This Shelf Belongs to... Robyn Maynard!

Each month, Librairie Drawn & Quarterly invites a local author or artist to curate a shelf in the store. This August, we bring you recommendations from Robyn Maynard!

Robyn Maynard is a Montreal-based writer and the author of the national bestseller Policing Black Lives: State violence in Canada from slavery to the present (Fernwood 2017). Maynard has a long history of involvement in community activism and advocacy. She been a part of grassroots movements against racial profiling, police violence, detention and deportation for over a decade.

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

BlaNk by NourbeSe Philip -

I am embarrassed at how late in my life discovered NourBese Phillips' work - she has quickly become one of my favourite writers as I rush to make up for lost time. This book of essays and interviews on diasporic Black life -in and outside of Canada is, on its own, a brilliant work of art and poetry. But it's also a valuable history lesson: among (many) other topics, Philip grounds the "CanLit" debates in an incredibly rich history of the activism and intellectual work of Black, as well as Indigenous and racialized writers to disrupt the cannon, and to challenge normative ideas of "Canadian" art, culture, and literature.

"We're rooted here and they can't pull us up": Essays in African Canadian Women's History by Peggy Bristol, Dionne Brand, Linda Carty, Afua P. Cooper, Sylvia Hamilton & Arienne Shadd 

This book was written in 1994 by some of the fearless OG's of Black feminism in Canada: Dionne
Brand, Linday Carty, Peggy Bristol, Afua Cooper, Sylvia Hamilton and Adrienne Shadd make history as they tell it. These essays show the important roles that Black women played in fighting racism, building community, and challenging, when necessary, the rule of law, making clear that Black women, to use the authors' words, have always been "historical actors in their own right", despite having their histories "hidden or eradicated".

Aya: Life in Yop City by Marguerite Abouet & Clément Oubrerie

Live from the Afrikan Resistance! by El Jones
Everyone concerned with Black peoples lives in Canada should be reading El Jones - Halifax's former poet laureate, co-host of Black Power Hour - a prison radio show -and columnist in The Coast. This book captures the intensity that she brings to her spoken word performances, as well as the depth of her commitment to freedom.

In the Wake: On Blackness and Being by Christina Sharpe - 
This is one of the book's I've engaged with the most in the last few years. I literally cannot stop coming back to it, and I'm convinced its reverberations will continue to be felt in the decades to come.

Invisible No More: Police violence against Black women and women of colour by Andrea Ritchie-
In a #Blacklivesmattter era, when many communities are trying to understand ongoing police killings, as well as, the infamous "Starbucks incident", this book makes a necessary intervention into how we understand policing. It's also a movement history that tells many over-looked stories of the past several decades of unapologetically feminist, queer-led activism that refused to let society erase Black, Indigenous, and racialized women.

And I Alone Escaped To Tell You by Sylvia D. Hamilton

Born Someplace Else by Colleen Cardinal -
This is the book that I am currently reading, written by an activist, organizer, and writer - and a friend - for whom I have immense respect. It tells Colleen's story of being a survivor of the 60's scoop, and illuminates part of Canada's history that, when discussed at all, is frequently only told through statistics and numbers. This is a vital read.

9 Binti by Nnedi Okorafor -
I spend a significant amount of time reading works that are, while beautiful, also incredibly painful, given that I spend a lot of time researching and writing about the racist and gendered violence that make up our collective past and present. Okorafor's Afrofuturist masterpiece, the Binti trilogy, takes me into a different realm entirely. This book creates for us fantastical visions of science, community and technology on the African continent in the past, present and future.

Summer Reads - Arizona

Sabrina, by Nick Drnaso

First graphic novel to be nominated for the Man Booker prize! It is dark and captures mundane life on the page.

Convenience Store Woman, by Sayaka Murata

For fans of The Vegetarian by Han Kang. A woman in Japan is in love with a convenience store.

The Seas, by Samantha Hunt

I loved her last book The Dark Dark, so I am really looking forward to reading this one. It is described as a creepy and poetic, subversive and strangely funny. A story about a girl who might be a mermaid. My interest is piqued. 

Moomin and the Great Flood, by Tove Jansson

A gorgeous Moomin book filled with beautiful sepia watercolours. Perfect for collectors and for children who need to be introduced to Moomin.

Hera Lindsay Bird, by Hera Lindsay Bird

This is a contemporary witty book of poetry. Have you ever wanted to read a poem about Monica Geller from Friends? This is the book for you. 

The Trouble Makers, by Baron Yoshimoto

Six short stories dating from 1960 to 1970 by the Japanese Manga artist who helped develop the graphic novel form.

My Solo Exchange Diary, by Nagata Kabi

The continuation to 'My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness.' We follow her further along her awkward search for acceptance and self love.

A Bubble, by Geneviève Castrée

Everyone who reads this board book for children has tears in their eyes afterwards. 

Unclean Jobs for Women and Girls, by Alissa Nutting

The title delivers. This is a collection of 12 different stories about misfit women who scramble for agency in a series of uncanny circumstances.

Thank you!

Summer Reads: Benjamin

A monstrous heatwave sidled up to me one day in June and growled: get your head out of the freezer and read Mary Ruefle. So I did that. I also read other books by other authors, some of which I have listed below. Happy summer!


Nepantla: An Anthology Dedicated to Queer Poets of Color - ed. Christopher Soto

Nepantla is a landmark collection—it is the first major anthology for queer poets of colour! A glance at the list of contributors gleans some of the most exciting voices in contemporary poetry (Danez Smith, Juliana Huxtable, Chen Chen, to name but a scant few) rubbing shoulders with those most vital over the past century (James Baldwin, Audre Lorde, etc.).

Selected Poems - Mary Ruefle 

I have three Mary Ruefle books on this list.

F: Poems - Franz Wright

Entering a Franz Wright poem is like chancing upon a trap door into which you recite countless turns-of-phrase but someone's changed the password and it soon becomes apparent that the trap door is the mouth of a cave which the wind and water have eroded season after season until it is so wide that it winks out of existence. Also, this book contains one of my favourite lines ever written: Where the captors required of nobody a song, indifferently allowing yours; even listening politely with their sad attack-dogs’ eyes awhile.

New Poets of Native Nations - ed. Heid E. Erdrich 

Cannot wait to dip into this fabulous anthology of Native American voices—Layli Long Soldier! Tacey M. Atsitty! Tommy Pico!—which has recently landed in-store.

Prose Architecture - Renée Gladman

Prose Architecture is an astonishing creation; a "book of ink drawings that regards language as an exposed nervous system". It is a beautiful and bewildering gesture to the thinking that exists outside of the written word.

City of the Future - Sesshu Foster

These prose poems have the hang of it. I highly recommend anything and everything from Kaya Press, a small publisher committed to putting out thoughtful and challenging books of the Asian Pacific diaspora. 


The Marrow Thieves - Cherie Dimaline

Cherie Dimaline's debut novel floored me with its sheer breadth of human emotion—I laughed, I cried. I haven't yet this year read a more compelling story, nor been more invested in a cast of characters. Told with a fervor and an unusual palette of sensual experience, The Marrow Thieves is an instant YA classic.

The Chandelier - Clarice Lispector

Hurricane Clarice's second novel is her most challenging, and at some point this summer—once I've mustered the necessary moxie—I will read it, and will doubtlessly be shattered.

The Most of It Mary Ruefle

I love Mary Ruefle.


Red Colored Elegy - Seiichi Hayashi

Recently reprinted by D&Q, Red Colored Elegy is Seiichi Hayashi's lugubrious masterwork. Channeling the French New Wave, the legendary Garo Cartoonist broke new ground in visual storytelling, and his stylistic inventions are ever surprising some fifty years later.

Yellow Negroes and Other Imaginary Creatures - Yvan Alagbé

These stories—written between 1994 and 2011 and collected in English for the first time—are shadowy glancing blows to the heart. Alagbé's style is incredibly disarming, using stark black-and-white brushwork to animate the dichotomies that dominate his characters' lives: oppression and freedom, trust and distrust, love and hate.

Sabrina - Nick Drnaso

A masterpiece. Sabrina is a disquieting look at the post-truth era and how those most vulnerable after a highly-publicized tragedy are targeted and bombarded with abuse. If you still need convincing, Zadie Smith had this to say: "Nick Drnaso's Sabrina is the best book—in any medium—I have read about our current moment."


Black and Blur - Fred Moten

Black and Blur, the first notch in the consent not to be a single being trilogy, explores blackness and anti-blackness in art and life. As he puts it in the preface: “It hurts so much that we have to celebrate. That we have to celebrate is what hurts so much. Exhaustive celebration of and in and through our suffering, which is neither distant nor sutured, is black study.” Each essay in Black and Blur is impossibly rich in scope and sensibility—requiring the mind to be both an expanse and an exit wound. Keep your eyes peeled for Stolen Life and The Universal Machine—published in the near future by Duke University Press—which will round out the trilogy.

Madness, Rack, and Honey: Collected Lectures Mary Ruefle

Mary Ruefle is the best.

Summer Reads -Lauriane

Shit is Real - Aisha Franz (D+Q)
Après une rupture inatendue, une jeune femme sombre dans la dépression et devient obsédée par sa mystérieuse voisine. Ajoutez cette prémisse aux dessins éclatés en noir et blanc d'Aisha Franz et vous obtiendrez Shit Is Real, un roman graphique que j'ai dévoré en une soirée. 
***Shit is Real sera le prochain roman graphique du GNBC***

XTC69 - Jessica Campbell (Koyama Press)
La commandante Jessica Campbell et son équipe, alors qu'ils parcourent les confins de l'espace à la recherche d'hommes pour assurer leur descendance et celle des autres habitants de la planète L8DZ N1T3, tirent de son sommeil cynogénique la dernière Terrienne, Jessica Cambell. L'équipe, auquelle se joint The Jessica Campbell, réussira-t-elle sa mission ?

The Strange - Jerôme Ruillier (D+Q)
Quand bien même j'avais déjà lu la version originale française de ce roman graphique (L'Étrange, paru chez Agrume, 2016), j'ai été une fois de plus saisie et chamboulée par l'histoire de ce "Strange", ce personnage isolé et vulnérable à travers duquel on découvre les abus dont sont trop souvent victimes les immigrants nouvellement arrivés dans un pays étranger.

Les Fins du monde - Lewis Trondheim (L'Association) 
Boris, jeune héros ordinaire, réussira-t-il à déjouer les plans machiavéliques de deux professeurs illuminés qui cherchent à anéantir l'humanité ?

La leçon de Rosalinde - Mustapha Fahmi (La Peuplade)

Mustapha Fahmi, spécialiste de Shakespeare de renommée internationale, s'interroge sur notre devoirs d'humains dans cet essai en abordant les oeuvres de Shakespeare, Mozart, Cervantes, Freud, Nietzche et plusieurs autres.  

Maman apprivoisée - Geneviève Elverum (Oie de Cravan)
Maman Apprivoisée, la suite de Maman sauvage, paru en 2015, est un recueil de poésie billingue écrit par Geneviève Elverum durant sa maladie. Des vers percutants et émouvants. 

Ravissement à perpétuité - Jonhathan Charette (Le Noroît)
Jonhathan Charette, lauréat du Prix de poésie des collégiens pour Je parle arme blanche (2013), nous offre une fois de plus une oeuvre saissante dans laquelle il dresse d'étonnantes associations. Lecteurs avides de vers profonds et recherchés, ce recueil est pour vous ! 

La fatigue des fruits - Jean-Christophe Réhel (Oie de Cravan)
J'ai découvert Jean-Christophe Réhel lors d'une soirée de poésie. La beauté et la force de ses vers m'avaient percutés de plein fouet. Je vous recommande chaudement La Fatigue des fruits qui confirme le talent brut de ce jeune poète. 

Summer Reads: Kennedy

My summer has been spent doing not much of anything. Most of my time is spent puttering around the bookstores, mastering (or attempting to) Montreal’s hills on my Bixi, and reading. Reading on couches, balconies, in parks and waiting rooms, but most of all, on the floor, directly in front of my fan.


This One Summer - Mariko Tamaki & Jillian Tamaki
I finally got around to reading this classic graphic novel from writer Mariko Tamaki and illustrator Jillian Tamaki and I wish I had picked it up sooner! The story of summer friends Rose and Windy at their cottage in the fictional Awago Beach reminded me so much of my own summers cottaging around Ontario. The story is such a tender and smart coming-of-age tale that I fell in love with immediately.

Be Prepared - Vera Brosgol
To kick off our first summer at La Petite Librairie, we curated a list of summer reads to keep our book clubbers entertained throughout their free months. I picked up Vera Brosgol's second graphic novel, Be Prepared. It is the hilarious story of nine year-old Vera and her grueling few weeks at a Russian summer camp. Working at the kids store has me reading a lot of younger graphic novels, and this is top of my list!

The Marrow Thieves - Cherie Dimaline
In a dystopian but not so distant future, indigenous peoples are on the run from those who hunt them for their bone marrow - the only substance that can give people the ability to dream. The Marrow Thieves is thrilling and intimate and an essential read.

Picture Books

Thirteen - Remy Charlip & Jerry Joyner
This book is hard to describe, but basically there are 13 images/stories that change with each passing page. It is weird with beautiful illustrations, so naturally I love it.

Julián is a Mermaid - Jessica Love
This is a short story about Julián who wants to be a mermaid. The water colour images are gorgeous and so is the story.

Farwest - Kitty Crowther
This French picture book from acclaimed illustrator Kitty Crowther is so weird that upon reading it, I immediately became obsessed with Crowther and her other picture books. Her style is so unique and bizarre ; she is definitely a new favourite. And I love a Western.


My Year of Rest and Relaxation - Ottessa Moshfegh
When I am feeling hopeless, sleeping for an year often seems like the only reasonable, if impossible, respite. The protagonist in the incomparable Ottessa Moshfegh’s new novel makes it possible. By scamming her therapist and mixing the perfect prescription drug cocktails, she attempts to do exactly what the title suggests - sleep as much as possible for an entire year. I love Moshfegh and her new title certainly did not disappoint.

Tin Man - Sarah Winman
If you're looking for something that is quite the opposite of my previous pick, try Sarah Winman's Tin Man. This is a quiet story of love - romantic and platonic, between three friends, and how those kinds can both be complicated, powerful, and debilitating.

The Vegetarian - Han Kang
A woman puzzles her husband and family with her sudden refusal to eat meat. The story twists and turns and ends up in some unexpected places. Reading this novel gave me continuous surges of energy. Excellent.

The Underground Railroad - Colson Whitehead
A sprawling story of survival and a relentless history of American slavery, The Underground Railroad is painful and exhilarating.

Giovanni’s Room - James Baldwin
I have had this on my shelf for a long time and finally picked it up and it immediately surpassed my high expectations. Baldwin’s prose is so delicate and holds so much truth. I had to stop myself from finishing it too fast.

Alice Munro
I’ve been rereading some of my favourite Munro stories as palette cleansers between books and each time I find something new in the stories that I already know and love. She is a master and leaves me in awe with every read. I always miss home, “Alice Munro country”, when I read her stories.

Graphic Novels 

Shit is Real - Aisha Franz
I tore threw Aisha Franz's newest graphic novel in a couple of hours, my eyes glued to the pages. Shit is Real is funny and absurd and perfect for anyone else feeling a little bit unhinged in 2018.

La Vol Nocturne - Delphine Panique
A witch named Rogée negotiates with trees, fights with a gnome, and searches for her witch friend Martine, who just can't seem to stop dying. It's hard to say exactly what happens in this story, but what matters is that I loved it.


Priestdaddy - Patricia Lockwood
This is Patricia Lockwood's memoir of briefly moving back in with her parents as a married adult, oh, and her father is a married Catholic priest. This is one of the funniest books I have read in a long time and Lockwood writes so eloquently about finding her place in her parents' home and religion.

How to Write an Autobiographical Novel - Alexander Chee
I've had great luck with non-fiction lately. These two books might be the most loved on this list. In this collection of essays, Alexander Chee writes beautifully on identity, activism, and writing amongst other things. Hearing him read and speak at DQ a few months ago was such a treat. This is a must-read.

To Be Read
There are so, so many, of course, but here are just a few for the near future.

Pachinko - Min Jin Lee
I am always craving a good family saga and I just downloaded the Pachinko audiobook to keep me going. It is the story of a young Korean woman who’s unplanned pregnancy forces her to build a new life in Japan and I can’t wait to get into it!

The Pisces - Melissa Broder
After watching The Shape of Water and reading Rachel Ingall's Mrs. Caliban, I have decided to keep the ball rolling and dive into another human/fish love story with Melissa Broder's The Pisces. This is a genre I surely did not expect to become versed in, but here we are.

Convenience Store Woman - Sayaka Murata
A short novel about a woman who finds her place working in a convenience store and to the bewilderment of those around her, she is perfectly content. I think I will relate as a fellow retail worker who is perfectly content where she is.


I am about to start reading the fourth and final book of the Neapolitan Novels. I have read the first chapter three times already, but have not been able to read further. I don’t want this story to end! Please send good thoughts my way for the inevitable tears and a hole left in me that will surely follow the finale of this saga.

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.

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