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

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Book Cover Deep Underwater

Picture Books are for Everyone: A Holiday List

By [Kerry Clare]

Not just for kids anymore. Readers of all ages will appreciate this selection of some of the most wonderful picture book …

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Book Cover Out of Old Ontario Kitchens

Books for the Holidays

By [Kerry Clare]

Cookbooks, art books, books on gardening, and flowers: gorgeous books make great gifts. 

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The Chat with Alex Leslie

The Chat with Alex Leslie

By [Trevor Corkum]

We All Need to Eat is a spectacular collection, full of powerful stories that centre around Soma, a queer woman on the W …

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The Chat with Governor General's Award Winner Jillian Tamaki

The Chat with Governor General's Award Winner Jillian Tamaki

By [Trevor Corkum]

Jillian Tamaki is the winner of this year’s English-language Governor General’s Award for Literature for Young Peopl …

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Book Cover Homes

2018 Books of the Year: Nonfiction

By [Kerry Clare]

Stories from home and abroad, books about the past, the present, and the future, and something for every kind of reader …

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Book Cover Owls are Good at Keeping Secrets

From A to Zed: Sara O'Leary on Canadian Alphabet Books

By [Kerry Clare]

A recommended reading list by author of new book, Owls are Good At Keeping Secrets

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Book Cover In Search of the Perfect Singing Flamingo

2018 Books of the Year: Fiction

By [Kerry Clare]

"It is no exaggeration to state that 2018 was an outstanding year in Canadian books..." 

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The Chat with Phyllis Aronoff and Howard Scott

The Chat with Phyllis Aronoff and Howard Scott

By [Trevor Corkum]

The 2018 Governor General’s Award for Translation was awarded to the team of Phyllis Aronoff and Howard Scott for Desc …

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The Chat with Governor General's Award Winner Darrel J. McLeod

The Chat with Governor General's Award Winner Darrel J. McLeod

By [Trevor Corkum]

Today we're pleased to share this interview with Darrel J. McLeod, who won this year’s Governor General’s Award for …

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The Chat with Governor General's Award Winner Jonathan Auxier

The Chat with Governor General's Award Winner Jonathan Auxier

By [Trevor Corkum]

Ever wonder about the life of a young Victorian chimney sweep? Jonathan Auxier is winner of this year’s Governor Gener …

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From A to Zed: Sara O'Leary on Canadian Alphabet Books

Owls Are Good at Keeping Secrets is the latest release by Sara O'Leary, illustrated by Jacob Grant, and it's going to find its way into many households this holiday season, because it's just purely delightful. A window onto the secret inner lives of our animal friends, secrets you always suspected, and which make perfect sense—of course dragons cry at happy endings, and meerkats love a parade. In this list, O'Leary shares some of her other favourite Canadian abecedaries in all their amazing varieties. 

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I’ve always loved alphabet books and now I seem to have accidentally written one. My initial reason for writing Owls Are Good at Keeping Secrets is contained in its title, which was a line cut from the final draft of my book This is Sadie. I was so determined to find a place for my secretive owls that I built a whole compendium of animals around the idea, from homebody iguanas to foxes who love the camera as much as it loves them. And as I thought of more and more animals, it made sense at a certain point for my little fanciful bestiary to also become an abecedary. 

When my firstborn was small, we were careful to teach him a Canadian alphabet. We stuck to the tried-and-true tune, but the song’s closing refrain was our own: “Now you know your A to Zed. Keep …

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2018 Books of the Year: Fiction

While the reading never stops here at 49th Shelf, and our adherence to the calendar year is kind of loose, book-wise (because we do love a good reread, not to mention a good delve into an author's backlist), the final weeks of the annum and the lists that emerge during this time are also an excellent excuse to take stock of some beloved literary moments. It is no exaggeration to state that 2018 was an outstanding year in Canadian books, and we'll be celebrating some of our favourites over the coming weeks, beginning here with fiction and a list of some remarkable books that we featured this year.  

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The Boat People, by Sharon Bala

"A book about so many interconnecting themes requires a tremendous amount of research. I learned so much about Canada’s history, about the different waves of people who washed up on our shores, about refugee law, the Sri Lankan civil war, the Japanese internment, war-time propaganda, Alzheimer's, and PTSD…even menopause. But after the textbook research was through, once I had watched the documentaries, listened to interviews, and read research papers, then I turned with relief to literature. ”

Read Sharon Bala’s list of titles that her book seemed to be in conversation with.

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The Chat with Phyllis Aronoff and Howard Scott

HowardScott_1

The 2018 Governor General’s Award for Translation was awarded to the team of Phyllis Aronoff and Howard Scott for Descent into Night (Mawenzi House), their translation of Edem Awumey’s haunting novel Explication de la nuit.

PhyllisAronoff_1

The jury assessment committee says "Descent into Night, translated by Phyllis Aronoff and Howard Scott, is a beautifully assured rendering of a text offering many translation challenges. The translators agilely follow the text as it shifts between an ailing Quebec writer’s regrets about his life, and his long-ago involvement in a failed West African revolution, which haunts him into the present. This translation skillfully captures the lyricism of the French text."

Phyllis Aronoff translates fiction, non-fiction and poetry, solo or with co-translator Howard Scott. Her most recent solo translations include Black Thursday, a memoir by French journalist Maurice Rajsfus, and Message Sticks, poems by the Innu writer Joséphine Bacon. The Wanderer, her translation of La Québécoite, by Régine Robin, received a Jewish Literary Award. …

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The Chat with Governor General's Award Winner Darrel J. McLeod

DarrelMcleod

Today we're pleased to share this interview with Darrel J. McLeod, who won this year’s Governor General’s Award for Nonfiction for his memoir Masmaskatch: A Cree Coming of Age (Douglas & McIntyre).

The peer assessment committee says "Mamaskatch: A Cree Coming of Age dares to immerse readers in provocative contemporary issues including gender fluidity, familial violence, and transcultural hybridity. A fast-moving, intimate memoir of dreams and nightmares—lyrical and gritty, raw and vulnerable, told without pity, but with phoenix-like strength.”

Darrel J. McLeod is Cree from Treaty 8 territory in Northern Alberta. Before pursuing a writing career, he was a chief negotiator of land claims for the federal government and executive director of education and international affairs with the Assembly of First Nations. He holds degrees in French literature and Education from the University of British Columbia. Darrel has written a sequel to Mamaskatch, which has the working title Peyakow, and is currently writing his first novel. Darrel lives, writes, sings, and plays jazz guitar in Sooke B.C. He is fluent in French and Spanish.

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THE CHAT WITH DARREL J. MCLEOD

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The Chat with Governor General's Award Winner Jonathan Auxier

Auxier photo by Libby Hilf

Ever wonder about the life of a young Victorian chimney sweep? Jonathan Auxier is winner of this year’s Governor General’s Award for Literature for Young People (Text), for his enchanting novel Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster.

The peer assessment committee says “A tender story of what makes us human, Sweep doesn’t shy away from the risks of love and monstrousness of indifference. With an impeccable narrative, Sweep shows how love can breathe life into darkness and how hope can spark change. Auxier weaves a multi-layered masterpiece with endearing characters and gut-wrenching twists that are certain to instill readers with a sense of wonder and discovery for the miracle of storytelling."

Jonathan Auxier writes strange stories for strange children. His debut novel, Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes was a Manitoba Young Readers' Choice Award Honour Book, and was also shortlisted for both the Monica Hughes Award for Science Fiction and Fantasy, and the Diamond Willow Award. His New York Times Best Seller The Night Gardener was a finalist for a Governor General's Literary Award, as well as winner of the Silver Birch Award, Monica Hughes Award, the TD Bank Children’s Literature Award, and the Canadian Library Association’s Book of the Year Award. H …

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