Meghan Bell

Room's 2018 Subscription Drive

To ease some of our imminent growing pains, we are hoping to raise $10,000 through new and returning subscribers, merchandise sales, and donations by September 30, 2018 to help keep some of our new projects afloat and free or financially accessible to all, including the Growing Room literary festival, Indigenous Brilliance reading series, our new online response-poem series, Turtle Island Responds, and our two podcasts, Lit Mag Love and Fainting Couch Feminists. These projects and the Roomies who spearhead them are important to us, and your help will make sure they are able to continue doing this work.

We Need Your Help

As a small, independent literary organization that has operated for over forty years on a shoestring budget, passion, and volunteer labour, every subscription is vital to our existence. We’re hoping to raise at least $5,000 from new (or renewing) subscribers by September 30, 2017.

Our Top Posts of 2016

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.

50 Books Written By 50 Canadian Women of Colour

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.

The Mystics of Mile End

By 
Sigal Samuel
Freehand Books, 296 pages, $21.95
2015
Reviewed by 
Meghan Bell

In the early pages of The Mystics of Mile End, the first of four narrators, eleven-year-old Lev Meyer, quotes the Talmud: “a word is worth one coin but silence is worth two.” It’s an idea that Samuel beautifully deconstructs in her stunning debut—Lev’s earnest voice alone earns the author the back-cover comparison to Nicole Krauss’s acclaimed novel The History of Love.

After the death of his mother, a “yeasty silence filled the house and rose, inch by inch, until it filled the space” between Lev, his older sister, Samara, and his father, David, a professor of Jewish mysticism who rejects his former faith. When each member of the Meyer family becomes obsessed—in their own way—with the Kabbalist concept of the Tree of Life, another tragedy threatens to tear them further apart. Mile End explores themes of faith, loss, and healing—and touches on feminism and queer identity through Samara’s storyline—but at its core this is a moving and evocative story about the ways we communicate and the ways we sometimes fail to. 

It is ironic, perhaps, that a book that warns against looking for patterns and symbols would appear to be so full of them—“When you are studying [the Tree of Life], it is easy to become obsessed,” Hebrew teacher and Holocaust survivor Mr. Glassman warns Lev. “Suddenly everything you see looks like a sign from above.” As the story moves from one narrator to the next—from Lev to David to Samara to the eponymous Mile End—it is peppered with little revelations that pull the reader deeper into the story and closer to the enigmatic members of the Meyer family. Samuel is an expert at foreshadowing; while a close read of the first section arguably provides enough information to guess—but not know—the major plot points in the other three, the details serve to build the multiple mysteries. However, the care put into pulling all the threads taut arguably comes at the expense of secondary characters: the Glassmans, for example, feel more like thematic devices than people. 

The Mystics of Mile End is a smart, compelling, and, at times, magical read—a promising introduction to a young author who might one day be counted among Canada’s finest.

Pages

Currently on Newsstands

  • Queer Issue
    Room 41.3, Queer
    Edited by Leah Golob

    In this issue:

    Adèle Barclay, Joelle Barron, Nicole Breit, Mary Chen, Lucas Crawford, Jen Currin, Pamela Dodds, Jane Eaton Hamilton, Jess Goldman, hannah harris-sutro, Leah Horlick, Sam Jowett, Ness Lee, Annick MacAskill, Alessandra Naccarato, Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, Marika Prokosh, Amal Rana, Siobhan Roca Payne, Leah Sandals, Hana Shafi, Arielle Spence, Samantha Sternberg, Sanchari Sur, K.B. Thors, Corey Turner, Jackie Wykes

    .

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