Off the Page

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

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Book Cover Dear Current Occupant

8 Books that Need to Be in Every Classroom in Canada

By [Kerry Clare]

A recommended reading list by Chelene Knight. 

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The Chat with Daniel Griffin

The Chat with Daniel Griffin

By [Trevor Corkum]

Daniel Griffin’s debut novel, Two Roads Home, reimagines a particular point in Canadian history—the famous War in th …

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Book Cover Canadian History in Poems

5 Singular Summer Reads

By [Kerry Clare]

Postage stamps, old fashioned letters, enchanted owls, busy bees, and history by poetry— books that aren't like the ot …

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The Recommend: Summer 2018

The Recommend: Summer 2018

By [Kiley Turner]

This week we're pleased to present the picks of Ian Hamilton (The Imam of Tawi-Wawi), Sam Wiebe (Cut You Down), Dave But …

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Book Cover Lady Franklin of Russell Square

Most Anticipated: Our 2018 Fall Fiction Preview

By [Kerry Clare]

Summer's just heating up, but we're jumping ahead to the fall publishing season anyway. We can't help it: the books are …

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Book Cover When the Flood Falls

If You're Going to Read Just ONE Book This Summer....You Will Be Making a Terrible Mistake

By [Kerry Clare]

18 perfect reads for wherever you're getting your summer on.

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The Chat with Joshua Whitehead

The Chat with Joshua Whitehead

By [Trevor Corkum]

Joshua Whitehead’s first novel packs a gorgeous punch ... It’s a stirring and bold debut, one which Alicia Elliott, …

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Book Cover The Showrunner

Kim Moritsugu: Women Killing it

By [Kerry Clare]

The author of riveting new novel The Showrunner on titles in which women authors are "killing it," literally and otherwi …

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Shelf Talkers: Canada Day 2018 Edition!

Shelf Talkers: Canada Day 2018 Edition!

By [Rob Wiersema]

Dear Canada, it's your birthday! So, here you go: an overfull basket of books to see you through the summer, including s …

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Book Cover the Life Lucy Knew

Karma Brown: Lost and Found

By [Kerry Clare]

What you might not know about bestselling author Karma Brown is that she's as talented a reader as she is an writer, and …

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Penguin author Peggy Blair on rejection, persistence, and how Ian Rankin changed her life.

The Beggar's Opera by Peggy Blair (Penguin).

Peggy Blair was a lawyer for more than thirty years. A recognized expert in Aboriginal law, she also worked as a criminal defence lawyer and Crown prosecutor. Blair spent a Christmas in Old Havana, where she watched the bored young policemen on street corners along the Malecón, visited Hemingway’s favourite bars, and learned to make a perfect mojito. A former member of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal, Peggy is named in Canadian Who's Who. She currently lives in Ottawa where she works in real estate. Visit her online at www.peggyblair.com.

About The Beggar's Opera: In beautiful, crumbling Old Havana, Canadian detective Mike Ellis hopes the sun and sand will help save his troubled marriage. He doesn’t yet know that it’s dead in the water—much like the little Cuban boy last seen begging the Canadian couple for a few pesos on the world famous Malecon. For Inspector Ricardo Ramirez, head of the Major Crimes Unit of the Cuban National Revolutionary Police, finding his prime suspect isn’t a problem—Cuban law is. He has only seventy-two hours to secure an indictment and prevent a vicious killer from leaving the island. But Ramirez has his own troubles to worry about. He’s dying of the same dementia that killed his grandmother, an incurable disease that mak …

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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. Mistry tell …

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Vivek Shraya on the online self-promo that makes for a successful offline author road tour.

Authors have always been expected to self-promote to some degree, but occasionally an author — or, in this case, two authors — comes along who seems almost born for the task at hand.

Vivek Shraya has just finished a road tour with Farzana Doctorinterviewed here this past summer. The "God Loves Pavement" tour, a mash up of the titles of the books they were promoting, Vivek's God Loves Hair and Doctor's Six Degrees of Pavement, spanned seven cities in Canada and the U.S.

 

Shraya and Doctor also started an entertaining tour Tumblr where they posted regular updates, images, event details and a series of delightful short videos called "Brown Moments." (More on that below.) On one level, the blog functions as it should, to keep readers informed of their whereabouts and as a charming memoir of their time together. But it's also a helpful tutorial for other authors seeking a case study on what it means to report from the road, engage an audience and which tools work best.

Julie Wilson: How did you and Farzana decide that it would be feasible (and survivable) to road tour together?

Vivek Shraya: Farzana and I were both invited to do a reading at London Pride last summer that involved a five hour drive. Farzana offered to do the driving on one condition: I was to entertain her with my entire life story. I clearly wasn’t able to satiate her desire, as shortly after that reading, she approached me with the idea for the tour.

Touring together was a bit of a no-brainer because we ar …

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Indigenous Peoples and the Military: From the War of 1812 to the First World War by Dr. Timothy C. Winegard

Book Cover For King and Kanata

I recently released two books exploring the involvement of Indigenous peoples of the British Empire during the First World War.  For King and Kanata: Canadian Indians and the First World War was published by University of Manitoba Press, and Indigenous Peoples of the British Dominions and the First World War by Cambridge University Press.

Book Cover Indiginous Peoples and the First World War

Since the 1990s, greater attention has been afforded by authors and academics to the military role, and importance, played by Canada’s Indigenous peoples during the colonial wars of North America, to the War of 1812, to the world wars of the twentieth century.  As such, this literary genre has undergone a much needed reinterpretation. The following reading list, comprised of seven diverse selections, is not itemized in order of merit or preference; rather, it is loosely chronological in context and scope. I have tried, as much as possible, to select works from across the historical timeframe, to provide for a variety of situational periods and important historical occurrences.

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Seen Reading's Julie Wilson on How to Become a Literary Voyeur

Seen Reading by Julie Wilson (Freehand Books/HarperCollins Canada).

I’m a literary voyeur. Like the wanderer who steps off the predictable path, I set out most days in the hope that I’ll encounter a new way of seeing the spaces in which I live. I’m also a collector. Years ago, I began to collect sightings of readers, because I thought I might gain awareness of how our urban lives are mapped out in the books we choose to read in public, particularly on transit. Many people, for instance, read on transit to place a wall between themselves and fellow passengers; others don’t know how to be alone in a crowd. For the rest of us, that commute is the only time we get to retreat into an extended private conversation with ourselves as we dive into another’s world.

A question began to persist: If I’m a voyeur, are you, the reader, an exhibitionist? How do readers perform the private act of reading within the public realm, their preference for the written word on full display. The book becomes an invitation to look closer. And, just think, you have no idea what emotions may floor you from one sentence to the next, and when they do, I’m there, watching. I began to imagine who each reader might be, and how the text they read would ultimately impact the spaces in which they live.

The reader sighting that started it all was at The Old …

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