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Alison Pick's Memoir List

Between Gods

From the Man Booker-nominated author of the novel Far to Go comes an unflinching, moving, and unforgettable memoir about family secrets and the rediscovered past. 

Alison Pick was born in the 1970s and raised in a supportive, loving family. Then as a teenager, Alison made a discovery that instantly changed her understanding of her family, and her vision for her own life, forever. She learned that her Pick grandparents, who had escaped from the Czech Republic during WWII, were Jewish—and that most of this side of the family had died in concentration camps. She also discovered that her own father had not known of this history until his twenties and then he, too, had kept the secret from Alison and her sister.

In her early thirties, engaged to be married to her longtime boyfriend but struggling with a crippling depression, Alison slowly but doggedly began to research and uncover her Jewish heritage. Eventually she came to realize that her true path forward was to reclaim her history and identity as a Jew. But even then, one seemingly insurmountable problem remained: her mother wasn't Jewish, so technically Alison wasn't either.

In her memoir, Between Gods, published today, Alison recounts her struggle with the meaning of her faith, her journey to convert to Judaism, …

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Diana Davidson: Re-Writing Women in Canadian History

Cover Pilgrimage

Diana Davidson’s debut novel, Pilgrimage, opens with Mahkesîs Cardinal trying to conceal her pregnancy on the Lac St. Anne Métis settlement during the winter of 1891. Pilgrimage, just released by Brindle & Glass, was inspired by a real-life account of a century-old woman’s corpse found in an abandoned well on the prairies.

Here, Davidson lists her ten favourite recent books about women and Canada’s history. Most are novels but three are incredible non-fiction reads that she couldn’t leave out.

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Cover The Birth House

The Birth House by Ami McKay: McKay’s gorgeous novel was inspired by the real-life stories of Mrs. Rebecca Steele, an elderly midwife McKay befriended shortly after moving to a farmhouse in the Bay of Fundy. The Birth House tells the story of Dora Rare, a a skilled and gifted midwife in rural Nova Scotia who takes on the male medical establishment and their attempts to undermine women's community by institutionalizing the birth process. Interesting that McKay’s book was published right on the cusp of a pendulum swing in North American attitu …

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On Writing True Stories: Guest Post by Ayelet Tsabari

Book Cover The Best Place on Earth

When I was thirty-one, waitressing, and dating the man who would later become my partner, I was assaulted on a Vancouver bus by three drunken teenagers. It was Halloween, and I was on my way to work at a downtown restaurant. I was in a bad mood. Earlier that day I had a fight with Sean, whom I decided to break up with that night.

Like many life-changing events, the assault only took minutes to unfold, four stops from the time I boarded on Commercial Drive and Napier to the corner of Hastings, where my assailants ran off through the bus’s back doors. After the rest of the passengers were transferred to another bus, while I waited for the police in my seat, bruised and shaken, Sean miraculously appeared, stood at the door and asked my driver if he was leaving soon. Everything changed between us after that. He took me to his apartment, cared for me over the next few days. We fell in love.

It was a good story, ripe with fictional potential: it had romance, drama, conflict, character development, a period of change. There was even some metaphor I could work into it: something about trauma, the way it sneaks up on you, like falling in love. At the time, I was new to writing in English, but not new to fiction, which I had written throughout childhood and adolescence. I …

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