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Funny Books: Leacock Medal Winners
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Funny Books: Leacock Medal Winners

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Stephen Leacock Associates was founded in 1946 and began awarding the Leacock Medal for Humour in 1947. The number of entries has continually grown — 70 books were put forward by publishers and writers for 2018. An anonymous panel of judges, appointed from across Canada by the Leacock Associates’ Board of Directors, vets all entries and selects the long and short lists and the final winner.
Gone to Pot

Gone to Pot

edition:eBook
also available: Paperback

After losing her job and learning she might also lose her house because of a bad investment, Jess, a fiercely independent and hilariously wry BC grandma, resorts to growing pot in her basement to make ends meet. She then has to juggle her public life as a grandmother and member of the town’s senior women’s group – The Company of Crones – with her secret life as a pot grower. The unusual characters she meets along the way include Swan, the enigmatic young woman who introduces her to the g …

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Yiddish for Pirates

Yiddish for Pirates

edition:Paperback
also available: Hardcover

Shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and nominated for the Governor-General's Award for Literature, a hilarious, swashbuckling yet powerful tale of pirates, buried treasure and a search for the Fountain of Youth, told in the ribald, philosophical voice of a 500-year-old Jewish parrot.

Set in the years around 1492, Yiddish for Pirates recounts the compelling story of Moishe, a Bar Mitzvah boy who leaves home to join a ship's crew, where he meets Aaron, the polyglot parrot who becomes his n …

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Excerpt

Chapter One

Moishe as a child. He told me stories. Some were true. 
   At fourteen, he left the shtetl near Vilnius for the sea. How? First one leg out the window then the other. Like anyone else. Before first light. Before the wailing of his mother. 
   A boychik with big ideas, his kop—his head—bigger than his body. He would travel beyond the scrawny map of himself, and beyond the shtetl. He’d travel the ocean. There were Jews—he’d heard stories—that were something. Not rag-and-bones shmatte-men like his father, Chaim, always following the dreck of their nag around the same small world. Doctors. Court astronomers. Spanish lords. Tax farmers. Learned men of the world. The mapmakers of Majorca. They were Jews. Rich and powerful, they were respected by everyone. They could read the sky. They knew what was on the horizon and what was over the horizon. Jews had trickled through the cracks of the world and had rained upon the lands. 
   He’d travel the globe. He’d travel to the unknown edges of the maps, to where the lost tribes had built their golden cities, where they knew the secrets of the waters and of the sky. 
   And nu, perhaps along the way there might be a zaftik maideleh or two, or his true love, who knew secrets also. 
   So this Moishe put the cartographer before the horse and left. 
   Luftmensch, they say. Someone who lives on air, someone whose head floats in the clouds of a sky whose only use is to make the sea blue.
The world is wide because the ocean is wide. So, nu, he’d had his Bar Mitzvah, why shouldn’t the boychik sail west on a merchant ship, some kind of cabin boy, learning not to be sick with the waves? A one-way Odyssey away from home, his mother weaving only tears. 
   And where had he heard the stories? On the shmatte cart, making the rounds with his father. The sun rising, they travelled from home. They didn’t fall off the edge of their world, they circled around it, until by nightfall they were home again. Moishe’s old father, the bent and childless man who had taken in the drownedling, spoke to him of the great world that they shared. Moishe’s father, grey beard, wide black hat, stooped back. The world, he said, was a book. A great scroll. Like the Torah, when it ended, it began again. 
   Everything began again. Each week with its Shabbos of silver candlesticks and braided challah. Each year with its seasons, festivals, Torah readings. Child, father, child. It was a Moebius strip. At the end of the story, the story begins again and so we live forever, his father said. His father was a mensch. His mother also. Good people. But though they spoke of it, they never tried to find out "and then what happened?" They knew. Second verse same as the first, a little bit more oysgemutshet worn out, a little bit worse. 
   Before he climbed out the window, Moishe left a letter for his parents. 
   If the world is a book, I must read it all. 
   He had packed only his few clothes, some food, a knife, a book he had often examined when alone, and two silver coins that he took from where his mother had hidden them behind a stone of the hearth. He sewed these into the waist of his pants. 
   He had come across the book by accident, this book that had a beginning and an end. Playing at a game of catch-and-wrestle with his friend Pinchas, Moishe had slid under his parents’ bed and pushed himself against the wall where he hoped he would be invisible behind the curtain of the embroidered bedspread. Breathing hard, attempting to remain quiet and undetected, Moishe felt its shape beneath his hip. When he was eventually discovered—after he’d deliberately released a prodigious and satisfying greps, a gaseous shofar-call alerting his friend to his location—he left whatever-it-was beneath the bed to be disinterred and examined later. He knew it was somehow important and secret, so better to wait until he was alone and his mother out at the mikveh.
   When he unwrapped the old tallis—a prayer shawl—that surrounded it, Moishe was surprised to discover a book. An ancient book. Grainy brown leather with faded gold lettering and pages the colour of an old man’s hands. The script looked like Hebrew but it was the language of some parallel world, gibberish or the writing of a sorcerer. 
   Most intriguing were the strange drawings. Charts that seemed to diagram the architecture of heavenly palaces or the dance steps of ten-footed angels. Mysterious arrays of letters, the unspeakable and obsidian incantations of demons. And, most captivating of all, what appeared to be maps of the parallel world itself, filled with ring upon ring of concentric circles, rippling out from the beginning of creation and the centre of everything, as if one fine morning God had cannonballed down from everywhere and nowhere and into the exact middle of the primordial sea.
   But perhaps, Moishe wondered, these maps represented the actual earth, the alef-beys of cryptic markings, boats floating upon the waves of a vast ocean, searching for the edges of hidden knowledge. 
   It was as if Adam and his wife, Eve, had found a map instead of an apple, there in the centre of the garden. Instead of good and evil, they had discovered a map of Eden, the geography, the secrets, the true limits of Paradise and the Paradise that lies beyond.
Maybe that is why his father kept this book hidden where no one—not the rabbis or the shammes or the other men—could find it. 
   So Moishe took the book and left.

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Republic Of Dirt

Republic Of Dirt

edition:Paperback
also available: Paperback eBook Hardcover
tagged :

Prudence Burns is an overly idealistic Brooklyn girl who has inherited a derelict plot of land named Woefield Farm. Her motley crew of farm hands consists of Earl, an elderly, reclusive bluegrass legend; Seth, an agoraphobic heavy-metal blogger in early recovery from alcoholism; and Sara, an 11-year-old girl with a flock of elite show poultry.

When Prudence is felled by a thyroid condition, things on the farm begin to fall apart, resulting in valiant and sometimes ill-advised attempts to restore …

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No Relation

No Relation

edition:Paperback
also available: Paperback
tagged : humorous

In his fourth novel, winner of the 2011 Canada Reads competition and "CanLit's crowned king of chuckles" (Telegraph-Journal) Terry Fallis's sharp, funny wit takes readers into the world of identity, inheritance, and belonging, begging the question: What's in a name?
     This is the story of a young copywriter in New York City. He's worked at the same agency for fifteen years, and with a recent promotion under his belt, life is good. Then, one morning this copywriter finds himself unceremoniou …

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Dance, Gladys, Dance

Dance, Gladys, Dance

edition:eBook
also available: Audiobook Paperback

WINNER OF THE 2013 Stephen Leacock Award for Canadian Humour Writing!

27-year-old Frieda Zweig is at an impasse. Behind her is a string of failed relationships and half-forgotten ambitions of being a painter; in front of her lies the dreary task of finding a real job and figuring out what “normal” people do with their lives. Then, a classified ad in the local paper introduces Frieda to Gladys, an elderly woman who long ago gave up on her dreams of being a dancer. The catch? Gladys is a ghost. …

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The Sisters Brothers

The Sisters Brothers

edition:Paperback
also available: eBook Paperback Hardcover
tagged : literary

Winner of the Governor General’s Award for Fiction, the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, and the Stephen Leacock Medal, the Prix des libraires du Quebec and shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, the Scotiabank Giller Prize, and a #1 national bestseller, The Sisters Brothers is a violent, lustful, hung-over and hilarious odyssey through the underworld of the 1850s frontier.

Hermann Kermit Warm is going to die: Eli and Charlie Sisters can be counted on for that. Though Eli has never shared …

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Practical Jean

Practical Jean

A Novel
edition:Paperback
also available: eBook Paperback Hardcover
tagged : literary

Jean wouldn’t be able stand it if something unfortunate were to befall her friends—that’s why decides to kill them herself, before anything else can harm them. Bad Marie meets Arsenic and Old Lace in this darkly humorous story of a woman whose overpowering love for her friends moves her to murder each and every one of them. Practical Jean, the U.S. debut of acclaimed Canadian author Trevor Cole, is a “biting and black comedy of middle-class mores gone murderously wrong” that “combine …

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Beyond Belfast

Beyond Belfast

A 560 Mile Journey Across Northern Ireland On Sore Feet
edition:Hardcover
also available: Paperback
tagged :

Offbeat, charming, and filled with humour and insight, Beyond Belfast is the story of one man’s misguided attempt at walking the Ulster Way, “the longest waymarked trail in the British Isles.” It’s a journey that takes Will Ferguson through the small towns and half-forgotten villages of Northern Ireland, along rugged coastlines and across barren moorland heights, past crumbling castles and patchwork farms.

 

From IRA pubs to Protestant marches, from bandits and bad weather to banshees and …

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