Off the Page

A blog on Canadian writing, reading, and everything in between

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Book Cover On Our Radar

On Our Radar

By [Kerry Clare]

New and recent books with buzz. 

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The Chat with Governor General's Award Winner Sarah Henstra

The Chat with Governor General's Award Winner Sarah Henstra

By [Trevor Corkum]

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be in conversation with all of this year’s English-language Governor General’s Awar …

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Book Cover Buffy Sainte-Marie

Radical Acts: An Interview with Andrea Warner

By [Kerry Clare]

Buffy Sainte-Marie's official biographer on her experiences telling the story of a music legend. 

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Book Cover the Luminous Sea

Melissa Barbeau: Where Magic Meets Science

By [Kerry Clare]

The author of novel The Luminous Sea on books that ask if there is space left for wonder in the world. 

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Shelf Talkers: Books to Carry You Through November

Shelf Talkers: Books to Carry You Through November

By [Rob Wiersema]

I’m really not sure of the cause, but it happens every year at around this time. I find myself thinking about the past …

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Book Cover Vimy

Remembering World War One

By [Kerry Clare]

A century after the end of World War One, we're still not done telling stories about this historical event.

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Book Cover Ordinary Strangers

Bill Stenson on the Best Use of a Bobby Pin in Literature, and Other Great Reads

By [Kerry Clare]

The author of new novel Ordinary Strangers on going beyond Earle Birney, the powers of understatement, and the poet that …

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Giller Prize 2018 Special Series: The Chat with Éric Dupont

Giller Prize 2018 Special Series: The Chat with Éric Dupont

By [Trevor Corkum]

Our next instalment of this year’s Giller special features our chat with Éric Dupont, author of Songs for the Cold of …

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Book Cover Once More With Feeling

More Winning Books

By [Kerry Clare]

There is so much literary goodness to go around. 

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Giller Prize 2018 Special Series: The Chat with Thea Lim

Giller Prize 2018 Special Series: The Chat with Thea Lim

By [Trevor Corkum]

The 2018 Giller Prize will be announced November 19, and we're pleased to continue our conversations with the finalists …

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On Our Radar

tagged : on our radar

In this series, we highlight new and recent books with buzz. 

*****

The Greatest Hits of Wanda Jaynes, by Bridget Canning (Fiction)

Longlisted for the International Dublin Literary Award for 2019: 

"Hurling a can of coconut milk at a gunman in a grocery store, thrusts Wanda Jaynes into the media spotlight. Her world spirals out of control as her job is made redundant, her love life gets frayed and the tension of being a heroine changes everything. How do you cope when the world is watching your every move?" (Librarian's comments)

*

Refuse: CanLit in Ruins, edited by Hannah McGregor, Julie Rak, and Erin Wunker (Nonfiction)

Reviewed by Alex Good in the Toronto Star: 

"Whether you agree or disagree, Refuse is an important collection of immediate responses to this fracturing. Important because, whether it’s being taught in the classroom or making news headlines, the debate over these matters is now so loud it’s no longer possible to ignore the calls for change."

*

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The Chat with Governor General's Award Winner Sarah Henstra

SarahHenstra

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be in conversation with all of this year’s English-language Governor General’s Award winners. We begin our special #GGBooks series chatting with Sarah Henstra, author of the novel The Red Word.

The jury called the book "Groundbreaking and provocative ... this is an astonishing evisceration of the clichés of sexual politics as they exist not only on our college campuses, but also within broader present-day society. Alternately heartbreaking, funny, and critical, no one gets off easily. The Red Word plumbs the depths of literature, mythology, history, philosophy, and a host of contemporary issues—an utterly effing good read."

Sarah Henstra is an Associate Professor of English literature at Ryerson University. She is the author of Mad Miss Mimic, an historical tale for young adults, and We Contain Multitudes, slated for publication in 2019. The Red Word is her first work of adult fiction. Sarah grew up in Abbotsford, British Columbia, and now lives in Toronto.

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THE CHAT WITH SARAH HENSTRA

Trevor Corkum: The Red Word is described as “smart, dark, and take-no-prisoners look at rape culture.” Can you talk more about the creation of the novel?

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Radical Acts: An Interview with Andrea Warner

Andrea Warner follows up her fantastic debut, We Oughta Know: How Four Women Ruled the ’90s and Changed Canadian Music, with Buffy Sainte-Marie: The Authorized Biography, and here she talks to us about the challenges of biography, chronology, and the experience of working with a music legend. 

*****

49th Shelf: “My God, how does one write a Biography?” wrote Virginia Woolf once, and she’s just one of many writers who’ve struggled with the genre. I imagine it’s a bit easier, however, when you’ve got the person you’re writing about telling stories down the telephone and reading over your manuscript, offering clarity and answering questions. Do you think you could have written this book without Buffy Sainte-Marie being a partner in the project? Would you have wanted to? 

Andrea Warner: I wouldn’t have done this without Buffy’s consent and support. Her voice is essential and so powerful. This is her life story and she doesn’t really need me to do tell it. She’s Buffy Sainte-Marie, she’s an amazing storyteller. But what I can do as a writer and as a feminist music critic who has spent years writing about Buffy’s music and the music business is provide a framework for her story and contextualize her journey so far. 

She’s Buffy …

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Melissa Barbeau: Where Magic Meets Science

The Luminous Sea, by Melissa Barbeau, manages to be gorgeous right down to sentence level, with incredible, evocative descriptions, and yet also be fast-paced and plot-driven, so difficult to put down. Like the creature whose wondrous existence lies at the centre of the story, The Luminous Sea is not quite like anything else you've seen/read before, and it's also absolutely enthralling. Read on to find out more about it, and also for Barbeau's recommendations of other books where magic and science meet. 

*****

The Luminous Sea imagines an outport Newfoundland that is almost—but not quite—recognizable. The fishing village of Damson Bay abuts an ocean that is degrees warmer than it has been historically and the sea has turned strange. Phenomena normally found in warmer climates emerge along the North Atlantic coast. Bioluminescent tides emit their eerie light along the shoreline, fantastic creatures are brought to the surface.

The Luminous Sea imagines the discovery of a fairy tale creature in a scientific world where unique genetic code is considered treasure. The book asks whether magic and science can exist in the same space, and if there is any space left for wonder in a world that rushes to claim ownership of every new thing.

Told from the points of view of thre …

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Shelf Talkers: Books to Carry You Through November

There’s something about November that puts me in a contemplative state of mind.

Perhaps it’s the presence of Remembrance Day, an ongoing reminder of heroism, sacrifice, and loss.

Perhaps it’s a vague sense of an ending, the end of the year in sight.

Perhaps it’s the world around me, the days growing shorter, the leaves in the gutters, the darkness seemingly all around.

Or perhaps it’s just a sugar hangover from those little tiny Halloween chocolate bars.

I’m really not sure of the cause, but it happens every year at around this time. I find myself thinking about the past, about my place in the world, about the people around me, the stories they’re carrying. And it’s not just me: pretty much everyone I’ve spoken with reports much the same mindset as the evenings begin to encroach on the day.

It’s not a bad thing at all. A period of reflection, of examination, of contemplation, is necessary, and in many ways a balm.

This month, the independent booksellers of the Shelf Talkers panel have some thoughtful choices for you, companions for your own hours of contemplation.

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The Bookseller: Colin Holt, Bolen Books (Victoria, BC)

The Pick: The Wars, by Timothy Findley

I try to find time every fall to give Timothy Findley’s The Wars a reread. For me it is an impo …

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