catalogues | Monday June 22, 2020

Talonbooks 2020 Fall Catalogue

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Our non-fiction title for spring is the 2018 Governor General’s Award winner for French Non-Fiction, Orwell in Cuba: How 1984 Came to Be Published in Castro’s Twilight. This captivating book explores Cuban society in the post-Castro years and how and why George Orwell’s 1984 came to be published there. Also in translation are Impurity, a slow-burn literary thriller by Larry Tremblay, one of Québec’s most versatile writers, and Sophie Bienvenu’s Searching for Sam, which follows a homeless young man’s journey to find his dog and sole companion. Also in prose we have Wanting Everything: The Collected Works by Gladys Hindmarch, a central figure in Vancouver’s 1960s literary scene. This collection embodies the notion of proprioception and will introduce her work to new generations.

Our spring poetry list introduces a number of new writers to the Talon list. TENDER is multidisciplinary artist Laiwan’s first book of poetry; it leaves many asking why they haven’t seen her poetry before. We thank Laiwan for the wonderful art she gave us to use on the cover of our 2020 catalogue. One winner and one nominee for the Governor General’s Award for Poetry also bring their talents to the Talon list: Arleen Paré and Margaret Christakos. Christakos’s charger, a poetic cycle in twelve sections, grapples with how we resuscitate each other amid our speeding electronic webscapes. Paré’s Earle Street takes her own street and a particular tree on it as her focus – the book finds an appropriate moment as we all explore a new relationship to our homes and streets! Award-winning Mercedes Eng’s my yt mama focuses on growing up mixed-race in small-town Alberta. This beguiling title started jumping out the door as soon as it arrived.

Another newcomer, this time to our drama list, is long-time Vancouver theatre practitioner and playwright Dave Deveau. His book, Cissy, presents three searing gender plays. Award-winning Métis/Dene performer, playwright, and director Marie Clements publishes her first play for young readers, Iron Peggy, about boarding-school bullies and Indigenous soldiers in World War I.

Coincidently, the fall list opens with another title from the 2018 Governor General’s Award for French Non-Fiction shortlist, Mégantic: A Deadly Mix of Oil, Rail, and Avarice, by Anne-Marie Saint-Cerny. She was on the ground in Lac-Mégantic, Québec, site of the deadliest rail tragedy in Canadian history, and gives the full extent of systemic and corporate malfeasance in this fast-paced, moving account. The fall list’s other non-fiction title is The Diary of Dukesang Wong: A Voice from Gold Mountain, the only known first-person account by a Chinese worker on the transcontinental railway, making it an important addition to the historical record.

In 2011, we published the first novel in Michel Tremblay’s magnificent and enthralling nine­ volume fiction suite, The Desrosiers Diaspora. This fall we publish the fifth volume, The Grand Melee, set in 1922. Here we find all the humour and trauma of a large, far-flung family brought together for a wedding. The character portrayals, the dialogue, the smooth flow of the prose: this is Michel Tremblay at his awesome best.

Junie Désil’s debut poetry collection, eat salt | gaze at the ocean, explores themes of Black and Haitian sovereignty using the Haitian zombie as a metaphor. The title refers to the reputed “cure” for zombification, but the powerful effects of this collection are definitely not just “reputed.” Taryn Hubbard also debuts her first poetry collection with Desire Path, an exploration of home in a rapidly developing suburb. Two grand masters bring the importance of music in poetic thinking and poetry to their fall books: Fred Wah’s lifelong poem project, Music at the Heart of Thinking, in which he responds to writing, art, and ideas from the past forty years, and Colin Browne’s luminous, improvisatory Here.

Ellie Moon joins the drama list with three scorching plays tackling difficult contemporary issues in Asking for It and Other Plays. Siminovitch Prize winner Marcus Youssef follows his play for young adults, Jabber, with another YA play, The In-Between, in which he explores complex social situations in today’s diverse high schools. And we welcome back Governor General’s Award nominee Tetsuro Shigematsu with Kuroko, an exploration of a Japanese family whose members frequently retreat to the virtual world, struggling to find meaning in their lives. You will also find two new editions in the catalogue. Jordan Abel’s Un/inhabited has had some of the concrete poems reworked, as well as the Indigenous orthography; it also has a new cover by Alanna Irene Edwards. They Write Their Dream on the Rock Forever has been re-edited, redesigned, updated, and had the contextualizing commentaty rewritten, as well as having the Indigenous orthography revised.

Our 2020 list is stellar, and we will strive to make sure these authors and their books are not lost in the current COVID-related circumstances. As we see the changes in our environment and see people return to home arts and home reading, we wish you every success in making manifest the positive trends from this stay-at-home period. In closing, we acknowledge our gratitude to live and publish on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded Territories of the Coast Salish Peoples, including those of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm, Sḵwx̱wú7mesh, and səl̓ilwətaɁɬ Nations.