Off the Page

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

Latest Blog Posts
The Chat with GGs Literature Award Winner Michelle Good

The Chat with GGs 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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The Chat Special Coverage: Griffin Poetry Prize Roundtable 2021

The Chat Special Coverage: Griffin Poetry Prize Roundtable 2021

By Trevor Corkum

We’re so pleased to be partnering once again with our friends at the Griffin Poetry Prize to profile this year’s thr …

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Book Cover Run Riot

Poetry Feels Like Memory to Me

By Ash Winters

"Something of the intensity of feeling, sparseness of narrative and intricacy of images in poetry feels like memory itse …

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Book Cover Lost Immunity

Tackling the Big Themes

By Daniel Kalla

"I am drawn to fiction writers who highlight vital social and scientific themes through their novels. And fortunately, t …

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Book Cover The List of Last Chances

On the Road Again: Literary Road Trips

By Christina Myers

"I’m still fascinated by the possibilities that road trips present and perpetually curious about the unique and divers …

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Book Cover Maggie's Chopsticks

Note From a Children's Librarian: Stories for Asian Heritage Month

By Julie Booker

Great picture books celebrating Asian heritage.

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Shree Ghatage on Thirst, Desire, and Arranged Marriages

Thirst, by Shree Ghatage (Doubleday Canada).

Set in mid-century India and England against the backdrop of WWII, Thirst, by Shree Ghatage (Doubleday), tells the story of unexpected love born out of an arranged marriage between Vasanti and Baba and how their worlds fall apart after Baba decides to study abroad in London.

49th Shelf talks with Shree Ghatage about desire—"the lynchpin that separates humans from animals"—and her story of a passionate marriage, arranged then torn apart.

Julie Wilson: Thirst is set in India and London, in the early 40s, against the backdrop of World War II. What drew you to this time period?

Shree Ghatage: Thirst is the second novel in a trilogy that began with Brahma’s Dream. There were two characters in Brahma’s Dream—Vasanti and her husband, Baba—who stayed with me even after I had finished working on the book. So when I began to write the first draft of Thirst, the character of Baba, almost unbidden, came foremost to mind, and I was quickly drawn into developing an account of his life. The fact that my first novel was set against the backdrop of India’s 1940’s independence movement meant that Baba’s story would also play out during that era. As it happens, England in World War II became a prolific setting and time period in which to explore the nuances of memory …

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11 Books that Write the World

Books can take you places, and sometimes those places aren't even metaphorical. Travel to Spain, New Mexico, Mozambique, Vietnam, Italy, India, Goa, Israel, Lebanon, Lithuania, and Nepal through the pages of these remarkable works of fiction. 

*****

Proof I Was Here, by Becky Blake

About the book: What's the point of trying to leave a mark when everything disappears? This question is at the heart of Proof I Was Here, a novel that tells the picaresque coming-of-age story of a young thief and aspiring artist who attempts to reboot her life on the streets of Barcelona after an unexpected breakup. Hailing from Toronto, where she has criminal charges waiting, Niki is outside of Canada for the first time. The pickpockets, squatters and graffiti artists she meets challenge her to reassess her ideas about luck and art. With the help of a passionate Catalan separatist who dreams of building a new country from the ground up, Niki realizes that starting her life over from scratch could be an opportunity—if she can just find a way to clear her name.

Why we're taking notice: This is Barcelona like you've never seen it in a tourist guidebook. In her debut novel, Blake paints a rich and colourful view of the city.  

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Launchpad: Keepers of the Faith, by Shaukat Ajmeri

Launchpad Logo

This spring we've made it our mission (even more than usual) to celebrate new releases in the wake of cancelled launch parties, book festivals, and reading series. With 49th Shelf Launchpad, we're holding virtual launch parties here on our platform complete with witty banter, great insight, and short and snappy readings to give you a taste of the books on offer. You can request these books from your local library, get them as e-books or audio books, order them from your local indie bookseller if they're delivering, buy them direct from the publisher or from online retailers.

Today we're launching Keepers of the Faith, by Shaukat Ajmeri, which Farzana Doctor calls, "complex, beautiful, and essential reading for our times."

*****

The Elevator Pitch. Tell us about your book in a sentence.

It’s a story of two young lovers caught in their community’s religious strife, are forced to separate and meet again years later to face soul-destroying moral dilemma.

Describe your ideal reader.

Loves a good tale written well, reads widely and diversely and has a healt …

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Launchpad: Grandmother School, by Rina Singh and Ellen Rooney

Launchpad Logo

This spring we've made it our mission (even more than usual) to celebrate new releases in the wake of cancelled launch parties, book festivals, and reading series. With 49th Shelf Launchpad, we're holding virtual launch parties here on our platform complete with witty banter and great insight to give you a taste of the books on offer. You can request these books from your local library, get them as e-books or audio books, order them from your local indie bookseller if they're delivering, buy them direct from the publisher or from online retailers.

Today we're launching Grandmother School, by Rina Singh and Ellen Rooney, which comes highly recommended from CM: Canadian Review of Materials. Their reviewer writes, "How great a treat it will be to read this book in a grandmother’s lap."

*****

Book Cover Grandmother School

The Elevator Pitch. Tell us about your book in a sentence:

Rina Singh and Ellen Rooney: It's a story about grandmothers in a village in India who go to school for the first time in their lives.

Describe your ideal reader.

Rina Singh: A six or a seven year old who will …

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