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News, Events, and Announcements

news | Tuesday August 31, 2021

New Poetry Hot Off the Press

We are so pleased to announce that Dale Martin Smith‘s Flying Red Horse and ryan fitzpatrick‘s Coast Mountain Foot are hot off the press!

Flying Red Horse dwells on fatherhood and masculinity, the conditions of whiteness that pressure them, global surveillance, and climate change. It draws attention to the spectacle and surveillance governing Canada and the United States. It asks where individuals stand in relation to the global technological power of connectivity and disconnection that disturbs contemporary social relations. Without seeking resolution, in both verse and essay, it puts these issues into lyric correspondence.

Pick up your copy here.

Coast Mountain Foot keens its ear to the energies that connect cities, refracting the gesture of George Bowering’s 1968 classic Rocky Mountain Foot. Occasioned by fitzpatrick’s own move from Calgary to Vancouver in 2011, the book writes through the messy perspectives of the two cities as they bleed into one another – the energy in one city’s streets suddenly appearing in the other – and engages with the urban and its intimacies through careful listening. The book’s interlaced serial poetics is anchored by a series of lyric poems written in moments of transit – walking the streets, riding the bus, pausing in coffee shop windows. In these moments of reflection, fitzpatrick pinpoints his relationship to urban transformation.

Pick up your copy here.

The launch party for both these titles will be on October 2 at The Great Escape Bookstore in Toronto. Find out more info here.

We are so excited for you to read these two highly anticipated poetry collections!

news | Tuesday August 10, 2021

Le 12 août, j’achète un livre québécois / Buy a Quebec Book Day! August 12

The annual event Le 12 août, j’achète un livre québécois / Buy a Québec Book Day is here in two days! For those of you living in Québec, check out this great initiative by Fondation pour l’alphabétisation / the Literacy Foundation. Buy a book and deposit them in a participating bookstore (map here). Over the years, this initiative has distributed more than 860,000 books to help prevent children from developing reading and writing difficulties.

Readers outside of Québec can encourage the initiative by donating online via The Gift of Reading program or sending books to participating Québec bookstores. Not sure what to send? We got you covered!

Talonbooks specializes in publishing exceptional Québec literature in translation, including novels, plays, essays, and poetry for English readers in Canada and around the world. The list below highlights a few translated works to get you as excited as we are for the 12 août event.

1. A Covenant of Salt by Martine Desjardins and translated by Fred A. Reed and David Homel

Since the death of her parents in 1791, Lily McEvoy has lived as a recluse in her isolated Armagh County manor. But tonight, the heiress is expecting company – Master Anselm, the legendary stone cutter who has transformed the estate’s abandoned salt mine into an immense funerary monument to the memory of the McEvoy family.

Lily is sniffing powdered salt in the attic as she summons the shadow of her father, the cruel Irish Rear Admiral Magnus McEvoy, hero of the capture of Québec City and absolute master of his estate, and of her mother, the mysterious Laurence, she of the webbed feet who emerged from the river of a stormy night.

But the same salt that has preserved Lily’s memories is desiccating her. Her obsession with the past now risks transforming her into a pillar of salt – crystallized by the family’s abominable secrets. These secrets, and the instrument of her revenge, she will finally reveal to Anselm over their precipitous evening meal.

2. Crossing the Continent by Michel Tremblay and translated by Sheila Fischman

Crossing the Continent takes readers on a quintessential North American journey. It is 1913, at a time of industry and adventure, when crossing the continent was an enterprise undertaken by so many, young and old, from myriad cultures, unimpeded by the abstractly constructed borders and identities that have so fractured our world of today.

This, the first in Tremblay’s Desrosiers Diaspora series of novels, provides us with the back-story to the characters of Tremblay’s classic Chronicles of the Plateau Mont-Royal, particularly of his mother, “The Fat Woman Next Door …” and his maternal grandmother, who, though largely uneducated, was a voracious reader and introduced him to the world of reading and books. Works such as Tintin adventure comics, mass-market novels, and The Inn of the Guardian Angel, which fascinated the young Tremblay with its sections of dramatic dialogue, inspired the many great plays he would eventually write.

Born in a working-class family in Québec, novelist and playwright Michel Tremblay was raised in Montréal’s Plateau-Mont-Royal neighbourhood. His novels and plays have been adapted and translated into dozens of languages throughout Europe, the Americas, and the Middle East.

3. Mégantic: A Deadly Mix of Oil, Rail, and Avarice by Anne-Marie Saint-Cerny and translated by W. Donald Wilson

Winner of the 2018 Prix Pierre-Vadeboncœur, Mégantic examines the causes and after-effects of the 2013 Lac-Mégantic rail disaster. Through exhaustively researched investigative journalism, Saint-Cerny reveals how the tragedy was not an accident, but rather was knowingly caused by powerful people and institutions far removed from the town itself.

The fruit of five years of work and interviews with nearly a hundred people from various backgrounds, including victims and their relatives, Mégantic tells the story of the disaster in three acts – before, during, and after – in a scathing critique whose ultimate goal is to prevent the preventable.

4. Orwell in Cuba: How 1984 Came to be Published in Castro’s Twilight by Frédérick Lavoie and translated by Donald Winkler

Orwell in Cuba chronicles freelance journalist Frédérick Lavoie’s attempts to unravel the motives behind the mysterious appearance of a new translation of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, formerly taboo in Cuba, just ahead of the country’s twenty-fifth International Book Fair. Lavoie works to make sense of how Cubans feel about the past, present, and future of their island – and how the political regime is adapting, or not, to life in the twenty-first century.

Lavoie’s intertwined quests give readers the unique experience of following a suspenseful trail while at the same time becoming increasingly familiar with Cubans’ relationship to the regime and their strategies for coping with the island’s often challenging living conditions.

Born in Chicoutimi in 1983, Frédérick Lavoie is a writer and freelance journalist. He has contributed to many Canadian and European media outlets, reporting from more than thirty countries. In his journalism, he explores the many faces of humanity in troubled times.

5. Searching for Sam by Sophie Bienvenu and translated by Rhonda Mullins

What happens when your only companion disappears out of the blue? You’re left adrift. Mathieu lives on the street. His main companion is his pitbull, Sam – the one connection he retains in the world, helping him to stay alive. So when Sam vanishes, Mathieu starts to spiral. As he frantically searches for her, his past begins to re-emerge in flashbacks, revealing the tragedies of his life.

Sophie Bienvenu is a Québécois writer born in Belgium. After studying visual communication in Paris, she settled in Québec in 2001 and quickly established herself as a successful blogger. Bienvenu’s writing takes its readers on an emotional journey, an intense exploration of profoundly human characters, transforming the ordinary into the extraordinary.

6. Impurity by Larry Tremblay and translated by Sheila Fischman

Impurity begins with the disappearance of bestselling author Alice Livingston. Confronted with this much reported disappearance, her philosopher husband Antoine revisits their past relationship: open and liberated on the outside, but constrained and even deviant on the inside. The news of the day (the death of JFK Junior, the self-immolation of a Buddhist monk, etc.) announced by the television running in the novel’s background gradually becomes significant in the lives of the protagonists – as revealed in Alice’s last book.

A playful and macabre narrative tour de force, structured like a matryoshka doll, Impurity weaves a complex web of interlocking narratives in multiple voices and a variety of forms.

Larry Tremblay is a writer, director, actor, and specialist in Kathakali, an elaborate dance theatre form which he has studied on numerous trips to India. He has published more than twenty books as a playwright, poet, novelist, and essayist, and he is one of Québec’s most produced and translated playwrights.

7. The Grand Melee by Michel Tremblay and translated by Sheila Fischman

Michel Tremblay’s The Grand Melee is the fifth novel in the Desrosiers Diaspora novel series.

It’s May 1922, and preparations are in full swing for the marriage of Nana and Gabriel, which will take place the following month. There’s just one problem: Nana’s wedding dress has yet to be bought. Nana’s mercurial mother, Maria, torn between her desire to measure up as a mother and the inescapable constraints of poverty, wonders how to pay for the wedding. And she’s not the only one battling demons – the thought of the upcoming reunion unsettles every member of the large and dispersed Desrosiers family. While the wedding invitations announce a celebration, they also stir up old memories, past desires, and big regrets.

8. Against the Wind by Madeleine Gagnon and translated by Phyllis Aronoff and Howard Scott

Unable to cope with or even recognize the residual effects of his trauma in adolescence, Joseph retreats into an increasingly abstract world, one in which he must confront what he calls his “visions.” And when he hears of the death of his natural mother, this brings to the surface memories he had hoped were buried deep within him, and precipitates the form of various crises to come, particularly as he discovers and makes use of the artistic abilities revealed to his family during his psychiatric evaluation.

After many more hardships, the young man does find meaning to the absurdities of life, ironically in the asylum, where he meets a virtuoso pianist whose condition prevents her from continuing to exercise her talents. They heal together through their mutual love, which will soon subsist upon nothing but memory and absence. During mournful years of raising his son alone, in his extensive adversaria, Joseph sets out to reconcile the contradictory themes in his life, including abandonment, madness, love and death.

Born in Amqui, in Gaspésie, Madeleine Gagnon works in all genres, combining passion, lucidity, erudition, and political commitment, boldly transgressing the boundaries between poetry and prose.

9. Synapses by Simon Brousseau and translated by Pablo Strauss

Short-listed for the 2019 Governor General’s Award for Translation, Synapses depicts a vast society of differing psyches, all unique, idiosyncratic, and interconnected. Simon Brousseau’s beautifully crafted literary snapshots, each written in a single, stylistically accomplished sentence and featuring a different character, will linger with readers.

Simon Brousseau was born in Québec City and now lives in Montréal, where he teaches literature at Collège Jean-de-Brébeuf. His dissertation on the work of David Foster Wallace and the question of literary influence was published by Éditions Nota bene in 2020.

10. The Weight of Snow by Christian Guay-Poliquin and translated by David Homel

A badly injured man. A nationwide power failure. A village buried in snow. A desperate struggle for survival. These are the ingredients of The Weight of Snow, Christian Guay-Poliquin’s riveting new novel, longlisted for the 2020 Sunburst Award. After surviving a major accident, the book’s protagonist is entrusted to Matthias, a taciturn old man who agrees to heal his wounds in exchange for supplies and a chance of escape. The two men become prisoners of the elements and of their own rough confrontation as the centimetres of snow accumulate relentlessly.

Surrounded by a nature both hostile and sublime, their relationship oscillates between commiseration, mistrust, and mutual aid. Will they manage to hold out against external threats and intimate pitfalls?

Christian Guay-Poliquin was born just north of the U.S. border in Saint-Armand, Québec, in 1982. He believes the art of the narrative is grounded in the demands and details of daily life, situated in a world rife with experience. Running on Fumes, his first novel, was published by Talonbooks in 2016.

Happy Reading! And happy 12 août!

news | Thursday July 29, 2021

A Conversation between Kevin Williams and Drew Hayden Taylor

“People need to tell stories that need to be told.”

Going Native

Talonbooks president and publisher Kevin Williams was interviewed at his house in Vancouver and in Talon’s office in the neighbourhood of Marpole, near c̓əsnaʔəm, by Ojibway writer Drew Hayden Taylor during an episode of Going Native (season 1, episode 11) entitled “Going Storytelling,” which was broadcast on Sunday evening, July 18, 2021. Going Native is a documentary series narrated by Taylor as he “explores a contemporary aspect of Indigenous life.” In episode 11, “from the stage to the written page to the traditional campfire, Drew explores the role Indigenous storytelling plays in myth-making, theatre, and in keeping Indigenous culture alive and well.” Drew chats with Kevin during his stop in Vancouver.

At the beginning of the interview, Kevin is introduced as a “massive supporter” of Indigenous authors. Talonbooks publishes work of the highest literary merit in the genres of non-fiction, drama, poetry, and fiction, and among their world-class authors are many Indigenous writers living in Canada. Over their more than fifty-year history, they have published core titles in the Canadian bibliography of Indigenous work, and they continue to publish and keep in print one of the leading Canadian lists of Indigenous authors. Talonbooks has published sixteen books by Drew to date.

A quick shot of Kevin’s personal library shows the original Canadian-edition Harry Potter books that Kevin published before he and his wife, Vicki Williams, acquired Talonbooks. Drew and Kevin then talk about the dual need for Indigenous writers and artists to express anger and humour in their art. At the end of the episode, we visit Talon’s warehouse with its thousands of books. The show ends with Drew and three Indigenous storytellers, Lee Maracle, Duncan McCue, and Columpa Bobb, around a campfire.

You can stream episodes of Going Native on APTN lumi at https://aptnlumi.ca/.

news | Thursday July 22, 2021

Book Recommendations for Vancouver Pride 2021

To celebrate Vancouver Pride 2021, we asked our editors to recommend their favourite Talon books:

Then Now by Daphne Marlatt

Editor and poet Catriona Strang recommends Daphne Marlatt’s Then Now, “a ‘lyrical exploration of memory, family, catastrophe, immigration, and colonialism’ from groundbreaking lesbian writer Daphne Marlatt.”

Then Now was inspired by the discovery of letters written by Daphne Marlatt’s father, Arthur Buckle. Buckle left England in the early 1930s to join a British accounting firm in multiracial Penang, Malaysia. He continued living and working there until taking leave in 1941, returning after WW II, whose looming threat striates his early letters, and staying until 1951. Decades after the letters’ composition, Marlatt began writing poems in response to them, interwoven with memories they provoked from her postwar childhood there. These poems are written from a sense of place and home on Canada’s West Coast now on the brink of another catastrophe, global climate change, so that throughout the book, “There Then” permeates any “Here Now” of immigrant consciousness and highlights the impermanent quality of “home.”

“How wonderful is it to be a poet and invent such useful and meaningful words as ‘otherwhere’ or ‘betweenships’! Marlatt takes full advantage of her licence to play with words and syntax so as to conflate time and sense.”

Ormsby Review

Tom at the Farm by Michel Marc Bouchard and translated by Linda Gaboriau

Editor and translator Charles Simard recommends Tom at the Farm and presents it as “a deceivingly benign title for an uncompromising psychological thriller by the great Michel Marc Bouchard, confronting the brutality of homophobia and the impossibility of grief one is still likely to encounter when venturing ‘out of town.’ Be sure to read Linda Gaboriau’s moving translation, then to watch the Hitchcockian movie adaptation with Xavier Dolan.”

Following the accidental death of his lover, and in the throes of his grief, urban ad executive Tom travels to the country to attend the funeral and to meet his mother-in-law, Agatha, and her son, Francis – neither of whom know Tom even exists. Arriving at the remote rural farm, and immediately drawn into the dysfunction of the family’s relationships, Tom is blindsided by his lost partner’s legacy of untruth. With the mother expecting a chain-smoking girlfriend, and the older brother hellbent on preserving a facade of normalcy, Tom is coerced into joining the duplicity until, at last, he confronts the torment that drove his lover to live in the shadows of deceit.

The lover – the friend, the son, the brother, the nameless dead man – has left behind a fable woven of false truths which, according to his own teenage diaries, were essential to his survival. In this same rural setting, one young man had once destroyed another young man who loved yet another. Like an ancient tragedy, years later, this drama will shape the destiny of Tom.

In a play that unfolds with progressively blurred boundaries between lust and brutality, between truth and elaborate fiction, Bouchard dramatizes how gay men often must learn to lie before they learn how to love. Throughout 2011 and 2012, Tom at the Farm was produced in Quebec and France, as Tom à la ferme, and in Mexico, as Tom en la granja. Award-winning Quebec director Xavier Dolan adapted the play for the screen in 2013, with Caleb Landry Jones in the leading role.

“Funny, harsh, tender, and terrible, the play engages us in a twisted game that plays itself in a rural setting where innocence and boiling anger collide.”

Montreal Sun

Hosanna by Michel Tremblay and translated by John Van Burek & Bill Glassco

Charles also recommends Hosanna and notes, “One of Michel Tremblay’s most emotional and humanistic plays, undoubtedly. Claude as glorious Liz Taylor’s Cleopatra, his drag persona, is one of the great tragic characters in Québécois theatre. As a teenager in the late 1990s, going to see Hosanna in a Montréal theatre had a profound effect on me. It introduced me to psychological realities and LGBTQ+ identities I had little knowledge of.”

In Michel Tremblay’s classic play about identity in crisis, Claude leaves the conformity of small-town Quebec to realize a new life and a new persona among the drag queens and prostitutes of Montréal’s seedy “Main” – the boulevard that marks the division of the city’s anglophone and francophone neighbourhoods. Claude’s illusions about himself are shattered when, painstakingly remade as his idol Elizabeth Taylor in Cleopatra, he arrives at a costume party themed on “great women of history” and is mocked for his glamorous aspirations. Written during the social and political tumult of Quebec’s Quiet Revolution, Tremblay’s political allegory about the authenticity of self resonates ever more so today.

“Written by a real playwright who can write poetic prose, handle literary technique, and create character.”

New York Post

Happy Pride 2021 from the Talon team!

news | Tuesday July 13, 2021

Talonbooks’ Forthcoming Titles for Fall 2021

The Talon team is very excited to announce that our Fall 2021 titles are live on the website as of today. You can go ahead and pre-order your favourite titles now!

Below is the list of our forthcoming books:

1. Untimely Passages: Dossiers from the Other Shore by Jerry Zaslove (Non-Fiction)

2. The City That Is Leaving Forever: Kashmiri Letters by Rahat Kurd and Sumayya Syed (Non-Fiction)

3. The Grand Melee by Michel Tremblay and translated by Sheila Fischman (Fiction)

4. Twists of Fate: If by Chance & Destination Paradise by Michel Tremblay and translated by Linda Gaboriau (Fiction)

5. Coast Mountain Foot by ryan fitzpatrick (Poetry)

6. Flying Red Horse by Dale Martin Smith (Poetry)

7. OЯACULE by Nicole Raziya Fong (Poetry)

8. A Future Perfect by Razielle Aigen (Poetry)

9. Inheritance: a pick-the-path experience by Daniel Arnold, Darrell Dennis, and Medina Hahn (Drama)

10. The Full Light of Day by Daniel Brooks (Drama)

Have a great book-shopping spree!

news | Thursday July 8, 2021

Jerry Zaslove, 1934–2021

[Jerry Zaslove]

Talonbooks honours the life of Jerry Zaslove, professor emeritus at Simon Fraser University in the departments of English and Humanities, and mourns his passing on June 23. Jerry taught at SFU from its founding in 1965 to his retirement in 2000. He was a former Chair of the English department and the founding Director, in 1983, of the Institute for the Humanities.

For decades, Jerry was a keen participant and active voice in Vancouver’s cultural affairs. In 2001, Talonbooks published Anarcho-Modernism: Toward a New Critical Theory in Honour of Jerry Zaslove, edited by Ian Angus, a collection of thirty-eight pieces unified by a combination of the playful, primitive aesthetic of literary modernism with the anti-authoritarian, anarchist praxis of radical democratic politics.

For the past few years, we’ve been working with Jerry on his forthcoming book: Untimely Passages: Dossiers from the Other Shore. It features essays drawn from fifty years of his writing. Jerry imagines the collection through the image of a colporteur, who appears along the streets and waysides, walking the arcades of cities with books. Untimely Passages is organized into “dossiers,” which are imaginary bridges over literary river crossings. The collection shows a life in writing by crossing rivers to the “other shores.” Untimely Passages will be published this fall.

We wish Jerry a good passage and fair winds as he makes his crossing. We thank him for his dedication to reading, writing, learning, and to his students, as well as for his support of Talonbooks. Our condolences go to his family.

Kevin Williams,
Talonbooks President and Publisher

news | Tuesday July 6, 2021

Fundraiser: Helping our Friends in Lytton and in Lytton First Nation

We at Talonbooks are deeply saddened to hear of the destruction caused by wildfire in Lytton, BC, known as Camchin or ƛ’q’əmcín by the Lytton First Nation. Our hearts are with all those displaced from their homes. Talonbooks has donated a significant amount to Savage Society and 2 Rivers Remix Society to show support amid these challenging times, and we encourage all our readers to do the same. Every dollar helps!

You can make donations at GoFundMe: Helping our Friends in Lytton!

news | Tuesday June 22, 2021

Kevin Loring’s most recent play is hot off the press!

We are so pleased to welcome Kevin Loring’s Little Red Warrior and His Lawyer: A Trickster Land Claim Fable to Talonbooks!

Little Red Warrior and His Lawyer is a biting satire from the inaugural artistic director of Indigenous Theatre at the National Arts Centre.

Little Red Warrior is the last remaining member of the Little Red Warrior First Nation. One day he is arrested for assault and trespassing on his own Ancestral Lands after he discovers construction there and attacks the developer in a fit of rage. In jail he meets his court-appointed lawyer, Larry, who agrees to help Little Red get back his Lands. Larry convinces his wife, Desdemona, to allow Little Red to move into their basement while they sort out his case. Desdemona and Little Red strike up an uneasy relationship as, despite herself, Desdemona is increasingly hypnotized by Little Red’s “Indigenous charisma.” While sparks fly between them, Larry prepares to fight for Little Red’s Land Rights. When an unexpected intervention by a greater power occurs in the court case, nothing will ever be the same.

Pick up your copy of Little Red Warrior and His Lawyer today!

Also by Kevin Loring and published by Talonbooks: Where the Blood Mixes (2009) and Thanks for Giving (2018).

news | Monday June 21, 2021

National Indigenous Peoples Day

Talonbooks publishes work of the highest literary merit in the genres of non-fiction, drama, poetry, and fiction, and among our world-class authors are many Indigenous people living in Canada. Over our fifty-year history, we have published core titles in the Canadian bibliography of Indigenous work, and we continue to publish and keep in print one of the leading Canadian lists of Indigenous authors.

We at Talonbooks commemorate National Indigenous Peoples Day on June 21 and offer a list of six must-read Indigenous titles published by Talonbooks to date:

1. They Called Me Number One: Secrets and Survival at an Indian Residential School (2012) by Bev Sellars.

2. Kamloopa: An Indigenous Matriarch Story (2020) by Kim Senklip Harvey.

3. Cottagers and Indians (2019) by Drew Hayden Taylor.

4. Little Red Warrior and His Lawyer: A Trickster Land Claim Fable (2021) by Kevin Loring.

5. Injun (2016) by Jordan Abel.

6. In the Dog House (2012) by Wanda John-Kehewin.

news | Monday June 14, 2021

Five Father's Day Gift Ideas from Talonbooks

In anticipation of Father’s Day, we offer a list of five wonderful books to give fathers on Sunday, June 20, 2021:

1. In Search of New Babylon by Dominique Scali, translated by W. Donald Wilson. Order here.

2. Orwell in Cuba: How 1984 Came to Be Published in Castro’s Twilight by Frédérick Lavoie, translated by Donald Winkler. Order here.

3. Running on Fumes by Christian Guay-Poliquin, translated by Jacob Homel. Order here.

4. The Weight of Snow by Christian Guay-Poliquin, translated by David Homel. Order here.

5. Mégantic by Anne-Marie Saint-Cerny, translated by W. Donald Wilson. Order here.

Happy Father’s Day to all amazing dads from the Talon team!

Featured Books

The Saddest Music in the World
By Elaine Ávila

112 pages | Drama


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New Poems
By Colin Browne

192 pages | Poetry


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a pick-the-path experience
By Daniel Arnold & Darrell Dennis & Medina Hahn

256 pages | Drama


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Little Red Warrior and His Lawyer
A Trickster Land Claim Fable
By Kevin Loring

120 pages | Drama


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A Deadly Mix of Oil, Rail, and Avarice
By Anne-Marie Saint-Cerny
Translated by W. Donald Wilson

336 pages | Non-Fiction


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Music at the Heart of Thinking
Improvisations 1–170
By Fred Wah

272 pages | Poetry


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One Good Thing
A Living Memoir
By M.A.C. Farrant

200 pages | Non-Fiction


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Painting Time
By Maylis de Kerangal
Translated by Jessica Moore

240 pages | Fiction


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By Anahita Jamali Rad

112 pages | Poetry


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Then Now
By Daphne Marlatt

112 pages | Poetry


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Twists of Fate
If by Chance & Destination Paradise
By Michel Tremblay
Translated by Linda Gaboriau

272 pages | Fiction


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Untimely Passages
Dossiers from the Other Shore
By Jerry Zaslove

560 pages | Non-Fiction


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