STAFF PICKS: Hot Atlantic Books Buzz
36 Atlantic Canadian books that are generating buzz this spring
A Child of East Preston
Wanda Thomas Bernard
Delmore Buddy Daye Learning Institute
Wanda Thomas Bernard’s accomplishments are many. Senator, social worker, the first Black Canadian tenured prof at Dalhousie. Order of Canada. Her memoir is about her roots in East Preston during the civil rights era, where she learned resilience, resistance and triumph.
From Showing Off to Showing Up
Hemingway said all there was to writing was to open a vein and bleed. Make yourself vulnerable. The former Live at 5 host opens up about her fears and insecurities, adding practical advice drawn from her own experiences overcoming imposter syndrome and fear of failure.
If I Cry I’ll Fill the Ocean
Ida Linehan Young
“I’m proud to have written this book to honour my mother,” Young writes. “I hope it touches your heart.” It is bound to do that for many. Catherine Linehan endured the unendurable, but responded to great loss by getting stronger, and loving more.
Elizabeth Walden Hyde
Elizabeth Walden Hyde lived on this small island off Shelburne, Nova Scotia, from September 1984 to May 1985. Though she has help and company, this compelling account reveals the hardship, rewards and self-awareness that come from a life lived off the land and the sea.
Kelly Earle is a Rig Wife. Her husband works in the offshore oil industry, one long shift at a time. “Our husbands risk their lives every time they go to work,” she writes. She interviews other rig wives and provides deep emotional insight into the lives of the “women who wait.”
Acclaimed PEI poet Richard Lemm’s memoir blends the personal—raised by alcoholic grandparents while his mother was in a mental institution—the political—dodging the Vietnam War draft—and the philosophical—critiquing American exceptionalism. The story is an odyssey ending in PEI salvation.
ART & CRAFT
Heather Igloliorte & Jan-Erik Lundström
Goose Lane Editions
Curators, scholars, artists and activists from Inuit Nunangat, Kalaallit Nunaat, Sápmi, Canada and Scandinavia address diverse topics: Sámi rematriation, revival of the ládjogahpir (a Sámi woman’s headgear), bringing Inuit stone carving to a workshop for inner-city youth, the decolonizing potential of Traditional Knowledge and its role in contemporary design and beyond.
We Are Nova Scotia–100 Portraits
Anne Launcelott has a gifted eye and ability to relax her subjects, allowing them to show their true selves. Her collection features photographic portraits taken since the start of the pandemic. It is a profound and truthful celebration of real Nova Scotia in its diversity and glory.
Out of the Twilight
Angus MacLeod, a Gaelic language and song teacher, has written and illustrated Canada’s first Gaelic graphic book, a collection of 12 short graphic stories. The book is rich with Gaelic mythology and imagery, but focused especially on human foibles.
A Little of Everything
Human-touch Costco—purveyed by a single Shop Keep. One-shop stopping at its finest, your kitchen sinks, living-room chairs, produce for supper and ice cream for dessert. Plus the necessary farm implements. Images show where neighbours congregated.
305 Lost Buildings of Canada
Raymond Biesinger & Alex Bozikovic
Goose Lane Editions
“Biesinger and Bozikovic’s artistry is in hooking a bigger story to that of a single building,” writes Jennifer Keesmaat of this work, a collaboration between an acclaimed artist and an architecture critic. City by city, these iconic ghosts show who we were, and are.
Ralph Jarvis & Corey Follett
Since 2016, Ralph and Corey Follett have worked as The Quilted Stash, which has developed and marketed modern-traditionalist quilting patterns. Features patterns with Newfoundland and Labrador themes and icons, and can be completed by quilters of varying skill levels.
It Was Dark There All the Time
Goose Lane Editions
This grim and powerful work is based on the only known first-person account from someone who was enslaved in Canada. In 1855, Benjamin Drew of Boston interviewed Sophia Burthen Pooley, who had been brought to Canada sold here as a slave.
Susan C Boyd
From its discovery in 1898, heroin was prescribed for therapeutic use in Canada. Its prohibition is tied to colonization, systemic racism, class-and-gender injustice. Boyd says to create a more just future, prohibition and punitive policies driving the illegal overdose crisis must end.
Nova Scotia’s Historic Inland Communities
Dawson starts at the beginning, with traditional gathering places of the Mi’kmaq. She follows settlement by Europeans, Acadians, Loyalists. This is a visual history, with more than 40 historic photos. A geographic examination of place, exploring rivers, roads and railways that enabled communities.
Abortion to Abolition
Abortion access is a key focus, but Paynter’s smart analysis is holistic, connecting diverse battle fronts for reproductive justice. As Emilie Coyle put it, “This book is a comprehensive, powerful, and essential resource for all of us working toward liberation.”
Land of the Rock: Talamh an Carraig
Many of us—particularly those whose ancestors migrated so far—long for a greater sense of identity and belonging. Heather Nolan translates land, animals and people into that quest, a desire for ancient ancestral culture, rooted in Gaelic Ireland, reimagined in Newfoundland.
Poems organized by phases of the moon and dedicated to her late mother, Shannon Webb Campbell’s latest collection is deeply personal and reflective on natural imagery (“we become the sea itself”), a beautiful calling to the divine. Consistently powerful and always moving.
House of Anansi Press
A book of poetry but a travelogue of sorts, following Swedish poet Tomas Transtromer on an imagined circumnavigation of Newfoundland, and Lucifer as a Middle Ages stowaway, and parts of Europe. Crummey mostly travels the depths of the heart, its desires and how it reaches.
Rags of Night in our Mouths
McGill-Queen’s University Press
Wheaton grieves for a suffering world, calls us to love it. She explores human and environmental vulnerability and crisis. Her imagery is real yet surreal, almost hallucinatory. She writes a variation of ghazal, popularized in Canada by New Brunswick’s John Thompson.
Moose House Publications
With his fisherman dad run off, Cam is running every scheme he can imagine to raise money so his mom won’t have to sell the house. He knows the ocean best, but the climate is changing everything. The story covers many topical issues, but is never preachy, and always urgent.
The Sixties Scoop
Andrew Bomberry and Jane Hubbard
Lorimer & Company
A detailed look at Canada’s policy of taking Indigenous children and putting them into the care of non-Indigenous families, often burying records of their background. The book also details how Indigenous communities fought back and continue healing.
The Summer Between Us
Francesca Ekwuyasi calls Fenton’s sequel to his runaway hit (Worthy of Love) “a moving and victorious coming of age story.” Our hero Adrian Carter is graduating high school, a triumphant moment steeped in societal pressures to become the kind of person others want him to be.
Future on Fire
A wake-up bomb for the skeptical or ambivalent, one screams with urgency but also dives into the why, and from there to the how to change things and prevent the worst. Camfield offers clear-eyed analysis and accessible reasoning. His observations and arguments are sharp and to the point.
Urban explorer Scott Osmond’s guide eschews tourist traps and shows little-known NL treasures, geologic wonders, mysterious histories, curious structures and other off-the-beaten-path destinations. More than 120 marvellous places with historical context and geographic information.
The Vernacular Strain in Newfoundland Poetry
The latest Pratt Lecture from Breakwater Books comes from poet and educator Mary Dalton exploring “the increasingly confident” vernacular voice in NL poetry. Young NL poets “have access to a body of Newfoundland poetry which affirms that their own voices can make themselves heard as they are.”
A second edition of an essential book from Kathleen Absolon on decolonizing and Indigenous research methodologies, which Western scientific means have worked to silence, and which are holistic, relational, inter-relational and interdependent with Indigenous philosophies, beliefs and ways of being.
Capitalism and Dispossession
Edited David P Thomas / Veldon Coburn
Fascinating and disturbing case studies showing how our dominant economic system attacks people’s rights to land, security and comfort. Resource-extraction companies are frequently the source of such suppressive acts, particularly against women and Indigenous Peoples worldwide.
The Punishing Journey of Arthur Delaney
Can’t-put-it-down storytelling that has us rushing to find the conclusion, then relishing every moment of the journey. Arthur Delaney’s journey, and his quest to make amends, is indeed punishing, but the characters he encounters are fascinating and delightful.
Dead and Not Dead
Boularderie Island Press
Published as a print book and in braille thanks to the generous support of the National Network for Equitable Library Services, Dead and Not Dead is an at-times surrealistic tale of life (and death) at a crossroads, one man’s search for meaning, set largely in a trailer on Dream Road.
The Good Thief
When 17-year-old Sonny McCluskey’s father dies, he leaves him his small auto-repair shop and an old family secret. Sonny’s stuck in a quagmire of dense emotional terrain. This is a well-paced story of love, laughter and intrigue that entices from the first page.
Much-anticipated new novel from award-winning author Terry Doyle, a funny and heartbreaking tale of a working-class family and the construction of what we consider masculine. The Wards are in a time of great upheaval, an unexpected illness forcing them back together in early adulthood.
This is How We Love
House of Anansi Press
Powerful story of trauma, family (however defined), perseverance and love from a master of craft. Moore’s characters are raw and tender yet strong—they’re struggles captivate us completely. The story centres around a violent attack on one family member, but supporting characters are treated with care and compassion.
A small farming hamlet in the Ottawa Valley, a dying town. A panoramic view of the residents in a time of decline, the loss of their very way of living. Tension is strung around that loss and the characters’ difficulties finding connection with one another, seeing themselves in their neighbours.
Greeley’s playscript for a show that toured Newfoundland, based on an article she read about “children during the Holocaust who’d been hidden by adults,” she told CBC. There’s a twist, “…these people who saved them were also their private monsters.” In Greeley’s playscripts, a couple is paid to harbour refugees in a time of conflict.
Cold Edge of Heaven
Constable Will Grant investigates the mysterious deaths of two troubled RCMP officers in this taut page turner. Set in 1924 at a desolate police outpost on Devon Island in Canada’s far north, Fraser’s is a story of murder, mystery, love and clashes between Inuit guides and the RCMP.