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2020 New Brunswick Book Awards Shortlists
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2020 New Brunswick Book Awards Shortlists

By 49thShelf
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Congratulations to all the authors and publishers represented here. What a stellar bunch of lists.
Symphony No. 3

Symphony No. 3

edition:Paperback
also available: eBook

Symphony No. 3 follows the life of renowned French composer Camille Saint-Saëns as he ascends from child prodigy to worldwide fame. As his acclaim grows in Paris, the musical world around him clamours with competitors, dilettantes, turncoats and revenge seekers. At the height of his success, Camille leaves everything behind to embark on a Dantean quest for his dead lover, Henri. At the end of this adventure, still haunted by the holes in his past, he takes up an invitation to journey by ocean-l …

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Itzel I

A Tlatelolco Awakening
edition:Paperback

The first of two-part novel, Itzel I tells the story of three disparate characters swept up in the drama of the Mexican student movement of 1968 whose ending in the Massacre in Tlatelolco on October 2nd, a date now always commemorated in Mexico, changed their lives forever. Broad in scope and exuberant in style in the best tradition of Latin American literature, this book roots its readers in the ebullience of Mexico's daily life and language, even as they are made to confront the horrors of his …

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Excerpt

Itzel was an Auschwitz survivor. That is how I will always start. Whether I am in Oaxaca eating grasshoppers or in Cacaxtla drinking pulque, or just surveying one or the other city or even Puerto Escondido on Google Earth, that is how I will begin: Itzel was an Auschwitz survivor. Over and over. Thinking one day I will do it: write that story. Get it down. Until it will once more make me go to Mexico to try to retrace our route--our many routes--and become a refrain: Itzel was an Auschwitz survivor. And yet not a single word will be written.Even if I have already let the fiction begin in my mind. Already changed her name. Even if I know it would have satisfied her, the real her, when I let her speak it. Laugh at how it seems so strange that an Auschwitz survivor should bear the name of a Maya goddess. But of course such a name would already have to appear strange to me, the me who will be the author, because she was so very blonde. As I suppose the Auschwitz survivor part will too, almost devolving into one of the New York jokes of my Brooklyn childhood, always a punch line for something: Funny, you don't look Jewish. Except that there is nothing funny about it. Which may be the reason, now, in front of my keyboard with Google Earth in another window, I will decide at last to write it this way: that it can be written this way. As this impossible hybrid. Because I want you to know this: everything I say here about the camps was said to me. That part was real.And so was she. This woman so very briefly my best friend. The first person to befriend me in Mexico, or whom I will befriend. And betray so badly. I still think that. Even if most might think from a superficial look at the circumstances that it was the other way around. So that a great deal more of all this is true too, certainly the part of Mexico I will be there for, in the making of its history, even the exact minute of the green flare falling from the army helicopter to begin the massacre at 6:10 in the afternoon of October 2nd, 1968. When I will see Itzel begin to run. True as something of fiction always is. Though you can work out what yourself in the storyline, with its names changed to protect innocent or guilty, the details recombined mostly, only occasionally imagined. The way I will often do, in my head if not on the page: just to let me find the moral centre of my tale. But the specifics, the historical specifics: I will vouch for them.I will start to use that line early on: Itzel was an Auschwitz survivor. Even if I will use her real name then. And change it only when on Cozumel one year I will be reading so much about the Maya goddess whose shrine stands at the island's centre that it will become a way into the story, one that preserves the rhythm of the original as well as its unusual features, not like Vera or Elena or other names I'd thought of that can be easily pronounced in Spanish as well as English, when always I would like her own far too much before finding that one: the Maya goddess of medicine and midwifery, which will finally birth my tale, and be a gift not just to the goddess but to her, what with that sound, that 'ts' sound contained in that 'tz' so common in her own Hungarian and in the indigenous languages of Mexico, still intact. Eetsell: She would love it.As perhaps she did. Which is what will let me see it as the name she'll take when she joins the underground cell with us, I will hear her laughter in it and that will jog my memory because Cozumel's shrine to Ix Chel--another version of Itzel most say, though controversy surrounds that too--will once more bring her and her code name to mind, how in her own way she will be midwife to us all. Because she will join the group with us. That too, is true. So that Itzel, that central voiceless hissing whisper in it, can seem both assertion and subterfuge, and so come to mirror her most salient characteristic. And I will keep it singular, one characteristic: assertion and subterfuge. Because one will never be present without the other. It will be easy to use that line to try to frame her. To put her in the frame. Better said a frame. Like a portrait. The better to see her. That's what I will tell myself at the start. Though I do like that other phrase: put her in the frame. That British police procedural phrase. Even if the American use of frame might work better. That I am trying to set her up. It is easy enough to think that in trying to get a grip on her I might be trying to trap her inside some sort of misdemeanour if not felony which I have come to think her guilty of. Or that Basta might, just to get out of the picture himself. To leave us to it. Because there is a third character here. Of course there is. There has to be. The third point of the triangle. Or the outsider. Or both. The one who arrives late into town or mind. Or perhaps someone else will play at least one of those roles. I'll leave it to you.And besides, we will meet at art school, Itzel and I. And that's part of what we'll be learning to do. Compose the design within its limits: its frame. And we will paint each other.

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Fear of Drowning

Fear of Drowning

edition:Paperback
tagged :

Award-winning author, Susan White's new book Fear of Drowning is an epic family saga set against the backdrop of two world wars, earthquakes, epidemics, prejudice, social injustice, greed and ambition. In the summer of 1917 circumstances and societal expectations put in motion a plan which causes a legacy of silence and deceit to filter down through five generations of women. One of the perpetrators of that deception, Lillianne McDonough is reaching the end of her life and feels compelled to lif …

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Belated Bris of the Brainsick

Belated Bris of the Brainsick

edition:Paperback
tagged : lgbt, family, canadian

Belated Bris of the Brainsick traces 1) a belated and in some ways violent revelation about one’s ancestry and one’s past, 2) a resultant mental breakdown and 3) the pursuit of a new life with someone else who lives with mental illness. These events and the styles in which they are told are inflected by queer, transgender and disabled perspectives and aesthetics. If there is a narrative arc to the collection, it is not the usual one of falling ill and then regaining health; rather, it is the …

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Our Latest in Folktales

Our Latest in Folktales

edition:Paperback
also available: eBook
tagged : canadian

Poems of serious wordplay--an affirmation and celebration of the spectacles we make of our lives.

 

On-stage in Matthew Gwathmey's debut collection are agitated 19th century horsemen, 80s comic book beetles, plaid-clad suburban grunge enthusiasts, Korean aunts turned traffic cops, Parisian mimes--in short, "a multitude of horns." Meanwhile, the "understories," the sub-spectacles of these poems, are the everyday trials and thrills of marriage and family, the search for meaningful love and friendsh …

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Excerpt

At Arcadia Dump, Later On

 

We meet a shepherd among a trail of discarded electronics, staff assembled out of PVC pipe. Impressive, his change from a parabola of methane to a camber of mercury, summing up the whole landfill season that stretched before us. When I started, he says, I had everything I needed in the cloud. The smell of sulfur caught in the art of natural selection--a breezy genetic drift. We watch a few beady-eyed sheep play off the dumping ground (darting noses, probing hooves against the slag heap edge, wool newly wet). Avian swimmers dodge steam-powered waves. Country folk dressed in hazmat suits search the undershow, snoop through garbage bags. At a yelp they huddle to marvel at a crunched statistic or a shiny zippo. The siren signals the next level of hide ye mouse and seek ye cat. Soon, the falling sky will be so close at hand. /PP

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Feminist City

Feminist City

A Field Guide
edition:eBook
also available: Paperback Audiobook

Leslie Kern wants your city to be feminist. An intrepid feminist geographer, Kern combines memoir, theory, pop culture, and geography in this collection of essays that invites the reader to think differently about city spaces and city life.

From the geography of rape culture to the politics of snow removal, the city is an ongoing site of gendered struggle. Yet the city is perhaps also our best hope for shaping new social relations based around care and justice.

Taking on fear, motherhood, fri …

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Slow Seconds

Slow Seconds

The Photography of George Thomas Taylor
edition:Hardcover

Shortlisted, New Brunswick Book Award for Non-Fiction

The photographs of George Taylor (1838-1913) offer viewers a fascinating glimpse into nineteenth-century New Brunswick. Taylor's career coincided with a period when photographers began to provide Canadians with images of the "wilderness." Drawing on the knowledge and expertise of Indigenous guides, Taylor travelled not only through settled parts of New Brunswick, but also into the wilderness of the north, providing views of hitherto unfamiliar …

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