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What To Read: Fall 2016

by Tyler Vitt - Friday, Nov 04, 2016 at 4:20pm

A collection of recent books particularly recommended by Chris Hall.

Human Acts by Han Kang, translated by Deborah Smith. Softcover. $25.95. We sometimes forget that not too long ago South Korea was under a repressive dictatorship. Kang, who won the Booker International Prize last year for The Vegetarian, hails from Gwangju, which, in the 1980s, became a centre for the painful uprisings that eventually led to democracy. In a sequence of interconnected chapters the victims and the bereaved encounter censorship, denial, forgiveness and the echoing agony of the original trauma. Kang has written a moving novel that reminds us that collective pain takes generations to overcome. (PGC. September)

In Another Country by David Constantine. Softcover. $19.95. Known for their emotional clarity and their fearless exposures of the heart in moments of defiance, change, resistance, flight, isolation, and redemption, these are the best of Constantine's thirty years’ of short stories. Included is the title story, made into the movie 45 Years with Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay. Common to all the stories is a quiet wisdom, often with a pause the characters take from the hectic modern world, that allows a reader to reflect on the unconsidered aspects of our own lives. (Biblioasis. October)

A Strangeness in My Mind by Orhan Pamuk. Softcover. $23.00. It is the 1990s in Istanbul, and although there were once thousands of boza vendors walking the frozen streets of the city, Mevlut now cuts a lonely figure on snowy winter nights. The dangers of Istanbul's underbelly eventually catch up with Mevlut, and he is beaten and threatened at every turn. Pamuk is one of my favourites, writing from the dividing line between East and West, Christian and Muslim, Religious and Secular. He offers no easy answers but an attentive reader will be left with the sense of how complex the world can be. (Vintage. September)

See more What To Read suggestions after the jump...

Categories: Saskatoon, Winnipeg, What To Read

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November's Author of the Month: AMI McKAY

by Tyler Vitt - Tuesday, Nov 01, 2016 at 11:58am

Ami McKay is the author of two critically acclaimed novels, The Virgin Cure and The Birth House, which was a #1 bestseller in Canada, winner of three CBA Libris Awards, and nominated for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. Born and raised in Indiana, Ami now lives in Nova Scotia.

Her newest novel is The Witches of New York, which takes place in 1880 New York while the city is fast becoming the “city of wonders.” Telegraph lines crisscross Manhattan, elevated trains race above the streets, the Brooklyn Bridge is nearing completion, and work is underway to fit Broadway with electric lights. As enterprising men chase after their ambitions, the ladies of Manhattan’s high society pursue their dreams by enlisting the help of two women who run a teashop near Madison Square. Two hundred years after the trials in Salem, the pair dares to declare themselves witches.

Enter Adelaide Thom and Eleanor St. Clair. At their humble teashop, Tea and Sympathy, they provide a place for whispered confessions, secret cures, and spiritual assignations for a select society of ladies, who speak the right words and ask the right questions. But the profile of Tea and Sympathy is about to change with the fortuitous arrival of Beatrice Dunn.

When seventeen-year-old Beatrice leaves the safety of her village to answer an ad that reads “Respectable Lady Seeks Dependable Shop Girl. Those averse to magic need not apply,” she has little inclination of what the job will demand of her. Beatrice doesn’t know it yet, but she is no ordinary small-town girl; she has astounding spiritual gifts—ones that will serve as her greatest asset and also place her in grave danger. Under the tutelage of Adelaide and Eleanor, Beatrice comes to harness many of her powers, but not even they can prepare her for the evils lurking in the darkest corners of the city or the courage it will take to face them. In a time when women were corseted, confined and committed for merely speaking their minds, were any of them safe?

Categories: Authors, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Author of the Month

Governor General's Award Winners 2016 Announced

by Madison Taylor - Friday, Oct 28, 2016 at 3:59pm

The 2016 Governor General's Awards released its list of winners on October 25. Each individual author will take home a prize of $25,000, as well as invaluable literary exposure on both a national and international scale.

The winners in each category are as follows:

For the official list of 2016 winners and finalists, click here.

Categories: Awards, Authors, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Publishing News, Book Lists, Literature

2016 Man Booker Prize Awarded to Paul Beatty

by Madison Taylor - Friday, Oct 28, 2016 at 3:28pm

After much deliberation, Paul Beatty has been chosen as the winner of the 2016 Man Booker Prize for his novel, The Sellout. The £50,000 ($87,000 CAN) prize is awarded annually to the best novel written in English and published in the United Kingdom. Previously restricted to authors hailing from the UK and the Commonwealth, the prize opened its doors to all English-language authors in 2014. This is the first time that the prize has been given to an American writer.

The Sellout is a darkly comical novel about race relations in America. It follows the story of the young narrator, Bonbon, who stirs up controversy in his Californian town by setting out to reintroduce slavery and segregation to his high school. The book, which has been described as a "blistering satire" by the New York Times, uses Beatty's unique flavour of humour to take an unflinchingly honest look at racial prejudices and stereotypes.

54-year-old Beatty is the author of three other novels: Slumberland, Tuff, and The Whiteboy Shuffle. He has also published two books of poetry, and is the editor of Hokum: An Anthology of African-American Humor. He currently lives in New York City.

Categories: Awards, Authors, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Publishing News, Literature

Grant Park celebrates its 20th anniversary

by Tyler Vitt - Saturday, Oct 15, 2016 at 9:09am

Today, October 15th, 2016, marks the twentieth anniversary of our Grant Park bookstore.

On this day in '96, the Grant Park store was opened for a "preview" evening celebration, which included live music and a very special guest appearance by Margaret Atwood, who signed and read from her book Alias Grace, published just the month before.

The Grant Park store, which replaced two smaller McNally Robinson locations (one in the stripmall at Kenaston and Grant, and the other in Osborne Village), was originally 21,000 square feet, the largest independent bookstore in Canada at the time (the store has since expanded, and remains Canada's largest indie bookstore). Holly and Paul McNally made the decision to consolidate their two smaller stores into the Grant Park location as a means of standing against the massive chain bookstores that were, and unfortunately still are, swallowing up independent booksellers across North America. The McNallys wanted to focus their efforts and their talents in one location with more space for books and events, to better support the Canadian literary scene.

And after twenty years in business, having survived when other McNally Robinson bookstores were forced to close, it's safe to say the McNallys' efforts were successful. Our Grant Park bookstore continues to thrive today.

Thank you to everyone who has helped us reach the 20 year mark, and who has helped us out since the beginning. With your loyal support we not only remain Canada's largest independent bookstore, but we are also able to sponsor Winnipeg's literary community in many ways, to the extent that, we proudly note, some consider us the heart and soul of Winnipeg's cultural community. All of that is possible because of you, our devoted readers, so thank you.

Here's to another twenty.

Categories: Store News, Winnipeg
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