Dr. Bethune’s Children doesn’t always read like fiction, given the many similarities between the narrator and the author. Like the narrator, Xue grew up in China during the Cultural Revolution, and was shaped by the ideals of the period. In particular, his imagination was captured by the legend of Bethune.
In this deeply layered, poetic, and empathic psychological novel, James Wolfe reappears – in 2017. Traumatized James, or “Jimmy,” wanders the streets of Montreal and Quebec, homeless and haunted by war, his loneliness palpable as he tries to come to grips with the plastic facades of modern life, and continues to grieve his lost eleven days.
Robyn Maynard’s Policing Black Lives: State Violence in Canada from Slavery to the Present intervenes in the narrative of Canada as the Promised Land, a haven for escaped slaves. Reading it as a Black Canadian woman, the book is a brilliant and powerful validation of our lived experiences.
This is a truly exceptional work, not only for the content – which is rich in both narrative thread and evocative imagery – but also for its visual impact. It is printed in full colour on beautiful paper; materially, it is a quality broadsheet within the pages of a book.
Drakkar Noir, Dodds’s second collection, is quite a return: Dodds re-inhabits his own gory, gothic world with the relish of a contemporary Lord Byron. The title references an arch brand of ’80s cologne, and many poems have a sardonic, sledgehammer musk made up of off-kilter epigrams, heavy rhyming puns, and scenarios that display a fury at the selfishness and idiocy of humans.
Princess Diana had just died. The internet was barely a thing. I’m not sure there were websites yet. The word Amazon called to mind a river, not an information technology behemoth. Grunge was over and something called electronica was being touted as The Future. Yes, things were different in the fall of 1997, no less so in Montreal.
Openness, dissection, reconstruction, and the wringing out of language are key to the newly released Planetary Noise. Celebrating one of North America’s most prolific and groundbreaking poets, this anthology also honours Moure’s ongoing project of embracing the fallibility of language and, by extension, of poetry itself.
Mary Soderstrom might just be my new favourite writer. She’s been writing for years, and we’ve been reading her for years, but meeting her reveals an energy that is contagious, and a humility that should be. Soderstrom in person is as unassuming, open, and delightful as she is erudite and elegant on the page.
Taking place nine years after the events of Sleeping Giants, Waking Gods flips everything we learned in the first volume on its head. When an alien robot related to Themis arrives in downtown London, followed by a dozen others who take up residence in the most populous cities in the world, it’s no spoiler to say that the results are a little bit destructive.
The word “millennial” doesn’t mean anything anymore. Although the new 30 Under 30 collection, published by In/Words Magazine and Press, describes itself as “an anthology of Canadian millennial poets,” it seems more interesting to me to think of it as a compilation of poems by digital natives living in cities all across Canada, whose birth years happen to range from 1987 to 1993.
Check out the cryptic crossword written by Sarah Lolley for our summer issue!
Kaie Kellough’s Accordéon is a smart experimental novel with a timely message about culture and diversity in the city of Montreal.
Arabic for Beginners, a shape-shifting fictional narrative by Ariela Freedman, is a nuanced and penetrating exploration of life in Israel today.
In Tumbleweed, Josip Novakovich is equipped with a deep writer’s arsenal – a sharp eye for the telling detail, a subtly rhythmic prose style, and deadpan humour.
“Right words sound wrong,” Laura Broadbent opens in her latest book, In on the Great Joke. Borrowing Lao Tzu’s words, Broadbent explores this “wrongness” of language, its limits, mistranslations, and shortcomings.
Inspired by the Black Lives Canada Syllabus, activist Robyn Maynard explores the past, present, and future of Black writing and resilience in Montreal.
Shanghai Grand takes Grescoe and his readers far from Montreal – not only to a distant land but also to a very different time. Its story unrolls in the streets, nightclubs, luxury hotels, and shikumen lane courtyards of Jazz Age Shanghai.
Small Beauty follows the story of Xiao Mei, a young mixed race Chinese trans woman coming to terms with the loss of her cousin, Sandy. Abandoning the city – along with its labyrinthine welfare system and the complicated community of trans women she’s fought hard to become part of – Mei runs back to the small town where she and Sandy grew up in order to try to work out her feelings.
First published in 2008, the small, sparsely rendered story of a nine-year-old boy’s attempts to come to terms with the death of his five-year-old brother did more than just launch the comics career of Jonquière-born Girard; it became a word-of-mouth cult item inspiring a rare devotion in its readers. People press Nicolas on friends, give it as a gift, revisit it in times of need.
Fifty years after the publication of Leonard Cohen’s groundbreaking and notoriously difficult postmodern novel, poet David McGimpsey reflects on its enduring relationship to the city of Montreal.