Off the Page

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

Latest Blog Posts
Book Cover After Elias

Launchpad: AFTER ELIAS, by Eddy Boudel Tan

By Kerry Clare

"After Elias gifts the reader with gorgeous, economic prose and the pace of a thriller. I couldn't put it down." —Nata …

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Giller Prize 2020 Special: The Chat with David Bergen

Giller Prize 2020 Special: The Chat with David Bergen

By Trevor Corkum

We’re thrilled to begin this year’s special Scotiabank Giller Prize coverage in conversation with David Bergen. Davi …

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Book Review: The Boy Who Moved Christmas by Eric Walters & Nicole Wellwood

Book Review: The Boy Who Moved Christmas by Eric Walters & Nicole Wellwood

By Geoffrey Ruggero

The Boy Who Moved Christmas is a beautiful story of a community coming together to grant the wish of a young boy battlin …

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Book Cover Daughter of Black Lake

Be Transported with Historical Fiction

By Cathy Marie Buchanan

A recommended reading list by Cathy Marie Buchanan, whose new novel is Daughter of Black Lake.

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Book Cover How to Lose Everything

Launchpad: HOW TO LOSE EVERYTHING, by Christa Couture

By Kerry Clare

"This might be the wisest, most delightful sad story that you've ever read in your life."

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The Chat with Jack Wang

The Chat with Jack Wang

By Trevor Corkum

This week on The Chat we’re speaking with writer Jack Wang, whose debut short story collection, We Two Alone, was rece …

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Book Cover Always Brave Sometimes Kind

Alberta, Today

By Katie Bickell

18 novels that pay homage to the contemporary stories, landmarks, events, people, and communities associated with the la …

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Your Favourite Indie Booksellers, All in One Place

Your Favourite Indie Booksellers, All in One Place

By Kiley Turner

Throughout October and November, we're going to highlight indie bookstore picks on the blog and link back every time to …

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Book Cover Happy Hour

Launchpad: HAPPY HOUR, by Marlowe Granados

By Kerry Clare

"Funny and complex, Happy Hour is not just a coming-of-age romp, but a loving exploration of young womanhood, of the way …

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Book Cover Sniper Fire

Notes from a Children's Librarian: The "I Am Canadian" Series

By Julie Booker

"These first-person narratives are so compelling that a reader doesn’t even notice that they’re actually learning hi …

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Calling All Readers: Where Are Canada’s Literary Landmarks?

tagged : book news

We had the pleasure of attending a great Ottawa literary event in October: the unveiling of the Project Bookmark Canada plaque commemorating Elizabeth Hay’s Garbo Laughs. Hay read a scene from her book—alternating with a friend who read a beautiful French translation—in the exact spot it took place (Old Ottawa South by the Rideau Canal). The group of us who clustered by her to listen experienced the narrative in an entirely new way.

haysolo

Elizabeth Hay reading from Garbo Laughs at her Bookmark unveiling in Old Ottawa South

“Commemorating” is not exactly the right word, in fact, summoning as it does notions of the past and the finished. While Project Bookmark Canada celebrates writers’ works and offers them an enduring place in the landscape, it is very much a present sort of thing. As the website explains:

“Project Bookmark Canada [brings] written narratives beyond the page and into our physical spaces. Through a series of permanent markers bearing a fragment of text, Project Bookmark Canada reveals where our real and imagined landscapes merge, allowing the writers’ words, images and characters to stir us (residents and visitors, pilgrims or passersby) in the very locations where the stories take place.”

So far these are the writers and places honoured b …

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Canada Reads Top 40 List and Literary Memory

The list is out, the list is out … and there are some awesome books on it. Are there critics of the process—upset about the perils of crowdsourcing and the myriad ways of introducing bias into the list? Of course, and many are completely justified. But any list-making exercise invites criticism, simply because no human-based selection process is going to be impartial.

In fact, we performed a highly complex mathematical analysis on the list to test out a hypothesis about a certain slant we thought we’d find: that of time, of recency to be exact. The list criteria stipulated books from the past decade. So we counted the number of books published before and after 2005 (it was arduous).

Findings: Two-thirds of the books on Canada Reads Top 40 Essential Canadian Novels of the Past Decade were published after 2005.

Conclusion: Readers are substantially more likely to vote for books they have just read than books they read a while ago.

Comments: No huge surprise. However, it does underline how short our literary memories are, and that there are probably a few more “essential” books from 2000 to 2005 that would have made it onto the list were this not the case.

Our little analysis made us think about what ways there might be to cast a stronger light on older—but just as brilliant—books written further back in time. One Twitter commentator exclaimed, “They should do a Canada Reads for every decade going back to Confederation. Bring on the pioneer diaries!” (via @la_pan …

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Giller Shortlist Shines a Light on Smaller Publishers

From left to right: David Bergen, Alexander MacLeod, Sarah Selecky, Johanna Skibsrud, Kathleen Winter.

The Scotiabank Giller Award shortlist came out yesterday, and as happens every year, a megawatt media spotlight appeared immediately to catapult the finalists into the reading public’s consciousness. The finalists are:

The Giller effect is always thrilling, but there’s a heightened sense of surprise and discovery this year since the four of the five shortlisted books hail from smaller presses. Two are debut story collections (Light Lifting and This Cake is for the Party) and two more (The Sentimentalists and Annabel) are first novels.

Smaller presses are incredibly important to our literary culture in large part because of the role they play in finding new literary talent and helping emerging authors find an audience. We’ve included links to the Giller authors’ presses …

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