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2020 Trillium Book Awards

By 49thShelf
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Congratulations to the finalists for the 2020 Trillium Book Awards. The English language finalists are listed below. You can explore all the nominated books at http://www.ontariocreates.ca/book/trillium_book_award/Finalists___2020_Trillium_Book_Award.htm Missing from our database is Roxanna Bennett's Unmeaningable, Gordon Hill Press
Sister Language

Sister Language

edition:Paperback

Sister Language is a collaboration, composed mainly of letters and other writings, between two sisters, one of whom, Christina, is schizophrenic. In the careful building of a bridge between sisters, a prose nonpareil is achieved, and a linguistic "bridge" created between readers and the authors, one of whom's deep isolation is in this way diminished.

"A playful duet, a radiant howl, a swirling portrait of schizophrenia and sisterhood--this beautiful, wildly-groomed book magnifies two brilliant mi …

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Excerpt

I turn the key and push. The door begins to swing but bangs against its chain -- a barrier she's fashioned from a leash. This means she's home. Mouth to slit: "Sister, hello, sister." From some room she comes. The chain unfastened, I step inside -- admitted. Begin by admitting. A good beginning, but how much either party will admit (or admit to) is never a known factor. I've brought a desire. We begin, she and I; we've begun before, and often. It so happens, this day, our desires agree: to discuss language -- the many ways it rescues and fails her.

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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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I Become a Delight to My Enemies

I Become a Delight to My Enemies

edition:Paperback

Dark, cutting, and coursed through with bright flashes of humour, crystalline imagery, and razor-sharp detail, I Become a Delight to My Enemies is a gut-wrenchingly powerful, breathtakingly beautiful meditation on the violence and shame inflicted on the female body and psyche.

An experimental fiction, I Become a Delight to My Enemies uses many different voices and forms to tell the stories of the women who live in an uncanny Town, uncovering their experiences of shame, fear, cruelty, and transcen …

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Frying Plantain

Frying Plantain

edition:Paperback
also available: eBook

Set in a neighbourhood known as “Little Jamaica,” Frying Plantain follows one young girl from elementary school to high school graduation as she navigates the tensions between mothers and daughters, second-generation immigrants and first-generation cultural expectations, and Black identity and predominantly white society.
Kara Davis is a girl caught in the middle — of her North American identity and her desire to be a “true” Jamaican, of her mother and grandmother’s rages and life l …

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Excerpt

From “Pig Head”
On my first visit to Jamaica I saw a pig’s severed head. My grandmother’s sister Auntie had asked me to grab two bottles of Ting from the icebox and when I walked into the kitchen and pulled up the icebox lid there it was, its blood splattered and frozen thick on the bottles beneath it, its brown tongue lolling out from between its clenched teeth, the tip making a small dip in the ice water.
My cousins were in the next room so I clamped my palm over my mouth to keep from screaming. They were all my age or younger, and during the five days I’d already been in Hanover they’d all spoken easily about the chickens they strangled for soup and they’d idly thrown stones at alligators for sport, side-eyeing me when I was too afraid to join in. I wanted to avoid a repeat of those looks, so I bit down on my finger to push the scream back down my throat.
Only two days before I’d squealed when Rodney, who was ten like me, had wrung a chicken’s neck without warning; the jerk of his hands and the quick snap of the bone had made me fall back against the coops behind me. He turned to me after I’d silenced myself and his mouth and nose were twisted up as if he was deciding whether he was irritated with me or contemptuous or just amused.
“Ah wah?” he asked. “Yuh nuh cook soup in Canada?”
“Sure we do,” I said, my voice a mumble. “The chicken is just dead first.”
He didn’t respond, and he didn’t say anything about it in front of our other cousins, but soon after they all treated me with a newfound delicacy. When the girls played Dandy Shandy with their friends they stopped asking me to be in the middle and when all of them climbed trees to pluck ripe mangoes, they no longer hung, loose-limbed, from the branches and tried to convince me to clamber up and join them. For the first three days of my visit, they’d at least tease me, broad smiles stretching their cheeks, and yell down, “This tree frighten yuh like how duppy frighten yuh?” Then they’d let leaves fall from their hands onto my hair and laugh when I tried to pick them out of my plaits. I’d fuss and grumble, piqued at the taunting but grateful for the inclusion, for being thought tough enough to handle the same mockery they inflicted on each other. But after the chicken, they didn’t goad me anymore and they only approached me for games like tag, for games they thought Canadian girls could stomach.
“What’s taking you so long?” My mother came up behind me and instead of waiting for me to answer, leaned forward and peered into the icebox, swallowing hard as she did. “Great,” she whispered. “Are you going to be traumatized by this?”
I didn’t quite know what she meant — but I felt like the right answer was no, so I shook my head. My mother was like my cousins. I hadn’t seen her butcher any animals, but back home she stepped on spiders without flinching, she cussed out men who tried to reach for her in the street, and I couldn’t bear her scoffing at me for screaming at a pig’s head.
“Eloise!” Nana called. My grandmother came into the kitchen from the backyard and stood next to us, her hands on her hips. The deep arch in her back made her breasts and belly protrude, and the way she stood with her legs apart reminded me of a pigeon.
“I hear Auntie call out she want a drink from the fridge. That there is the freezer yuh nuh want that. Yuh know wah Bredda put in there? Kara canna see that, she nuh raise up for it.”
“I closed the lid,” said my mother. “Anyway, it was a pig’s head. It’s not like she saw the pig get slaughtered. She’s fine.”
“Kara’s a soft one. She canna handle these things.”
I felt my mother take a deep breath in and I suddenly became aware of all the exposed knives in the kitchen and wondered if there was any way I could hide them without being noticed. We were only here for ten days and my mother and Nana had already gotten into two fights — one in the airport on the day we landed, the other two nights after — and Auntie had threatened to set the dogs on them if they didn’t calm down.
“Mi thought Canada was supposed fi be a civilized place, how yuh two fight like the dogs them? Cha.”
I wondered if all daughters fought with their mothers this way when they grew up and started to tear up just thinking about it. Nana looked at me.
“See? She ah cry about the head.”
“It’s not about the head,” said my mother. “She just cries over anything.”
“Like I say. She a soft chile.”

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Clyde Fans

Clyde Fans

by Seth
edition:Hardcover
tagged : literary

A masterful work by a legendary cartoonist about the decline of small bussiness and the subsequent erosion of familial relations and one's sanity. Twenty years in the making, Clyde Fans peels back the optimism of mid-twentieth capitalism. Legendary Canadian cartoonist Seth lovingly shows the rituals, hopes, and delusions of a middle-class that has long ceased to exist in North America - garrulous men in wool suits extolling the virtues of the wares to taciturn shopkeepers with an eye on the door …

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heft

heft

edition:Paperback

From award-winning Toronto-based poet Doyali Islam comes a second collection of poems that investigates rupture and resilience.

GRIFFIN POETRY PRIZE FINALIST

PAT LOWTHER MEMORIAL AWARD FINALIST

TRILLIUM BOOK AWARD FOR POETRY FINALIST

How does one inhabit a world in which "the moon / & the drone hang in the same sky"? How can one be at home in one's own body in the presence of suspected autoimmune illness, chronic/recurrent pain, and a society that bears down with a particular construct of normal fem …

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Excerpt

so, it traced 

the perimeter of its plastic cage,

wondering at the hard unseeable edge,

hurrying to make sense of its enclosure.

From "The Ant"

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These are not the potatoes of my youth

These are not the potatoes of my youth

edition:Paperback
tagged : canadian, lgbt

Shortlisted, Trillium Book Award for Poetry and Gerald Lampert Memorial Award

In this confessional debut collection, Matthew Walsh meanders through their childhood in rural Nova Scotia, later roaming across the prairies and through the railway cafés of Alberta to the love letters and graffiti of Vancouver. In this nomadic journey, Walsh explores queer identity set against an ever-changing landscape of what we want, and who we are, were, and came to be.

Walsh is a storyteller in verse, his poems l …

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