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What to Read for Black Futures Month
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What to Read for Black Futures Month

By 49thShelf
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Here is a taste of Black Canadian talent you should read for this Black Futures month, according to Zalika Reid-Benta, whose book FRYING PLANTAIN was one of CanLit's most celebrated books of 2019. You can follow her in Instagram at @zalikarb. Also check out Terese Mason Pierre's chapbook, Surface Area, which wasn't in our database but was on Reid-Benta's list.
Shut Up You're Pretty

Shut Up You're Pretty

edition:Paperback

Winner, Trillium Book Award and Edmund White Award for Debut Fiction; Finalist, Rogers Writers' Trust of Canada Fiction Prize; a Globe and Mail Best Book of the Year

In Tea Mutonji's disarming debut story collection, a woman contemplates her Congolese traditions during a family wedding, a teenage girl looks for happiness inside a pack of cigarettes, a mother reconnects with her daughter through their shared interest in fish, and a young woman decides to shave her head in the waiting room of an ab …

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Other Side of the Game

Other Side of the Game

edition:eBook
also available: Paperback

I don’t think you can expect society to change if you’re not ready to take the first step.

In the 1970s Beverly walks into an office of Black activists, wanting to join the Movement, and has to prove she’s committed enough to fight. Some forty years later, in the Hip Hop Generation, Nicole reunites with her ex-boyfriend on a basketball court, wondering where he’s been, when a police officer stops them.

In this striking debut, Amanda Parris turns the spotlight on the Black women who organiz …

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Excerpt
Scene 6

 

It is 1970-something and we are back at the meeting being held by the Movement. Throughout the meeting Khalil glances at Beverly and exchanges a smile or two. Akilah notices and is visibly uncomfortable. Beverly is taking notes.

Khalil: What we need to do is start building a vision for the future.

Elder: What does that mean?

Khalil: We need to stop reacting and begin building.

Elder: Who invited the poet?

Akilah: Okay. Elder, what do you think we should do?

Elder: We should be focusing our efforts on lobbying.

Everyone groans.

We have to reform the system. We can’t spiral out of control, rioting and mashing up the place. We need to rein the people them back in.

Khalil: Why? There is a rise in Black militancy. Black people aren’t begging—

Elder: Black militancy? What are you trying to do? Build an army? Start shooting at the pigs?

Khalil: People have a right to be angry.

Elder: I’m not saying that they don’t but—

Akilah: My son is eight years old and I can see teachers trying to devalue his worth every day. I can see him confused and angry. Josiah has a right to be angry.

Elder: So what—you want to teach Josiah to riot?

Akilah: No. I am going to teach Josiah how to channel his anger, know the power of his voice. I want him to be able to stand up and defend himself when a teacher—

Elder: How touching. Listen, young lady, there is a distinct difference between holding up a placard at Christie Pits and organizing a community.

Akilah: My name is not young lady.

Elder: Oh lawd. Here we go. Okay. Okay, Akee-wah. Calm down.

Akilah: It’s Akilah.

Elder: Aren’t you supposed to be taking the minutes?

Silence.

Beverly: I think… if I may… I think that the problem is we don’t know how powerful we are.

Elder: Who are you? Who is she?

Beverly: I’m Beverly. Hi. I’m new. I just… I think that… I mean I’m not an expert but I don’t think that you can expect society to change if you’re not ready to take the first step.

Elder: The first step? My girl, I’ve taken the first, second, third and fourth steps! Do you know how long I’ve been doing this?

Beverly: I… I just think that if we’re building a real Black political movement then we have to make sure that…

Elder: That what?

Beverly: I don’t know… nothing. Sorry.

Akilah: Don’t apologize.

Beverly: What?

Akilah: Speak up.

Beverly: Well I just think that people have to start thinking about what resistance means on an individual level—like personally.

Khalil: I think I get what the sister is saying. So for example, one step someone might want to take is getting the white out of their hair.

Elder self-consciously touches his hair.

Beverly: That’s not exactly what I—

Khalil: A second step could be getting the white out of their mind.

Elder: Are you insinuating that—?

Akilah: Ahhh I think I know where you’re going with this, brother. Maybe a third step could be… for a few people in this meeting… getting the white woman out of their bedroom.

Elder and Khalil react at the same time.

Elder: Hol on! Hol on!

Khalil: Whoa!

Elder: Now we don’t have to start going into people’s private affairs—

Khalil: I don’t think that’s pertinent to the conversation—

Elder: I say we take another break.

Khalil: I agree. Yes, a break is good.

Akilah: Look at that. You’ve finally found something you both can agree on.

close this panel
Dear Current Occupant

Dear Current Occupant

edition:Paperback
also available: eBook Audiobook

Winner of the 2018 City of Vancouver Book Award

From Vancouver-based writer Chelene Knight, Dear Current Occupant is a creative non-fiction memoir about home and belonging set in the 80s and 90s of Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.

Using a variety of forms, Knight reflects on her childhood through a series of letters addressed to all of the current occupants now living in the twenty different houses she moved in and out of with her mother and brother. From blurry non-chronological memories of trying …

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Black Writers Matter

Black Writers Matter

edited by Whitney French
foreword by Afua Cooper
edition:eBook

"Black Writers? African, Bluesy, Classical, Disrespectful,  Erudite, Fiery, Groovy, Haunting, Inspiring, Jazzy, Knowing, Liberating, Militant, Nervy, Optimistic, Pugnacious, Quixotic, Rambunctious, Seductive, Truculent, Urgent, Vivacious, Wicked, X-ray sharp, Yearning, Zesty. And so, they matter!" —George Elliott Clarke

An anthology of African-Canadian writing, Black Writers Matter offers a cross-section of established writers and newcomers to the literary world who tackle contemporary and pres …

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Fate of Flames

Fate of Flames

edition:Hardcover
also available: eBook Paperback

Four girls with the power to control the elements and save the world from a terrible evil must come together in the first epic novel in a brand-new series.

When Phantoms—massive beasts made from nightmares and darkness—suddenly appeared and began terrorizing the world, four girls, the Effigies, each gained a unique power to control one of the classical elements: earth, air, fire, and water. Since then, four girls across the world have continually fought against the Phantoms, fulfilling their …

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Voodoo Hypothesis

Voodoo Hypothesis

edition:Paperback

Voodoo Hypothesis is a subversion of the imperial construct of "blackness" and a rejection of the contemporary and historical systems that paint black people as inferior, through constant parallel representations of "evil" and "savagery." Pulling from pop culture, science, pseudo-science and contemporary news stories about race, Lubrin asks: What happens if the systems of belief that give science, religion and culture their importance were actually applied to the contemporary "black experience"? …

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Daughters of Silence

Daughters of Silence

edition:Paperback
also available: eBook

Strong female voice, a clear-eyed narrator examining self and family.

Ash from the Eyjafjallajökull volcano fills the skies. Flights are grounded throughout Europe. Dessie, a cosmopolitan flight attendant from Canada, finds herself stranded in Addis Ababa — her birth place.

Grieving her mother's recent death, Dessie heads to see her grandfather, the Shaleqa — compelled as much by duty as her own will. But Dessie's conflicted past stands in her way. Just as the volcano's eruption disordered De …

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The Skin We're In

The Skin We're In

A Year of Black Resistance and Power
edition:Hardcover

NATIONAL BESTSELLER
A bracing, provocative, and perspective-shifting book from one of Canada's most celebrated and uncompromising writers, Desmond Cole. The Skin We're In will spark a national conversation, influence policy, and inspire activists.

In his 2015 cover story for Toronto Life magazine, Desmond Cole exposed the racist actions of the Toronto police force, detailing the dozens of times he had been stopped and interrogated under the controversial practice of carding. The story quickly ca …

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