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

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 The Chat with Cicely Belle Blain

The Chat with Cicely Belle Blain

By Trevor Corkum

This week on the Chat, we’re in conversation with Cicely Belle Blain, author of the forthcoming poetry collection Burn …

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Book Cover Indians on Vacation

Most Anticipated: Our 2020 Fall Fiction Preview

By 49th Shelf Staff

New books by old favourites, sparkling debuts, and more than a few timely books about pandemics are among the titles tha …

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Book Cover County Heirlooms

Summer Eats: Kohlrabi Slaw, from COUNTY HEIRLOOMS

By Natalie Wollenberg and Leigh Nash

"I’ve always been impressed that seeds will produce all the food you need to live. It’s miraculous."

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3 Great Recipes from the 2020 Taste Canada Awards Shortlist

By Kerry Clare

Foodies, take note! Great recipes from celebrated cookbooks.

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Book Cover On Nostalgia

Launchpad: On Nostalgia, by David Berry

By Kerry Clare

"Berry’s subject is a wide-ranging one, but he pulls off the impressive feat of covering plenty of ground in a concise …

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Literatures, Communities and Learnings

Literatures, Communities, and Learning

By Kerry Clare

9 conversations with Indigenous writers about the relationship between Indigenous literatures and learning, and how thei …

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The Chat with Faye Guenther

The Chat with Faye Guenther

By Trevor Corkum

Swimmers in Winter (Invisible Publishing) is Faye Guenther’s debut collection of short fiction. These six stories expl …

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Book Cover Little Secrets

Summer Reading Starts Here

By Kerry Clare

Summer is not cancelled, and summer reading isn't either. We've got thrillers, epics, drama, historical fiction, and so …

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On Our Radar

"On Our Radar" is a monthly 49th Shelf series featuring books with buzz worth sharing. We bring you links to features and reviews about great new books in a multitude of genres from all around the Internet.

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Sanaaq by Mitiarjuk Nappaaluk

From Keavy Martin's review in The Globe & Mail: "It may be understandable, then, that southerners exhibit a tendency to read Sanaaq (in French and now English) primarily for its ethnographic qualities—that is, for its ability to provide authentic access to the realities of Inuit life. Yet at certain moments, the novel also seems to resist this kind of transparency, as it makes use of both language and plot twists that may baffle its new English-speaking audience. For instance, the ease with which Sanaaq’s cousin Aqiarulaaq is able to persuade her relative Ningiukuluk to give up her middle daughter may surprise readers unfamiliar with Inuit adoption practices, while the episode in which the young Maatiusi—heartbroken after his fiancée conceives a child by the chief factor at the trading post—becomes dangerously entangled with a nuliarsaq, or invisible wife, might also leave southern readers scratching their heads. Yet rather than attempting to draw large (and largely inaccurate) conclusions about Inuit culture, southern …

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An Excerpt from Sanaaq: An Inuit Novel

Book Cover Sanaaq

In the early 1950s, Mitiarjuk Nappaaluk was asked by a priest working in Kangiqsujuaq in northern Quebec to write down some Inuttitut phrases to assist him in the study of the language. At the age of twenty-two, Nappaaluk began writing but did not stop at mere phrases. She invented a group of characters and events and, over the next twenty years, wrote the first Inuit novel, simultaneously reinventing the novel form.

Due in part to the perseverance of French anthropologist Bernard Saladin d’Anglure, Sanaaq was first published in syllabic Inuttitut in 1987. His French translation appeared in 2002. This English translation now brings this cornerstone of Inuit literature to Anglophone readers and scholars.

Sanaaq is an intimate story of an Inuit family negotiating the changes brought into their community by the coming of the qallunaat, the white people, in the mid-19th century. Composed in 48 episodes, it recounts the daily life of Sanaaq, a strong and outspoken young widow, her daughter Qumaq, and their small semi-nomadic community in northern Quebec. Here they live their lives hunting seal, repairing their kayak, and gathering mussels under blue sea ice before the tide comes in. These are ordinary extraordinary lives: marriages are made and unmade, children are bo …

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