When I left Canada in 2000, I had to make hard choices about the books I took with me. It wasn’t only the stories contained within the covers that impacted my choice, but the circumstances surrounding their reading—the memories associated with the books or the emotions they conjured. Two years into my new life in England I was chatting about books with a woman I met at a baby group. She mentioned short stories, I mentioned Alice Munro and the next week I loaned her my three Munro hardbacks. I never saw my books again. I was bereft, as though a piece of me was lost.
The longer I’m gone, the more I cherish Canadian literature, perhaps even more so during this pandemic. I can’t travel back home, but I can revisit my past in the company of a good book. I have many favourite Canadian books; here are just a few pieces of me. And while I absolutely recommend them, I’m no longer sure I would ever lend them…
Le chandail de hockey, by Roch …
Romancelandia. It's a sprawling and fascinating place, and some of its most exciting authors are here together (virtually) to talk about the genre, its challenges, and the very best parts of writing happily-ever-after.
49th Shelf: Imagine you were welcoming a new reader to Romancelandia—can you provide a brief description of the lay of the land and its regions? Where in its world do you live?
Barb Curtis: Romancelandia is a world where lovers of the romance genre (both readers and writers) can connect over all things romance. If you follow the hashtag on Twitter, you’ll discover industry news and discussions, book recommendations based on your favourite authors or tropes, and reviews. It’s also a place where important conversations are happening about politics, women’s rights, and representation. It’s a community that comes together and stands up for all that romance is and can evolve into.
Romancelandia is just a click away and all you need to fit in is a love for any genre of happily-ever-afters—from historical romance to paranormal romance to romantic suspense.
Kelly Bowen: What a fun question! Here goes, according to my handy guidebook interpretation (which, of course, is not the only one!):
Romancelandia is a huge, fabulous world that welcomes a …
Last spring—as launches, festivals and other events were cancelled across the country—49th Shelf helped Canadian authors launch more than 50 new books with LAUNCHPAD. And now we're back this fall, but with a twist.
LAUNCHPAD 2.0 features new releases selected by great Canadian writers who've chosen books that absolutely deserve to find their way into the hands of readers.
Today Thea Lim, author of An Ocean of Minutes, recommends the debut novel by Sheung-King. "You are Eating an Orange. You are Naked. is a tale of two rich and rootless people that oozes the horror and confusion of love, while staying somehow still desperately romantic, and so gloriously sad. This novel is also about something else: it gives the cold shoulder to the dominant gaze and its demands to control the Asian body, carving out a thrilling space beyond whiteness. I didn't want it to end."
49th Shelf: What particular something have you managed to achieve with this book that you're especially proud of?
Sheung-King: You are Eating an Orange. You are Naked. is not an immigra …
There's so much great buzz for Roselle Lim's debut Natalie Tan's Book of Luck and Fortune—plus, Ali Wong's Always Be My Maybe has left us hungry for more stories about food and romance with a San Francisco setting. To give you all a taste of what Lim's novel has in store for readers, we're pleased to feature an excerpt from the book, along with Natalie Tan's recipe for Drunken Chicken Wings, which are exactly what's called for to save an ailing marriage—or so Natalie hopes....
From Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune:
I combined five spice, black pepper, Thai chilies, and paprika into a large bowl for the seasoning. I tumbled two pounds of chicken wings out of their brown paper wrapping and into the awaiting bowl where I kneaded the pungent mixture into them, squeezing the spices into the meat like an experienced massage therapist. Another bowl full of shaoxing rice wine combined with red vinegar awaited the wings as the next step after their rigorous massage. They soaked, relaxed, basking in the pool of wine, to become drunken like their namesake. I set them aside to marinate in the fridge...
The side dish for the drunken chicken wings was a pickled slaw. This was my recipe and something I had picked up from my travels in Vietnam. I julienned carrots …
"What's not to love?" asks Marissa Campbell, about the romance. "We crave those delicious feelings that love inspires..." In her list for us, Campbell tells us about her debut novel, Avelynn, and shares some other romance titles that turn things up hot, and even hotter.
My debut novel, Avelynn, set in 869 Anglo-Saxon England is a historical romance. I have a weakness for romance books, because honestly, what’s not to love? A bouquet of flowers, a box of chocolate, a love note, a picnic beneath the stars. We crave those delicious feelings that love inspires—the heart-pounding mixture of trepidation and excitement leading up to that first date, the breathless anticipation of a first kiss, the curious and delirious moments fumbling toward first base, the crashing, rolling surge of yearning culminating in that first night of wild passion. We may struggle in life, we may have to fight tooth and nail to eke out beautiful moments to hold onto and cherish, but in a romance novel, we are guaranteed a happy ending.
Avelynn has big dreams. Despite the confines of a patriarchal society, she hopes to one day oversee Wedmore, a wealthy manor in Wessex. She also refuses to give up on her pagan roots, resisting the Christian church’s increasing hold on Britain. Most of …
Set in mid-century India and England against the backdrop of WWII, Thirst, by Shree Ghatage (Doubleday), tells the story of unexpected love born out of an arranged marriage between Vasanti and Baba and how their worlds fall apart after Baba decides to study abroad in London.
49th Shelf talks with Shree Ghatage about desire—"the lynchpin that separates humans from animals"—and her story of a passionate marriage, arranged then torn apart.
Julie Wilson: Thirst is set in India and London, in the early 40s, against the backdrop of World War II. What drew you to this time period?
Shree Ghatage: Thirst is the second novel in a trilogy that began with Brahma’s Dream. There were two characters in Brahma’s Dream—Vasanti and her husband, Baba—who stayed with me even after I had finished working on the book. So when I began to write the first draft of Thirst, the character of Baba, almost unbidden, came foremost to mind, and I was quickly drawn into developing an account of his life. The fact that my first novel was set against the backdrop of India’s 1940’s independence movement meant that Baba’s story would also play out during that era. As it happens, England in World War II became a prolific setting and time period in which to explore the nuances of memory …
I chat with Gabriele/Adeline about the leap from CanLit to erotica, sexual bravery, and something I like to call The Sisterhood of the Travelling Hot Pants.
First, some introduction to S.E.C.R.E.T.:
The novel's protagonist, Cassie Robichaud, a waitress in New Orleans, is in a rut. She's lonely and full of regret following the death of her husband. One day, a customer leaves behind a notebook in the cafe, the pages of which detail explicit confessions, leading Cassie to an underground society of women who support and guide one another through their wildest sexual fantasies. Set free of inhibitions, having discovered new confidence, Cassie begins a transformation that leaves her satisfied and sated. (Readers also come to know a fine fella named Will, Cassie's colleague at the cafe.)
Julie Wilson: Let's being with the pseudonym. It's not a big leap to get from William Bradley "Brad" Pitt to Brad Pitt, but L. Marie Adeline is a more conscious construction. Where did she come from?