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In two new plays, Canada‘s king of black comedy takes on the failing education system. Both Parents Night and The Bigger Issue are set in public-school classrooms after hours and involve confrontations between stressed-out teachers and ticked-off parents.
This award-winning novel by playwright Wajdi Mouawad is a thriller and a road novel – written in the North African storytelling tradition in which events unfold from an animal point of view.
The novel opens with the protagonist arriving home to find his wife brutally raped and murdered. Driven by grief and the need to find whoever did this – “I want to see his face, I want to know who he is” – the protagonist sets out on a desperate journey from Montreal to Indigenous Communities along the Canada–U.S. border, south through Civil War sites in the Midwest, to Animas, New Mexico. The furious odyssey awakens long-buried memories that make present circumstances even more painful.
This masterful novel is told in a bestiary of voices; more than fifty animals, birds, and insects, each with their own characterization and style of speaking, reveal the unflattering contrast between the human and the natural. Violent and dark, the novel nevertheless moves beyond the thriller genre to become a book of multiple levels, rich in symbolism and open to complex interpretation. While set in North America, Mouawad’s Lebanese roots suffuse the text, which becomes an examination of cultural influences and at the same time an excavation of childhood trauma and the legacy of war.
Anima has resonated with readers worldwide. It has been translated into German, Italian, Spanish, and Catalan. It won the Thyde Monnier Grand Prize from the Société des Gens de Lettres, the Mediterranean Prize, the Literary Prize for a Second Novel in Laval, the Golden Alga Award, the Phoenix Award (as part of the Beirut Spring Festival), and the Catalan Llibreter Prize for Foreign Novel, all in 2012 and 2013. In 2015, Anima won the Lire en Poche, a prize awarded annually in France in celebration of the paperback book. An elegant translation by Linda Gaboriau brings this celebrated novel to English readers.
The Art of Building a Bunker is a dark, viciously funny story recounting a week in the life of your average Elvis as he endures mandatory workplace sensitivity training.
By Sean Devine
Based on true events, Daisy is a political drama that presents the moment in TV history that ushered in the age of negative advertising and fundamentally changed how we elect our leaders.
The one thing Louis Riel continuously did, from the age of fourteen when he started school in Montreal until shortly before his execution, was write poetry.
Forward is about climate change. It’s a story about how an Arctic explorer unwittingly opened up the Arctic for development. A story about people having good intentions that led to unintended consequences. A story about who we are in all our glorious imperfection. But Forward is also a story of hope.
Tomson Highway’s From Oral to Written is a study of Native literature published in Canada between 1980 and 2010, a catalogue of amazing books that sparked the embers of a dormant voice.
This poetry collection focuses on a hybridized Indigiqueer Trickster character named Zoa who brings together the organic (the protozoan) and the technologic (the binaric) in order to re-beautify and re-member queer Indigeneity.
Intertidal is the definitive oeuvre of Daphne Marlatt’s poetry exploring the city, feminism, and collaboration.
By Albert Camus
Camus’s The Just (Les Justes) is a five-act play based on the true story of a group of Russian revolutionaries who assassinated Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich in 1905. Bobby Theodore’s fresh, modern translation enhances the contemporaneity of the play.
Coming Fall 2017
In Michael Blouin’s Legend, narrative as we know it is torn apart only to be reconstructed piece by piece as the pages progress. Blouin weaves a history of Canadian modern art, Hollywood B movies, and RCMP police procedure in this genre-defying novel that is at once sensual and mindbending.
Drawing from the lives of celebrities and stories from his personal life, Blouin creates parallel worlds featuring fictive characters who dwell in the artifice of successful stories, as well as the people who inhabit these roles, such as Clint Eastwood in The Eiger Sanction (1975) and the dead body in the Maysles brothers’ film Salesman (1969).
Blouin bends every storytelling trope with documentary techniques to include biographical tidbits and primary sources that lay claim to the conviction that imagination is no less real than so-called reality itself. In so doing, he creates an artistic trajectory of influence and collaboration, revealing a deeply personal relationship to his hometown.
Legend unravels the creative process and the construction of narrative itself without the burden of excessive meta-thinking. Blouin guides us through the lives he has known and encountered, including his own, to show us how we come to perceive the roles we play, the plot twists we grant our own lives, and just how much our communities – real and imagined – can shape us.
By Mercedes Eng
Combining text from government questionnaires and reports, lyric poetry, and photography, Prison Industrial Complex Explodes examines the possibility of a privatized prison system in Canada leading up to then Prime Minister Harper’s Conservative government passing the Anti-Terrorism Act, also known as Bill C-51.
After Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Les rêveries du promeneur solitaire, translated as Reveries of the Solitary Walker (or A Solitary Walker). Biking around Vancouver, Strang returned to several issues of lifelong interest, her own version of Rousseau’s obsessions. Reveries of a Solitary Biker collects her poetic responses.
Wayside Sang concerns entwined migrations of Black-other diaspora coming to terms with fossil-fuel psyches in times of trauma and movement. This is a poetic account of economy travel on North American roadways, across the Peace and Ambassador bridges and through the Fleetway tunnel, above and beneath Great Lake rivers between nation states.
Arsenault’s Rabelaisian fantasy is a gothic tale of the macabre and the bizarre, of black magicians and alchemists, and of the life and times of Zora Marjanna Lavanko, the daughter of a brutish tripe-dresser who dies for love.
August 12 is Buy a Quebec Book Day – and have we got books for you! Browse our list of 12 august and recently published Quebec books – any of which we would, of course, recommend. Read the list, and then get out to your local bookstore this Saturday and show la belle province some literary love!Friday June 23, 2017 in Meta-Talon
The Gorge: Selected Writing by Nancy Shaw launched in April, 2017 at the Western Front in Vancouver. To launch Shaw’s book, published posthumously, editor Catriona Strang read from The Gorge, and then this video was played to a rapt audience. In the video, you’ll hear the voice of Nancy Shaw, reading poems from her book Cold Trip (2006; co-authored with Catriona Strang).Tuesday April 18, 2017 in Meta-Talon
By R. Kolewe
Inspecting Nostalgia is a new collection of poetry by R. Kolewe. This, his second collection, brings together found text and fragments of various writers’ work with scraps from his own journals.
In this third week of National Poetry Month 2017, and in advance of Kolewe’s Toronto launch on May 8, please enjoy two poems from the collection on Meta-Talon.Thursday April 13, 2017 in Meta-Talon
Stephen Collis’s latest collection of poetry is nominated for the 2017 George Ryga Award for Social Awareness in Literature. It rethinks the relationship between human beings and the natural world and searches for ways we can continue to resist. Today on Meta-Talon, we offer a section from “Reading Wordsworth in the Tar Sands,” the second long poem in Once in Blockadia.
We gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Canada Council for the Arts; the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund (CBF); and the Province of British Columbia through the British Columbia Arts Council for our publishing activities.
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