Off the Page

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

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Book Cover the Queer Evangelist

On Telling the Truth in Politics

By Cheri Divnovo

An excerpt from new memoir The Queer Evangelist, Cheri DiNovo's story of her life as a queer minister, politician and st …

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 The Chat with GG's Literature Award Winners The Fan Brothers

The Chat with GG's Literature Award Winners The Fan Brothers

By Trevor Corkum

We continue our special coverage of this year’s Governor General's Literature Award winners in conversation with the a …

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Book Cover Oy Feh So

Notes from a Children's Librarian: Books on Jewish Heritage

By Julie Booker

Compelling stories showcasing Jewish Heritage to be enjoyed by readers of all ages.

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The Chat with GG's Literature Award Winner Madhur Anand

The Chat with GG's Literature Award Winner Madhur Anand

By Trevor Corkum

Check out our conversation with Madhur Anand, whose brilliant experimental memoir This Red Line Goes Straight to Your He …

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Me and Bridget Jones (20 Years Later)

Me and Bridget Jones (20 Years Later)

By Erika Thorkelson

Erika Thorkelson's "Me and Bridget Jones (20 Years Later)" is one of the essays in Midlife, a new essay collection explo …

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The Chat with GG's Literature Award Winner Michelle Good

The Chat with GG's Literature Award Winner Michelle Good

By Trevor Corkum

Today we are pleased to kick off our special coverage of the 2020 Governor General's Award winners (English-language) wi …

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Book Cover Cattail Skyline

The World Up Close

By Joanne Epp

A recommended reading list by author of new book CATTAIL SKYLINE on paying close attention to the small and particular.

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Book Cover What's In It For Me

The Keepers on My Bookshelf

By LS Stone

Depth and humour are themes in this great recommended reading list by the author of the new middle grade novel What's in …

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Book Cover the Girl from Dream City

How Does a Woman Become a Writer?

By Linda Leith

"The writers who interest me most, always, are women who write about themselves in ways that a male writer never could." …

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Book Cover Big Reader

11 Essay Collections to Revisit Now

By Susan Olding

"The bestselling novel of a decade ago will sometimes seem stale or irrelevant today, but that’s rarely true of an ess …

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In Conversation With: Trevor Cole (Practical Jean, @McClellandBooks)

Trevor Cole

Trevor Cole is the author of three novels. The most recent is Practical Jean, which was short-listed for the Rogers Writer's Trust Fiction Prize and recently won the 2011 Leacock Medal for Humour. (Read an excerpt on our shelf.)

Cole is also the creator of, a website dedicated to presenting short audio readings by Canadian poets and authors of literary fiction. With over 100 published writers represented on the site, those who know my penchant for podcasting will appreciate how happy I was to have the chance to chat with Trevor about performance, collecting voices and, as it happens, Pop Rocks.

Julie Wilson: AuthorsAloud gathers recordings from Canadian fiction writers and poets. The purpose is both to offer a space to writers in which to perform their work and to introduce readers to authors outside of a retail environment. It's an aural treat. As someone who's been recording poets for a number of years and has just started soliciting submissions for "Writers Reading Recipes"—enjoy Trevor's rendition of "Cranberry-Orange Relish" by John Engels—I feel you and I are intimately aligned in our appreciation for performance. To create an online presence dedicated to curating and building a library is a dedicated feat. There must have been a moment i …

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In Conversation With: Liz Strange on crime fiction and developing her protagonist over a series

Author Liz Strange.

Liz Strange was born and raised in Kingston, Ontario, where she still resides. She is a massive horror fan, vampire enthusiast and self-confessed sci-fi nerd. Mythology and historical mysteries have long enthralled her, and you will often find them touched upon in her works. You can find out more about Liz at

Liz's novel Missing Daughter, Shattered Family has just been shortlisted for an Independent Literary Award, recommended and voted on by independent literary bloggers.

Julie Wilson: Your previous novels have been in the horror/vampire genre. Why the jump to crime fiction?

Liz Strange: I have always been a big fan of mysteries and crime fiction, right back to my childhood days of reading the Three Investigators series. I enjoy the works of authors like Patricia Cornwell, Sue Grafton, Michael Slade, Karen Slaughter and many others. I had a story idea that I kept coming back to so I just decided to give it a try.

I like playing with the idea that monsters aren’t just stories, or figments of people’s imagination, but that they walk among us every day. People are capable of doing some truly terrible things to other humans, and I wanted to explore that in the novel. This also weaves its way into my protagonist's personal life as well; it was a m …

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Enter to Win a Collection of the 2013 Trillium Award Finalists

The contenders for Ontario's 2013 Trillium Award—Ontario's leading literature award, with past winners including including Margaret Atwood, Michael Ondaatje, Timothy Findley, and Anne Michaels—are formidable.

Any one of these books would demand top billing on your nightstand and an indulgent evening or two in to take them in, but the Ontario Media Development Corporation has given us permission to post a contest today in which the winner will receive the entire English-language 2013 shortlist; please see the full list here with all the details on the books. You just need to guess which finalist will win the award!

Just click on the "Pick a Winner, Be a Winner" tab in the top, right-hand corner of this page. Click on that tab to open the poll and enter to win. The contest closes at 5:00 pm ET, Tuesday, June 18.

We will draw for the winner June 19, and announce him/her shortly after that. Good luck!

NB: For those in Toronto, several of the shortlisted authors will be reading on the evening of June 17, 2013, at the Bram & Bluma Appel Salon, Toronto Reference Library, 789 Yonge Street. There is no admission fee or RSVP required to attend—it is first come, first seated. Doors will open to the public at 6:30 pm, and the readings will commence at 7:00 pm. Please contact for further information.

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Go Deeper With the Big Books of 2013

Another day, another lit awards list. Or at least that's how it seems at this time of year. Here at 49th Shelf, we're pretty happy with these lists, short and long, which put the spotlight on books and writers we've been looking out for lately. The following lists and posts will take you deeper inside some of the biggest books of the year. 

Journey With No Maps

Sandra Djwa has been nominated for the Governor-General's Award for Non-Fiction for her biography of P.K. Page, A Journey With No Maps. Check out her interview from February about the life of Page and her own work as biographer


Book Cover The Hungry Ghosts

Shyam Selvadurai's The Hungry Ghosts is nominated for the Governor-General's Award for Fiction, and also made an appearance on our Canadian Immigrant Writers list this summer. 


We talked to Alan Smutylo about travel painting and his book The Memory of Water last spring, before …

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Go Deeper with the Big Books of 2014

While the seemingly never-ending roll-out of longlists and shortlists throughout the fall literary season can be exhausting, these lists really are a fantastic way to discover new books, and they've never been more various than they are this year. Want to know more about the books and authors making waves this season? Just dive in to this great selection from 49th Shelf's archives.


Book Cover Waiting for the Man

Waiting for the Man, by Arjun Basu, nominated for the Scotiabank Giller Prize

In December, Arjun Basu shared with us his Lit Wish List, which included, "some poetry, some imperfection, and some Coupland." Watch the video here


Every Happy Family, by Dede Crane, nominated for a City of Victoria Book Award

"Once you are a mother, you are a mother for the rest of your life.  A perpetual contract, there is no such thing as time off. Your heart has been peeled back, your instinct turned on...." Read the rest of Crane's beautiful essay on motherhood, which we featured on the blog in June 2013.   


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