Thursday, February 20, 2014

Book News Vol. 8 No. 51



Join us on March 5 for an evening of local flavour, with three authors who call Vancouver home: Caroline Adderson, Cynthia Flood, and Zoey Peterson. Details on this and other upcoming Incite events here,


Miriam Toews and Steven Galloway
An evening with two acclaimed Canadian authors. Steven Galloway, the bestselling author of The Cellist of Sarajevo, is back with his brilliant new novel, The Confabulist. And Miriam Toews, the award-winning author of A Complicated Kindness, brings her irresistible voice and heart wrenching poignancy to her new novel All My Puny Sorrows. Click here for event details and to find out more about our special offer for bookclubs:


10 graphic novels and 10 Web comics are up for Slate's second annual comics prize. The winners will be announced on March 7th. Check out the shortlist, here:


A new crop of young adult novels have been reviewed by the Globe and Mail. From the Demon Dentist to Not Your Ordinary Wolf Girl, these books are guaranteed to "keep your kids well-read."


Mavis Gallant, one of Canada's most distinguished literary figures, has died. Though born in Canada, her career was truly international. Her prolific output included two novels, a play, a collection of journalism and essays, and nine volumes of short stories.

Conservatives in India have pledged to purge bookshelves and schools of books they claim are abusive to Hindusism, resulting in the withdrawal of Penguin's new book The Hindus: An Alternative History. Many Indian artists and intellectuals are concerned, claiming that Penguin's move exemplifies "the growing power of bullying self-appointed censors" displaying "a Victorian hangover with a Taliban temperament."

25 year post-Fatwa, Salman Rushdie now says "I wish I'd written a more critical book." Despite this fact, he still isn't sure that the struggle over The Satanic Verses has actually ended. "The book is still in print and the author wasn't suppressed so it was a victory in that sense. But the fear and menaces have grown."

With all this political discourse still heavily permeating literature, the following article may come as a surprise to some. This week, the New Yorker asks: "is the News replacing literature?"

Valentine's Day has come and gone, but you still might enjoy this Guardian article on the top 10 difficult love stories in literature. The multi-lingual list includes works by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Haruki Murakami and Helen Fielding.

English literature is full of rain and flooding, "from the April showers that begin The Canterbury Tales to the Shakespearean storms" and the "sodden Victorian classics". While you're hiding from Vancouver's own cold February rains, why not check out this piece on "how every era creates its own kind of downpour?"

Speaking of different eras, Wes Anderson's new film, Grand Budapest Hotel, has been receiving much attention for its unique look into not-so-distant European history. But as Anderson himself says, "it's more or less plagiarism". The movie was inspired by the writing of Stefan Zweig, a writer who is bound to be rediscovered in a North America that never quite got him in the first place.


Carolyn Forché made her mark as a poet when she wrote The Country Between Us, based on her experiences observing the civil war in El Salvador. She insists her work is not political, however, but the "poetry of witness". Now, she's taken this idea to a new length, editing and releasing an anthology called The Poetry of Witness: The English Tradition, 1500-2001.

If you're a fan of Alberto Manguel, you'll probably enjoy this review he's written for Adam Foulds' war novel, In the Wolf's Mouth. A chronicle of the Allied liberation of Italy, the novel follows the story of an English security officer and an American soldier ("from Little Italy not big Italy"), who "clumsily grope their way from Sicily northwards, attempting to push back fascist resistance."

While the 1930s and 40s were concerned with that struggle against facism, the 20s were a time of excess, and in the case of many women, liberation. Judith Mackrell's new book Flappers: Six Women of a Dangerous Generation follows the lives of six of these liberated women, each of whom had the nerve and desire to live differently.

Bringing history to life can be difficult, demanding "a different alchemy, the rigor of the historian mixed with the imaginative chutzpah of the novelist." Medieval scholar Bruce Holsinger tries to accomplish just that in his first novel, A Burnable Book, set in 1385 England.

From the large scale to the very small, here are three books worth reading from the world of Canadian small press: Blood, Marriage, Wine and Glitter, by S. Bear Bergman (about the power of family, albeit an untraditional one); Juanita Wildrose: My True Life, by Susan Downe (a "fictional memoir"); and The City Still Breathing, by Matthew Heiti (a "dark but loving ode to 1980s Sudbury").

On an even more local level, the Vancouver Sun has engaged in conversation with the five writers currently in the running for the B.C. Book Award. Check out the discussion with Carolyn Abraham, Thomas King, Graeme Smith, J.B. McKinnon and Margaret MacMillan, here:

The canoe has long been a symbol of Canadian identity, used by the voyageurs, common folks on summer vacation, artistic visionaries like Tom Tomson, and even Pierre Trudeau, who believed that the canoe immersed him in the essence of Canada. Two new books have set out to discuss (and challenge) the place of the canoe in our national identity: Misao Dean's Inheriting a Canoe Paddle, and Bruce Erickson's Canoe Nation.

If you're one of those people who believes that images speak louder than words, you might enjoy Kevin Thomas' comic strip review of Ruth Ozeki's A Tale for the Time Being. This may win the prize for shortest book review of the year!

Novelist Katie Crouch has been writing a series for The Rumpus called "Missed", about authors she believes deserve more recognition. This week's subject is Jill McCorkle, whom Crouch discovered when she was pregnant, unhappy, wrestling with the specter of addiction, and finally able to laugh, despite it all.

Jesse Donaldson's new book, This Day in Vancouver, is a story of our city's 127 year history, told one day at a time. This month, with the author's permission, The Tyee is highlighting five memorable moments that occurred in past Februaries.


Local author talks about her new book The Life and Art of Edythe Hembroff-Schleicher. Thursday, February 20 at 7:00pm, free but register at 250-475-6100. Emily Carr branch, Victoria Public Library, 101-3521 Blanshard St. More information at

Second annual symposium featuring 38 poets, novelists, short story writers and journalists. Landsdowne Lecture will feature Vancouver poet, novelist and librettist Daphne Marlatt. February 20-22, 2014. University of Victoria, Victoria, BC. More information at

Author Marian Keen launches her latest novel for teens. Special guests include Devon Boorman and the CKNW Orphans' Fund Pink Shirt Day Anti-Bullying Campaign. Music, refreshments, and live demonstration of sword play. Friday, February 21 at 6:00pm. Tickets: adults ($10) / students (free). Academie Duello, 412 West Hastings Street. Details and registration here,

A selection of Canada's best independent musicians and slam poets. Hosted by Zaccheus Jackson. Friday, February 21 at 8:00pm, pay what you can. Cafe Deux Soleils, 2096 Commercial Drive, Vancouver. More information at

5th annual festival featuring Dina Del Bucchia, Bev Sellars, George Bowering, and others. February 21-23, 2014 at the Galiano Oceanfront Inn & Spa, Galiano Island. More information at

Vancouver writer E.R. Brown reads from his first novel, Almost Criminal, a BC-based crime thriller. Wednesday, February 26 at 7:00pm. Welsh Hall West, West Vancouver Memorial Library, 1950 Marine Drive, West Vancouver. For more information, phone 604-925-7403.

Poets Evelyn Lau and Jamie Reid read from their work. Thursday, February 27 at 12:30pm, free. Bennett Library Special Collections/Rare Books (Room 7100), Bennett Library, SFU Burnaby. For more info, phone 778-782-6676.

Author J.B. MacKinnon discusses his latest book The Once and Future World. Thursday, February 27 at 5:00pm (corrected time). Cecil Green Park House, 6251 Cecil Green Park Road, UBC. More information at

Five diverse poets will unveil newly commissioned work exploring the concept of reconciliation in honour of Chief Robert Joseph. Featuring poets Jordan Abel, Joanne Arnott, Juliane Okot Bitek, Jordan Scott and Daniel Zomparelli. Thursday, February 27 at 7:00pm, free. Alice MacKay room, Central Library, 350 W. Georgia St. More information at

Vancouver author Cynthia Flood reads from her latest book. Thursday, February 27 at 7:00pm, free. McGill branch, Burnaby Public Library, 4595 Albert Street, Burnaby. More information and registration at 604-299-8955 or

Features poet/singer/artist David Campbell. Poetry and music: A celebration. Thursday, Feb 27, 7-9:30pm, at The Cottage Bistro, 4468 Main Street, Vancouver. Suggested donation at the door: $5. More information at

Reading by Montreal-based author. Special guest poet and writer Rahat Kurd. Friday, February 28 at 12:00pm, free. Alma VanDusen room, lower level, Central Library, 350 W. Georgia St. More information at

An evening celebrating Northern writers and artists featuring readings from Sanaaq, the first novel written in Inuktituk and recently translated into English; and a screening of the short film Amaqqut Nunaat: Country of Wolves. Friday, February 28 at 7:00pm, pay what you can. Djavad Mowafaghian World Arts Centre, 149 W. Hastings St. More information at


Workshops, readings, performances, keynote and networking. March 1, 10am-4pm. @UFV Mission Campus, Heritage Park Centre 33700 Prentis Avenue, Mission BC V2V 7B1. For registration and more information go to:

A night of poetry inspired by Brush and Wire, an exhibit by Karen Brumelle and Joanne Waters. Featured poets: Daniela Elza, Chelsea Comeau, Bonnie Nish, Carl Leggo, Celeste Snowber, Ali Denno, and Dennis E. Bolen. Music by Jenn Bojm. March 6, 7pm-9 pm @ the Jewish Community Centre Gallery, 950 41st Ave W, Vancouver, free.

Meet with the writer Pierre Samson, author of "La maison des pluies". Friday, March 7 at 5:30pm. Alliance Francaise Auditorium, Alliance Francaise, 6161 Cambie Street, Vancouver. More information at

In celebration of International Women's Day, authors Sylvia Taylor, Kate Braid, Jane Hall and Sue Doro read from their memoirs. Saturday, March 8 at 2:00pm, free. Alice MacKay room, Central Library, 350 W. Georgia St. More information at

From practical advice on using literature-based apps with children to learning how authors and illustrators are using social media and electronic publishing, Serendipity 2014 is for educators, librarians, researchers and literature lovers looking to the future of books for young people. Presenters include Paul Zelinsky, Arthur Slade, John Schumacher, Travis Jonker, Tim Federle, and Hadley Dyer. Saturday, March 8, 2014. For registration and information, go to

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