Off the Page

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

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Book Cover Memoir Conversations and Craft

Dazzling Memoirs

By Marjorie Simmins

Marjorie Simmins, author of MEMOIR: CONVERSATIONS AND CRAFTS, recommends her dream lineup of memoirs.

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For Fans of Grisham, Munro, Wolitzer, Shriver, and More

For Fans of Grisham, Munro, Wolitzer, Shriver, and More

By Kiley Turner

Isn't it great when you find a new author or series that fits your reading taste to a tee? Here are a few new books that …

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Book Cover Big Reader

A Taster: Spring 2021 Nonfiction Preview

By 49th Shelf Staff

Life stories, family, baseball, and retreat. These highlight the nonfiction we're most looking forward to this spring. 

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ICYMI: Don't Miss These Beauties

ICYMI: Don't Miss These Beauties

By Kiley Turner

The pandemic has wreaked havoc on our attention spans, making it possible to miss really great fiction. These books caug …

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Book Cover Small Courage

Small Courage: Parenting Memoirs

By Jane Byers

A recommended reading list by Jane Byers, whose new queer parenting memoir is out now.

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The Chat with Kimiko Tobimatsu

The Chat with Kimiko Tobimatsu

By Trevor Corkum

Author Kimiko Tobimatsu and illustrator Keet Geniza have teamed up to create Kimiko Does Cancer, a timely graphic memoir …

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Book Cover Best Canadian Poetry 2020

A Record of Literary History: Best Canadian Poetry 2020

By Marilyn Dumont

An excerpt from Marilyn Dumont's introduction to BEST CANADIAN POETRY 2020.

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Book Cover Book of Donair

The Donair: Canada's Official Food?

By Lindsay Wickstrom

Excerpt from BOOK OF DONAIR explores how a bitter rivalry between Halifax and Edmonton helped propel the donair to be de …

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Book Cover My Ocean is Blue

Notes From a Children's Librarian: Questions, Questions

By Julie Booker

Great picture books that engage with questions and encourage readers to think about answers.

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Book Cover Gutter Child

Most Anticipated: Our 2021 Spring Fiction Preview

By 49thShelf Staff

Exciting debuts, and new releases by Christy Ann Conlin, Pasha Malla, Eva Stachniak, Jael Richardson, and more.

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The Chat: Trevor Corkum Interviews Farzana Doctor

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This week on The Chat, I’m pleased to speak to award-winning author Farzana Doctor about her fantastic new novel, All Inclusive. The book in part tells the story of twenty-something Ameera, a Canadian expat living and working in a Mexican all-inclusive resort community. While balancing the demands of her resort job, Ameera explores her growing interest in the swinging scene and her complicated desire to connect with her unknown birth father.

The Globe and Mail calls All Inclusive “an ambitious and thematically voracious novel on love and the wounds we didn’t know we had.”

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Farzana Doctor is a Toronto-based author of three novels: Stealing Nasreen, Six Metres of Pavement (which won a Lambda Literary Award in 2012 and was shortlisted for the Toronto Book Award) and the recently released All Inclusive. She was named as one of CBC Books’ “Ten Canadian Women Writers You Need to Read Now” and was the recipient of the Writers’ Trust of Canada’s Dayne Ogilvie Grant (2011). She curates the popular Brockton Writers Series and was recently vot …

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Quick Hits: Historical Fiction for Tweens and Teens

In Quick Hits, we look through our stacks to bring you books that, when they were published, elicited a lot of reaction and praise. Our selections will include books published this year, last year, or any year. They will be from any genre. The best books are timeless, and they deserve to find readers whenever and wherever.

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The Hangman in the Mirror, by Kate Cayley

Genre: Young Adult (age 12+), Historical Fiction

Publisher: Annick Press

What It's About

Françoise Laurent has never had an easy life. The only surviving child of a destitute washerwoman and wayward soldier, she must rely only on herself to get by. When her parents die suddenly from the smallpox ravishing New France (modern-day Montreal), Françoise sees it as a chance to escape the life she thought she was trapped in.

Seizing her newfound opportunity, Françoise takes a job as an aide to the wife of a wealthy fur trader. The poverty-ridden world she knew transforms into a strange new world full of privilege and fine things—and of never having to beg for food. But Françoise’s relationships with the other servants in Madame Pommereau’s house are tenuous, and Madame Pommereau isn’t an easy woman to work for. When Françoise is caught stealing a pair of her mistress’s beautiful gloves, she faces a …

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The Chat: Trevor Corkum Interviews Vivek Shraya

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Vivek Shraya’s first collection of poems, even this page is white, is a bold, powerful work of art, addressing questions of racism, whiteness, and marginalization in social, creative, political, and intimate spaces.

Praising the collection, Shani Mootoo says, “this brave and very contemporary lyrical collection dares to ask the unspoken yet screaming questions, to finish the sentence that hurts, that reveals, that provokes, that celebrates. Like a Durga goddess, Shraya juggles with deft hands the multiple aspects of desire, race, gender, queerness, and contemporary pop culture.”

The Toronto Arts Council says, “Shraya’s voice is valuable to the future of poetry in Canada because of her undeniable strength, honesty, perception, and innovation."

Vivek Shraya is a Toronto-based artist whose body of work includes several albums, films, and books. She is also one half of the music duo Too Attached and the Associate Editor of Heartbeats, a website that features racialized artists and stories. Her first novel, She of the Mountains, was named one of …

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The Chat: Trevor Corkum Interviews Carmen Aguirre

Carmen Aguirre 2015_credit_ Alejandra Aguirre

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This week on The Chat, I’m in conversation with Vancouver writer and theatre artist Carmen Aguirre. Her powerful second memoir, Mexican Hooker #1, explores the many links between personal trauma, healing, and her life as an artist and activist. A follow-up to her Canada Reads winning bestseller, Something Fierce: Memoirs of a Revolutionary Daughter, her new work mines the psychological, physical, and creative fallout of a brutal sexual assault committed against Aguirre when she was just 13 years old.  

The Globe and Mail called the memoir “a powerful victory for survivors of abuse" while writer Alison Wearing says the book “roars with a kind of courage one rarely witnesses in this world. It is a harrowing read, horrific yet unexpectedly—almost impossibly—tender.”

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THE CHAT WITH CARMEN AGUIRRE

Trevor Corkum: How was Mexican Hooker #1 born? When did you realize that it would become a book?

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The Chat: Trevor Corkum Interviews Jael Ealey Richardson

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jael-credit-trayc-dudgeon

It's back to school this month, so on this week’s Chat, we’re talking children’s literature. I’m pleased to be in conversation with Jael Ealey Richardson, who co-wrote The Stone Thrower with illustrator Matt James. The book recounts the story of her father, renowned CFL quarterback Chuck Ealey, and the meteoric rise of his football career against a backdrop of racism and inequity.

CanLit for Little Canadians called The Stone Thrower “a story of grit, visual and inspirational, in its truest form while Quill & Quire said the book is " ... an inspirational true-life tale that will resonate with dreamers big and small."

Author photo credit: Trayc Dudgeon

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THE CHAT WITH JAEL EALEY RICHARDSON

Trevor Corkum: The Stone Thrower is an adaptation of a memoir you wrote about your father called The Stone Thrower: A Daughter’s Lesson, a Fat …

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