The Hermit of Africville by Jon Tattrie

Jon Tattrie paints a bleak picture of the destruction of Africville through the eyes of a lifelong protestor, Eddie Carvery.  Carvery grew up in Africville, a black community in the northern section of Halifax. In the 1960s he watched the city force residents from their homes and raze the properties, often without permission or knowledge of the homeowners. Many left their home with only what they could carry.…

Pearleen Oliver: Canada’s Black Crusader for Civil Rights, Edited by Ronald Caplan

As the Black Lives Matter movement advances, there have been many, many new books released focussing on the history of slavery, segregation and outright racism that existed and still exists in Canada. This is particularly true in Atlantic Canada where many former slaves and black Loyalists sought freedom and new lives, only to face the same issues they were escaping from in the Thirteen Colonies.…

What the Living Do by Maggie Dwyer

Until the age of twelve, Georgia Lee Kay-Stern believed she was Jewish—the story of her Cree birth family had been kept secret. Now she’s living on her own and attending first-year university, and with her adoptive parents on sabbatical in Costa Rica, the old questions are back. What does it mean to be Native? How could her life have been different?

Five Little Indians by Michelle Good

I couldn’t put Michelle Good’s Five Little Indians down. She offers beautifully, well-rounded, fully-human characters in a story about the resilience and fragility of the human spirit. The book follows five small children who are taken from the homes and have to face the abuse and isolation of a church-run residential on the Central Coast of B.C.

Longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize 2020, this book will stay with me for the rest of my life.…

The Talking Drum by Lisa Braxton

Lisa Braxton’s debut novel, The Talking Drum, explores various power structures at work in urban America in the 1970s. The novel follows three intertwined sets of characters: Sydney and Malachi Stallworth, Della Tolliver and her boyfriend Kwamé Rodriguez, and Omar and Natalie Bassari. In different ways, the overarching impacts of racism and gentrification weigh on each character, and the changes occurring in their respective communities of Liberty Hill and Petite Africa form the backdrop for a study of class issues, racial tensions, sexism, and community resilience.  

Place is central to the novel.…

Land-Water-Sky / Ndè-Tı-Yat’a By Katłıà

Land-Water-Sky/Ndè-Tı-Yat’a is the debut novel from Dene author Katłįà. Set in Canada’s far northwest, this layered composite novel traverses space and time, from a community being stalked by a dark presence, a group of teenagers out for a dangerous joyride, to an archeological site on a mysterious island that holds a powerful secret.

In a recent edition of Atlantic Books Today, Chris Benjamin stated regarding IndigiLit: “Stories written by people from cultures that have been tied to this land far, far longer than my own show me things settler writers cannot.”…

The North-West is Our Mother: The Story of Louis Riel’s People, the Métis Nation by Jean Teillet

Some books are there to offer the kinds of stories that can light on our paths and help us figure out a way forward. The North-West is Our Mother: The Story of Louis Riel’s People, the Métis Nation by historian Jean Teillet has been that kind of book to me.

I’ve been writing about the life of my great-grandfather Léon Robert Goulet, a Métis fiddler who was born in Lorette, Manitoba, in the middle of Métis homeland that Teillet documents.…

Cottagers and Indians, by Drew Hayden Taylor

Taylor’s two-person play Cottagers and Indians was inspired by a years-long dispute between cottage owners on Pigeon Lake in Ontario and an Anishnawbe man seeding manoomin (wild rice) in their waterways.

In the play, Maureen Poole, a white woman at her lakeside split-level ranch house, and Arthur Copper, an Indigenous man in his canoe, face off over his seeding and harvesting of the once-flourishing Indigenous food, manoomin.…

Toward the North: Stories by Chinese Canadian Writers, edited by Hua Laura Wu, Xueqing Xu, and Corinne Bieman Davies

Toward the North: Stories by Chinese Canadian Writers is a thoughtfully coordinated anthology by editors Hua Laura Wu, Xueqing Xu, and Corinne Bieman Davies. Each story feels like it is presented in exactly the right place and at exactly the right moment in relation to the other stories it shares a cover with. The over-arching theme of the entire collection is Chinese transnational and cross-cultural life experience, and some other common shared themes include the relationship with one’s family, the significance of names, language barriers, and Western vs. …

From the Ashes by Jesse Thistle

These days I’ve been thinking about the importance of being able to recognize your self and your people in the literature you are reading and that’s one of the most important offerings from Jesse Thistle’s memoir From the Ashes. Of course, his story should be read by all non-Indigenous people who want to understand the impacts of intergenerational colonial trauma among Indigenous people living in Canada today.…

Messenger 93 by Barbara Radecki

Barbara Radecki’s sophomore novel, Messenger 93, opens with a flutter of information. A mind-bending conversation with a crow kicks off the absorbing thriller, and cryptic messages, hidden clues, and uncertain instructions become the norm in M, the narrator’s, life. M feels compelled to investigate the disappearance of a girl named Krista, and her movements over the seven days that structure each chapter offer insight into her life and closest relationships.…

Afraid of the Dark by Guyleigh Johnson

Afraid of the Dark is Darmouth author Guyleigh Johnson’s second book. Johnson is a spoken word artist, writer, and community organizer and she pours her multiple talents into this work of short fiction and poetry.

The book is framed by prose sections written from the perspective of Kahlua Thomas, a 16-year-old black teenager from Halifax who lives in poverty with a mother that struggles with alcoholism.…

Acadian Driftwood: One Family and the Great Expulsion by Tyler LeBlanc

year 2020 marks 265 years since the Acadian Expulsion (Le Grande Dérangement) in 1755. Unfortunately, the outbreak of Covid-19 will likely not allow Acadians to gather together to observe this milestone year. Annually, on August 15th (the actual day of the start of the deportations), Acadians the world over observe their overcoming of the cultural genocide enacted upon them by the British.…

Bill Arnott’s Beat: Independents’ Day

bookstores shouldn’t exist. Brick-and-mortar bibliophile havens are retail models waiting to be business school case studies, “Why These Can’t Work.” TV narcissi could bleat indefinitely as to why they’d never invest in such ventures. But they do exist. And despite every reason why they shouldn’t, they thrive.

I was in one of these doomed locales, its interior walls a swathe of indigenous authors, poetry, and every stripe of an LGBTQ2S writers’ rainbow – a showcase of all that’s good in the world of books.…