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Today is the summer solstice, and it’s also the day we celebrate Indigenous Peoples! At Talonbooks, the cultural production of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Peoples – writing by, for, and about Indigenous Peoples – is a central part of what we do every day of the year.
We have many recent and forthcoming titles we’d like to share with you today. Kuei, My Friend: A Conversation on Race and Reconciliation, full-metal indigiqueer, Safety Sand, and Talker’s Town and The Girl Who Swam Forever, out recently, and Sir John A: Acts of a Gentrified Ojibway Rebellion., Seven Sacred Truths, From Oral to Written: A Celebration of Indigenous Literature in Canada, 1980–2010 (second printing!), and Thanks for Giving, out soon, include Indigenous authors, and beholden and Treaty 6 Deixis, both forthcoming this fall, centre themes of how non-Indigenous people in Canada engage with Indigenous Peoples, our treaties, and the land on which we all live.
Last but not least, Talonbooks will soon be rolling out the 2018 edition of our Indigenous catalogue!
Finding Mr. Wong by Susan Crean is hot off the presses!
Finding Mr. Wong chronicles the author’s effort to piece together the life of the man she knew as Mr. Wong, cook and housekeeper to her Irish Canadian family for two generations. A Chinese Head Tax payer hired by Crean’s grandfather in Toronto in 1928, Wong Dong Wong remained on the job following Gordon Crean’s death in 1947. Crean’s homage weaves the various strands of her memories of and discoveries about Mr. Wong during the last twenty-five years of his life; she travels the streets and histories of Chinatowns in Vancouver and Toronto, Canada, and twice she visits Guangdong, China, where she locates Wong Dong Wong’s home village, finds descendants of his father’s brother, and learns the beginning of his story: orphaned as a newborn, then brought to Canada by his uncle, Wong YeeWoen.
Finding Mr. Wong is an important contribution to a growing body of writings that illuminate the lives of people silenced or otherwise negated by myopic history.
The two one-act plays in Talker’s Town and The Girl Who Swam Forever are set in a small B.C. mill town in the 1960s. They portray identical characters and action from entirely different gender and cultural perspectives. In many ways, the two separate works are inter-related coming-of-age stories, with transformation as a key theme.
The central action in both plays involves an Aboriginal girl, Roberta Bob, who escapes from a residential school and hides out by the river. In Nelson Gray’s Talker’s Town, the story is conveyed by a teenage non-Indigenous boy whose friend has had a relationship with the girl and whose attempts to hush up the affair lead to disastrous consequences. In Marie Clements’s The Girl Who Swam Forever, the action unfolds from the perspective of the girl, who – to claim her past and secure her future – must undergo a shape-shifting transformation and meet her grandmother’s ancestral spirit in the form of a hundred-year-old sturgeon.
Employing a single setting and working with the same set of characters, the playwrights have created two radically different fictional worlds, one Aboriginal and one non-Aboriginal. Published together, the plays form a fascinating diptych that reveals rifts between Indigenous and colonial/settler histories and provides a vehicle for cultural exchange.
It is with great sadness that we report the death of David McFadden, a well-renowned and beloved Canadian poet who published over three dozen volumes of poetry, fiction and non-fiction. David passed away on Wednesday, June 6, aged 77. We offer condolences to his family and his many friends and admirers.
David was deeply involved with publishers and magazines across Canada during his decades-long career. He published four books with Talonbooks between 1987 and 2002, including Five Star Planet, Great Lakes Suite, There’ll Be Another, and Gypsy Guitar. David was a three-time Governor General’s Award nominee: Gypsy Guitar received a 1988 nomination, alongside The Art of Darkness (McClelland & Stewart) in 1984, and Be Calm, Honey (Mansfield Press) in 2009. David won the Griffin Prize for Poetry for What’s the Score? (Mansfield Press) in 2013 and was shortlisted in 2008 for Why Are You So Sad? (Insomniac Press).
King Arthur’s Night is a musical extravaganza in which King Arthur banters with Merlin and romances Guinevere. An upside-down world … a betrayed love … an unwanted child … a revolt by the subjugated masses … a kingdom come undone … It leaves one pondering mysteries both absurd (how did the Round Table get to Harrison Hot Springs, British Columbia?) and profound (what is the link between the soul and
Peter Panties is a radical re-imagining of the Peter Pan story in which Peter Pan and Captain Hook (or is he Macbeth?) drink lattes, the Lost Boys hang with detectives from CSI, and Tinkerbell and Wendy duke it out at Skull Rock. Peter is conflicted about growing up – “Fuck that! No mustache!” – but he also desperately wants to have sex with Wendy and make a baby. The situation is funny, but aching; sexual exclusion and the denial of full adulthood are no laughing matters for people whose lives include Down syndrome.
A heartfelt congratulations to Mercedes Eng, whose Prison Industrial Complex Explodes received the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize on Friday, May 4. The impetus for Prison Industrial Complex Explodes was the discovery of a cache of Eng’s father’s prison correspondence: letters from the federal government stating their intention to deport him because of his criminal record; letters from prison justice advocate Michael Jackson advising her father on deportation; letters from the RCMP regarding the theft of her father’s property, a gold necklace, while in transport to prison; letters from family members and friends; letters from Eng and her brother. rob mclennan calls Eng’s book “incredibly powerful and intimate” and we tend to agree.
Adeena Karasick’s latest collection of poems is hot off the press!
Checking In comprises a long poem and a series of other post-conceptual pieces – concrete poems, homolinguistic translations, Yiddish aphorisms – that offer exuberant commentary on the timelessness of digital information and our ravenous appetite for data and connection. Karasick’s words luxuriate in the materiality of language and the production of meaning. She checks in with pop culture, media studies, semiotics, critical theory, feminist theory, and contemporary Canadian and American literature. The lover of language play, the poetry reader, and the academic alike will drink in this poet-performer’s concoctions; as ever, they’re fun, smart, and topical.
National Poetry Month continues, and the poetry continues to arrive! Vancouver poet Edward (Ted) Byrne’s latest collection is now available. Order your copy today!
Duets consists of interpretative translations of sonnets by Louise Labé, who lived and wrote in sixteenth-century Lyon, and those by thirteenth-century Florentine Guido Cavalcanti. The reader will find herein ninety poems, equally “translations” of Labé and Cavalcanti and “versions” authored by Byrne. Each sonnet is made up of nine lines, each line, in turn, made up of nine syllables. The work’s main body is written in the manner of the serial poem, a practice whereby the composing mind passes from room to room – and from stanza to stanza – in a kind of trance, forgetting and remembering.
Joan MacLeod’s latest play is hot off the press!
Gracie is a dramatic monologue telling the story of a girl raised in a fundamentalist community that transports child brides between polygamist communities in both Canada and the United States. Gracie loves her family, and her strong faith is a source of comfort to her. Although the play examines practices that are abhorrent, it does so without judgement (as critics have noted). The play is a work of fiction but is inspired by the history of polygamist communities in both Canada and the U.S. – and its timeliness is uncanny; two days after the play premiered (in January 2017), three persons from Canada’s largest polygamist community went to trial for transporting child brides. Gracie is window into a complex and secretive world. While it takes place in a sheltered community, it also resonates with issues at the fore right now: fundamentalism, basic human and religious rights.
Mancini is in stellar company with the other two Canadian nominees: Billy-Ray Belcourt, author of This Wound is a World (Frontenac House), and Aisha Sasha John, author of I have to live (McClelland & Stewart). Read more about each title and about the international nominees on the official shortlist.
The winners – one Canadian and one international – will be announced on June 7.
We are very excited to announce that four Talon titles have been nominated for the ReLit Awards for books published in the year 2017! One novel and three collections of poetry have been nominated:
Find the full 2017 “long shortlists” here.
The ReLit Awards are given to books in three categories – novels, short fiction, and poetry – that have been written by Canadian authors while living in Canada and have been published by an independent Canadian press. Winners receive unique and custom-made rings.
Congratulations to all the nominated authors and their wonderful books! We look forward to finding out which books will be the winners!
We heartily congratulate Joshua Whitehead, whose collection of poetry, full-metal indigiqueer, has just been short-listed for the 2018 Stephan G. Stephansson Award for Poetry in the Alberta Literary Awards!
1920s Hong Kong. A killer on the loose. Chinese detective Tommy Lam, the city’s most brilliant sleuth, is called in to investigate. Battling racism and his own reputation, Tommy follows clues to the glamorous Nine Dragons nightclub and into the haze of the opium trade … Nine Dragons is a hard-boiled mystery with a twist: a cross-cultural thriller and “a smart exploration of colonialism, racism, assimilation, and the clash of cultures” (Joff Schmidt, CBC). In the words of Donna-Michelle St. Bernard (artistic director at New Harlem Productions), “This play is dangerously cool.”
Jovanni Sy’s new play has arrived! And it’s right on time: the book is available in print just as the play is being mounted at Richmond’s Gateway Theatre from April 12 through 21. Books will be available for sale at the theatre; if you’re planning to attend the play, why not pick up a copy during intermission? Or, if you won’t be at the theatre, order your copy from Talon.
Gail Anderson-Dargatz’s 1996 novel The Cure for Death by Lightning was nominated for the Giller Prize, was awarded the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize, and became a bestseller in Canada and Great Britain. A charming and somewhat disturbing coming-of-age story, it has become a perennial Canadian favourite.
And now it’s a play, too! Adapted for the stage by Daryl Cloran, The Cure for Death by Lightning first premiered in Kamloops, British Columbia, at the Western Canadian Theatre in the spring of 2017. Cloran’s adaptation – hailed by Anderson-Dargatz herself as a “magical vision … brought vividly to life in a wholly new form” – is now available in print. Order your copy today!
Our latest arrival is The Green Chamber, a Montreal Gothic novel by the brilliant Martine Desjardins and translated by Fred A. Reed and David Homel. Luxe, eerie, and wryly amusing, The Green Chamber is not to be missed; in the words of author M.A.C. Farrant, “Desjardins has created a comic novel worthy of the word ‘great’”!
Set between 1913 and 1963 in one of Montreal’s upper-middle-class, suburban neighbourhoods, Martine Desjardins’s The Green Chamber is a riveting, fast-paced, highly atmospheric novel that chronicles the decline of a wealthy French-Canadian family over the course of three generations. Desjardins’s humorous gothic saga – with its gallery of eccentric characters who play the races in secret and guzzle vanilla extract – reveals and revels in the fate of family fortunes: the first generation makes the money, the second generation lives on the interest, and the third blows it …
[UPDATE: Thank you to all applicants! As of the end of March, the position has now been filled.]
Do you have book production experience, communications skills, and a passion for avant-garde Canadian literature? If so, we need you! Talonbooks seeks a Production Editor for a full-time, one-year contract position between April 2018 and April 2019 to cover a maternity leave.
As Production Editor, you’ll work closely with Talon’s editors and designer to design and typeset our Fall 2018 and Spring 2019 titles. You’ll be responsible for shepherding frontlist and backlist titles (reprints) through production to press. You’ll also work with our ebook publisher to produce and distribute ebooks.
Download this job posting as a PDF.
Kuei, My Friend: A Conversation on Racism and Reconciliation has arrived!
This is an engaging book of letters between Innu poet Natasha Kanapé Fontaine and Québécois-American novelist Deni Ellis Béchard. A book for everyone, but with particular relevance to high-school-age readers, Kuei, My Friend is accompanied by a chronology of events, a glossary of relevant terms in the Innu-aimun language, and a detailed teacher’s guide that includes topics of discussion, questions, and suggested reflections for examination in a classroom setting.
Congratulations to Joshua Whitehead, whose collection of poetry, full-metal indigiqueer, has just been short-listed for the Lambda Literary Award for Transgender Poetry! The awards ceremony will be held on June 4 at the NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts. Read the full list of this year’s nominees here.
UPDATE: The author has withdrawn his book from consideration for this award. Read his open letter about why.
Congratulations to the finalists of the 2018 BC Book Prizes! We are immensely pleased to see two wonderful Talon poets on the short list for the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize: Jónína Kirton’s An Honest Woman and Mercedes Eng’s Prison Industrial Complex Explodes have both been nominated.
If you’re fixin’ for poetry, this is your week! All are welcome at the following (free) readings.
Today – Monday, March 5 – at the University of Windsor in Ontario, Daphne Marlatt will read from Intertidal and speak to students and staff: 4 PM in Vanier Hall (Katzman Lounge).
Tomorrow, Marlatt will read and speak at the University of Western Ontario in London: 3:30 to 4:15 PM in the ABH Room (3R07). Poet Penn Kemp will read and speak as well.
On Wednesday, March 6, Garry Thomas Morse – along with Jim Roberts and Dane Swan – reads from his latest collection in the Rowers Reading Series: 7 PM at the Glad Day Book Shop (now at 499 Church Street) in Toronto (near Wellesley station).
Also on Wednesday, in Kelowna, Mercedes Eng reads from Prison Industrial Complex Explodes: 5 PM at Mosaic Books (411 Bernard Avenue).
This Thursday, March 1, Catriona Strang and Clea Roberts read from their latest collections of poetry. Readings will be followed by refreshments and a question period. All are welcome!
Special Collections & Rare Books
(7100 on the 7th floor of the W.A.C. Bennett Library=)
Simon Fraser University
8888 University Drive
Burnaby, British Columbia
No fewer than seven Talon plays are on stage across Canada (and the United States) over the next month! And two of them – both by David French – are on multiple stages in different productions! Now is such a good time to catch something great at your local theatre …
January 25 through February 3, Mambo Italiano by Steve Galluccio is on stage in French at Le Théâtre du Nouvel-Ontario in SUDBURY, Ontario. Details here.
January 30 through February 18, the Neptune Theatre in HALIFAX, Nova Scotia, stages Salt-Water Moon by David French. Details here.
January 31 through February 4, King Arthur’s Night, a collaboration “across cognitive distances” by Niall McNeil and Marcus Youssef, is on stage at the PuSh Festival in VANCOUVER, British Columbia! Details here.
January 25 to February 11, Salt-Water Moon runs at Prairie Theatre Exchange in WINNIPEG, Manitoba. Details here= .
February 1 through 17, Daniel MacIvor’s Marion Bridge is on stage in BELLEVILLE, Ontario. Details here.
February 1 through April 8, Jitters, a comedy by David French, will be presented by Desiderio’s Dinner Theatre at Bobby J’s Italian American Grille in CHEEKTOWAGA, New York. Details here.
February 15 through 24, Salt-Water Moon is also on stage at the Gateway Theatre in RICHMOND, British Columbia! Details here.
For one night only (February 18), Marcus Youssef’s Jabber, a powerful play about Muslim teen, is on stage in WILKES-BARRE, Pennsylvania. Details here.
January 25 through February 25, the late David French’s classic theatre comedy Jitters is on stage at the Stanley Theatre in VANCOUVER, British Columbia. Details here.
Poet Oana Avasilichioaei is in Vancouver from Montreal and New York as the Audain Visual Artist in Residence at SFU, and she performs her multimedia work Limbs & Thresholds on Wednesday, January 24 (7 PM, downtown). Free admission. Also find this event listed on sfu.ca and on Facebook.
The first book of 2018 is in the house! We kick off our Spring 2018 season with Garry Thomas Morse’s new collection of poetry, Safety Sand. In this companion to Governor General’s Award finalists Discovery Passages and Prairie Harbour, Morse resumes his expansionist mapping of lyrical consciousness onto geographical concerns, acknowledging the unsettled edges of an imaginary territory. Order your copy today for $18.95.
Though a resident of Winnipeg, Morse brings his ideas of North to Toronto this year as the Jack McClelland Writer-in-Residence at the University of Toronto. Each year the University of Toronto appoints a Canadian writer to work with students, faculty, and staff interested in creative writing. Morse will offer a non-credit creative writing seminar on poetry with a special focus on serial poems and sequences and/or prose poems.
From all of us at Talonbooks, we wish you health, happiness, and prosperity throughout this festive season and in the new year! May you and your loved ones read and speak words that matter.
Please note that the Talonbooks office will be closed from December 22 at noon (PST) through January 2, reopening again on January 3, 2018.
To celebrate International Women’s Day, we asked our staff to recommend favourite Talon books that they felt contributed to the advancement of women and to the feminist literary canon.Tuesday February 6, 2018 in Meta-Talon
By Carl Peters
On Meta-Talon today, please enjoy the full text of the presentation given by Carl Peters at the Modern Languages Association convention in New York City on January 7, 2018. This talk responds to the question posed in the MLA convention session Rhetoric in Post-Factual Times: how to perform textual analysis in a time when facts are no longer the marker of good argumentation. (Peters’s talk is also related to his work on Stein; Peters is recently the author of Studies in Description: Reading Gertrude Stein’s Tender Buttons.)Thursday December 21, 2017 in Meta-Talon
Our little end-of-year present to you is a miniature from M.A.C. Farrant’s delightful collection of very short stories, The World Afloat. Happy Holidays from Talonbooks!
Our Spiritual Lives
We’ve seen stains on tea towels that look like Jesus Christ’s face so we know he exists. And we know that dried seaweed can save the Douglas fir from extinction so we hang dried seaweed from the tree’s branches.Tuesday December 5, 2017 in Meta-Talon
A finalist for the 2006 Governor General’s Literary Award for Drama, In a World Created by a Drunken God has been in steady demand since it was first published 11 years ago. From 2006 until the end of 2017, In a World Created by a Drunken God was in print with its original cover, which showed moving boxes and a flip phone. Now, Talonbooks has reprinted In a World Created by a Drunken God for the fourth time, and it wears a dynamic, new cover …
We gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Canada Council for the Arts; the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund (CBF); and the Province of British Columbia through the British Columbia Arts Council for our publishing activities.