Gutter Child by Jael Richardson

Jael Richardson’s debut novel, Gutter Child (2021, HarperCollins Canada)* is a forceful one that shines a spotlight on racism, colonization and the struggle to get out from under an imposed debt that only death will bring freedom from. It is a work of creative fiction that strongly resonates in the age of Black Lives Matter and other Black activist issues.

Set in an imaginary world (an apartheid state, not unlike South Africa) where the colonizers have pushed the Indigenous tribes so far back from the coast that they eventually revolt, but lose the war.…

Policing Black Lives: State Violence in Canada from Slavery to the Present by Robyn Maynard

Policing Black Lives is the work of Montreal-based Black feminist activist and educator, Robyn Maynard. Maynard brings her considerable expertise to this book, which is packed with information about the history and continued oppression of Black people in Canada. Policing Black Lives offers a frank and exceptionally well-researched perspective on the true nature of Canada’s relationship with its Black citizens which began with the forced migration and enslavement of Black people, and continues to this day with systemic oppression in many Canadian institutions.…

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.…

Dominoes at the Crossroads by Kaie Kellough

“We live as we dream – alone. While the dream disappears, the life continues painfully.” — Joseph Conrad

like to quote Conrad when I can; I find his prose very insightful into the human condition. This singular quote came to me after finishing Kaie Kellough’s Dominoes at the Crossroads just before turning off the light at bedtime. I assumed there must be a neuronal link in there somewhere.…

Exile Blues by Douglas Gary Freeman

recently watched the 2013 movie Lee Daniel’s The Butler which I thought notable for vividly depicting the struggle for desegregation in Washington D.C. during the late 1950s and early 1960s by both peaceful and radical means. Viewed through the lens of time, it is even more shocking to think that humans treated other humans less favourably based on skin colour alone.…

Black Cop: My 36 years in police work, and my career ending experiences with official racism by Calvin Lawrence, With Miles Howe

The title and subtitle pretty much sum up what this book is about: being black and facing systemic racism in two police organizations in a 36-year career. Calvin Lawrence was born in 1949 in Yarmouth and raised in Halifax. His parents (he was actually raised by his Uncle and Aunt) were a mixed-race couple living in Halifax. His father worked as a porter for the railway, one of the few respectable jobs available to blacks at the time.…

The Afrikaner by Arianna Dagnino

For the third year in a row, Naomi of the Consumed by Ink book review blog and I have guest-hosted each other’s reviews and my review of The Afrikaner by Arianna Dagnino can be found there. Her reviews are remarkable for their insight and perceptiveness of a novel’s strengths and weaknesses. I encourage you to follow her reviews of CanLit. Often, we review the same books and it’s fun to see what each other takes away from a book.…

Daniel Paul, Mi’kmaw Elder by Jon Tattrie

-winning author Jon Tattrie, whose most recent book, Redemption Songs (2016, Potterfield Press) was about the history of Black Africans in North America, has turned his attention to one of the most prominent First Nations personages, Daniel N. Paul, Mi’kmaw Elder.
Mr Paul is himself an author of several books, in particular the popular We Were Not the Savages (2006, Fernwood Publishing) now in it’s third printing.…

Brother by David Chariandy

The following review is by Naomi MacKinnon of Consumed by Ink, and is reproduced here with her kind permission.

you’re looking for that one beautiful gem, David Chariandy’s Brother just might be it. It’s raw and honest, and the writing is as smooth as silk.

Michael and his older brother Francis are close as they grow up in 1980s Scarborough, the sons of a single hard-working mother from Trinidad.…

Gravitational Fields by Harry Rajchgot

“A Novel of Peacetime & War”, Gravitational Fields (2016) by Harry Rajchgot is an epic (450 pages) story that covers the events of the Jewish people from pre-WWII through the struggle to establish the Israeli State to living in Canada. In particular, it is the story of Duvid Grynstzyn (later David Gryn) and how he escaped the small Polish village that was exterminated of Jews by the German army, losing all of his family in a moment of time.…

Blackbird Calling by Laura Swart

When I first received Blackbird Calling (Quattro Books, 2016) and started reading it, I soon put it aside because I wasn’t ready for it, my mind wanted an ‘easy’ read at the time (it being summertime and the season of distractions, not to mention yard work) but I vowed to return to it one day. That day came months later, and I finished it in one day.…

What Killed Jane Creba by Anita Arvast

Subtitled Rap, Race, and the Invention of a Gang War, What Killed Jane Creba (2016, Dundurn) is an investigative look into the circumstances surrounding the accidental shooting death of a girl in downtown Toronto in 2005.

It was Boxing Day (December 26th) and Jane Creba was in downtown Toronto outside the Eaton Center with thousands of other people. Some of those in the crowd were some young black men with a grudge against one another.…