amazon.ca

Thousands of Canadian-authored kids and YA books

Blog

The Chat with Michelle Porter

michelleporter_2_copy.jpeg

Author Lisa Moore says, “Michelle Porter’s Scratching River is both a reckoning and an elegy; a scathing, powerful roar against social injustice, the scars of trauma, climate crisis, environmental damage and, at the very same time, a love song to the power of family, Métis history, rivers, Bison, burdock, and the Métis storyteller and musician, Louis Goulet, who is her great-great-grandfather’s brother.”

Michelle Porter's first novel will be published by Penguin Canada in 2023. Her first book of poetry, Inquiries, was shortlisted for the Pat Lowther Memorial Award in 2019 and was a finalist for the E.J. Pratt Poetry Award in 2021. Her previous non-fiction book, Approaching Fire (2020), in which she embarks on a quest to find her great-grandfather, the Métis fiddler and performer Léon Robert Goulet, was shortlisted for the Indigenous Voices Awards 2021. She is a citizen of the Métis Nation and member of the Manitoba Métis Federation.

**

Trevor Corkum: Scratching River is a powerful read, a memoir about your brother, a river, a Métis ancestor and relations among all things. It’s a braided narrative grounded in the richness of relationships and the resilience of life. Can you talk more about when and how you began to work on the project?

 

Continue reading »

Stories As Sanctuary

Told with deadpan humour and insightful lyricism, Ceilidh Michelle's Vagabond is an observant and at times shimmering narrative suspended between a traumatic past and an as yet unimagined future. Coursing through it is the story of an emergent writer just beginning to find sanctuary in her own creative instincts.

Here, Michelle shares seven of her favourite reads.

*****

Book Cover Summer of My Amazing Luck

Summer of My Amazing Luck, by Miriam Toews

Miriam Toews has such a way of transcribing loneliness and ferocity into words, it’s almost as if she carries it for you a little bit. During the bleakest of my seasons Toews’ books have taught me that you can be desperately achingly broken and still laugh, and that women are strong and can find each other in their sadness and hang on. I chose Toews’ first book though because I think in her great canon of work this first book sometimes gets forgotten. The Summer of My Amazing Luck is so weirdly cozy, this story of young moms on welfare trying to keep their heads above water, and the wonderful weirdos who wind up around you as you’re tryin …

Continue reading »

Books for International Women's Day

Women's voices, women's lives. Great books to pick up on the occasion of International Women's Day.

*****

I Am Because We Are: An African Mother’s Fight for the Soul of a Nation, by Chidiogo Akunyili-Parr

About the book: In this innovative and intimate memoir, a daughter tells the story of her mother, a pan-African hero who faced down misogyny and battled corruption in Nigeria. 

Inspired by the African philosophy of Ubuntu — the importance of community over the individual — and outraged by injustice, Dora Akunyili took on fraudulent drug manufacturers whose products killed millions, including her sister.

A woman in a man’s world, she was elected and became a cabinet minister, but she had to deal with political manoeuvrings, death threats, and an assassination attempt for defending the voiceless. She suffered for it, as did her marriage and six children. 

I Am Because We Are illuminates the role of kinship, family, and the individual’s place in society, while revealing a life of courage, how community shaped it, and the web of humanity that binds us all.

*

Book Cover Okanagan Women's Voices

Continue reading »

The Chat with Mary Fairhurst Breen

MaryBreen_photocrMaggieKnaus

Author Nancy Jo Cullen says “Without minimizing her and her family’s experiences, Breen manages to pull off a breezy read that feels a little bit like sitting around a kitchen table reminiscing with an old friend. This book is serious and honest; it’s full of self-awareness, devoid of self-pity and very engaging.”

Mary Fairhurst Breen grew up in the suburbs of Toronto and raised her kids in an artsy, slightly gritty part of the city. A translator by training, she spent thirty years in the not-for-profit sector, managing small organizations with big social-change mandates. She also launched her own arts business, indulging her passion for hand-making, which was a colossally enjoyable and unprofitable venture. Its demise gave her the time and impetus to write her family history for her daughters. She began to publish autobiographical stories, and wound up with her first book, Any Kind of Luck at All.

**

Trevor Corkum: Congrats on the publication of your debut memoir, Mary. It’s such a powerful exploration of resilience and a reminder of the vita …

Continue reading »

Books for Black History Month—And All Year Long

I Am Because We Are: An African Mother’s Fight for the Soul of a Nation, by Chidiogo Akunyili-Parr

About the book: In this innovative and intimate memoir, a daughter tells the story of her mother, a pan-African hero who faced down misogyny and battled corruption in Nigeria. 

Inspired by the African philosophy of Ubuntu — the importance of community over the individual — and outraged by injustice, Dora Akunyili took on fraudulent drug manufacturers whose products killed millions, including her sister.

A woman in a man’s world, she was elected and became a cabinet minister, but she had to deal with political manoeuvrings, death threats, and an assassination attempt for defending the voiceless. She suffered for it, as did her marriage and six children. 

I Am Because We Are illuminates the role of kinship, family, and the individual’s place in society, while revealing a life of courage, how community shaped it, and the web of humanity that binds us all.

*

Black & White: An Intimate, Multicultural Perspective on “White Advantage” and the Paths to …

Continue reading »

Shattering Effects: Living With Violence and War

Peacekeeper’s Daughter is the astonishing story of a French-Canadian military family stationed in Israel and Lebanon in 1982-1983. Told from the perspective of a twelve-year-old girl, Peacekeeper’s Daughter parchutes the reader into the Lebanese Civil War, the Palestinian crisis, and the wave of terrorism—including the bombing of the American Embassy—that ravaged Beirut at the height of the siege. This novelistic memoir moves from Jerusalem to Tiberius, from the disputed No-Man’s Land of the Golan Heights to Damascus, and on to Beirut by way of Tripoli, crossing borders that remain closed to this day.

In this list, Tanya Bellehumeur-Allatt shares five works of fiction and five memoirs about terrorism and war.

*****

Rue des Rosiers, by Rhea Trebegov

Winner of the Nancy Richler Award for fiction, Rue des Rosiers is an engrossing historical coming-of-age story with a timely examination of hatred’s long consequences. The novel is set in Toronto, Winnipeg and Paris in the spring and summer of 1982. Its 25-year-old protagonist, Sarah Levine, finds …

Continue reading »

Struggling Through Pandemonium

(We've got Donna Morrissey's memoir Pluck is up for giveaway right now! Don't miss your chance to enter to win.)

While writing Pluck I was drawn to the stories of others struggling through pandemonium and learning to quieten its crazed babel. We all have a have memoir in us, we talk it out every time we sit with family, friends or shrinks, trying to make sense of whatever the hell just happened back there, and why’s it still happening.

We find patterns of behaviour in all of us, and in our relationships and workplaces and the towns we live in.  We are all living out the stories of our ancestors going back thousands of years. Which is why I varied my reading to include more objective works as well as personal memoir. God knows, we need all the help we can in navigating this terrible wonderful life bestowed upon us.  

These are only some of the books from which I learned of new questions to ask, and found answers to those I hadn’t thought of asking.

*****

Care Of: Letters, Connections, and Cures, by Ivan Coyote

As deep as it is poignant, Care Of is a co …

Continue reading »

8 Books that Explore Memory and Place

Fawn Parker—whose latest novel Dumb-Show has been described by Adnan Khan as “vivid and vicious”—recommends eight books of fiction, memoir, and poetry exploring themes of memory and physical place.

*****

Householders, by Kate Cayley

The stories in Householders are haunting and enigmatic, with a clarity of emotion that cuts through the dreamlike atmosphere Cayley has crafted. With the first sentence of the opening story, “A Crooked Man,” we are introduced to the feeling of isolation that runs throughout the book: “Martha regarded herself skeptically and assumed skepticism from the other mothers at the table.” In “A Beautiful Bare Room” a strange infectious rash spreads among Palo Alto. A woman in a bunker considers whether she is “there to be amusing to languid virtual people, if the distinction between virtual and actual was meaningful anymore.” With incredible attention to the nuance of interpersonal relationships—whether familial, romantic, situational, dysfunctional—each story in Householders is a window into an eerie but …

Continue reading »

Genre-Bending Memoirs

Every September since 1997, the Winnipeg International Writers Festival presents THIN AIR, a celebration of books and ideas. Their curated line-up is a perfect fit for curious readers who are ready to discover strong voices and great storytelling in practically every genre. This year, they're presenting a hybrid festival featuring 60 writers, live events, and a dynamic website.

To watch video content Rowan McCandless has prepared for them, visit the festival website.

*****

Book Cover Persephone's Children

While there are many memoirs on the market, the majority adhere to a linear form and narrative. Recently, more genre-bending memoirs have proven successful, and my first book, Persephone’s Children: A Life In Fragments pushes those boundaries even further.

Persephone’s Children, is a hybrid memoir that chronicles my leaving a domestic abuse situation as a black and biracial woman and how writing sustained me during that difficult process. Through a series of essays that are often nonlinear and experimental in form, readers explore themes such as intergenerational trauma, racism, …

Continue reading »

16 Indigenous Reads: A List from Kobo

This is a list of eBooks and audiobooks to help readers celebrate the cultures of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples through a mix of fiction and nonfiction that shines light on painful moments in history (much of which is hardly past) while highlighting the talents of some of the best writers working today.

**

Call Me Indian, by Fred Sasakamoose

Fred Saskamoose emerged from the brutal residential school system to become the first Indigenous person with Treaty status in the NHL—before First Nations people obtained the right to vote in Canada. But there’s more to the story of “Fast Freddy” than the dozen games he played for the Chicago Black Hawks, including a life serving his community and fighting to reclaim Indigenous pride.

**

A History of My Brief Body, by Billy-Ray Belcourt

This poetic and challenging memoir leaves impressions on readers’ minds that may take a lifetime to interpret. We spoke with the author about his work on the Kobo in Conversation podcast.

**

Continue reading »

On Telling the Truth in Politics

The Queer Evangelist is Cheri DiNovo's story of her life as a queer minister, politician and staunch activist for LGBTQ rights. She shares how she went from living on the streets as a teenager to performing the first legalized same-sex marriage registered in Canada in 2001. From rights for queer parents to banning conversion therapy, her story will inspire people (queer or ally) to not only resist the system—but change it.

The following excerpt takes place during her time as an MPP for Parkdale-High Park in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, where she served from 2006 to 2017.

*****

There’s an old saying, “If you’re going to dine with the Devil, you’d better have a very long spoon.” The maneuvering included timing the introduction of bills, getting the press involved if an important human rights bill wasn’t going to be put forward, and as always bringing activist pressure to bear on the process. It all took a lot of work and my terrific team to carry it off. In that regard, politics, like most careers, involves, well, politics. Once you lose your idealism about partisanship, you can actually accomplish an amazing amount on behalf of the marginalized. As a socialist, I should have had no illusions about capitalist governments, and I only really harbo …

Continue reading »

How Does a Woman Become a Writer?

I loved memoirs, autobiographies, and collections of letters as well as fiction I thought autobiographical. While my little boys were choosing the books they’d bring home from the library, I was seeking out what I myself wanted to read. I admired Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar, Françoise Sagan’s Bonjour Tristesse, Jean Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea, and everything Margaret Drabble wrote.

I read and reread Drabble’s early novels—A Summer Bird-Cage, The Garrick Year, The Millstone—as though every word were not only true, but addressed to me personally. A talented and accomplished woman with a degree from Cambridge, Drabble knew all about the challenges of combining motherhood and a career. With three children to bring up, she had somehow managed to become a celebrated novelist. There was a husband, who was an actor, and I was not surprised when I learned they eventually divorced.

The writers who mattered to me were all older than I was—Margaret Drabble and Margaret Atwood are about ten years my senior—and the ones who mattered most—Muriel Spark, Doris Lessing, and Mavis Gallant— were from my mother’s generation. They all had some- thing in common with me, as well, in their familiarity with corners of the world once controlled by the British, and in t …

Continue reading »