Recent News and Announcements

news | Friday September 23, 2022

“Conversations with Khahtsahlano” in The Tyee

There is a wonderful article about Conversations with Khahtsahlano, 1932–1954 written by Ben Mussett in The Tyee. The piece beautifully details the contents of the book and the context in which Conversations with Khahtsahlano, 1932–1954 was originally created.

A co-production by Massy Books and Talonbooks, Conversations with Khahtsahlano, 1932–1954 is a facsimile reproduction. The book was originally published by the Vancouver City Archives in 1955.

From Mussett’s article:

“It can make for a disjointed read, but it brims with vivid detail: Sḵwx̱wú7mesh vocabulary and local place names (and corresponding maps); family lineages and lore; traditional Sḵwx̱wú7mesh duck hunting techniques, architecture, social organization, canoe design, tools, diet and customs. There are detailed transportation routes, appraisals of local rumours and casual commentary on the myriad effects of colonialism: ‘Everywhere whiteman goes, he change food.’”

Read the full article here!

news | Friday September 9, 2022

Leanne Dunic Named a Finalist in 2022 Montreal International Poetry Prize!

Leanne Dunic is named a finalist in 2022 Montreal International Poetry Prize! This prestigious prize honours an exceptional poem of 40 lines or fewer. You can read Dunic’s poem, “Sturgeon Devouring His Son” along with the all Montreal International Poetry Prize finalists’ poems here. This is a stellar collection of poems and poets. Congratulations, Leanne!

news | Tuesday September 6, 2022

Normand Chaurette, 1954–2022

We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of beloved author and playwright Normand Chaurette on August 31, 2022. A pioneer of LGBTQIA2S+ theatre in Canada, his work has changed the cultural landscape for the better. We are grateful for the tremendous impact of Chaurette’s writing.

Chaurette was a prolific writer and a three-time winner of the Governor General’s Literary Award for French-Language Drama. It has been a true honour to publish four of his plays, The Queens, The Concise Köchel, Fragments of a Farewell Letter Read by Geologists, and All the Verdis of Venice, in translation. His work has been performed all over the world and we know it will continue to hold resonance in years to come.

Normand Chaurette’s loss will be felt profoundly. Our condolences to his loved ones and our ongoing gratitude for his words.

news | Tuesday September 6, 2022

Mercedes Eng Named 2022 Ellen and Warren Tallman Writer-in-Residence!

Congratulations to Mercedes Eng for her recent appointment as Simon Fraser University’s 2022 Ellen and Warren Tallman Writer-in-Residence! Eng will be working on an anthology during her residency and will be available to consult with writers from September 13 to December 3.

The anthology Eng is assembling during her residency seeks to dismantle prison systems. From Rebecca Saloustros’ piece on the SFU website: “‘During her writer-in-residence term, Eng will be working on a prison anthology of writing by women and girls, femmes, non-binary, and two-spirit people about carceral systems.” Read Saloustros’ full piece on Eng’s residency here.

We look forward to following Eng’s time as the 2022 Ellen and Warren Tallman Writer-in-Residence and are eager to hear about both the work she’s creating and the writers she will help flourish.

news | Friday September 2, 2022

Marie Clements' “Bones of Crows” at TIFF

One of the world’s most celebrated film festivals is back! The 47th Toronto International Film Festival kicks off September 8, showcasing over 200 films. Among them is Bones of Crows, the latest film written and directed by Marie Clements!

Bones of Crows begins in the 1920s and follows the life of Aline Spears, an Indigenous woman who is forced into residential school alongside her siblings. Though residential schools sought to erase Aline’s ability to speak Cree, this precise skill aids her immensely throughout her time in the military during World War II. A stirring work that spans generations, Bones of Crows sheds light on the cruelty and genocidal practices Indigenous people have been subjected to, and shares a narrative of powerful resistance.

Read more about Marie Clements’ Bones of Crows here.

news | Friday September 2, 2022

Tomson Highway to Deliver 2022 CBC Massey Lectures!

The CBC Massey Lectures, the annual speaking series given by a prominent luminary, scholar, or public figure, is returning to the live events sphere for the first time since 2019. This year’s speaker is none other than remarkable author and performer, Tomson Highway! Highway is known for his deft marriage of irreverence and poignancy. Tomson Highway recently received the Governor General’s Performing Arts Award for Lifetime Artistic Achievement. He will be delivering his lecture series live in 5 cities between September 7 and September 23. They will be broadcast on CBC Radio and CBC Listen in November.

Read more about Tomson Highway’s upcoming 2022 CBC Massey Lectures here.

news | Friday September 2, 2022

Excerpt from “The City that is Leaving Forever” in Issue 120 of Geist!

Catch an excerpt from The City that is Leaving Forever in Issue 120 of Geist. Entitled “Secret Refuge”, the excerpt captures an exchange between Rahat Kurd and Sumayya Syed set during the 2016 curfew in Kashmir.

You can order a copy of Issue 120 of Geist here.

news | Tuesday August 30, 2022

Leanne Dunic Selected for Poetry in Transit 2022!

A new slate of poets has been selected for Poetry in Transit 2022! Now in its 26th year, Poetry in Transit is an initiative that features the work of BC-authored, Canadian-published poets on modes of transportation around the province. Among the ten poets chosen for Poetry in Transit 2022 is Leanne Dunic! A piece from her collection One and Half of You will be traveling around a city near you! Congratulations, Leanne!

You can learn more about Poetry in Transit and the 2022/2023 poets here.

news | Friday August 12, 2022

"Moving the Centre" has Arrived!

Hot off the press! Moving the Centre: Two Plays is here! Consisting of “Small Axe” by Andrew Kushnir and “Freedom Singer” by Khari Wendell McClelland, Moving the Centre: Two Plays is a stellar double bill.

“Small Axe” follows a white, queer playwright who feels called to investigate homophobia in Jamaica. As he researches the issue and interviews the people whom it affects, his own orientation in the scatterplot of oppressions and intersections becomes unignorable. “Small Axe” features a pantheon of moving, vulnerable exchanges, granting each character their deserved depth. “Small Axe” invites us to discover the ways in which we are connected and asks us to tend to our own gardens for the betterment of the entire ecosystem.

An excerpt from “Small Axe”:

‘I tell you about … intolerance in the Ukrainian community that I have observed and experienced. About religion and machismo and all these things that you mentioned. I say, “I never get it, how people who have experienced the sting of oppression turn around and be homophobic. It’s the biggest contradiction.”

You see, I thought: My tattoo says the exact same thing.

But very kindly, very generously, you say, “No, my friend. It’s not exactly the same.”’

“Freedom Singer” by Khari Wendell McClelland is a musical/verbatim theatre hybrid documenting Khari Wendell McClelland’s research into his ancestral grandmother, Kizzy. Filled with song, recollection, and meaning-making, this excavation into the author’s past pays homage to ancestry, resilience, and the music that carries us from generation to generation. A work of memory and reverence, McClelland becomes an archaeologist; unearthing, reconstructing, and imagining lost aspects of Kizzy’s history.

An excerpt from “Freedom Singer”:

‘For my family, Kizzy is our mythological matriarch. She is a rock in a stormy sea. She is that point of reference, when I feel lost, when I feel despondent, when I don’t know where to turn, I often turn to her. Seems to me that if we all look back far enough, each and every one of us in this room has an Ancestor that’s walked a thousand miles in their bare feet so that we can all be here…

Kizzy reminds me of the distance I have travelled.’

The interplay between the two pieces is like a work unto itself. In between the plays is a conversation between Andrew Kushnir and Khari Wendell McClelland. The plays and their creators facilitate a dialogue about positionality and perspective in cultural production. Exploring the impact of Black “looking back” and the white gaze, these plays raise questions of how we can move toward more ethical, equitable performance practices.

Pick up your copy of Moving the Centre: Two Plays today!

news | Tuesday August 9, 2022

Le 12 août / August 12: j’achète un livre québécois / Buy a Book by a Quebec Author Day!

Celebrate the 9th annual Le 12 août, j’achète un livre québécois / On August 12, Buy a Quebec Book Day! This initiative seeks to highlight the literary works of phenomenal Québécois authors.

At Talonbooks we specialise in translations of wonderful writing out of Québec across genres. We are so pleased to be able to bring poetry, non-fiction, plays, and novels from Québec to English readers everywhere. In honour of the 12 août event, we’ve compiled a list of some recent, translated works we are excited about. Check them out below:

1. Falling Shadows by Christian Guay-Poliquin and translated by David Homel

Hot off the press! Falling Shadows, the third book in the arresting, post-apocalyptic series by Christian Guay-Poliquin has arrived!

The forest is wild and full of hostile factions. Lost, pursued, and threatened by his environment, a lone man struggles through the woods towards the hunting cabin where his family has taken refuge. On the way he meets a mysterious twelve-year-old boy. The two must work together to survive in a landscape fraught with danger.

This is Québec writer Christian Guay-Poliquin’s much anticipated third instalment in the series of gripping post-apocalyptic novels initiated with Running on Fumes and prolonged by the international bestseller The Weight of Snow published by Talonbooks in 2016 and 2019. The Weight of Snow was long-listed for the 2020 Sunburst Award and was translated into fifteen languages. Throughout these novels, Guay-Poliquin has developed a unique storytelling craft; his narratives are grounded in the demands and details of daily life and in a world ripe with experience.

2. Twists of Fate by Michel Tremblay and translated by Linda Gaboriau

Twists of Fate encompasses the sixth and seventh books in the Desrosiers Diaspora series; “If By Chance” and “Destination Paradise”. In “If By Chance”, it’s 1925 when the notorious Ti-Lou abandons a life of serving diplomats and men of power. Sneaking away with all of her savings, she winds up at Windsor station staring down five possible fates, each with their own unique gifts and deficits. Ti-Lou must decide which long-held parts of herself to nurture, and which to let fall away.

“Destination Paradise” follows precocious Édouard in a queer coming-of-age tale set in 1930. Destined to one day become a star of the Montréal drag scene, “Destination Paradise” explores the murky time before Édouard emerges into his spotlight. A moving portrait of a young man’s search for belonging and journey to finding himself.

Born in a working-class family in Quebec, novelist and playwright Michel Tremblay was raised in Montreal’s Plateau neighbourhood. An ardent reader from a young age, Tremblay began to write, in hiding, as a teenager. Because of their charismatic originality, their vibrant character portrayals, and the profound vision they embody, Tremblay’s dramatic, literary, and autobiographical works have long enjoyed remarkable international popularity; his plays have been adapted and translated into dozens of languages and have achieved huge success throughout Europe, the Americas, and the Middle East.

3. Orwell in Cuba by Frédérick Lavoie and translated by Donald Winkler

In Orwell in Cuba, journalist Frédérick Lavoie seeks to unravel the story behind a mysterious new translation of Orwell’s 1984 in Cuba that appears just before a major book fair. With 1984’s taboo history in the country, it becomes clear to Lavoie that something unusual is afoot. With all the propulsion of a detective story, Orwell in Cuba paints a wonderfully illustrative picture of a country and its people in the midst of a regime change.

Born in Chicoutimi in 1983, Frédérick Lavoie is a writer and freelance journalist. He is the author of three nonfiction books, including For Want of a Fir Tree: Ukraine Undone (Linda Leith Publishing, 2018) and Avant l’après: Voyages à Cuba avec George Orwell, winner of the 2018 Governor General’s Literary Award.

Head to your local independent book store on August 12 and snag your next read in honour of Le 12 août, j’achète un livre québécois / On August 12, Buy a Quebec Book Day. Happy reading!

news | Tuesday July 26, 2022

"Standing in a River of Time" reviewed in the Winnipeg Free Press!

Standing in a River of Time, the latest poetry collection from Jónína Kirton, was reviewed by Melanie Brannagan Frederiksen for the Winnipeg Free Press.

From the review: “Beginning with this death, Kirton travels backward and forward in her life, weaving poetry and lyric prose into a formally taut, spiritually expansive memoir of trauma, loss and survival.”

Read the complete review here.

news | Tuesday July 26, 2022

Joshua Whitehead Featured in Maclean's Magazine

Maclean’s Magazine released a feature about the phenomenal Joshua Whitehead prior to the release of his new book, Making Love With the Land.

An excerpt from the piece: “Whitehead himself was a born storyteller—his parents still keep a box of stories and poems he told them.”

Read the full feature in Maclean’s Magazine here!

news | Tuesday July 19, 2022

Razielle Aigen's "A Future Perfect" is Reviewed in Broken Pencil Magazine!

If you check out Issue 95 of Broken Pencil Magazine, you’ll find a review of A Future Perfect, the debut poetry collection of Razielle Aigen!

An excerpt from the review: “Falling somewhere between Deleuzean thought, tea leaf divination, and Demetri Martin’s stand-up comedy, Razielle Aigen’s poetry strives to collapse our distinction between surface and depth.”

Find the full review in Broken Pencil Magazine.

news | Tuesday July 12, 2022

Untimely Passages is Here!

The Talonbooks team is delighted to announce the arrival of the long-awaited Untimely Passages. This collection of essays by the late Jerry Zaslove is organized into “Dossiers”, providing a meticulous and in-depth examination of the crises of modernism that accompany the author’s reading of European literature as a world literature. Delving into the theories, works, and impact of several notable thinkers, Untimely Passages examines a lineage of thought that offers an alternative to some of the grimmest aspects of the present.

Tremendously insightful and remarkable in its breadth, Untimely Passages is born of many years of reading, writing, teaching, and learning. We couldn’t be more honoured to share this work with you.

For more information or to take home a copy today, click here.

news | Tuesday July 12, 2022

Hot Off the Press! The In-Between is Here!

The latest play from the amazing Marcus Youssef is here! Youssef deals in narratives that explore multilayered topics with an extraordinary balance of wit and gravitas. Readers will find nothing less in his latest play, The In-Between.

The In-Between follows high school student Lily as she navigates her passions, her relationships, and more complexly, her identity. Born in Vietnam but adopted by a white family and raised in Canada, Lily has always felt “in-between”. When conflict breaks out between her working-class, white best friend and her moneyed BIPOC boyfriend, Lily must confront where her allegiances lay in a maelstrom of social forces.

An excerpt from The In-Between:

LILY
My family is Canadian.

KARIM
You know what I mean.

LILY
No, they are. My parents are both white. I was adopted.

KARIM
Seriously?

LILY
From Vietnam. I lived in an orphanage there until I was six months old. Then my parents went there from Canada and adopted me.

KARIM
That’s intense.

LILY
Not really. For me, it’s normal.

Dealing deftly with prejudice, intersectionality, and identity, The In-Between is a poignant story of growing up and coming into one’s own.

Pick up your copy here!

news | Tuesday July 12, 2022

Falling Shadows has Landed at Talonbooks!

The wait is over! Falling Shadows, the third book in the arresting, post-apocalyptic series by Christian Guay-Poliquin has arrived at Talonbooks headquarters!

The forest is wild and full of hostile factions. Lost, pursued, and threatened by his environment, a lone man struggles through the woods towards the hunting cabin where his family has taken refuge. On the way he meets a mysterious twelve-year-old boy. The two must work together to survive in a landscape fraught with danger.

An excerpt from Falling Shadows:

“He evaluates the mountains and valleys and rivers. Then puts his finger on the X written in pencil.

What’s that?

My family’s camp.

That’s where you’re going?

I nod. He is pensive. I ask him about his parents again. His face shuts down, but I push on.

Tell me, what are you doing here? Are you lost?

He pretends not to understand. He walks away, picks up a pheasant feather from the ground, runs the sharp end of it over his lips a few times, then throws it into the fire.”

Tense and engrossing, the novel is divided into the small slivers of time that survivalist vigilance demands. Read as part of the series or as a standalone novel! Pick up your copy here.

news | Tuesday July 5, 2022

Hot Off the Press! Still • Falling and The Code

Hot off the press! Still • Falling and The Code by Rachel Aberle has arrived! These two plays poignantly encapsulate the energy, pressure, and discontent of adolescence.

In Still • Falling Nina (or Nick, depending on the actor) has big changes to deal with: new city, new high school, new friends, new hobbies, new crushes … and new turmoil. Our protagonist must navigate feelings of anxiety, depression, and guilt in the wake of so much upheaval. From Still • Falling:

NINA
I’m trying to fill my life with Good Things – GOOD THINGS. But nothing works. And it’s like … how awful must I be … how ungrateful … to have all this good stuff in my life and still feel like … pounding heart, shallow breath, tight skin. Darkness all the time.

With a funny and relatable voice, Still • Falling speaks to mental health challenges and the unique hardships of being a teenager with grace.

In The Code, plucky junior Moira is indignant about a sexist school policy. When her protests lead to a school-wide punishment from the administration, her formerly supportive peers turn on her. Some go so far as to seek revenge. An excerpt:

SIMON
Won’t you get in trouble for this?

MOIRA
I just did an entire unit on civil disobedience in humanities. Why do they teach us this stuff if they don’t want us to learn from it?

SIMON
I’m not sure this is what they had in mind.

Abundant with ethical quandaries, The Code is a punchy, contemporary look at negotiating problematic social structures in the technological era.

Grab your copy of Still • Falling and The Code here.

news | Tuesday July 5, 2022

The Piano Teacher has Arrived!

Dorothy Dittrich’s newest play The Piano Teacher has landed at Talonbooks! After the death of her husband and son, classical pianist Erin finds that grief has rendered her former instrument alien to her. In the midst of the viscous quagmire of loss, she meets unconventional piano teacher Elaine, and their bond changes the trajectory of their lives forever.

Erin’s sudden inability to perform music illustrates the insidious, far-reaching ways that pain takes shelter in our lives. From Act 1:

ERIN
My husband always said I had a flair for the lyrical, mercurial passages but that my hand was a delicate hand, not built for Beethoven, which I think has some truth to it. I mean … anyway, I don’t like him, so there you go.

ELAINE
I think Bartók can be every bit as demanding. When is the last time you played?

ERIN
That afternoon.

ELAINE
And you haven’t sat at the piano since?

ERIN
No.

Through the lens of classical music, The Piano Teacher examines ways we may gather ourselves after we have been shattered. Dorothy Dittrich turns a compassionate eye to the nature of grief, how our wounds interact interpersonally, and how this mutual sting calls attention to what can be rebuilt together. With musical dialogue and a cast it’s easy to root for, The Piano Teacher reminds readers to return to that which nourishes.

Pick up your copy here.

news | Friday July 1, 2022

"Un" by Ivan Drury Reviewed in The Poetry Foundation

Layla Benitez-James reviews Un by Ivan Drury in the Poetry Foundation. An excerpt from the review: “Un cuts deepest where Drury suggests that the injustice he observes warps the world on an elemental level…”

Read the full review here.

news | Friday July 1, 2022

Kevin Loring Takes Home 2 Jessie Awards!

Congratulations to Kevin Loring whose play Little Red Warrior and His Lawyer won Outstanding Original Script at the 2022 Jessie Awards! Loring also won a Significant Artistic Achievement Award for Outstanding Empowering and Uplifting of Indigenous Artists and Narratives. Check out Little Red Warrior and His Lawyer today!

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