A selection of recent award-winning books from across the world.
- by Eliza Griswold
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Winner of the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction
In Amity and Prosperity, the prizewinning poet and journalist Eliza Griswold tells the story of the energy boom's impact on a small town at the edge of Appalachia and one woman's transformation from a struggling single parent to an unlikely activist.
Stacey Haney is a local nurse working hard to raise two kids and keep up her small farm when the fracking boom comes to her hometown of Amity, Pennsylvania. Intrigued by reports of lucrative natural gas leases in her neighbors' mailboxes, she strikes a deal with a Texas-based energy company. Soon trucks begin rumbling past her small farm, a fenced-off drill site rises on an adjacent hilltop, and domestic animals and pets start to die. When mysterious sicknesses begin to afflict her children, she appeals to the company for help. Its representatives insist that nothing is wrong.
Alarmed by her children's illnesses, Haney joins with neighbors and a committed husband-and-wife legal team to investigate what's really in the water and air. Against local opposition, Haney and her allies doggedly pursue their case in court and begin to expose the damage that's being done to the land her family has lived on for centuries. Soon a community that has long been suspicious of outsiders faces wrenching new questions about who is responsible for their fate, and for redressing it: The faceless corporations that are poisoning the land? The environmentalists who fail to see their economic distress? A federal government that is mandated to protect but fails on the job? Drawing on seven years of immersive reporting, Griswold reveals what happens when an imperiled town faces a crisis of values, and a family wagers everything on an improbable quest for justice.
- by Forrest Gander
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Drawing from his experience as a translator, Forrest Gander includes in the first, powerfully elegiac section a version of a poem by the Spanish mystical poet St. John of the Cross. He continues with a long multilingual poem examining the syncretic geological and cultural history of the U.S. border with Mexico. The poems of the third section--a moving transcription of Gander's efforts to address his mother dying of Alzheimer's--rise from the page like hymns, transforming slowly from reverence to revelation. Gander has been called one of our most formally restless poets, and these new poems express a characteristically tensile energy and, as one critic noted, "the most eclectic diction since Hart Crane."
- by Max Eisen
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Winner of Canada Reads 2019! Finalist for the 2017 RBC Taylor Prize. In the tradition of Elie Wiesel's Night and Primo Levi's Survival in Auschwitz comes a bestselling new memoir by Canadian survivor More than 70 years after the Nazi camps were liberated by the Allies, a new Canadian Holocaust memoir details the rural Hungarian deportations to Auschwitz-Birkenau, back-breaking slave labour in Auschwitz I, the infamous "death march" in January 1945, the painful aftermath of liberation, a journey of physical and psychological healing. Tibor "Max" Eisen was born in Moldava, Czechoslovakia into an Orthodox Jewish family. He had an extended family of sixty members, and he lived in a family compound with his parents, his two younger brothers, his baby sister, his paternal grandparents and his uncle and aunt. In the spring of 1944 — five and a half years after his region had been annexed to Hungary and the morning after the family's yearly Passover Seder — gendarmes forcibly removed Eisen and his family from their home. They were brought to a brickyard and eventually loaded onto crowded cattle cars bound for Auschwitz-Birkenau. At fifteen years of age, Eisen survived the selection process and he was inducted into the camp as a slave labourer. One day, Eisen received a terrible blow from an SS guard. Severely injured, he was dumped at the hospital where a Polish political prisoner and physician, Tadeusz Orzeszko, operated on him. Despite his significant injury, Orzeszko saved Eisen from certain death in the gas chambers by giving him a job as a cleaner in the operating room. After his liberation and new trials in Communist Czechoslovakia, Eisen immigrated to Canada in 1949, where he has dedicated the last twenty-two years of his life to educating others about the Holocaust across Canada and around the world. The author will be donating a portion of his royalties from this book to institutions promoting tolerance and understanding.
- by Michael J. Clark
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A reformed smuggler finds himself embroiled in a mind-bending criminal conspiracy in this page-turning debut Pastor Tommy Bosco runs a Winnipeg skid row mission that caters to ex-criminals and ex-addicts trying to make a better life. Sometimes that better life means leaving the city -- and the good and bad guys -- completely behind. A former smuggler, Bosco can make anyone disappear, faking deaths and extracting people across the Canada-U.S. border. But then his ex shows up, fresh from the murder of a biker-gang boss. She's got plenty of baggage, including the biker's cryptic ledger that everyone in Winnipeg's underworld wants to get their hands on. Bosco finds himself a fugitive at the center of a conspiracy that has him staying far away from the cops, the hired hitmen, and even his dear old dad. Navigating through a harsh Prairie winter, Bosco must help his ex escape without having to make an escape himself.
- by Joan Thomas
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WINNER OF THE GOVERNOR GENERAL'S LITERARY AWARD FOR FICTION
A GLOBE AND MAIL, CBC BOOKS, APPLE BOOKS, AND NOW TORONTO BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR
In the tradition of The Poisonwood Bible and State of Wonder, a novel set in the rainforest of Ecuador about five women left behind when their missionary husbands are killed. Based on the shocking real-life events
In 1956, a small group of evangelical Christian missionaries and their families journeyed to the rainforest in Ecuador intending to convert the Waorani, a people who had never had contact with the outside world. The plan was known as Operation Auca. After spending days dropping gifts from an aircraft, the five men in the party rashly entered the "intangible zone." They were all killed, leaving their wives and children to fend for themselves.
Five Wives is the fictionalized account of the real-life women who were left behind, and their struggles - with grief, with doubt, and with each other - as they continued to pursue their evangelical mission in the face of the explosion of fame that followed their husbands' deaths.
Five Wives is a riveting, often wrenching story of evangelism and its legacy, teeming with atmosphere and compelling characters and rich in emotional impact.
- by David W. Blight
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**Winner of the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in History**
*Winner of the Bancroft, Parkman, Los Angeles Times (biography), Lincoln, Plutarch, and Christopher Awards*
Named one of the Best Books of 2018 by The New York Times Book Review, The Wall Street Journal, The Boston Globe, The Chicago Tribune, The San Francisco Chronicle, and Time
"Extraordinary...a great American biography" (The New Yorker) of the most important African-American of the nineteenth century: Frederick Douglass, the escaped slave who became the greatest orator of his day and one of the leading abolitionists and writers of the era.
As a young man Frederick Douglass (1818-1895) escaped from slavery in Baltimore, Maryland. He was fortunate to have been taught to read by his slave owner mistress, and he would go on to become one of the major literary figures of his time. His very existence gave the lie to slave owners: with dignity and great intelligence he bore witness to the brutality of slavery.
Initially mentored by William Lloyd Garrison, Douglass spoke widely, using his own story to condemn slavery. By the Civil War, Douglass had become the most famed and widely travelled orator in the nation. In his unique and eloquent voice, written and spoken, Douglass was a fierce critic of the United States as well as a radical patriot. After the war he sometimes argued politically with younger African Americans, but he never forsook either the Republican party or the cause of black civil and political rights.
In this "cinematic and deeply engaging" (The New York Times Book Review) biography, David Blight has drawn on new information held in a private collection that few other historian have consulted, as well as recently discovered issues of Douglass's newspapers. "Absorbing and even moving...a brilliant book that speaks to our own time as well as Douglass's" (The Wall Street Journal), Blight's biography tells the fascinating story of Douglass's two marriages and his complex extended family. "David Blight has written the definitive biography of Frederick Douglass...a powerful portrait of one of the most important American voices of the nineteenth century" (The Boston Globe).
- by Jackie Traverse
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Ikwe is a new colouring book by Anishinaabe artist Jackie Traverse. Featuring brand new works, the stunning images in IKWE celebrate the spiritual and ceremonial aspects of women and their important role as water protectors. "I had the privilege of going to Standing Rock twice. The strength and power that came from the women there inspired this book. To be a woman is to be a life giver and water protector. Even if you never have children, you have that sense, and the duty to honour and protect the water is within you," writes Traverse. Jackie Traverse is the mother of three daughters and a grandmother to Lily. She is an Anishinaabe multi-disciplined artist working in video, sculpture, mixed media and paint.
- by Gordon Goldsborough
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Gordon Goldsborough returns with more compelling abandoned sites from across Manitoba. Armed with a drone and a deep curiosity about local history, Gordon had more stories to share than could fit into one book. Adventure into abandoned quarries, dance halls, hospitals and more!
- by Richard Powers
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WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
The Overstory, winner of the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction, is a sweeping, impassioned work of activism and resistance that is also a stunning evocation of--and paean to--the natural world. From the roots to the crown and back to the seeds, Richard Powers's twelfth novel unfolds in concentric rings of interlocking fables that range from antebellum New York to the late twentieth-century Timber Wars of the Pacific Northwest and beyond. There is a world alongside ours--vast, slow, interconnected, resourceful, magnificently inventive, and almost invisible to us. This is the story of a handful of people who learn how to see that world and who are drawn up into its unfolding catastrophe.
- by Ian Williams
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WINNER OF THE SCOTIABANK GILLER PRIZE
A hilarious, surprising and poignant love story about the way families are invented, told with the savvy of a Zadie Smith and with an inventiveness all Ian Williams' own, Reproduction explores unconventional connections and brilliantly redefines family.
Felicia and Edgar meet as their mothers are dying. Felicia, a teen from an island nation, and Edgar, the lazy heir of a wealthy German family, come together only because their mothers share a hospital room. When Felicia's mother dies and Edgar's "Mutter" does not, Felicia drops out of high school and takes a job as Mutter's caregiver. While Felicia and Edgar don't quite understand each other, and Felicia recognizes that Edgar is selfish, arrogant, and often unkind, they form a bond built on grief (and proximity) that results in the birth of a son Felicia calls Armistice. Or Army, for short.
Some years later, Felicia and Army (now 14) are living in the basement of a home owned by Oliver, a divorced man of Portuguese descent who has two kids--the teenaged Heather and the odd little Hendrix. Along with Felicia and Army, they form an unconventional family, except that Army wants to sleep with Heather, and Oliver wants to kill Army. Then Army's fascination with his absent father--and his absent father's money--begins to grow as odd gifts from Edgar begin to show up. And Felicia feels Edgar's unwelcome shadow looming over them. A brutal assault, a mortal disease, a death, and a birth reshuffle this group of people again to form another version of the family.
Reproduction is a profoundly insightful exploration of the bizarre ways people become bonded that insists that family isn't a matter of blood.
- by Jennifer Black
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In this vibrant debut, Jennifer Ilse Black combines prose, lists, and structural experimentation. Small Predators follows a collective of student activists as they cope with the aftermath of a violent political demonstration carried out against their university by a member of their collective, Mink. The story's narrator, Fox, recounts Mink's addiction to a form of physical self-harm, both a violence motivated by guilt of privilege and a method of coping with political vulnerability. As Fox navigates her anger with Mink, debating whether or not she should confront or forgive her, we discover that each member of the collective is performing their own acts of self-violence. As Canadian millennials, Fox and her friends were born into the era of climate anxiety--told again and again that more must be done to save humanity's future at the same time that pipelines were expanded, rainforests were cleared, and chemical waste was dumped into the ocean. Struggling to imagine a resistance that isn't futile, the young activists turn violently on themselves and each other, creating sites of political action and care within their physical bodies.
- by Owen Toews
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Through a combination of historical and contemporary analysis this book shows how settler colonialism, as a mode of racial capitalism, has made and remade Winnipeg and the Canadian Prairie West over the past one hundred and fifty years. It traces the emergence of a 'dominant bloc', or alliance, in Winnipeg that has imagined and installed successive regional development visions to guarantee its own wealth and power. The book gives particular attention to the ways that an ascendant post-industrial urban redevelopment vision for Winnipeg's city-centre has renewed longstanding colonial 'legacies' of dispossession and racism over the past forty years. In doing so, it moves beyond the common tendency to break apart histories of settler-colonial conquest from studies of urban history or contemporary urban processes.
- by Adele Perry
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Structures of Indifference examines an Indigenous life and death in a Canadian city, and what it reveals about the ongoing history of colonialism. At the heart of this story is a thirty-four-hour period in September 2008. During that day and half, Brian Sinclair, a middle-aged, non-Status Anishinaabeg resident of Manitoba's capital city, arrived in the emergency room of the Health Sciences Centre, Winnipeg's major downtown hospital, was left untreated and unattended to, and ultimately died from an easily treatable infection. His death reflects a particular structure of indifference born of and maintained by colonialism. McCallum and Perry present the ways in which Sinclair, once erased and ignored, came to represent diffuse, yet singular and largely dehumanized ideas about Indigenous people, modernity, and decline in cities. This story tells us about ordinary indigeneity in the City of Winnipeg through Sinclair's experience and restores the complex humanity denied him in his interactions with Canadian health and legal systems, both before and after his death. Structures of Indifference completes the story left untold by the inquiry into Sinclair's death, the 2014 report of which omitted any consideration of underlying factors, including racism and systemic discrimination.