One Day We'll All Be Dead And None of This Will Matter: Essays
by Scaachi Koul
Doubleday Canada $25.00
Social Science / Literary Criticism
For readers of Mindy Kaling, Jenny Lawson and Roxane Gay, a debut collection of fierce and funny essays about growing up the daughter of Indian immigrants in Canada, "a land of ice and casual racism," by the irreverent, hilarious cultural observer and incomparable rising star, Scaachi Koul.
In One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter, Scaachi deploys her razor-sharp humour to share her fears, outrages and mortifying experiences as an outsider growing up in Canada. Her subjects range from shaving her knuckles in grade school, to a shopping trip gone horribly awry, to dealing with internet trolls, to feeling out of place at an Indian wedding (as an Indian woman), to parsing the trajectory of fears and anxieties that pressed upon her immigrant parents and bled down a generation. Alongside these personal stories are pointed observations about life as a woman of colour, where every aspect of her appearance is open for critique, derision or outright scorn. Where strict gender rules bind in both Western and Indian cultures, forcing her to confront questions about gender dynamics, racial tensions, ethnic stereotypes and her father’s creeping mortality—all as she tries to find her feet in the world.
With a clear eye and biting wit, Scaachi Koul explores the absurdity of a life steeped in misery. And through these intimate, wise and laugh-out-loud funny dispatches, a portrait of a bright new literary voice emerges.
Scaachi Koul will be appearing in Hamilton as part of the gritLIT Festival (April 6-9). Please see the festival website here for full details.
Botanical Shakespeare: An Illustrated Compendium of All the Flowers, Fruits, Herbs, Trees, Seeds and Grasses Cited by the World's Greatest Playwright
by Gerit Quealy, Illustrated by Sumié Hasegawa
Harper Design $28.50
Nature / Essays
A captivating, beautifully illustrated, one-of-a-kind color compendium of the flowers, fruits, herbs, trees, seeds, and grasses cited in the works of the world’s greatest playwright, William Shakespeare, accompanied by their companion quotes from all of his plays and poems. With a foreword by Dame Helen Mirren—the first foreword she has ever contributed.
In this striking compilation, Shakespeare historian Gerit Quealy and respected Japanese artist Sumié Hasegawa combine their knowledge and skill in this first and only book that examines every plant that appears in the works of Shakespeare.
Botanical Shakespeare opens with a brief look at the Bard’s relationship to the plants mentioned in his works—a diversity that illuminates his knowledge of the science of botany, as well as the colloquy, revealing his unmatched skill for creating metaphorical connections and interweaving substantive philosophy. At the heart of the book are "portraits" of the over 170 flowers, fruits, grains, grasses, trees, herbs, seeds and vegetables that Shakespeare mentions in his plays and poems. Botanical Shakespeare features a gorgeous color illustration of each, giving a "face" to the name, alongside the specific text in which it appears and the character(s) who utter the lines in which it is mentioned.
This fascinating visual compendium also includes a dictionary describing each plant—such as Eglantine, a wild rose with a slight prickle, cherished for its singular scent, superior to any other rose; and the difference between apples and apple-john—along with indices listing the botanical by play/poem, by character, and genus for easy reference, ideal for gardeners and thoughtful birthday gift-giving.
This breathtaking, incomparable collection of exquisite artwork and companion quotes offers unique depth and insight into Shakespeare and his timeless work through the unusual perspective of the plants themselves.
One of the Boys
by Daniel Magariel
A riveting and emotionally harrowing debut about two young brothers and their physically and psychologically abusive father--One of the Boys is 176 perfect, stunning pages by a major new talent.
The three of them—a twelve-year-old boy, his older brother, their father—have won the war: the father’s term for his bitter divorce and custody battle. They leave their Kansas home and drive through the night to Albuquerque, eager to begin again, united by the thrilling possibility of carving out a new life together. The boys go to school, join basketball teams, make friends. Meanwhile their father works from home, smoking cheap cigars to hide another smell. But soon the little missteps—the dead-eyed absentmindedness, the late night noises, the comings and goings of increasingly odd characters—become sinister, and the boys find themselves watching their father change, grow erratic, then violent.
Set in the sublimely stark landscape of suburban New Mexico and a cramped apartment shut tight to the world, One of the Boys conveys with stunning prose and chilling clarity a young boy’s struggle to hold onto the dangerous pieces of his shattered family. Harrowing and beautiful, Daniel Magariel’s masterful debut is a story of survival: two foxhole-weary brothers banding together to protect each other from the father they once trusted, but no longer recognize. With the emotional core of A Little Life and the compact power of We the Animals, One of the Boys is among the most moving and remarkable debut novels you’ll ever read.
Nature's Allies: Eight Conservationists Who Changed Our World
by Larry A. Nielsen
Island Press $32.00
Environmental Conservation / Biography
It’s easy to feel small and powerless in the face of big environmental challenges. But environmentalism’s greatest change-makers started out living ordinary lives.
In Nature’s Allies, Larry Nielsen presents the inspiring stories of eight conservation pioneers who show that through passion and perseverance we can each make a difference. Nielsen’s vivid biographies of John Muir, Aldo Leopold, Rachel Carson, Billy Frank Jr., Ding Darling, Chico Mendes, Wangari Maathai, and Gro Harlem Brundtland are meant to rally a new generation of conservationists to follow in their footsteps, and inspire new generations of students, conservationists, and nature lovers to speak up for nature and prove that individuals can affect positive change in the world.
by Cara Hoffman
Simon & Schuster $35.00
From the critically acclaimed author of Be Safe I Love You comes a dark and breathtaking novel of love, friendship, and survival set in the red light district of Athens in the 1980s that Garth Greenwall calls “a ferocious, brilliant book.”
Running brings together an ensemble of outsiders who get by as “runners”—hustlers who sell tourists on low-end accommodations for a small commission and a place to stay.
Bridey Sullivan, a young American woman who has fled a peculiar and traumatic upbringing in Washington State, takes up with a queer British couple, the poet Milo Rollack and Eton drop-out Jasper Lethe. Slipping in and out of homelessness, addiction, and under-the-table jobs, they create their own kind of family as they struggle to survive.
Jasper’s madness and consequent death frame a narrative of emotional intensity. In its midst this trio become linked to an act of terrorism. The group then splinters, taking us from Athens to the cliffs of the Mediterranean, and to modern-day New York.
Whether in the red light district of Athens or in the world of fire jumpers in the Pacific Northwest, we are always in a space of gorgeously wrought otherness. Running shows novelist Cara Hoffman to be writing at the peak of her craft.
by JonArno Lawson, Illustrated by Natalie Nelson
Fiction (Ages 4+)
Canadian / Hamilton author
When Holland is arrested for the thirty-seventh time for stealing beautiful things, he must make a very difficult decision. A police officer says that he must either go to jail or become a soldier. He chooses to join the army and is sent south, where he finds himself surrounded by beautiful things: palm trees, parrots, flowers and big blue waves…and fish!
Holland starts painting pictures of the fish, which he sells at the market on the weekend. Soon, he has money to send home to his parents. They are worried that he’s gone back to his stealing ways, so his father writes to ask if he earned the money honestly. Holland writes back to reassure him that he has decided to paint instead of steal because “not everything that’s pretty can be stuffed in your pockets!”
Based on a true story about JonArno Lawson’s uncle, and accompanied by Natalie Nelson’s collage illustrations, this quirky picture book is about making choices – and art.
A Boy Called Bat
by Elena K. Arnold, Illustrated by Charles Santoso
Walden Pond Press $21.00
Fiction (Ages 6-10)
From acclaimed author Elana K. Arnold and with illustrations by Charles Santoso, A Boy Called Bat is the first book in a funny, heartfelt, and irresistible young middle grade series starring an unforgettable young boy on the autism spectrum.
For Bixby Alexander Tam (nicknamed Bat), life tends to be full of surprises—some of them good, some not so good. Today, though, is a good-surprise day. Bat’s mom, a veterinarian, has brought home a baby skunk, which she needs to take care of until she can hand him over to a wild-animal shelter.
But the minute Bat meets the kit, he knows they belong together. And he’s got one month to show his mom that a baby skunk might just make a pretty terrific pet.
The Best We Could Do
by Thi Bui
Harry Abrams $29.95
Graphic Memoir / Immigration (Ages 13+)
An intimate and poignant graphic novel portraying one family’s journey from war-torn Vietnam, from debut author Thi Bui.
This beautifully illustrated and emotional story is an evocative memoir about the search for a better future and a longing for the past. Exploring the anguish of immigration and the lasting effects that displacement has on a child and her family, Bui documents the story of her family’s daring escape after the fall of South Vietnam in the 1970s, and the difficulties they faced building new lives for themselves.
At the heart of Bui’s story is a universal struggle: While adjusting to life as a first-time mother, she ultimately discovers what it means to be a parent—the endless sacrifices, the unnoticed gestures, and the depths of unspoken love. Despite how impossible it seems to take on the simultaneous roles of both parent and child, Bui pushes through. With haunting, poetic writing and breathtaking art, she examines the strength of family, the importance of identity, and the meaning of home.
In what Pulitzer Prize–winning novelist Viet Thanh Nguyen calls “a book to break your heart and heal it,” The Best We Could Do brings to life Thi Bui’s journey of understanding, and provides inspiration to all of those who search for a better future while longing for a simpler past.
So Much Love
by Rebecca Rosenblum
McClelland & Stewart $24.95
Canadian / Hamilton Author
Olive Kitteridge meets Room and The Lovely Bones in this stunning first novel about the unexpected reverberations the abduction of a young woman has on a small community.
When Catherine Reindeer vanishes from the parking lot outside the restaurant where she works, an entire community is shattered. Moving back and forth from her outer circle of acquaintances to her closest intimates, So Much Love reveals how an unexpected disappearance can overturn the lives of those left behind: Catherine’s fellow waitress now sees danger all around her. Her mother seeks comfort in saying her name over and over again. Her professor finds himself thinking of her constantly. Her husband refuses to give up hope that she will one day return. But at the heart of the novel is Catherine’s own surprising story of resilience and recovery. When, after months of captivity, a final devastating loss forces her to make a bold decision, she is unprepared for everything that follows.
A riveting novel that deftly examines the complexity of love and the power of stories to shape our lives, So Much Love confirms Rebecca Rosenblum’s reputation as one of the most gifted and distinctive writers of her generation.
Rebecca Rosenblum will be in Hamilton on April 6 to help kick off the gritLIT Festival. Please see festival website here for details.
Should We Change How We Vote? Evaluating Canada's Electoral System
by Andrew Potter, Daniel Weinstock, Peter Loewen
McGill Queens University Press $19.95
During the 2015 federal election, the Liberal Party pledged that, if elected, they would end the “first past the post” electoral system, where whichever candidate receives the most votes wins a riding even if they have not received a majority of all votes cast. In early 2017, the Liberals reneged on their campaign promise, declaring that there was a lack of public consensus about how to reform the system. Despite the broken promise – and because of the public outcry – discussions about electoral form will continue around the country.
Challenging the idea that first past the post is obsolete, Should We Change How We Vote? urges Canadians to make sure they understand their electoral system before making drastic changes to it. The contributors to this volume assert that there is perhaps no institution more misunderstood and misrepresented than the Canadian electoral system – praised by some for ensuring broad regional representation in Ottawa, but criticized by others for allowing political parties with less than half the popular vote to assume more than half the seats in Parliament. They consider not only how the system works, but also its flaws and its advantages, and whether or not electoral reform is legitimate without a referendum.
An essential guide to a crucial debate about the country’s future, Should We Change How We Vote? asks if there are alternative reforms that would be easier to implement than a complete overhaul of the electoral system.