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CanLit Gets Weird

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I always feel compelled to support weird, in whatever form it might appear. Scorpion pizza at the Calgary Stampede? I’ll take it. Punk shows at the public library? I’ve been. And lately, I feel proud to say, I can add writing CanLit to the list.

I’ve read a fair amount about what makes CanLit, CanLit. You could argue that it’s an affinity for the short story, the search for identity, or even a rugged frontier charm. Our Alice Munros and Timothy Findleys can certainly point to that. I’ll posit another marker here, however. CanLit likes to get weird.

When I wrote my first novel, Satellite Love, I very keenly had this in mind. Satellite Love tells the tale of Anna Obata, a lonely girl in Southern Japan who falls in love with a telecommunications satellite. And while not set in the Great North, I took a certain pride at the puzzled looks the synopsis would receive. A bittersweet coming-of-age story, I knew I wanted to add some weird. And the titles below certainly helped on that journey.

So! Without further ado, a list of the greatest–and strangest–Canadian fiction has to offer:


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Translating Anne of Green Gables in Japan, April 1945

An excerpt from new book Anne’s Cradle: The Life and Works of Hanako Muraoka, Japanese Translator of Anne of Green Gables, by Eri Muraoka.

Although it was already mid-April, a cold snap had turned the day chilly and overcast. Here and there cherry blossom petals fluttered from branches that were already leafing out.

In the Muraoka residence in Omori, Hanako had finished cleaning up after dinner and was in the study, writing in the dim light of a small lamp shaded with air-raid blackout cloth. She had begun polishing her translation of Anne of Green Gables, a novel set in Canada, and was going over the section at the beginning where the orphan Anne arrives in Prince Edward Island and is captivated by its beauty.


Canada, the birthplace of the book Hanako was furtively translating, was now an enemy. Slogans denouncing the Allied forces were used to whip up popular sentiment, and distorted accounts of Japanese military exploits had intensified the nation’s militaristic fervour with each passing day. What condemnation would society heap upon Hanako should it catch her translating a book from an enemy nation?


Riding down an avenue of apple trees in a horse-drawn buggy, Anne gazes raptly at the canopy of snow-white blossoms arching overhead. As she does for everything she likes, she gives the road a new name: White Way of Delight.

What words, Hanako wondered, would convey to Japanese readers the inner world of this young girl endowed with such a rich imagination?

White Way means sh …

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A Chilling Tale: "Trickster," by Rui Umezawa

Book Cover Strange Light Afar

In Strange Light Afar, Rui Umezawa revisits eight popular Japanese folktales, delving beneath their sometimes baffling plot lines to highlight the psychological motivations behind the characters’ actions. Sometimes laced with ironic humor, sometimes truly horrifying, these stories of the strange and supernatural are written to particularly speak to teenagers, although they will appeal to readers of all ages.

We are pleased to share this chilling excerpt from the story, "Trickster." 


Night had fallen like a strange, dark curtain on the woods surrounding the house. I tried to find my way back into town, hoping to find the old noodle vendor, who might share a bit more of his wine.

I decided the surest path was to follow the river, which I knew cut the town in half. The moon hid among tree branches, in and out of clouds. Pillars of light appeared, then disappeared across the trail, and a breath of chill caressed the back of my neck. A murmur in the water and the whisper of leaves made me think maybe I should walk faster.

After a time, I came upon a woman crouched by the path, quietly sobbing into her hands. You could tell she was from class. The wind carried the enticing scent of her flowery perfume, and this made me stop. 

Normally, I’m not one to do much for st …

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