Be My Wolff
by Emma Richler
Knopf Canada $34.00
Zachariah and Rachel are brother and sister. Well, not exactly. They are star-crossed lovers. Well, not exactly. Rachel is the cherished daughter of a Russian family living in London--the richly imagined, mysterious Wolffs; Zach is her parents' adopted son who arrived from the orphanage with one sweater, a head of curls and a dexterous set of fists. As children, they became as close as two people can be. But when they crossed a forbidden line, there was no going back.
Now, as an adult, coping with their father's furious rebuttal of Zach, Rachel sets herself the task of inventing a family history for her beloved. And so she brings to life his imagined ancestry--from a tavern-educated boxer in Dickensian times, to a Hussar at the Battle of Borodino during the Napoleonic Wars--even as their troubles in present-day Camden Town build to yet another point of no return.
Cartwheeling through history, filled with art and science, fairy tales and folk songs, tsars and foundlings, epic battles in the prize ring and on the Eastern Front, and characters that take over our hearts, Be My Wolff is riveting--wondrous, funny and tragic and of astonishing imagination and beauty.
Age of Anger: A History of the Present
by Pankaj Mishra
Farrar, Straus & Giroux $38.00
One of our most important public intellectuals reveals the hidden history of our current global crisis.
How can we explain the origins of the great wave of paranoid hatreds that seem inescapable in our close-knit world - from American shooters and ISIS to Donald Trump, from a rise in vengeful nationalism across the world to racism and misogyny on social media? In Age of Anger, Pankaj Mishra answers our bewilderment by casting his gaze back to the eighteenth century before leading us to the present.
He shows that as the world became modern, those who were unable to enjoy its promises - of freedom, stability, and prosperity - were increasingly susceptible to demagogues. The many who came late to this new world - or were left, or pushed, behind - reacted in horrifyingly similar ways: with intense hatred of invented enemies, attempts to re-create an imaginary golden age, and self-empowerment through spectacular violence. It was from among the ranks of the disaffected that the militants of the nineteenth century arose - angry young men who became cultural nationalists in Germany, messianic revolutionaries in Russia, bellicose chauvinists in Italy, and anarchist terrorists internationally.
Today, just as then, the wide embrace of mass politics and technology and the pursuit of wealth and individualism have cast many more billions adrift in a demoralized world, uprooted from tradition but still far from modernity - with the same terrible results.
Making startling connections and comparisons, Age of Anger is a book of immense urgency and profound argument. It is a history of our present predicament unlike any other.
Among the Ruins
by Asuma Zehanat Khan
Fiction / Mystery
From Ausma Zehanat Khan, the critically acclaimed author of The Unquiet Dead and The Language of Secrets, comes Among the Ruins, another powerful novel exploring the interplay of politics and religion, and the intensely personal ripple effects of one woman's murder.
On leave from Canada's Community Policing department, Esa Khattak is traveling in Iran, reconnecting with his cultural heritage and seeking peace in the country's beautiful mosques and gardens. But Khattak's supposed break from work is cut short when he's approached by a Canadian government agent in Iran, asking him to look into the death of renowned Canadian-Iranian filmmaker Zahra Sobhani. Zahra was murdered at Iran's notorious Evin prison, where she'd been seeking the release of a well-known political prisoner. Khattak quickly finds himself embroiled in Iran's tumultuous politics and under surveillance by the regime, but when the trail leads back to Zahra's family in Canada, Khattak calls on his partner, Detective Rachel Getty, for help.
Rachel uncovers a conspiracy linked to the Shah of Iran and the decades-old murders of a group of Iran's most famous dissidents. Historic letters, a connection to the Royal Ontario Museum, and a smuggling operation on the Caspian Sea are just some of the threads Rachel and Khattak begin unraveling, while the list of suspects stretches from Tehran to Toronto. But as Khattak gets caught up in the fate of Iran's political prisoners, Rachel sees through to the heart of the matter: Zahra's murder may not have been a political crime at all.
True South: Henry Hampton and Eyes on the Prize, the Landmark Television Series That Reframed the Civil Rights Movement
by Jon Else
History / Television
The inside story of Eyes on the Prize, one of the most important and influential TV shows in history. Published on the 30th anniversary of the initial broadcast, which reached 100 million viewers.
Henry Hampton’s 1987 landmark multi-part television series, Eyes on the Prize, an eloquent, plainspoken chronicle of the civil rights movement, is now the classic narrative of that history. Before Hampton, the movement’s history had been written or filmed by whites and weighted heavily toward Dr. King’s telegenic leadership. Eyes on the Prize told the story from the point of view of ordinary people inside the civil rights movement. Hampton shifted the focus from victimization to strength, from white saviors to black courage. He recovered and permanently fixed the images we now all remember (but had been lost at the time)—Selma and Montgomery, pickets and fire hoses, ballot boxes and mass meetings.
Jon Else was Hampton’s series producer and his moving book focuses on the tumultuous eighteen months in 1985 and 1986 when Eyes on the Prize was finally created. It’s a point where many wires cross: the new telling of African American history, the complex mechanics of documentary making, the rise of social justice film, and the politics of television. And because Else, like Hampton and many of the key staffers, was himself a veteran of the movement, his book braids together battle tales from their own experiences as civil rights workers in the south in the 1960s.
Hampton was not afraid to show the movement’s raw realities: conflicts between secular and religious leaders, the shift toward black power and armed black resistance in the face of savage white violence. It is all on the screen, and the fight to get it all into the films was at times as ferocious as the history being depicted. Henry Hampton utterly changed the way social history is told, taught, and remembered today.
by Ali Smith
Hamish Hamilton $29.95
Autumn. Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness. That’s what it felt like for Keats in 1819. How about Autumn 2016? Daniel is a century old. Elisabeth, born in 1984, has her eye on the future. The United Kingdom is in pieces, divided by a historic, once-in-a-generation summer. Love is won, love is lost. Hope is hand-in-hand with hopelessness.
Ali Smith’s new novel is a meditation on a world growing ever more bordered and exclusive, on what richness and worth are, on what harvest means. It is the first installment of her Seasonal quartet—four stand-alone books, separate yet interconnected and cyclical (as the seasons are)—and it casts an eye over our own time. Who are we? What are we made of? Shakespearean jeu d’esprit, Keatsian melancholy, the sheer bright energy of 1960s pop art: the centuries cast their eyes over our own history making.
Here’s where we’re living. Here’s time at its more contemporaneous and its most cyclic.
From the imagination of the peerless Ali Smith comes a shape-shifting series, wide-ranging in time-scale and light-footed through histories, a story about aging and time and love and stories themselves.
Bill Bowerbird and the Unbearable Beak-Ache
by Tyler Clark Burke
Owl Books $18.95
Fiction (Ages 3-7)
Bill has a terrible, unbearable, lousy beak-ache. He also happens to be a bowerbird: a type of bird that collects scraps to create elaborate color-sorted nests. So Bill turns to his friends the zebra, frog, yak, and others for objects that might help alleviate his ache. Nothing works. But as it turns out, the pain is from a new tooth! The ache goes away on its own.
This fun, wacky story is told in playful cadence with rhyme and refrain. Artwork is deliberately childlike, stylized in bold, energetic colors just like a bowerbird’s eccentric nest design.
A riot to read, this story also offers some wisdom on getting through tough times: patience, and a little help from your friends.
Eyes & Spies: How You Are Being Tracked and Why You Should Know
Tanya Lloyd Kyi and Belle Wuthrich
Annick Press $14.95
Nonfiction / Politics / Social Media (Ages 10-16)
Who is watching you… and why?
Written for middle-grade and older readers, Eyes and Spies looks at the way information and data about us is collected and used by individuals, governments, companies, and organizations. Each chapter covers one aspect of the subject, from data collection to computer surveillance to personal privacy. Arguments for both increased security and increased privacy are offered, which encourages readers to think critically about issues and decide for themselves.
The book asks three simple questions: Who’s watching, and why? Where is the line between public and private? How can you keep your secrets to yourself? “Creepy Line” sidebars highlight controversial real-life scenarios and ask readers where they would set their own boundaries. Action Alerts encourage readers to find out more about how surveillance & data mining affects them.
Other topics include how students are tracked at school; cyberbullying, and cyber safety.
Colour illustrations and a dynamic design make this an enlightening and engaging read.
by Garth Nix
Fiction / Fantasy (Ages 14+)
The last thing she needs is a prince. The first thing she needs is some magic.
Poor Princess Anya. Forced to live with her evil stepmother's new husband, her evil step-stepfather. Plagued with an unfortunate ability to break curses with a magic-assisted kiss. And forced to go on the run when her step-stepfather decides to make the kingdom entirely his own.
Aided by a loyal talking dog, a boy thief trapped in the body of a newt, and some extraordinarily mischievous wizards, Anya sets off on a Quest that, if she plays it right, will ultimately free her land-and teach her a thing or two about the use of power, the effectiveness of a well-placed pucker, and the finding of friends in places both high and low.
With Frogkisser, acclaimed bestselling author Garth Nix has conjured a fantastical tale for all ages, full of laughs and danger, surprises and delights, and an immense population of frogs.
by Madeline Ashby
Tor Books $20.99
Fiction / Science Fiction
Madeline Ashby's Company Town is a brilliant, twisted mystery, as one woman must evaluate saving the people of a town that can't be saved, or saving herself.
New Arcadia is a city-sized oil rig off the coast of the Canadian Maritimes, now owned by one very wealthy, powerful, byzantine family: Lynch Ltd.
Hwa is of the few people in her community (which constitutes the whole rig) to forgo bio-engineered enhancements. As such, she's the last truly organic person left on the rig - making her doubly an outsider, as well as a neglected daughter and bodyguard extraordinaire. Still, her expertise in the arts of self-defense and her record as a fighter mean that her services are yet in high demand. When the youngest Lynch needs training and protection, the family turns to Hwa. But can even she protect against increasingly intense death threats seemingly coming from another timeline?
Meanwhile, a series of interconnected murders threatens the city's stability and heightens the unease of a rig turning over. All signs point to a nearly invisible serial killer, but all of the murders seem to lead right back to Hwa's front door. Company Town has never been the safest place to be - but now, the danger is personal.
Perfect for fans of Margaret Atwood, David Lynch, and Sense8 .
A Shimmer of Hummingbirds
by Steve Burrows
Dundurn Press $15.99
Fiction / Mystery
Sometimes, the wrong choice is the only choice you have.
Chief Inspector Domenic Jejeune is hoping an overseas birding trip might hold some answers in his fugitive brother’s manslaughter case. But there are people on the tour who seem keen to keep their secrets, and the rainforest can be a dangerous place for those who ask too many questions.
Back in the U.K., in Jejeune’s absence, Marvin Laraby, his former boss and longtime nemesis has been brought in to investigate the murder of an accountant. He is proving so effective that Superintendent Colleen Shepherd is considering making his replacement of Jejeune a permanent arrangement.
With the manslaughter case poised to claim another victim, Jejeune learns that an accident back home involving his girlfriend, Lindy Hey, is much more than it seems. Lindy is in imminent danger. And only Jejeune can help her. But to do so, he must sacrifice his working relationship with Shepherd, opening the door for Laraby’s appointment as Saltmarsh’s new DCI.
When Jejeune discovers the truth about Laraby’s current case, he is faced with a dilemma. He can speak up, knowing it will cost him his job on the north Norfolk coast he loves. Or he can stay silent, and let a killer escape justice.
As he weighs his alternatives, Domenic Jejeune begins to realize that, sometimes, the wrong choice is the only choice you have.