What Canadian Literature are we Reading in 2024?

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What Canadian Literature are we Reading in 2024?

Dez 31, 2023, 7:40 pm

Please add books and comments and any ratings if you would like to!

Jan 1, 11:53 am

>1 mdoris: Thanks for getting this year's thread going. You were obviously thinking ahead. I think I'm still stuck in 2023.

Jan 7, 11:37 am

Study for Obedience by Sarah Bernstein
2.5 stars

I usually enjoy most of the Giller Prize winners but this one mystifies me as to why it was chosen. I suspect that the jury, especially the head, Ian Williams, found the literary allusions easier to understand than I did. Their citation was as follows:
“The modernist experiment continues to burn incandescently in Sarah Bernstein’s slim novel, Study for Obedience. Bernstein asks the indelible question: what does a culture of subjugation, erasure, and dismissal of women produce? In this book, equal parts poisoned and sympathetic, Bernstein’s unnamed protagonist goes about exacting, in shockingly twisted ways, the price of all that the world has withheld from her. The prose refracts Javier Marias sometimes, at other times Samuel Beckett. It’s an unexpected and fanged book, and its own studied withholdings create a powerful mesmeric effect.”
The only effect that this book had on me was confusion.

Jan 8, 9:32 am

>3 gypsysmom: I laughed at your conclusion, Wendy :D
It does sound pedantic but with an interesting premise. On my maybe list.

Jan 8, 9:46 am

Canadian literature is thriving with diverse voices and captivating stories. Some popular reads include Esi Edugyan's "Washington Black," Rawi Hage's "Beirut Hellfire Society," and Louise Penny's latest mystery. The literary landscape is as vibrant as ever, offering a rich tapestry of narratives to explore!

Jan 8, 11:57 am

>4 Cecilturtle: If you do read it, I would love to know what you think.

Jan 8, 11:59 am

>5 brendag1236985: Welcome to the group. Do you live in Canada? Just asking as the group isn't limited to Canadian residents. It's just interesting to know where members are from.

Jan 12, 12:52 pm

My first Canadian literature of 2024 was Sunshine Nails. It was on the longlist for Canada Reads but didn't make the cut. I'm still glad I read it as it reminded me how hard immigrants to Canada have to work to survive here. The Trans were boat people from Vietnam who started a nail salon in Toronto and, by dint of hard work and sacrifice, made it a success that supported them, their two children and a niece from Vietnam. It may all come to an end though as a competitor has moved in across the street and their landlord has double their rent. The things they do to keep going may not be the best choices but show how desperate they are to survive.

Editado: Jan 13, 3:30 pm

Oops. Am in the process of review and posting two books right now. One Canadian, one not. Posted the wrong review here. Back shortly to post the "proper" one!

Jan 13, 3:49 pm

Fayne / Ann-Marie MacDonald
3 stars

In the late 19th century, 12-year old Charlotte lives with her father at Fayne (in Scotland or England). Her mother died in childbirth and her brother died when she was young, as well (Charlotte does not remember her brother). Charlotte is extremely smart and her father hires a tutor for her (who is initially perturbed that he was brought to tutor a girl). She wants to attend university.

This did not turn out as I’d expected. It was very long and I’m rating it ok. There were parts I liked (more toward the beginning of the book), but whenever we switched perspectives, I felt like I was starting over (even though after the first couple of times, we were mostly going back and continuing from where the last switch left off), and wasn’t interested for the first bit (of every switch). It took time to get interested again, but just as that happened, we switched again.

So, the other perspective is Charlotte’s mother. I honestly didn’t find this nearly as interesting, overall, as Charlotte herself. Though, after a bit, I was interested (then… switch!). Clarissa (Charlotte’s aunt) was a piece of work, wow! I didn’t like her from the start. The end was a bit weird: Did Charlotte live to about 140 years old!?

Jan 13, 5:46 pm

>10 LibraryCin: Thanks for your review. This sounds like a pass for me.

Jan 13, 9:44 pm

>11 gypsysmom: It was a book club book. I'm interested to hear what the others thought. There are plenty of other good reviews.

Editado: Jan 14, 8:44 am

>10 LibraryCin: >11 gypsysmom: I was thoroughly engrossed in Fayne while reading it, but the more I thought about it, the less I liked it. It would have been a great story without some of the more fantastical bits -- e.g. Byrn, having Fayne declared a person; stuff like that wasn't necessary. I think Ms. MacDonald just pushed things a little too far.

Jan 14, 1:38 pm

>13 LynnB: I guess I missed most of the fantastical bits (both you mentioned... I managed to tune out Byrn most of the time and never did figure out the "deal" with him). But my spoiler was one, and that was right at the end... I thought - what the...!?

Jan 15, 9:17 am

>14 LibraryCin: Yes, that was one more for sure. Funny, but I didn't mind the regenerative and longevity so much...thought it was caused by the bog. She has never equaled, in my opinion, her first novel, Fall on Your Knees which I read in the mid-90s and remains one of my top three books of all time.

Editado: Jan 15, 9:28 pm

>15 LynnB: My favourite of the three I've read by her is The Way the Crow Flies. I may have rated "Fall on Your Knees" the lowest of the three (but I'd have to check back to recall for sure)... Well, I'm wrong. I gave it 3.25 stars, so just a slightly higher rating than "Fayne".

Jan 16, 11:24 am

>16 LibraryCin: It was before I was keeping track of my ratings that I read The Way the Crow Flies and Fall on Your Knees but my recollection is similar. I found Fall on Your Knees very disturbing but The Way the Crow Flies less so and with some lovely descriptive writing.

Jan 21, 6:24 pm

I've picked up L'Énigme du retour by Dany Laferrière, part prose part poem where he describes the displacement he feels, half in Canada half in Haiti, after learning about his father's death.

Jan 22, 12:20 pm

>18 Cecilturtle: Is that the same book as The Return in English? That was the first book by Laferriere that I read and I thought it was beautiful.

Jan 22, 12:30 pm

I recently finished listening to the audiobook of The Theory of Crows by David A. Robertson. Robertson reads parts of the book where a father has written letters to his daughter. The rest of the book is narrated by Megan Tooley. Both of them did a great job. It's the story of an indigenous family living in Winnipeg but originally from Norway House in northern Manitoba. The grandfather (Moshum) always wanted to return to his old trapline north of Norway House with his son but died before doing so. In his place, the son and his daughter, who have a troubled relationship, go and take some of his ashes. I thought it was a wonderful story of intergenerational relationships. And I highly recommend the audiobook.

Jan 24, 3:18 pm

>19 gypsysmom: yes! I like how it's little thought bubbles, easy to read, leave off and pick up again.

Editado: Jan 25, 9:39 am

I picked up 111 Places in Ottawa you must not miss by Jennifer Bain. I've been in Ottawa for 30 years and some are new to me! What I enjoy most, however, is the backstory behind well-known places (who's the chef behind Art-Is-In Bakery? Did you know the windows on the War Museum were Morse Code? Yes, there is an Alanis Private named after Alanis Morissette). Bain also adds tips, including how to get to each place by public transportation.
It's such a fun way to connect deeper with my city and it has lovely colour photographs for each place.

Jan 25, 4:58 pm

>22 Cecilturtle: I lived in Ottawa for 10 weeks many years ago and have never forgotten what a great place it was to walk. To me, it always embodied what Jane Jacobs called for in a livable city.

Jan 31, 11:37 am

My first Canada Reads book (maybe my only book before the debates) was Bad Cree by Jessica Johns. Mackenzie, who is from High River, Alberta, but is living in Vancouver starts having frightening dreams that seem terribly real. In one of the dreams she sees her dead sister, Sabrina, lying in a wood being pecked by crows. In the dream she grabs one of the crows and kills it, tearing its head off. When she awakens in her own bed she can feel the bird's head in her hands and feel its blood on her. However, when she throws the covers back, there is nothing there. Upset and ill, she calls her auntie in Alberta and explains what is happening. Mackenzie decides to go back to Alberta to confront these dreams,hoping that they will stop when she is back with her family. I loved the details about this close knit indigenous family who love and bicker and play cards and eat and talk.

Fev 4, 8:44 am

I'm reading a collection of Atwood's short stories, Bluebeard's Egg. I'm really enjoying them. Curiously, I'm finding them much less dated than a collection by Munro that I read a couple of years ago.
My take is that Atwood's stories are childhood memories which seem to be much more atemporal than Munro's adult ones. Or maybe it's just my own frame of mind!

Fev 4, 12:49 pm

>25 Cecilturtle: Atwood can really shine in short stories. I listened her latest collection, Old Babes in the Woods, and really enjoyed them.

Fev 4, 4:06 pm

Agree, I will never forget M. Atwood's s.s. Stone Mattress about revenge. Intense!

Fev 5, 10:50 am

Although not fiction, the book I recently read is certainly a story worth reading. Escape from Manus Prison by Jaivet Ealom is the memoir of a Rohingya man from Burma who escaped that regime's genocidal policies only to end up in a prison camp in Papua New Guinea run by the Australians. It took him 4 years but he finally made it to Canada where he was accepted as a refugee immediately. The conditions in the camp in PNG were atrocious and the prospect for eventual acceptance as a refugee there were inifinitesimal. Only Jaivet's determination to make something of his life (as well as some very helpful people) drove him to get out of the prison and to safety.

Fev 5, 5:41 pm

>28 gypsysmom: I have a similar book on the TBR shelves: Waiting to be Arrested at Night: A Uyghur Poet's Memoir of China's Genocide by Tahir Hamut Izgil. One by one, Tahir Hamut Izgil's friends disappeared. The Chinese government's brutal persecution of the Uyghur people had continued for years, but in 2017 it assumed a terrifying new scale. Tahir, a prominent poet and intellectual, had been no stranger to persecution. After he attempted to travel abroad in 1996, police tortured him until he confessed to fabricated charges and sent him to a re-education through labor camp. But even having endured three years in the camp, he could never have predicted the Chinese government’s radical solution to the Uyghur question two decades later. Once Tahir noticed that the park near his home was nearly empty because so many neighbors had been arrested, he knew the police would be coming for him any day. One night, after Tahir’s daughters were asleep, he placed by his door a sturdy pair of shoes, a sweater, and a coat so that he could stay warm if the police came for him in the middle of the night. It was clear to Tahir and his wife that fleeing the country was the family's only hope.

Fev 7, 12:29 pm

>29 LynnB: It certainly makes one grateful to live in a country that accepts all religions and nationalities. I was so proud of the Canadian Border Services agent who interviewed Jaivet when he first arrived. He realized that with everything he had gone through it would not be acceptable to put him into a detention facility so he released him and found a homeless shelter that would take him since he didn't know anyone and didn't have any money.

Fev 7, 10:26 pm

>28 gypsysmom:, >29 LynnB:, >30 gypsysmom:, I thought Australia was a nation that accepted all nationalities and religions too but the period of offshore detention centres and the treatment of refugees in recent years has been shameful. There are many thousands of Australians including myself who were very ashamed, and disgusted by our government’s policy during this period.
There is an excellent book called No Friend but the Mountainswritten by an Iranian-Kurdish refugee whilst in detention on Manus Island. His name is Behrouz Boochani and he managed to smuggle his writings out of the prison in sections by mobile phone. His refugee claim was rejected by Australia and he is now a permanent resident of New Zealand. That is a loss for Australia and his story is just one of thousands. It makes me so ashamed of the country and the government’s mean-spirited policy of the time.

Fev 8, 11:04 am

>30 gypsysmom: On that topic, I went to see the film adaptation of Ru by Vietnamese Canadian Kim Thúy who talks about her experience as a "boat person" fleeing the Communist regime and her welcome in Montréal. The film is as moving as the book.

Editado: Fev 8, 7:24 pm

>32 Cecilturtle: A film adaptation? I had no idea there was one, but will need to check it out. Thuy is a favourite author and Ru is a fantastic novel. Thanks for the heads up!

Fev 9, 1:57 pm

>33 Yells: Playing right now at a theatre near you! Highly recommend!

Fev 10, 5:58 pm

I am about to re-read The Way the Crow Flies by one of my favourite authors, Ann-Marie MacDonald for a book club discussion.

Fev 10, 10:04 pm

>35 LynnB: Enjoy!

Fev 12, 10:39 pm

What Strange Paradise / Omar El Akkad
4 stars

Amir is a 9-year old Syrian boy who survives a shipwreck. Everyone else to be seen has washed up on shore, dead. He is on an island, but doesn’t know where he is, nor does he understand the language. When two men see him and point and shout, Amir gets scared and runs. He runs into Vanna, 15-years old and though they are unable to communicate verbally, she hides him.

The story then shifts to “Before”, which brings us up to date on how Amir got where he is. We go back and forth between Amir’s before and “After”. Much of after is told from Vanna’s POV, but occasionally we switch to the POV of a colonial who is dead set on finding Amir, the little boy who ran away.

Given that it’s (primarily) from a 9-year old’s POV, it took a bit to figure out what was going on through much of the story. I am still not sure I understand the ending. But it was a “good” (powerful) story, even so.

Fev 14, 12:58 pm

I listened to The Moon of the Turning Leaves by Waubgeshig Rice this past week. It's a sequel to Moon of the Crusted Snow and if you haven't read that then I recommend that you read or listen to it first before going on to this second one. The audiobook I listened to was narrated by Billy Merasty who is of Cree descent whereas the story involves Ojibwe (or Anishinaabe) people. I'm not a speaker of either language so I don't know how well Merasty does with the Anishinaabemowin phrases used in this book but his phrasing and accent seem pretty good to me. This book follows a group of people from the northern community that was the setting of the first book as they travel down south to the northern shore of Lake Huron. It takes place about 12 years after the first one and they haven't seen any new people in a long time. Their lake and forest food animals are being depleted from overuse so the group thinks they need to move to a different place. Their ancestors lived on the north shore but everyone was moved to the northern reservation so settlers could move onto their land. It makes a certain sense to see if they can move back there. Through various conversations with people they meet (some good, some really bad) there is an explanation of what caused the power shutdown and subsequent breakdown of society which was interesting. I have a feeling that this is a duology, not a trilogy but I look forward to whatever Waubgeshig Rice writes next.

Fev 14, 8:55 pm

>27 mdoris: Ooh, I might have to look that up. I've never really made a point of reading Atwood but I have liked what I've read for Uni and such.

I'm pretty shabby when it comes to CanLit, but I happen to be reading Margaret Atwood's Hag-Seed which I'm enjoying so far. I didn't realize it at first but it's part of the Hogarth Shakespeare Project which has Shakespeare plays retold by contemporary authors. Hag-Seed is based on "The Tempest" and I'm enjoying the parallels.

It's also a book club book, but it was my turn to pick. I'm using this as an excuse to work through my unread books. I think I concerned a member when she asked if it was a good book and I said I had no idea. She is enjoying it now though.

Fev 18, 2:56 pm

I finished the lovely poetry book, Gerbe en germes - Pake grenn by Canadian Haitian Eddy Garnier (he lives in Gatineau, on the other side of the river from me!).
In French with Creole adaptations, the haikus capture the essence of every day. It's sometimes a real challenge to transliterate from one language to the other, but also very rewarding.
What a great way to get a peek into another language!

Editado: Fev 18, 4:10 pm

I'm starting the Canada Reads shortlist with The Future by Catherine Leroux

Fev 20, 1:08 pm

A bittersweet read-I found an Inspector Banks novel by Peter Robinson that I'd missed reading in the past. I enjoyed Not Dark Yet but I lament the fact that I've read all the novels now and there will be no more.

Fev 21, 7:06 am

I'm reading Meet Me at the Lake by Carley Fortune for Canada Reads

Fev 21, 9:19 am

>42 ted74ca: I'm a big detective fiction fan and have never even heard of Peter Robinson! Thanks for posting.

Fev 21, 10:59 pm

About to start my third Canada Reads books, Shut Up You're Pretty, a collection of short stories by Tea Mutonji.

Fev 22, 10:17 am

>46 dianeham: Loved that one!

Fev 22, 1:28 pm

Fev 23, 2:00 pm

Continuing my Canada Reads pentathlon with Bad Cree by Jessica Johns