Off the Page

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

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Book Cover Salma the Syrian Chef

Notes from a Children’s Librarian: Satisfying Endings

By Julie Booker

How do you create a sense of satisfaction in a story’s finale? The following books pull it off!

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49thShelf Summer Reads

Introducing the 49th Shelf Summer Books List: Part 2

By Kerry Clare

Our summer reads extravaganza continues with PART 2 of our Summer Books List, and once again, each and every title is up …

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Inclusive Learning, Diverse Books: Introducing Top Grade 2021

Inclusive Learning, Diverse Books: Introducing Top Grade 2021

By Spencer Miller

Welcome to the Association for Canadian publisher’s Top Grade: CanLit for the Classroom, a blog and preview video seri …

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Book Cover bread and water

Most Anticipated: Our Fall 2021 Nonfiction Preview

By 49thShelf Staff

New books about everything, including food, beauty, art, travel, singing, healing, grieving, shopping, aging, and so muc …

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Book Cover Unlocking

CanLit Yearning

By Amy LeBlanc

"At the heart of my novella and in each book on this CanLit list is a sense of desire or a yearning (for belonging, iden …

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The Chat with Rev. Dr. Cheri DiNovo

The Chat with Rev. Dr. Cheri DiNovo

By Trevor Corkum

This week we’re in conversation with political trailblazer Rev. Dr. Cheri DiNovo, whose memoir, The Queer Evangelist, …

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Book Cover The Prairie Chicken Dance Tour

Most Anticipated: Our 2021 Fall Fiction Preview

By 49th Shelf Staff

With new books by Miriam Toews, Dawn Dumont, Douglas Coupland, Marie-Renee Lavoie, Omar El Akkad, Zoe Whittall, Trudy Mo …

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Book Cover The Quiet is Loud

Speculative Fiction: Vast and Thrilling

By Samantha Garner

"As a reader and a lightly superstitious human, I can’t deny the pull of the unusual, the not-quite-real. I love books …

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Book Cover Travels in Cuba

Writing with Four Hands

By Marie-Louise Gay and David Homel

"That’s what the Travels series is all about: sending a resourceful, observant, unafraid (well, sometimes a little afr …

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The Chat with GG's Literature Award Winner Anne Carson

The Chat with GG's Literature Award Winner Anne Carson

By Trevor Corkum

“Norma Jeane Baker of Troy leverages a millennia-old story of beauty and war to animate a history of the male gaze and …

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Books with Old Folks (by Brian Francis)

Brian Francis (Photo credit: Paula Wilson)

"I’ve never met a senior citizen I didn’t like. Cranky, kind, loud-mouthed, timid, I don’t really care. They’re always fascinating to me. In my new book, Natural Order, I’ve indulged my love of seniors with a host of elderly characters. Here are some other CanLit novels that also feature old folks."

BRIAN FRANCIS' first novel, Fruit, was a 2009 Canada Reads finalist. He has worked as a freelance writer for a variety of magazines and newspapers. In 2000, Francis received the Writers' Union of Canada's Emerging Author Award. He lives in Toronto.

Exit Lines by Joan Barfoot

"Honest to God, we’re just old, we’re not morons.”

Barfoot’s 2008 novel was many things: funny, sad, honest and pointed. Set in a retirement lodge, Exit Lines centres around four residents who find an ability to bond with one another in surroundings that would challenge the best of us. In spite of that (or because of it), they discover the preciousness of their own lives.

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"I Am Not At Peace": Ghosts and Haunting in Canadian Fiction

Graveyard at night

“There is a sense in which all novels are ghost stories: fictional characters are translucent phantoms, which readers believe in (or don’t); readers lurk in the presence of characters, spying on their most intimate moments, eavesdropping on their innermost thoughts. And however thoroughly the novelist establishes her characters’ motivations, however robustly she forges her chains of cause and effect everything that happens ultimately does so at the whim of the writer. Certain things have to happen for the narrative to progress… Every novel is haunted by a tyrannical poltergeist, in the form of its plot.” from “Poltergeist: The Little Stranger” by Thomas Jones, London Review of Books 9 July 2009

In Britain, a civilization so old that it’s nearly impossible not to be walking on a grave, it’s no surprise that fictional ghosts are abundant. From The Woman in White down to the The Woman in Black, the ghost story is a literary staple, and it’s taken comedy turns in novels by contemporary writers including Hilary Mantel and Nicola Barker.

In Canada, however, where bones underfoot are less common and those discovered often hearken back to colonial atrocities, our ghosts are not so playful. Something is extra-unnatural about the supernatural in Canadia …

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Books that Excited Me: A List by Nancy Richler

Book Cover The Far Euphrates

The Far Euphrates by Aryeh Lev Stollman: A luminous coming of age novel set in Windsor Ontario in the fifties and sixties. Stollman writes about the most complicated and mysterious parts of life with a grace and beauty that is all the more powerful for its quietness. I’ve included it on my list because the emotional impact of it still resonates in me ten years after having read it for the first time.

The English Stories by Cynthia Flood: As a novelist, I am always in awe of writers who capture an entire world in a short story. Cynthia Flood is one such writer and each of the stories in The English Stories, her most recent offering , is a gem of concise, spare prose, compassionate observation and sly humour.

Book Cover A Fine Balance

A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry: This book is on my list simply because it is magnificent—rich, full, teeming with life. Mistr …

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Most Anticipated Books of Fall 2012

Book of Marvels

It's August, and the buzzing has started already. Late summer sees the release of David Bergen's The Age of Hope, his follow-up to the award-winning The Matter with Morris. Former Ontario Attorney General Michael Bryant has written 28 Seconds, his account of the 2009 altercation that resulted in a cyclist's death. Y is the first novel by Marjorie Celona, a graduate of the Iowa Writers Workshop, the story of a girl who begins her life abandoned on the doorstep of the YMCA. Poet Lorna Crozier has written The Book of Marvels: A Compendium of Every Day Things, a series of prose meditations which, as Giller-winner Esi Edugyan writes, "raises the objects of everyday life into things of alien beauty." Detective novelist Louise Penny has released her latest Chief Inspector Gamache Novel, The Beautiful Mystery, about murder among monks at a remote monastery in Northern Quebec (to the soundtrack of Gregorian chants). Doug Saunders follows up his award-winning Arrival City with The Myth of the Muslim Tide. And Susan Swan's new novel is The Western Light, a return to the life of Mouse Bradford, heroine of Swan's 1993 novel The Wives of Bath.

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