Whether you’re building a New Year’s resolution reading list or hoping to renew your faith in #CanLit, we at Room are here to help. This list of some of our most beloved fiction, poetry, and non-fiction books by queer Canadian writers, compiled by fourteen members of the Room collective, is a great place to start.
Carmen Aguirre is an author, actor and playwright living in Vancouver. Her book Something Fierce: Memoirs of a Revolutionary Daughter won CBC Canada Reads 2012 and is a #1 national bestseller. Mexican Hooker #1 and My Other Roles Since the Revolution, a Globe and Mail bestseller, was published in April 2016. Room’s Taryn Hubbard had the chance to ask Carmen a few questions about her writing practice and what she’s looking for in a CNF contest submission.
2016 may have sucked, but on the bright side, it inspired some incredible writing (see #3 on this list). Last year we shared our top 15 most-read posts of 2015, and I thought I'd continue the trend—and so, here are the ten most-read posts on roommagazine.com in 2016.
Eden Robinson is a Haisla/Heiltsuk fiction writer known for her haunting, dark, and beautiful portrayals of contemporary Indigenous life in Northern B.C. and Vancouver. Robinson grew up in Kitamaat Village on Haisla territory where she now lives and writes. She received her BA in Victoria, and lived in Vancouver where she earned an MFA in Creative Writing at UBC. In the following interview, originally published in issue 39.3 "Canadian Gothic", Room's Taryn Hubbard had the chance to ask Robinson about the Canadian Gothic theme and how she sees it playing out in her past and current work.
More often than not, when Roomies gather, we talk about books. Books we can't put down, books we couldn't put up with, and books that make us talk. For this reading list, eleven of us got together and discussed novels, short story collections, poetry, memoirs, and comics that we have read and loved which happen to be written by Canadian Women of Colour. A few of these are well-known classics, a few are upcoming releases. There are stories set locally and abroad, and also include one in dystopian Toronto. Writing from the Women of Colour perspective is not a genre, but instead a multitude of voices, stories, and experiences coming together. And even though we are honoured to feature a handful of these writers are in our upcoming anthology, we know that this is just a starting point, and by no means a comprehensive list of books written by Canadian WOCs. At Room, we recognize that there is work to do, and we are already working on a part two.
In the following interview, Annharte discusses her writing practice, safe places, remembering family, good storytelling, and more.
Lakshmi Gill, writer and one of the first women members of the League of Canadian Poets, on her writing practice and her poem "Mental Lucina" published in 38.4 Fieldwork.
Julia Leggett’s debut collection, Gone South and Other Ways to Disappear, is a look into the lives of eight women as they experience varying degrees of disappointment. These are stories that take place just as the rug of how-the-protagonists-thought-life-should-be is pulled out from under them and they’re left vulnerable and, often, alone. Throughout the collection, Leggett finely balances dialogue and character-driven storytelling to create a binge-worthy reading experience.
From a story about a woman who finally loses weight with the help of magical pills in “Thin,” to a woman who goes to an all-inclusive resort and insults a local in “Snow Bunny,” to a woman finally leaving her abusive husband in “One More Goodbye,” these are stories that peer into the lives of women who struggle with not feeling sophisticated enough, young enough, or able to trust enough.
And while her characters may not resolve the feeling of not measuring up, Leggett’s storytelling skillfully and playfully examines some of the structures that have led her protagonists there. For example, in “Lena Reynolds Gets Divorced,” a woman deals with the surprise of a husband who has left her for his administrative assistant, twelve years his junior. Leggett explores Lena’s stages of relationship grief with moments of dark humour and a touch of magical realism that results in a panic-fueled alien autopsy. It’s Leggett’s flair for veering from perfectly resolved endings toward complicated and difficult conclusions that resonate long after the final words.
“Into the Blue” is one of Leggett’s stories where she departs from a dialogue-driven style. In it she tells the poetic and cinematic experience of a woman after she is killed in a car accident. The prose details each moment of the accident: “You could be watching from a position outside a frame. The rain has stopped. Steam rises from the tarmac. The pines drip. A 1993 blue Ford truck towing a camper comes round the bend. In the fullness of the corner, the front left tire on the Ford blows.” What results is a layered and nuanced portrait of the thin line between life and death.
Gone South and Other Ways to Disappear is a first collection with energy, quick and engaging dialogue, and quiet insights on life as a single woman. Hopefully this style is a foreshadowing of the future writing we can look forward to from Leggett.
Aboriginal women writers, feminist films, great fiction, poetry, and CNF, interviews with authors and more...
Currently on Newsstands
Room 41.4, Emergence
Edited by Alissa McArthur
In this issue:
Tharuna Abbu, Farah Ali, Kristin Bjornerud, Michelle Chen, Nomi Chi, Morgan Christie, Kim Fu, Hannah Graff, nancy viva davis halifax, Ceilidh Isadore, Liz Kellebrew, Jo Lee, Kris Ly, Melanie Mah, Sara Mang, Katie McGarry, Estlin McPhee, Triin Paja, Loghan Paylor, Nagmeh Phelan, Oubah Osman, Lisa Rawn, Yvonne Robertson, Erika Thorkelson, Cara Waterfall.