Felicia Mihali’s new novel, Pineapple Kisses in Iqaluit, follows a depressed young Romanian woman, Irina, from Montreal who goes to Iqaluit for a year to teach French to young children. She develops a complex relationship with a student’s white uncle. Themes of identity, colonization, community, and immigration are explored in the relationships between the Inuit locals and the settlers.
In this list, she recommends books about Inuit Women, Nunavut, migration, rootlessness, tradition, and identity.
Split Tooth, by Tania Tagaq
I first learned about Tania Tagaq while I was working as a French teacher in Iqaluit, Nunavut. It was there that I saw her in concert, performing a kind of throat song that she insisted we consider contemporary music, not a traditional piece. Everything Tagaq does brings modernity to a community that some still wrongly believe is populated by people living in igloos and eating raw meat all day long. Canadians have very limited knowledge of the Inuit, the Arctic, and the history of British explorers looking for the Western P …
Fawn Parker—whose most recent publication is the novel Set-Point, which “takes us to the very edge of identity, virtual and lived,” according to poet Kateri Lanthier—recommends eight books dealing with issues of identity, sexuality, and mental health.
Heroine, by Gail Scott
A Montreal woman masturbates in her bathtub, musing on her involvement with the '70s leftist movement, a polyamorous romance with a man always just out of reach, and her own personal identity cast against other women, other artists. Gail Scott blends poetic prose, stream of consciousness and “new narrative” (term coined by Soup magazine) to bring the reader right into the room with her protagonist. The line blurs between tense, story, character, and body.
Sodom Road Exit, by Amber Dawn
Starla Mia Martin moves back home to what feels like a ghost town (C …
Hasan Namir was born in Iraq in 1987. He is the award-winning author of God in Pink, which won the Lambda Literary Award for Best Gay Fiction and was chosen as one of the Top 100 Books of 2015 by The Globe and Mail. His latest book is the poetry collection War / Torn, which is also the theme of this recommended reading list.
These books deal with war/torn identities in which the protagonist or the narrator of the poetic voice struggles to reconcile a sense of self. These books inspired me as their characters went through journeys of self-discovery and at times struggled to find their inner voices. This list is a mix of fiction, poetry and short stories all with hyphenated characters and voices that are deeply moving. And what I mean by hyphenated is that the characters all struggle with conflicting characteristics, identities and surroundings.
Bad Endings, by Carleigh Baker
Carleigh’s story collection isn’t necessarily plot-heavy, but more character-driven and portraying realistic experiences. The stories’ endings are sometimes intentiona …
How do you fit into a new country when you don't speak the language, your motherland is in upheaval, and you're teenaged-girl body is as well? In fact, you're a "giant."
Giant, by Aga Maksimowska, presents a child’s perspective of revolution—Poland in 1989—a traumatic time of change mirrored in 11-year-old Gosia's body and the absence of her migrant-worker parent, a mother who works in Canada cleaning houses and a father who ferries Asian goods to Europe.
Gosia is transported quite suddenly to Canada to live with mother. There, she undergoes puberty as Poland struggles with its own transformation. Gosia feels neither Polish nor Canadian, yet her identity is weaved from the threads of multi-ethnic influences, both old and new. It's a quintessentially Canadian story.
"If you like misshapen, afflicted, uniquely insightful youthful protagonists grappling with sweeping historical change, you'll love Giant. Aga Maksimowska channeled Salman Rushdie and Günter Grass in creating this unforgettable, funny, outsized Polish Canadian girl narrator." Elaine Chang (Reel Asian)
"In Giant, Aga Maksimowska has created a heroine who is bold, fiercely funny, and as unforgettable as the Polish uprising to which she is a witness. A story of emancipation so heart-breakingly hilariou …