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From war to revolution: How do we survive?

Angels of the Revolution

by J.W. Horton
(Self published,
2014;
$2.99)

Noam Chomsky crossed with Thomas Merton and Thomas Pynchon with a little politics mixed in for good measure? Count us in!

In short novel Angels of the Revolution by J.W. Horton, Katyusha and her lover, the Major, are two former pilots -- and current socialist revolutionaries -- searching the gritty streets of fictional capitol city Weimarstadt for Der Film, a mysterious and legendary piece of cinematography. Based on Germany's post First World War Weimar Republic, emotions and being collide with politics as former 'gun girl' Katyusha is haunted by war, numb to the violence that currently threatens her.

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Quirky? No way! Montreal is bordering on bizarre

Sweet Affliction

by Anna Leventhal
(Invisible Publishing,
2014;
$19.95)

Anna Leventhal, one of Montreal's quietly beloved literary personalities, has released a new book of short stories that pull the rug from under modern life, leaving it exposed and uncomfortable, yet strangely familiar. Montreal readers especially will recognize themselves in at least one of the local cast of characters, represented by Leventhal in a shockingly wide range of narrative voices, from teenage lesbian, to veteran squatter, to brain tumour patient and beyond.

The stories that make up Sweet Affliction are technically fiction -- some even border on bizarre -- but they tend to possess that authentic quality that confirms their previous existence in the archives of lived experience.

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Monia Mazigh explores the interconnected stories of Muslim women's lives

Mirrors and Mirages: a Novel

by Monia Mazigh
(House of Anansi,
2014;
$22.95)

Monia Mazigh's debut novel, Mirrors and Mirages: a Novel, has enriched Canadian literature. 

This lyrical work, exploring the lives and motivations of six Muslim women living in Canada, is a testament to the multicultural fabric that continues to influence the country's character and global reputation. 

Woven effortlessly throughout the interconnected stories are the scents, flavours, sounds, sights and emotions evoking faraway lands, as well as neighbourhoods just around the corner.

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Doretta Lau sets a new standard in Canadian literature

How Does A Single Blade of Grass Thank the Sun?

by Doretta Lau
(Nightwood Editions,
2014;
$19.95)

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'El Niño' draws attention to the issues of migrant labour

El Niño

by Nadia Bozak
(House of Anansi,
2014;
$22.95)

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Nadia Bozak's El Niño begins how it ends: with portents of death under a blazing desert sun.

We first meet Baez, the coyote-dog hybrid creature who, in smelling her own demise, ties together the parallel timelines of Bozak's novel: one in the present day and the second two years before, each playing out against the harsh landscape of the Oro Desert.

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Interview: Literary leftist thriller: Pulp fiction with a twist of solidarity and social justice

Tailings of Warren Peace

by Stephen Law
(Fernwood Publishing,
2013;
$19.95)

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Someone is affixing pink pages to the light poles on Warren's street, each containing a small fragment of text. One sentence at a time, the mysterious notes tell a dark tale of familial love and loss.

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Review: From hell and back: Searching for self at the crossroads of social change

Night Town

by Cathi Bond
(Iguana Books,
2013;
$23.99)

One marvels at how far we've progressed and yet how little has changed. In the 1970s in Canada there was still a profound stigma attached to homosexuality. Sound familiar?

We certainly like to think of ourselves as progressive in Canada, but one merely needs to glance at the headlines to see we are a long way off. Who hasn't read a story of a teenager committing suicide because they are bullied about their sexual orientation?

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Review: A Hologram for the King, by Dave Eggers

A Hologram for the King

by Dave Eggers
(McSweeney's,
2012;
$18.00)

Dave Eggers does not waste time exposing the rot in modern manufacturing in his latest novel, A Hologram for the King.

 In a flashback on page 13, the main character Alan Clay, who failed as a bicycle manufacturer and has been bounced around various sales and consulting jobs, is sitting next to a drunken man on a flight to London, England from Boston. Eggers writes:

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Book review: The Almond Tree

The Almond Tree

by Michelle Cohen Corasanti
(Garnet Publishing,
2012;
$10.57)

Michelle Cohen Corasanti’s The Almond Tree is the fictional memoir of Ichmad Hamid, a Palestinian man who is forced to the head of the family at the age of twelve when his father is arrested for terrorism.

I am of two minds when it comes to this book. On the one hand, I appreciate the author’s effort to tell a comprehensive story about Palestine that illustrates the hardship experienced by so many throughout the last 63 years.

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Rae Spoon's First Spring Grass Fire on finding (queer) time

First Spring Fire

by Rae Spoon
(Arsenal Pulp Press,
2012;
$14.95)

In his remarkable 2009 text, Cruising Utopia, José Esteban Muñoz fixates on the ways in which queer bodies exist outside of and subvert what he calls “straight time.” Straight time, for Muñoz, is what tells queers that “there is no future but the here and now of our everyday life.” It grounds the fragmentation, suppression, and elision of queer histories, and denies futurity to those not counted under the rubric of a “reproductive majoritarian heterosexuality.”

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