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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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Alif the Unseen: Imagining the Arab Spring

Alif the Unseen

Alif the Unseen

by G. Willow Wilson
(Emblem Editions,
2012;
$22.99)

Say the word Islam and what words come to mind? Extremism, violence, complexity, anger? Not surprising, particularly in the wake of the violence that erupted following the publicity around that god-awful trailer, “Innocence of Muslims.”  And of course, it’s a bad rap that is far removed from the religion’s actual teachings.

But would you think of words like “fantastical,” “surreal,” “mysterious” and “magical”? Probably not.

Unless, that is, you’ve wandered off the beaten track to discover G. Willow Wilson’s delightful first novel Alif the Unseen.

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The Chelsea Papers: An ebook experiment

The Chelsea Papers

by Nathaniel G. Moore
(Burner Books,
2012;
$7.99)

The Chelsea Papers is hard to summarize in a single-sentence précis, but I’ll take stab: it’s a surrealist erotic novella about sea monsters. It features lovers who deal in metaphor, who live in days packed with miracles and fear. And now: a long excerpt.

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Lynn Coady tackles the male psyche in 'The Antagonist'

The Antagonist

The Antagonist

by Lynn Coady
(House of Anansi Press,
2011;
$32.95)

If this review were a sports headline it would read "COADY IN THE TIME OF CROSBY." At least that's what I imagine some media factions coming up with between the six of them over a three thousand dollar power lunch at The Keg Mansion as we learn that a book about a hockey thug's lexical revenge has just been shortlisted for the Giller Prize.

Coady, who calls Edmonton home now made a huge entry into fiction in 1998 when her book Strange Heaven was nominated for a Governor General's Award. She also won the Air Canada Award for most promising writer under 30. Her last major literary undertaking was The Anansi Reader which she edited in 2008 for the press's 40th anniversary.

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