her knowledge of one medium with the other. “As a creative writing exercise,” Chee said, “she gives her works in process readings. Which is a really fascinating process.”

On the topic of astrological readings, Chee read from an apt section of How to Write an Autobiographical Novel—the chapter titled, “The Querent” referring to one who seeks questions in their readings.

The windows of our sweet La Petite D+Q were lined with roses in honour of Chee’s gorgeous essay reflecting on his experience with those very flowers. Of rose gardening Chee said, “I think I also learned stamina, patience in the face of mistakes, and a way to live with the result that is unplanned.”

Of the line between biography and novel writing, Chee referenced an admiration of the way graphic novel memoirists approach their work. Claiming that the medium seemed, “ like a natural way to write about yourself, to make this legible character of yourself, and to create these description of your life in that form.”

Possibly the most uplifting and wonderful moment of the evening, came about when Brenhouse asked Chee how he felt as an older activist, aware of the challenges the oppressed once felt, as well as the challenges the oppressed continue to. I think it’s really important to remember Chee’s answer, and to head to your local bookstore after you do. Of Queer Literature, he said, “It’s one of the most interesting and exciting parts about being alive right now, I think, for me. It is the possibility of that conversation, the results of that conversation—the ongoing quality.”

Thank you Alexander Chee & Hillary Brenhouse!

New D+Q: Sabrina by Nick Drnaso

Nick Drnaso's second full length book hits shelves today! It follows several characters' lives that are interconnected by the disappearance of the titular Sabrina. In the same vein as Beverly, Drnaso's impressive debut, Sabrina delves deeply into the suburban Midwestern experience.

In the wake of tragedy, Sabrina's boyfriend, Teddy, takes refuge at a childhood friend's home. Calvin generously agrees to look after Teddy as best he can, despite dealing with his own grief over a failed marriage, and an uneventful career with the U.S. Air Force. In glimpses we see Sabina's sister, Sandra, coping with meditation and group therapy.

Sabrina is remarkable for the way it convincingly conveys the texture of daily life. Drnaso draws these lives in such conceivable detail that you can almost hear the room tone in each panel. His deft integration of watching television, playing video games, or perusing e-mails gives visual expression to an experience that has become second nature to many.

As Teddy withdraws from his reality, he begins tuning into an alternative talk radio universe - one that is obsessed by secrets and lies. And, when a video of Sabrina surfaces, a horde of righteous conspiracy theorists begin harassing the victims of this senseless crime. In the Trumpian era of fake news, it's a timely depiction of the climate of public discord.

Nothing is explicit in Drnaso's work. Connections present themselves, but it never feels as though the artist is guiding the reader to some predetermined conclusion. This understated style makes for a nuanced and compelling read. Sabrina is a complex, touching portrait of contemporary middle class American life in all its attendant joys and sorrows, dreams and disappointments.

For more on this book, read words from editor here.

Event Recap: Sheila Heti Launches Motherhood

Librairie D+Q was honoured to host Sheila Heti for the launch of the critically acclaimed and highly anticipated release of Motherhood. Sheila was joined in conversation by D+Q friend, and esteemed novelist, Heather O’Neill. This made for a delightful pairing, and we at D+Q will continue to make it a mission to orchestrate events that indulge our desire to eavesdrop on the chatter of two brilliant women. That seems to be the best way to collect sentiments on Simon Weil, at the very least. "The wrong way to say [her name] is the right way to say it,” said Heti.

The evening started with myself/Author Manager, Sruti Islam, gushing about the ways in which How Should a Person Be? shaped my/her early twenties (a very true story) and then delved into a fascinating conversation, much to the delight of a rapt and packed crowd.

To start, Sheila began a short reading from Motherhood. A novel in which its unnamed central female character struggles with the decision to have a child or not to have a child. “It is often said that whether or not to have children is the biggest decision a person can make. That may be true, but it also doesn't mean anything” Heti pondered.

O’Neill noted that to her, Heti was more of a philosopher than a novelist. Although Heti has often rejected this title, there is something uncanny in her work that shapes and interrogates thought itself. This meant the night took some dives into the investigation of our biological desire to procreate, and if that was necessarily telling of the ways a life ought to be lived. I mean, as Heti pointed out, "If you were told tomorrow that all your sexual fantasies would come true, you would have to go into hiding."

Our endless gratitude to both Sheila and Heather, as well as the lovely crowd that came out to celebrate a truly seminal work. Find Motherhood in stores today!

Event Recap: Michael Ondaatje Launches Warlight

May has been such a whirlwind of excitement here at Librairie D+Q. The great Michael Ondaatje visited to participate in a live taping of Writers & Company with the equally great Eleanor Wachtel. The crowd was packed and thrilled to hear one of their favourite legends in person.

Warlight explores the story of a mother “lost” as a result of war, but perhaps not lost in death.. Her children tackle this investigation, and in doing so portrays an intricate tale of their own childhood. When asked about the connections between this story of a family, and his own lived live Ondaatje remarked, “I think we do find our home and our family later in life.”

Acclaimed novelist and Librairie D+Q friend Heather O’Neill started off the entire evening introducing Ondaatje. After which of course Michael was delighted to share, "That was the best introduction I have ever had!"

Wachtel, with her undeniable detail to the work, investigated the mindset this notable writer, exploring just how his timeless stories come to creation. Of Warlight, Ondaatje said, “It started with a sentence.”

We hope there were aspiring writers in the audience, as Ondaatje was sharing concrete advice with regards to the skill. For one, "I never listen to music while writing, as it gives one a false confidence. I tried once with ‘Lucille’ and just couldn’t do it."

Thank you Michael Ondaatje, Eleanor Wachtel, and Heather O’Neill for honouring us with this very special evening. Be sure to watch out for the official recording at Writers & Company. In the meantime, we leave you with one surprising fact… “I had a puppet show that got the book—not in reality.”—Michael Ondaatje

Graphic Novel Book Club: The End of the F***ing World

Each month we host a Graphic Novel Book Club meeting, open to all, during which we hang out and informally discuss a featured graphic novel. Our pick for this May is The End of the F***ing World by Charles Forsman. We will meet at La Petite Librairie Drawn & Quarterly (176 Rue Bernard O.) on Wednesday, May 16th at 7 p.m. The discussion will be hosted by Librairie Drawn & Quarterly staff member Sophie Croteau. Join us for refreshments and collective insights!

***We are offering a 20% discount on The End of the F***ing World from now until the meeting date!***

The End of the F***ing World, recently adapted into a Netflix TV series, was originally published in 2011 by two-time Ignatz Award-winner Charles Forsman. It follows two tortured adolescents through a disturbingly dark road trip, where outbursts of violence will plunge them into deep questions of identity and relationships. Carefully minimalist, Forsman’s book centers around the emptiness of horror, trapping the reader in the stillness of it, and forcing us to contemplate its humanity.

Top 5: April's bestselling cookbooks!

The Sioux Chef's Indigenous Kitchen (Sean Sherman, Beth Dooley)

Japan: The Cookbook (Nancy Singleton Hachisu)

The New Wine Rules (Jon Bonné)

Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat (Samrin Nosrat, Wendy MacNaughton)

Power Bowls (DK)

YA Book Club: Anne of Green Gables

Join us at la Petite Librairie Drawn & Quarterly for our young adult book club, hosted by Georgina Devlin for kids ages 11-14. Pizza will be served. Knowledge of the novel Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery expected! No olds, please. Please note we do not have enough room to host parents and kids, and we are happy to chaperone kids ages 11-14 without their parents.

This is a bookclub for young adult readers, ages 11-14. There will be a different book every meeting. The focus is allowing tweens a safe space to learn to discuss and express thoughts and ideas about literature among peers. Please, no kids younger than 11, thank you.

***We are offering a 20% discount on Anne of Green Gables from now until the meeting date!*** 

This Shelf Belongs to ... Sheila Heti

Each month, Librairie Drawn & Quarterly invites an author or artist to curate a shelf in the store. This May, we bring you recommendations from Sheila Heti!

SHEILA HETI is the acclaimed author of the novel How Should a Person Be?, which was named a New York Times Notable Book, the story collection The Middle Stories, and the novel Ticknor, which was a finalist for the Trillium Book Award. Her writing has appeared in various publications, including The New York Times, London Review of Books, The Globe and Mail, n+1, McSweeney's and The Believer. She frequently collaborates with other writers and artists. Sheila Heti lives in Toronto.

We are thrilled to be hosting Heti for the launch of Motherhood, Thrusday, May 3rd! Tickets are available online or in-store.

All of Sheila's picks will be 15% off for the month of May. Here’s a sneak peek of what you’ll find:

Love That Bunch by Aline Kominsky-Crumb
One of my favourite things about this book is its depiction of being a woman artist in the 1960s when writing and drawing autobiographically felt like such a radical and abject thing to do. Aline Crumb is sparkling, hilarious, and brilliant observer of the world she finds herself in. It simultaneously feels super-contemporary and also like you’re time travelling.

Kids These Days by Malcolm Harris
This is a terrific non-fiction book that has permanently changed how I think about millenials and the situation they find themselves in. It’s Marxist, despairing, angry and condemning—and the picture he presents is very frightening. But I loved reading it, and think it has one of the best endings to a book of social woe. I think it’s required reading.

Trip by Tao Lin
Even if you are put off by a book about drugs (you are??) you should find this book interesting for the questions Tao poses about the nature of reality, and for his profile of the fascinating countercultural figure, Terence McKenna. I think it’s Tao Lin’s best book. Smart, sensitive and thoughtful, you’ll come out of it knowing and feeling more.

How To Make Love to a Negro by Dany Laferriere
I read this book when I lived in Montreal many years ago, and it is so twinned in my mind with the experiences of being in this city. The book is about living in Montreal—an artist, poverty-stricken, a romantic, a degenerate. It is alive and funny and it’s impossible to read it without also feeling like you’re living it.

Flaubert and Madame Bovary by Francis Steegmuller
If you like literary gossip, buy this book. If you’re interested in the twisty, roundabout ways art gets made—particularly all the wrong turns, dead ends, and embarrassing pomposities—buy this book. If you want to see Flaubert’s friends shaking their heads at him in pity at his bad writing, you should definitely buy this book.

Two Serious Ladies by Jane Bowles
When asked to recommend books, I always recommed this one. I read it in my early twenties and it forever made me think about style and narrative differently. It’s so unique, from the sentences to the characters to the plot, and absolutely unforgettable. A strange and perfect world, and the only novel Jane Bowles ever wrote.

The Two Kinds of Decay by Sarah Manguso
I hate to write something like “If Sylvia Plath wrote an illness memoir, it would be this book,” but that pretty much sums it up. This book is spare, vivid, epigrammatic and intense. After lending it to a friend, I finally got it back after five years.

Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy
Few books have moved me more profoundly than this one. I spent years avoiding Thomas Hardy, somehow imagining—simply because of his name!—that his books were not for me. After reading Jude the Obscure I went out and bought all the rest of his books. Is the most wonderful novelist in the English language of all time? Maybe so.

Important Artifacts by Leanne Shapton
Okay, I’m in this book. I was even commissioned to write a screenplay of it! (But failed). It’s still one of the most uniquely told love stories I have ever encountered. I love how the book asks you to read in a new way. In all her books, she does amazing and new things in the intersection of words and images.

The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis
This is one of my favourite books of all time. It’s about faith and temptation away from faith, and even if you aren’t interested in religion or Christianity or God, there is lots in it about the nature of desire, and the difficulty of resisting desire. I really love this book. I buy copies of it and give it to friends. It’s really funny, too.

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