Most Anticipated: Our Spring 2019 Nonfiction Preview

Our 2019 Spring Preview continues with nonfiction, featuring books on infertility and parenting, trans experience, island life, creativity, grief and art, nature, Chinese restaurants, menstruation, microbes, poetry and cod. And (obviously!) so much more. 

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Through Not Around (January), edited by Allison McDonald Ace, Ariel Ng Bourbonnais, and Caroline Starr, offers personal stories about what it's like to go through the emotional and physical facets of infertility, miscarriage, and pregnancy loss. Constance Backhouse tells the story of Canada’s first two female Supreme Court judges in Two Firsts: Bertha Wilson and Claire L'Heureux-Dubé at the Supreme Court of Canada (March). With seven kids between them and millions of fans on social media, Catherine Belknap and Nathalie Telfer get real about the parts of parenting that somehow don’t make the Instagram feed in Cat and Nat’s Mom Truths (April). Joan Boxall’s DrawBridge (May) is a sister’s discovery of the healing power of art as she searches for connection with her schizophrenic brother. And Most of What Follows Is True (February), by Michael Crummey, is an examination of the complex relationship between fact and fiction, between the “real world” and the stories we tell to explain the world to ourselves.

Radio personality Erin Davis shares her journey of grieving out loud after the sudden death of her daughter in Mourning Has Broken (February). Complicated Simplicity: Island Life in the Pacific Northwest (April), by Joy Davis, is a frank, practical, and entertaining exploration of the pleasures and complexities of living on small islands. Part memoir, part history, Being Chinese in Canada (February), by William Ging Wee Dere, explores systemic discrimination against the Chinese Canadian community and the effects of the redress movement. 

Mommy martyrdom is so passé. Daddy martyrdom, too. You can take time to care for yourself while you're busy raising a family, as Ann Douglas shows in her latest, Happy Parents, Happy Kids (February). 

Rebecca Eckler tells the uncomfortable truth behind blended families in Blissfully Blended Bullshit (May). The award-winning Alicia Elliott’s first book is A Mind Spread Out on the Ground (March), a personal and critical meditation on trauma, legacy, oppression, and racism in North America. Joshua M. Ferguson’s Me, Myself, They: A Non-Binary Life (May) is a powerful memoir that explains what it feels like to never truly fit into the prescribed roles of boy or girl, women or man. Thirty-six BC writers celebrate the beauty and importance of island archipelagos in Love of the Salish Sea Islands (May), which comprises new essays, memoir, and poetry edited by Mona Fertig. Discover the teeming world of microbes and the latest research on the role of the microbiome in the defence against cancer, heart disease, obesity and more in The Whole-Body Microbiome: How to Harness Microbes—Inside and Out—for Lifelong Health, by R. Brett Finlay and Jessica M. Finlay.

Celebrated textile artist Deanne Fitzpatrick’s Making a Life: Twenty-five Years of Hooking Rugs (May) is an ode to the joys of leading a creative life. They Called Me George (January), by Cecil Foster, chronicles the true stories of Black railway porters—the so-called “Pullmen” of the Canadian rail lines. Editors Stacey May Fowles and Jen Sookfong Lee, with contributions from acclaimed literary voices such as Alicia Elliott, Elisabeth de Mariaffi, Heather O’Neill, and Juliane Okot Bitek, explore some of the many different forms that survival can take in Whatever Gets You Through: Twelve Women on Life After Sexual Assault (April). In a candid memoir, Mayann Francis: An Honourable Life (May), Nova Scotia's first Black lieutenant-governor describes her journey from humble beginnings in Whitney Pier, the daughter of immigrants, to the vice-regal office.

From Matti Friedman, the award-winning and critically-acclaimed author of Pumpkinflowers, comes Spies of No Country (March), the never-before-told story of the mysterious “Arab Section”: the Jewish-“Arab” spies who, under deep cover in Beirut as refugees, helped the new State of Israel win the War of Independence. Before I Was a Critic I Was a Human Being (May), by Amy Fung, takes a closer examination at Canada’s mythologies of multiculturalism, settler colonialism, and identity through the lens of a national art critic. And Against Death (January), edited by Elee Kraljii Gardiner, is an anthology of creative nonfiction exploring the psychological shifts that occur when we prematurely or unexpectedly confront death. 

Part memoir, part cultural commentary, and a hybrid of besotted aesthetic appreciation and unsparing critique, Double Melancholy (April), by C.E. Gatchalian, is by turns a passionate love letter to art and an embattled examination of its oppressive complicity with the society that produces it, and the depths to which art both enriches and colonizes us. To the River: Losing My Brother (December) is an eloquent and haunting exploration of suicide in which Don Gillmor attempts to understand why his brother took his own life. Ariel Gordon’s Treed (May) walks us through the streets of Winnipeg and into the urban forest that is, to her, the city's heart. And Therese Greenwood’s experience and skill as a journalist and a mystery writer engages and maintains suspense in her stories from the Fort McMurray wildfire, What You Take With You (February), which helps make sense of a life-changing event that garnered interest throughout the world.

In We Have Always Been Here: A Queer Muslim Memoir (June), Samra Habib asks the question, “How do you find yourself when the world tells you that you don't exist?” After a 25-year break from boating, Brian Harvey circumnavigates Vancouver Island with his wife, his dog, and a box of documents that surfaced after his father’s death in Sea Trial: Sailing After My Father (May). Grant Hayter-Menzies’s latest biography is something a little different—Woo: The Monkey Who Inspired Emily Carr (March) approaches the subject from a contemporary perspective on bringing wild animals into captivity while remaining empathetic to the unique relationship between artist and monkey. And Gemma Hickey’s Almost Feral (June) chronicles a journey from one side of an island to the other side of personal identity—"charting an unknown territory where one’s body becomes the map that leads to home."

Part family memoir, part social history and part culinary narrative, Ann Hui’s Chop Suey Nation (February) explores the Chinese restaurants of small-town Canada. Legendary Toronto Blue Jays radio broadcaster Jerry Howarth brings together thoughts on life, family, work, and baseball in Hello Friends! (February). William H.H. Johnson (1839–1905) is the only classical slave narrative in the Black North American tradition published by a British Columbian, and Johnson's work is reprinted in The New Race: Selected Writings, 1901–1904 (May), with an afterword by Wayde Compton. And Quebec author Antane Kapesh’s two books from the late 1970s are among the foregrounding works by Indigenous women in Canada; the new English translation, I Am a Damn Savage/What Have You Done to My Country? (June), alongside the revised Innu text, makes them available for the first time to a broader readership. 

In The Time Has Come (January), White-Ribbon Campaign co-founder Michael Kaufman issues a stirring call for men to mobilize in the movement for gender equality. Framed by her own desire for a child, journalist Alexandra Kimball brilliantly reveals the pain and loneliness of infertility, especially as a lifelong feminist, in The Seed: How the Feminist Movement Fails Infertile Women (April). Offering a timely meditation on the profound effects of constant immersion in technology, also known as "the Interface," Mark Kingwell’s Wish I Were Here (April) draws on philosophical analysis of boredom and happiness to examine the pressing issues of screen addiction and the lure of online outrage. And New Ground: A Memoir of Art in the Kootenays (May) is the extraordinary memoir of Ann Kujundzic, a feminist, artist, and activist who fought for change no matter her circumstance. 

By examining the history of period shame and stigma and its effects on women’s health and wellness today, and providing a crash course in menstrual self-care, Heavy Flow (February), by Amanda Laird, aims to lift the veil on menstruation, change the narrative, and break the "curse" once and for all. When her marriage suddenly ends, and a diary documenting her beloved grandfather’s escape from Nazi-occupied Netherlands in the summer of 1942 is discovered, Naomi K. Lewis decides to retrace his journey to learn about her family history in Tiny Lights for Travellers (May). And in Mackenzie King in the Age of the Dictators (April) Roy MacLaren leads readers through the political labyrinth that led to Canada's involvement in the Second World War and its awakening as a forceful nation on the world stage. 

Every immigrant who comes to Canada has a story, and The Hope that Remains: The Canadian Survivors of the Rwandan Genocide, by Christine Magill, captures ten of those stories and the remarkable resiliency and fortitude of the human spirit. Jonathan Manthorpe’s Claws of the Panda (February) tells the story of Canada’s failure to construct a workable policy towards the People’s Republic of China. Lands of Lost Borders meets The Electric Woman in Dirty Work (May), Anna Maxymiw’s coming-of-age memoir about a young woman’s fierce, filthy, exhausting, and joyous experience working at a wilderness lodge. And through encounters with artists of all kinds, famous or obscure, Adrian McKerracher traces a socio-cultural history of the meaning of writing, each vignette a meditation on the way that metaphor limits and liberates understanding: creativity is a process, a possession, a relation, an algorithm, a game, and more in What It Means to Write (March). 

Suzanne Methot explores intergenerational trauma in Indigenous communities—and strategies for healing—with provocative prose and an empathetic approach in Legacy: Trauma, Story and Indigenous Healing (March). In History in the Age of Abundance? (April), Ian Milligan argues that web-based historical sources and their archives present extraordinary opportunities as well as daunting technical and ethical challenges for historians. See the world through a photographer’s eyes with Michael Mitchell’s Final Fire (May), a companion piece to his much-praised 2004 memoir, The Molly Fire, a finalist for both the Writers’ Trust Drainie-Taylor Biography Prize and the Governor General’s Award for Nonfiction. A investigative reporter traces the role of DNA evidence in two groundbreaking murder cases involving young girls killed two decades apart in the same town in Shayne Morrow’s The Bulldog and the Helix: DNA and the Pursuit of Justice in a Frontier Town (May). And David Moscrop asks why we make irrational political decisions and whether our stone-age brains can process democracy in the information age in Too Dumb for Democracy? (March).

Human trafficking survivor, author, speaker, and social advocate Timea Nagy tells her story in Out of the Shadows: A Stunning Story of One Woman’s Survival (April). Shane Neilson’s essays in Margin of Interest (March) showcase the rich history of poetry in the Canadian Maritimes, recognizing the drawbacks of regional frameworks while finding power and beauty in the literary traditions of writers who exist on the margins of Canadian poetry and culture. In On the Curve (March), author Janet Nicol weaves together stories from Sybil Andrews’ letters, diaries, and interviews from her former students and friends, creating a portrait of this determined, resilient, and gifted British-Canadian artist. And Brian Orend’s Seizure the Day (January) is a smart and accessible guide for people with illness, injury, or other challenges that provides both a satisfying look into happiness as well as practical steps for living a measurably happier life.

Including strategies to deal with allergy anxiety, the cookbook Everyone’s Welcome: The Art of Living and Eating Allergen Free (May), by Amanda Orlando, is an essential resource for friends and family of those living with severe allergies. Labrador Innu cultural and environmental activist Tshaukuesh Elizabeth Penashue records day-to-day experiences, court appearances, and interviews with reporters in Nitinikiau Innusi: I Keep the Land Alive (April). The New York Times’ Canadian Bureau Chief Catherine Porter’s A Girl Named Lovely (February) is an insightful and uplifting memoir about a young Haitian girl in post-earthquake Haiti, and the profound, life-changing effect she had on one journalist's life. Andrew Potter brings together analysis by policy makers and scholars in High Time (March) to provide an urgent and necessary overview of Canada's Cannabis Act.

Investigative writing meets experiential journalism in Andrew Reeves’ Overrun: Dispatches from the Asian Carp Crisis (April), a look at one of North America’s most voraciously invasive species. Kent Roach writes about the Gerald Stanley and Colten Boushie case in Canadian Justice, Indigenous Justice (February). Tear Gas Epiphanies (May), by Kristy Robertson, traces the as-yet-untold story of political action at museums in Canada from the early twentieth century to the present. And sportswriter Dan Robson’s Measuring Up (May) is a memoir of fathers and sons, love and loss, and learning to fill boots a size too big. 

Hunters on the Track: William Penny and the Search for Franklin (June), by W. Gillies Ross, describes and analyzes the efforts made by the Scottish whaling master to locate Franklin's missing expedition. In Airborne (February), a story of a father and son, Jonathan Rotondo catches fleeting glimpses of his father's life in air and rediscovers his own passion for flight. We Will Eat Our Young (May), by Daria Salamon and Rob Krause, chronicles the hilarious and hair-raising misadventures of a Canadian family as they travel across 15 different countries in the southern hemisphere. And liberation comes with breaking that age-old code of silence to talk about the messiness of faith, practice, religion, and ceremony in Body & Soul: Stories for Skeptics and Seekers (February), an anthology edited by Susan Scott. 

With insight and humour, Dr. Philipp Schott shares tales from the unlikely path he took into his career of veterinary science and anecdotes from his successful small-animal clinic in The Accidental Veterinarian (April). In This One Looks Like a Boy (March), Lorimer Shenher shares the story of his gender journey, from childhood gender dysphoria to teenage sexual experimentation to early-adult denial of his identity—and finally the acceptance that he is trans, culminating in gender reassignment surgery in his fifties. In the fall of 2017, the acclaimed writer and musician Vivek Shraya began receiving vivid and disturbing transphobic hate mail from a stranger. Acclaimed artist Ness Lee brings these letters and Shraya’s responses to them to startling life in Death Threat (April), a comic book that becomes a compelling act of resistance.

Einstein’s Unfinished Revolution (April), by Lee Smolin, offers a daring new vision of the quantum universe, and the scandals controversies, and questions that may illuminate our future. Developed from Adam Sol’s popular blog, How a Poem Moves: A Field Guide for Readers Afraid of Poetry (March) is a collection of playfully elucidating essays to help reluctant poetry readers become well versed in verse. Mistakes to Run With (April) chronicles the turbulent life of Yasuko Thanh, from early childhood in the closest thing Victoria, BC, has to a slum, to teen years as a sex worker and, finally, to her emergence as an award-winning author. And Secrets from My Vietnamese Kitchen (April) offers more than 50 easy-to-make recipes from bestselling novelist and former restaurateur Kim Thúy. 

Ayelet Tsabari’s new book is the memoir The Art of Leaving (February), a coming-of-age story that reflects on identity and belonging and that explores themes of family and home-both inherited and chosen. Free to a Good Home (March) is evidence of Jules Torti’s lifelong commitment to feeling at home where it mattered most: within herself. The Living (April) is a powerful and unsettling documentary play by Colleen Wagner, author of the Governor General's Literary Award–winning play The Monument, inspired by the actual stories of women and girls who survived trauma in post-conflict zones like Rwanda and Uganda. And Ready to Come About (May) is the story of Sue Williams’ improbable adventure on the high seas and her profound journey within.

In the intimate and moving graphic memoir, Dear Scarlet: My Postpartum Depression in Words and Pictures (April), Teresa Wong writes and illustrates the story of her struggle with postpartum depression in the form of a letter to her daughter. From Kristen Worley, a high-performance Canadian cyclist and transgender woman, Woman Enough (March), written with Johanna Schneller, is a powerful and inspiring story of self-realization and legal victory that upends our basic assumptions about sexual identity. A Good Wife (March) tells Samra Zafar’s harrowing and inspiring story, following her from a young girl with big dreams, through finding strength in the face of oppression and then finally battling through to empowerment. And The Experience of Meaning (May), by Jan Zwicky, proposes a more just epistemology, arguing for a new grammar of thought, a new way of understanding the relationship of human intelligence to the world. 

January 21, 2019
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