Most Anticipated: Our Spring 2017 Non-Fiction Preview

History, memoir, cookbooks, essays on food culture, politics, plus books on birds, baseball, royal babies and bike rides. And that's just some of what's on offer by CanLit for non-fiction during the first half of 2017. Read on! 

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Celebrated restauranteur Jenn Agg tells her story of life in the restaurant industry in I Hear She’s a Real Bitch (April). In Michelle Alfano’s intimate memoir, The Unfinished Dollhouse (May), Alfano recounts her experience as the mother of a transgender child. Marianne Apostolides' memoir about abortion, Deep Salt Water (March), includes a series of collages by visual artist Catherine Mellinger. In My Decade at Old Sun, My Lifetime of Hell (out now), Arthur Bear Chief depicts the punishment, cruelty, and injustice that he endured as a residential school student and then later relived in the traumatic process of retelling his story in connection with a complicated claims procedure. And You Can Have a Dog When I’m Dead (February), by Hamilton Spectator columnist Paul Benedetti, puts on a humorous spin in the realities of modern family life. 

Journalist Diana Bishop writes about growing up in the shadow of her famous grandfather, WW1 Flying Ace Billy Bishop, in Living Up to a Legend (February). In Swingback (March), Mike Blanchfield traces Canada’s birth as a global actor since the end of the Second World War. Victoria’s Poet Laureate Yvonne Blomer’s memoir, Sugar Ride: Cycling from Hanoi to Kuala Lampur (May) is part love story, part cycling adventure, and part dance with the body's strengths and weaknesses. And in The Perils of Privilege (March), Phoebe Maltz Bovy examines the rise of preoccupation with “privilege” and considers whether privilege may be a concept that, in fact, only privileged people are debating.

John Boyko makes the case for a strong federal government in Canada with Sir John’s Echo: Speaking for Canada (April). J. Patrick Boyer’s new book is a timely one, Forcing Choice: The Risky Reward of Referendums (June), about what happens when important choices are decided by the people themselves. In a book drawn largely from his columns and blog of the same name, Brian Busby’s The Dusty Bookcase (July) explores the fascinating world of Canada’s lesser-known literary efforts. Bestselling award-winning writer Sharon Butala shares her story of loss, grieving, and healing in Where I Live Now (April), a memoir about the many homes a woman has to build for herself in a lifetime. 

Jonah Campbell follows up Food and Trembling with Eaten Back to Life (June), a series of essays about eating, drinking, indulging, and the culture and philosophy of food. Turning Parliament Inside Out: Practical Ideas for Reforming Canada’s Democracy (May), edited by Michael Chong, Scott Simms, and Kennedy Stewart, is a collaborative roadmap by MPs of all of Canada’s major political parties. Daniel Coleman reflects on the nature of place in Yardwork (April). Kerri Cull respectfully reveals the people who make up the surprisingly diverse sex industry in St. John’s, Newfoundland in Call Me Jezebel (March). Sarah de Leeuw, who won the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize in 2012, releases Where It Hurts (April), a collection of personal essays haunted by loss, evoking turbulent physical and emotional Canadian landscapes.

Fifteen years in the making, Hostage (May) is a landmark work for Guy Delisle: a riveting non-fiction book drawn from the real-life experiences of Christophe Andre, a kidnapped Doctors Without Borders employee. Part family memoir, part poetry, part love letter to Newfoundland and its people, The Bosun Chair (April), by Jennifer Bowering Delisle, is a lyrical exploration of how we are fortified by the places of our foremothers and forefathers and by how they endured. Elaine Dewar stirs up controversy in her latest title, The Handover (March), a book that tells the full story of how Canada’s premier national publisher was sold for a dollar. And Glenn Dixon gets to the heart of heartbreak and one of Shakespeare's most famous plays on a curious endeavour involving answering letters sent to Verona addressed to "Juliet" in Juliet's Answer (January). 

Christopher Dummitt’s Unbuttoned (May) explores the weird and wacky secret life of Mackenzie King, tracing the transformation of the public’s knowledge and opinion of King’s character, offering a compelling look at the changing way Canadians saw themselves and measured the importance of their leaders’ personal lives. The story Ian Dyck tells in The Life and Work of W. B. Nickerson (out now) spans the transition of North American archaeology from museums and historical societies to universities. In Mad Blood Stirring (February), Daemon Fairless explores the inner lives of violent men. The Summer Book (June), edited by Mona Fertig, collects 24 works of creative non-fiction by BC writers that focus on the joys of summer. Novelist and sports writer Stacey May Fowles shares her enthusiasm for baseball and explains why it matters in Baseball Life Advice: Loving the Game That Saved Me (April). And critic Alex Good presents a collection of essays on the Canadian novel in Revolutions (January).

Look Who’s Watching: Surveillance, Treachery and Trust Online, by Fen Osler Hampson and Eric Jardine, confirms in vivid detail that the trust placed by users in the Internet is increasingly misplaced. So many royal babies! Historian Carolyn Harris tells the story of 1000 years of royal parenting in Raising Royalty (April). Governor General’s Award-winner Michael Harris explores the profound emotional and intellectual benefits of solitude in Solitude: A Singular Life in a  Crowded World (April). In The Emperor’s Orphans (April), Sally Ito explores her own family history, which includes the forced “repatriation” of Japanese-Canadians to Japan during the Second World War. And Steph Jagger’s Unbound (January) is an epic story of one woman’s triumph of the spirit in the tradition of Wild and Eat Pray Love.

In Missing the Tide: Global Governments in Retreat (June), Donald J. Johnston sifts through the economic, social, and environmental wreckage of the past twenty years, reflecting on the failures and frustrations of international public policy. With In the Black (March) B. Denham Jolly chronicles not only his own journey as a Black Canadian facing systemic discrimination; he tells the story of a generation of activists who worked to reshape the country into a more open and just society. William Kaplan explains how public protests, individual dissenters, judges, and juries can change the world in Why Dissent Matters (June). And in his latest book, Fail Better: Why Baseball Matters (April), Mark Kingwell explores ways in which the game teaches us lessons on fragility, contingency, and community.

All the Sweet Things (April) includes more than 100 recipes for desserts and baked goods from the kitchen of Renée Kohlman, named one of the Canada's top food bloggers by the National Post. In One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter, Scaachi Koul shares her observations, fears and experiences as a woman of colour growing up in Canada. Bestselling author Amanda Lang follows up The Power of Why with The Beauty of Discomfort (April), about the importance of embracing discomfort as a tool of success. Jen Sookfong Lee examines the '90s cult of the alternative and My Own Private Idaho in Gentlemen of the Shade (June), from ECW’s Pop Classics series. And in Birds Art Life (January), celebrated writer Kyo Maclear celebrates the magic of chasing birds in a big city. 

One Last Cast (April) is a collection of stories about author and outdoor enthusiast Bruce Masterman's experiences in wild places and with wild critters. Humanitarian doctor and activist James Maskalyk, author of the acclaimed Six Months in Sudan, draws upon his experience treating patients in the world’s emergency rooms in Life on the Ground Floor (March). Wherever I Find Myself (February), edited by Miriam Matejova, is an anthology of Canadian immigrant women and their experiences of being caught between the worlds of their past and their future. And drawing on new perspectives from war studies, literary studies, historical studies, gender studies, and visual art, L.M. Montgomery and War (May), edited by Andrea McKenzie and Jane Ledwell, explores new ways to consider the iconic Canadian writer and her work.

What The Mouth Wants (February), by Monica Meneghetti, is a redefinition of family values as seen from the eyes of a polyamorous, queer Italian Canadian obsessed with food. Shawn Micallef shares his remarkable view of the city in Frontier City: Toronto On the Verge of Greatness (April). John S. Milloy's A National Crime: The Canadian Government and the Residential School System (March), providing a full history of the history and reality of residential schools in Canada, is released in a new edition with a foreword by Mary Jane Logan McCallum, who situates the book in terms of Indigenous historiography and her own family history. In his narrative history and memoir A Distorted Revolution: How Eric’s Trip Changed Music, Moncton, and Me (May), journalist, musician, and Monctonian Jason Murray follows the rise of the band that put the Maritimes on the map. Award-winning cartoonist Joe Ollman depicts the daring and destructive life of the man who popularized the word “zombie” in The Abominable Mr. Seabrook (January). And celebrated journalist and novelist Katrina Onstad delves into the cultural anthropology of the weekend (and fights the ethos of overwork) in The Weekend Effect (April).

Superstar Kelly Oxford’s new book is When You Find Out the World’s Against You (April), a collection of essays about immaturity and parenthood. In Out Standing in the Field (April), Sandra Perron, Canada’s first female infantry officer and a member of the Royal 22nd Regiment, describes her fight against a system of institutional sexism. Cea Sunrise Person follows up the bestselling North of Normal with Nearly Normal (January), in which the author shares stories she left untold and draws connections between her early life and her later mistakes. And M. NourbeSe Philip’s Blank (June) is a collection of previously out-of-print essays and new works that explore questions of race, the body politic, timeliness, recurrence, ongoingness, art, and the so-called multicultural nation. 

In her memoir, A Quiet Roar (March), Heidi Redl describes living tenaciously in the face of Multiple Sclerosis. Donner Prize-winner Donald J. Savoie explores economic instability in the Maritimes in Looking for Bootstraps (June). Alvin Cramer Segal recounts his career in Canada’s apparel industry in My Peerless Story (June). In The Barefoot Bingo Caller (May), Antanas Sileika finds what’s funny and touching in the most unlikely places, from the bingo hall to the collapsing Soviet Union. E-reader in one hand, perfect-bound book in the other, Merilyn Simonds—author, literary maven, and early adopter—asks herself: what is lost and what is gained as paper turns to pixel in her latest, Gutenberg’s Fingerprint (April). 

Youtube sensation Lilly Singh’s guide to conquering life is How to Be a Bawse (March). Dale Smith makes the case that politics isn’t broken, but that we just don’t understand it in The Unbroken Machine: Canadian Politics in Action (March). David Suzuki and Ian Hanington come up with a post-Paris Agreement game-plan with Just Cool It (April), a wake-up call about the urgency of the climate crisis that offers a range of practical solutions—and above all, hope. In Two Years Below the Horn (April), engineer Andrew Taylor recounts his experiences and accomplishments during Operation Tabarin, a landmark British expedition to Antarctica to establish sovereignty and conduct science during the Second World War. And bestselling novelist Patrick Taylor brings forth ten new short stories along with 150 Irish recipes in An Irish Country Cookbook (February).

In Pantry and Palate (May), journalist Simon Thibault explores his Acadian roots by scouring old family recipes, ladies’ auxiliary cookbooks, and folk wisdom for 50 of the best-loved recipes of Acadians past and present. Bird-Bent Grass, a Memoir, in Pieces (July), by Kathleen Venema, chronicles an extraordinary mother-daughter relationship spanning distance, time and through debilitating illness. JC Villamere’s Is Canada Even Real? (May) is a quirky ode to Canada at its weirdest. In her memoir What Remains: Object Lessons in Love and Loss (April), Karen Von Hahn writes about her mother and her love of beautiful things. And David Waltner-Toews explores our conflicted relationship with insects in Eat the Beetles (May).

January 23, 2017
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