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Women Do It Write Bundle
Kara Davis is a girl caught in the middle — of her Canadian nationality and her desire to be a “true” Jamaican, of her mother and grandmother’s rages and life lessons, of having to avoid being thought of as too “faas” or too “quiet” or too “bold” or too “soft.” Set in “Little Jamaica,” Toronto’s Eglinton West neighbourhood, Kara moves from girlhood to the threshold of adulthood, from elementary school to high school graduation, in these twelve interconnected stories. We see her on a visit to Jamaica, startled by the sight of a severed pig’s head in her great aunt’s freezer; in junior high, the victim of a devastating prank by her closest friends; and as a teenager in and out of her grandmother’s house, trying to cope with the ongoing battles between her unyielding grandparents.
A rich and unforgettable portrait of growing up between worlds, Frying Plantain shows how, in one charged moment, friendship and love can turn to enmity and hate, well-meaning protection can become control, and teasing play can turn to something much darker. In her brilliantly incisive debut, Zalika Reid-Benta artfully depicts the tensions between mothers and daughters, second-generation Canadians and first-generation cultural expectations, and Black identity and predominately white society.
Jokha Alharthi • Marilyn Booth
In the village of al-Awafi, in Oman, two families are joined by marriage: Mayya, the eldest of three sisters, marries Abdallah, son of a wealthy merchant, after suffering her first heartbreak. Abdallah’s passionate love for his wife goes unrequited; she regards him with a mixture of tolerance and mild amusement. Yet he cannot contend solely with the cares and concerns of a husband and father, haunted as he is by the mysterious death of his mother and vivid recollections of his megalomaniacal father.
The couple is orbited by an intricate constellation of individuals, connected by blood, by proximity, by deeply rooted social edifices. Those in their immediate families include Mayya’s sisters — Asma, who aspires to a different kind of life and marriage, and Khawla, who chooses to refuse all offers and await a reunion with the man she loves, who has emigrated to Canada. The three women, their families, their loves, and their losses unspool delicately against a backdrop of a rapidly changing Oman, a country evolving from a traditional, slave-owning society into its complex present.
The first ever novel originally written in Arabic to win the Man Booker International Prize, and the first book by a female Omani author to be translated into English, Celestial Bodies is an exquisite literary creation that marks the arrival of a major international talent.
Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club
Megan Gail Coles
February in Newfoundland is the longest month of the year.
Another blizzard is threatening to tear a strip off downtown St. John’s, while inside The Hazel restaurant a storm system of sex, betrayal, addiction, and hurt is breaking overhead. Iris, a young hostess from around the bay, is forced to pull a double despite resolving to avoid the charming chef and his wealthy restaurateur wife. Just tables over, Damian, a hungover and self-loathing server, is trying to navigate a potential punch-up with a pair of lit customers who remain oblivious to the rising temperature in the dining room. Meanwhile Olive, a young woman far from her northern home, watches it all unfurl from the fast and frozen street. Through rolling blackouts, we glimpse the truth behind the shroud of scathing lies and unrelenting abuse, and discover that resilience proves most enduring in the dead of this winter’s tale.
By turns biting, funny, poetic, and heartbreaking, Megan Gail Coles’ debut novel rips into the inner lives of a wicked cast of characters, building towards a climax that will shred perceptions and force a reckoning. This is blistering Newfoundland Gothic for the twenty-first century, a wholly original, bracing, and timely portrait of a place in the throes of enormous change, where two women confront the traumas of their past in an attempt to overcome the present and to pick up a future.
All her life, Lark Brossard has felt invisible, overshadowed by the people around her: first by her temperamental mother, Marianne; then by her sister, Robin, a brilliantly talented pianist as wild as the animals she loves; and finally by Lawrence Wheelock, a renowned filmmaker who is both Lark’s employer and her occasional lover. When Wheelock denies her what she longs for most — a child — Lark is forced to re-examine a life marked by unrealized ambitions and thwarted desires. As she takes charge of her destiny, Lark comes to rely on Robin in ways she never could have imagined.
In this meditation on motherhood, sisterhood, desire, and self-knowledge, Alix Ohlin traces the rich and complex path towards fulfillment as an artist and a human being.
The Longest Revolution
The facts are indisputable. When women get even a bit of education, the whole of society improves. When they get a bit of healthcare, everyone lives longer. In many ways, it has never been a better time to be a woman: a fundamental shift has been occurring. Yet from Toronto to Timbuktu the promise of equality still eludes half the world’s population.
In her 2019 CBC Massey Lectures, award-winning author, journalist, and human rights activist Sally Armstrong illustrates how the status of the female half of humanity is crucial to our collective surviving and thriving. Drawing on anthropology, social science, literature, politics, and economics, she examines the many beginnings of the role of women in society, and the evolutionary revisions over millennia in the realms of sex, religion, custom, culture, politics, and economics. What ultimately comes to light is that gender inequality comes at too high a cost to us all.