One of CBC Books' Canadian Nonfiction to Read in the Fall • A Tyee Best Book of 2023 • A CBC Books Best Nonfiction Book of 2023 • A Hamilton Review of Books Best Book of 2023
We need community to live. But what does it look like? Why does it often feel like it's slipping away?
We are all hinged to some definition of a community, be it as simple as where we live, complex as the beliefs we share, or as intentional as those we call family. In an episodic personal essay, Casey Plett draws on a range of firsthand experiences to start a conversation about the larger implications of community as a word, an idea, and a symbol. With each thread a cumulative definition of community, and what it has come to mean to Plett, emerges.
Looking at phenomena from transgender literature, to Mennonite history, to hacker houses of Silicon Valley, and the rise of nationalism in North America, Plett delves into the thorny intractability of community's boons and faults. Deeply personal, authoritative in its illuminations, On Community is an essential contribution to the larger cultural discourse that asks how, and to what socio-political ends, we form bonds with one another.
About the author
Casey Plett is the author of the novel Little Fish and the short story collections A Dream of a Woman and A Safe Girl to Love, and co-editor of the anthology Meanwhile, Elsewhere: Science Fiction and Fantasy from Transgender Writers (Topside Press). She wrote a column on transitioning for McSweeney's Internet Tendency and her essays and reviews have appeared in The New York Times, Maclean's, The Walrus, Plenitude, the Winnipeg Free Press, and other publications. She is the winner of two Lambda Literary Award for Transgender Fiction, winner of the Amazon Canada First Novel Award, and she received an Honour of Distinction from The Writers' Trust of Canada's Dayne Ogilvie Prize for LGBTQ Emerging Writers. She lives in Windsor, Ontario.
Praise for On Community
"On Community—a book-length personal essay—delves into the different ways we imagine our communities and the people who form them."
—Globe and Mail
"Don’t expect to walk away from On Community with easy answers. Plett refuses to explore the titular concept 'blithely' or to simplify it 'to the point of untruth.' Splitting it into practical and theoretical definitions is 'too simple.' Instead, she weaves together a nuanced narrative that unpacks the term’s intricacies while maintaining its importance."
—Literary Review of Canada
"A tightly woven, academic and literary brain dump of concepts and notions, posits and prompts, with a flight of challenging questions."
—The Miramichi Reader
"Plett uses her firsthand experiences to eventually reach a cumulative definition of community and explore how we form bonds with one another."
"Plett ruminates on the importance of community in succinct, snappy prose."
—Winnipeg Free Press
"Amidst ... definitions and (re)interpretations of 'community,' Casey Plett truly embodies the nuances, spits on assumptions and holds space for the real, the ugly, the bittersweet and everything in between."
—The Ex Puritan
"With humour and verve, Plett cuts through the platitudes often associated with how we talk about community. She offers a welcome, incisive analysis of power and belonging that feels as lived-in as it is hopeful."
"Plett’s essay is a thoughtful, rich and engaging unpacking of the complexity behind simplistic ideas, and a clear-eyed consideration of what really is a universal human experience."
—Pickle Me This
"Plett reflects on her Mennonite roots, trans literature, nationalism, Silicon Valley, and the idea of family, in this consideration of how and why we manage to live together at all."
—Quill and Quire
Praise for Casey Plett
"Plett's trademark skills at authentic characterization, evocative setting, and insight into the lives of trans women are on full display in this superb collection of short stories. The stories crackle with quiet complexity."
—Autostraddle ("Best Queer Books of the Year")
"Plett tells beautiful stories of trans women as they exist in the world: tangible, fallible, tender and hardened.
"I've always admired Plett's ability to capture the tenderest and most complicated intimacies between characters. Exploring addiction, loss, consent, and shifting desires, each story in her extraordinary new collection is somehow even more tender and emotionally complex than the last.
—Megan Milks, The Rumpus
"Plett has a characteristic style that manages to merge tenderness with Prairie toughness—a style on display in these stories of trans women seeking something—groundedness, maybe, but that dreamlike quality of desire, too.
—Globe and Mail
"Both bittersweet and beautiful, Plett writes perfectly imperfect characters that make you feel less alone."
—The Independent (UK)