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Congratulations Kazuo Ishiguro!

A huge congratulations goes out to the prolific and philosophical author, Kazuo Ishiguro, for winning the 2017 Nobel Prize in Literature!

The Nobel is arguably the most prestigious literary award–however it’s also often viewed as particularly political. You nuriedgiantmay remember that singer-songwriter Bob Dylan won last year, causing a ripple affect of how we define literature, and an accompanying analysis of Dylan’s work. To add to the controversy, Dylan refused to accept the award at the traditional gala, opting instead to wait a few months and receive the award at a private ceremony in April 2017. He then waited till the last minute to deliver his Novel Lecture–the only requirement to receive the eight million kronor (837,000 euros, $891,000) that comes with the prize.

In selecting Mr. Ishiguro, the Swedish Nobel academy, which has been criticized in the past for using the prize to make a political statement, seemed to be focused on pure literary merit. Born in Nagasaki, Japan, in 1954, he moved to England with his family at a young age. Ishiguro’s books are known for their themes of memory, time, and self-delusion.

To check-out Ishiguro’s works here at NVCL follow this link. 

 

Mikale’s Fall Picks for 2017

booksandtea

Today is the official first day of fall–by far my favorite season to sink my teeth into a good book. Not only is it the time for wool blankets, tea and general nesting activities (and coincidentally the shoulder period between ski and camping season), it’s also when many publishers unveil their annual heavy hitters in anticipation of all those glittering literary awards.

As the fiction librarian here at NVCL I am privileged to get an insider look into a few of the year’s more intriguing titles. Thus, may I present the books which I am most looking forward to get me through the next few months of hibernation!

 

The Power by Naomi Alderman  power

Although several top authors (Ursula LeGuinn, Margaret Atwood… to name a few) have crafted memorable speculative fiction about what would happen if the traditional power balance between men and women were swapped, Naomi Alderman’s newest book takes it to a new level by unveiling a story about what happens when teenage girls suddenly gain the ability to cause intense physical pain, and even death.

The book tackles questions such as what is power, how do you get it, and how long before it corrupts you. It’s Feminist Science Fiction. It won the Bailey’s Prize for Women’s Fiction. What more can I say? Still not convinced? Check out this stellar review from The Guardian.

 

The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin 

immortalistsI’m always intrigued when a book sells it’s TV rights prior to publication because it indicates that if nothing else, the novel’s concept is imaginative, expansive, and compulsive. As such, when I first heard that they were already planning a TV show centered around this novel which asks the question, “If you knew the date of your death, how would you live your life?” I knew I would read it.

“The Immortalists is a family love story spanning five decades, centering on four siblings who, as children, visit a fortune teller who predicts the day each will die. Subsequently, they find their lives spiraling and intertwining in dramatic ways, probing the line between destiny and choice, faith and magical thinking, reality and illusion, present and past, this world and the next” (From the publisher).

 

To Kill The President by Sam Bourne

I have mixed feelings about this one, which is the main reason it’s on this list. Although killpresdient“president assassinations” have almost become their own sub-genre, it’s a little bit different when the president in question is highly recognizable, still alive, and currently in office.  Then again, this whole book is about a struggle of conscience. It follows Maggie Costello, a White House Aide and recurring character from Bourne’s previous novels, as she learns about an assassination attempt against the out-of-control President who should clearly not be in power and tries to decide whether to let it happen or not. For anyone wanting to learn more not just about this book, but it’s controversy I recommend checking out this piece by The Guardian . In the meantime, I’ve already placed my hold!

 

Savage Country: A Novel by Robert Olmstead

savagecountry This raw and gritty story begins in September 1873 and follows Elizabeth Coughlin, a widow on the brink of bankruptcy, as she embarks on a buffalo hunt with her estranged and mysterious brother-in-law, Michael, in an attempt to salvage her economic future. Out of their element and overwhelmed by dangers like rattlesnakes, wildfire, rabies, flash floods and everything in between, Elizabeth and Michael’s souls unravel as they take on the cruel work of slaughtering the buffalo.
This is a gripping narrative of that infamous hunt, which drove the buffalo population to near extinction–the story of a moment in our history in which mass destruction of an animal population was seen as the only route to economic solvency. But it’s also the intimate story of how that hunt changed Michael and Elizabeth forever.(From the publisher).

Demi-Gods by Eliza Roberston

Full disclosure: Robertson and I were in the same writing program at the University of demigodsVictoria many moons ago. The fact that she has just published a novel which is receiving mass-acclaim from around the world gives me warm shiny feelings and I therefore cannot wait to read her novel.

 Set in the 1950s over the long, nostalgic days of summer, Demi-Gods is narrated by a striking young woman named Willa who describes a series of brief, highly charged encounters with her stepbrother. Sensitive, playful and original, Robertson is well known for her ability to craft imaginative and poetic prose who’s first collection of short stories Wallflower won the Commonwealth Short Story Prize. 

Future Home of the Living God by Louise Erdrich 

futurehomeApparently this fall I’m really into speculative fiction, female agency, and books with the word “God” in the title.

“The world as we know it is ending. Evolution has reversed itself, affecting every living creature on earth. Science cannot stop the world from running backwards, as woman after woman gives birth to infants that appear to be primitive species of humans. Thirty-two-year-old Cedar Hawk Songmaker, adopted daughter of a pair of big-hearted, open-minded Minneapolis liberals, is as disturbed and uncertain as the rest of America around her. But for Cedar, this change is profound and deeply personal. She is four months pregnant.

 

A chilling dystopian novel both provocative and prescient, Future Home of the Living God is a startlingly original work from one of our most acclaimed writers: a moving meditation on female agency, self-determination, biology, and natural rights that speaks to the troubling changes of our time” (From the Publisher)

 

Happy reading!

-Mikale Fenton

 

NVCL Reads: BINGO!

Bryce, a Public Service Assistant here at the North Vancouver City Library, shares his NVCL Reads bingo.  There’s still time to get a bingo of your own — the contest closes end of day Tuesday, September 5 — and be entered into the draw to win one of 5 $25 gift cards to a fabulous local bookstore.

crosbieYOUR PICK:  Where Did You Sleep Last Night by Lynn Crosbie

The title of Crosbie’s book is derived from a lyric in seminal blues legend Lead Belly’s magnum opus “In The Pines”, later popularized by 90t’s alt-rock icon Kurt Cobain and Nirvana. Cobain also happens to be the raison d’etre for self-described “teenage dirtbag” Evelyn Gray and her drug-addled fantasies, to the point where a stint in hospital after an overdose conjures the spirit of His Mope-iness himself in the body of a man dressed only in a Celine Dion t-shirt and pajama bottoms. What follows next is Wild At Heart done grunge-rock style, as Crosbie mind-bendingly weaves the adventures of these two tragi-comic characters together in a Shakespearian Bonnie-and-Clyde prose, finishing with the realization that there may be a next life beyond the one that so many kids like Evelyn struggled to find in the decade of music’s mixed-up metaphors.

klassanILLUSTRATED: This Is Not My Hat by John Klassen

No it certainly is not, but doesn’t it look fantastic on him? A precocious fish tries to prank the owner of his newly “acquired” headgear by leading us to believe that they will never know it’s gone. Or will they? The author and illustrator of the award-winning I Want My Hat Back pens yet another funny tale of fins gone too far that will delight youngsters and parents alike.

owlsUNDER 200 PAGES: Owls In The Family by Farley Mowat

Full disclosure: I’m embarrassed to admit I’ve never read anything by Mr. Mowat. Until now. When most kids his age are tending to more domesticated pets, young Billy takes in two of the most unusual birds into his care. From bringing dead skunks to dinner and turning parades into riots, a rural town is turned upside down by their antics and no one (not even the family dog) will ever be the same again when Wol and Weeps make their home away from home.

 

ungiftedSET IN A SCHOOL: Ungifted by Gordon Korman

In Donovan Curtis’ world, school is a joke and pranks are his best subject. An “accident” involving a bronze statue and a big basketball game nearly puts an end to his hijinks for good until an administrative mix-up sends Donovan not to detention, but instead to ASD (the Academy of Scholastic Distinction). An “A” student Donovan is not, but he gets top marks for bringing a sense of normalcy to the staid and squeaky-clean lives of the students he befriends. As his “punishment” continues (to the chagrin of the Superintendent of Schools and faculty of ASD, the bewilderment of his parents and pregnant, panic-stricken sister and the awe of his peers), Curtis transforms from class clown to creative mastermind when the fate of summer school looks to ruin the future of the robotics club. Like Uncle Ben said to Peter Parker, “with great power comes great responsibility” and that responsibility for Curtis is to use his gifts for good even if he’s not exactly sure what they are. Filled with equal parts humour and humility, Korman takes us on a rollercoaster of middle school minds with enough twists and turns to make for a thoroughly enjoyable ride.

warsCANADIAN CLASSIC: The Wars by Timothy Findley

Gripping. Intense. Heartbreaking. Profound. All words used describe this epic tale of sacrifice in one of the darkest periods in Canada’s military history. Not convinced? Here are some more:

“Nobody knows what happened to prevent Robert from opening the doors. Perhaps he was injured in the moment (his collar bone was broken) by the panic-stricken horses and perhaps he even lost consciousness for those few precious minutes when he might have gotten them out. What in fact happened was that Robert began shouting “I can’t! I can’t! I can’t! and by the time Mickle realized this meant ‘I can’t open the doors’ it was too late. A man was sent running to pull them open – and he did so. Robert – riding the black mare – was seen trying to bring her under control in the middle of the barn. There were flames all around him and his clothing was on fire. Mickle admits that, at that moment, he said a quick prayer for Robert Ross – and the prayer was for a quick death.”

-Bryce

NVCL Reads: Set in a School

Back to school is almost upon us, which means that summer – and summer reading – is winding down.  For those of you participating in the NVCL Reads: Canada 150 bingo there are still a few more days to get your entries in.  The contest closes on Tuesday, September 5th.  You can enter in person or onlineOn Wednesday, we’ll draw 5 winners for the $25 gift cards to 32 Books and Kidsbooks.  If you haven’t finished your card yet don’t fear — there is still time.  And if ‘Set in a School’ is the square holding you back, we’ve got some suggestions for you:

class clownClass Clown (Picture book MUN) by Robert N. Munsch

Leonardo has been funny since the day he was born: he was a funny baby, he was a funny toddler, he was a funny first grader. Now he is in grade four; and Mrs. Gomez asks him to stop being funny. He tries his best, but he just has to make a funny face, then tell a funny joke, and then show a funny drawing–with predictable results. And when he finally SERIOUSLY promises faithfully never to be funny again, he makes the teacher laugh so hard she falls down on the floor!

athlete mathleteAthlete vs. Mathlete (Children’s Paperback MAC) by W. C. Mack

Owen Evans lights up the scoreboards. His brother, Russell, rocks the school boards. These twin brothers couldn’t be more different. They’ve long kept the peace by going their separate ways, but all that is about to change. The new basketball coach recruits Russell for the seventh grade team and a jealous Owen has to fight to stay in the game. When someone tries to steal Russell’s spot as captain of the mathlete team, will the two be able to put aside their differences in order to save his position? Or will they be sidelined?

geekThe Opposite of Geek (Teen Fiction VOR, or Cloud Library ebook) by Ria Voros

Gretchen Meyers doesn’t know exactly what went wrong, but life in the tenth grade is beginning to suck. As if having a semi-nudist, food-obsessed family wasn’t awkward enough, she has lost her best friend to the fanatical school swim team, and her math grade is so close to negative digits that only emergency tutoring can save it. So far, so high school.

 

fallFall (Online Audiobook) by Colin McAdam

Award-winning author Colin McAdam’s second novel takes place at St. Ebury, an elite Ottawa boarding school. It’s a place of privilege and hollow rules, of newly minted “traditions” and the barely restrained animal instincts of the boys. A handful of girls are also in attendance, among them Fall, a beautiful and elusive figure who becomes the object of fascination for many of the male students, including Noel, a smart, intensely idiosyncratic young man. Told from the very different perspectives of Julius and Noel, Fall is a psychologically acute and relentless literary thriller of the first order.

preciouscargoPrecious Cargo : My Year Driving the Kids on School Bus 3077 (Biography, Rows 8-11, 921 DAV or Cloud Library ebook) by Craig Davidson

One morning in 2008, desperate and impoverished while trying unsuccessfully to write, Davidson plucked a flyer out of his mailbox that read, “Bus Drivers Wanted.” That was the first step towards an unlikely new career: driving a school bus full of special-needs kids for a year. Armed only with a sense of humour akin to that of his charges, a creative approach to the challenge of driving a large, awkward vehicle while corralling a rowdy gang of kids, and unexpected reserves of empathy, Davidson takes us along for the ride.

residentialResidential Schools: The Devastating Impact on Canada’s Indigenous Peoples and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Findings and Calls for Action (Teen Non-Fiction 371.8299 FLO) by Melanie Florence

In 1857, the Gradual Civilization Act was passed by the Legislature of the Province of Canada with the aim of assimilating Indigenous people. Canada’s residential school system for Indigenous young people is now recognized as a grievous historic wrong.

-Kate

*All descriptions courtesy of the publishers

 

NVCL Reads: Poetry

Its time to polish up on our Canadian Poetry — not just because poetry can be moving and rich and vibrant and naughty, and all kinds of other things — but also because this lot of poetry is distinctly Canadian, and one more step to completing our #NVCLreads Canada 150 bingo contest.

Just for the record, I’m not by nature a poetry reader. However, this particular post gave me a much needed opportunity to dip my hands into an overflowing pool of talent and perspective that I have for too long ignored, spanning idiosyncrasies of voice and style.  Take these for what they are, a small smattering of what’s available, and mostly, a sure-fire way to expose yourself to poetry from the insides to the margins of Canada’s evolving literary landscape.

GriffinGriffin Poetry Prize: The Griffin Poetry Prize anthology: a selection of the shortlist

Up first is the 2016 anthology put out by the organizers of The Griffin Poetry Prize. The Prize is one of the richest poetry awards in the world. For this edition, Editor Adam Sol selected from a host of international and Canadian poets, the latter of which include poems from Per Brask and Patrick Friesen’s Frayed Opus for Strings & Wind Instruments (Brick Books), translated from the Danish written by Ulrikka S. Gernes, Infinite Citizen of the Shaking Tent by Liz Howard (McClelland & Stewart), and Tell: poems for a girlhood by Soraya Peerbaye (Pedlar Press).

wrongcatThe Wrong Cat: Poems by Lorna Crozier

One of Swift Current, Saskatchewan’s greatest gifts to Canada surely has to come in the form of poet Lorna Crozier, and particularly in this 17th work titled the The Wrong Cat: Poems.  Her style has evolved beyond just lyrical and effortless turns of phrase. Here she transcends the mediocre with an irreverence of style that never waivers from a clear sense of character and a simple story told – ah, but always with a twist, humor where it is right, and scrumptious bites of reality. Take ‘Book of Small Mistakes’ as an example, and there is one about A ‘Moose’ that is sure to require a revisit, for all the right reasons. Animals of all kinds help her reflect on everything from the subdued to the sublime.

somebirdsSome Birds Walk for the Hell of it by C.R. Avery

If irreverence is a style, C.R. Avery is its ambassador. He’s a local guy; fueled by his Commercial Drive roots, this avant- garde entertainer/slam poet gets to the heart of a variety of downtrodden, eccentrics, ‘temporaries’ and Bohemians that are the world around him in his home of East Vancouver.  While his live performance always adds that extra bit of spice to his ‘beat’ inspired meanderings, he is of us, and all of us in many ways. As one reviewer notes, however, be prepared, “Avery’s poetry is alternatively profane, brilliantly vulgar, outrageously funny, and brash in its lonesome courage”. But, he is innovative in his style, continuing to evolve as a poet, and well worth a read.

pemmicanThe Pemmican Eaters: Poems by Marilyn Dumont

John A. MacDonald referred to the Metis people as “pemmican eaters”. Such is the moniker that titles this collection of work by Marilyn Dumont, dedicated to illuminating characters and stories of the time of Louis Riel, and the rise of the Metis in Canada, bringing them seemingly into the present to face a reckoning. She confronts MacDonald directly, as well as all those who sought to denigrate the Metis by claiming herself and her identity as ‘halfbreed’ proudly.  She declares herself loudly and movingly — never ceding dignity and integrity in the process. I’m particularly informed by “What We Don’t Need”, as I am equally moved by “Our Gabriel”, a celebration of sorts of her ancestor, Gabriel Dumont, and his courageous place in our history.

injunInjun by Jordan Abel

Awarded 2017’s Griffin Poetry Prize, Jordan Abel confronts the legacies of our Colonial past with ‘Injun’ a single poem, wrought out of inaccurate depictions of Indigenous people throughout dozens of pulp western novels. He took these novels and painstakingly searched for occurrences of the word ‘Injun’, isolating the sentences they were contained in, and fashioning a single poem out of the results. What is created, along with annotations for a little bit of context is a confrontation with the language of the occupier, with the violence that has been wrought on the First People of the land, and an opportunity to heal from complicit attempts to erase and discount culture through language, as difficult as it may be to face that. It is that difficulty that makes the poem all that much more worthwhile to read.

milkandhoneyMilk and Honey by Rupi Kaur
The most tender chapters of our lives are written through experiences with abuse, loss, violence and love. Milk and Honey is a pilgrimage through these deepest of emotions but resolved with a softness that comes through the light that is always there, wanting to find its way through.  Divided into four sections that include “the hurting”, “the loving”, “the breaking”, and “the healing,” Kaur uses prose to address themes of loss and femininity.  Milk and Honey is one of the few books of Canadian poetry that has spent 52 weeks on the New York times best sellers list and has been translated into over 25 languages around the world.

To This Day: For the Bullied and Beautiful by Shane Koyczan
There wasn’t any Canadian who didn’t feel the pride of a nation bearing witness to poet Shane Koyczan’s stirring poem “We Are More” at the opening ceremonies of 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Here he takes another of his poems ‘To This Day’ and refashions it into a rallying cry against bullying. Based on his own experiences being bullied, the poem is heartfelt and emotional, but strong and inspirational.  Koyczan helps us rise to the resilience that lies beneath, confronting the bully within and around us all. So inspirational was the poem that he produced a YouTube video for a 2013 Ted Conference that has garnered millions of views, and continues to encourage others to this day.

-Chris

NVCL Reads: Canadian History Edition

It’s Canada’s 150th birthday this year! If you were hoping to learn a bit more about Canada’s history this year, here is a list to get you started.

Saltwater City by Paul Yee saltwatercity

Let’s ease into our study of Canadian history with pictures! Created by a former City of Vancouver archivist, Saltwater City documents the history of the Chinese community in Vancouver. Photography has the potential to humanize our past in a very immediate way, and even a quick peruse through this volume will give you a new window onto our shared history.

1867: How the Fathers Made a Deal by Christopher Moore

1867

And now for some constitutional history. But it’s really readable and interesting!! Written in 1997 after Canada had gone through two attempts at constitutional reform, this book explains why our political system works the way it does. You’ll be able to talk intelligently about things like why we (usually) don’t have fixed election dates! You’ll be the life of the BBQ!

 

A Knock on the Door: The Essential History of Residential Schools from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada and Phil Fontaine knock.jpg

An edited and abridged version of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s report on the horrors of Canada’s residential schools. It’s not an easy read – the story of cultural genocide is never easy. But by becoming more informed about our past, you’re helping to create the possibility for a healthier, more democratic future for all Canadians.

 

Ice Ghosts: The Epic Hunt for the Lost Franklin iceghostsExpedition by Paul Watson

Who isn’t fascinated by the lost (and then, over 150 years later, dramatically found) Franklin ships?!?!? Commanded by Sir John Franklin, the Erebus and Terror set off from London in 1845 to find the fabled Northwest Passage. Neither ship returned, and all 129 men aboard were lost. An extraordinary search ensued that didn’t end until 2016. Well worth the read.

 

-Cara Pryor

 

 

#NVCLReads: North Shore Writers Festival

If you’ve never been to the North Shore Writer’s Festival, you’re missing out.  Each year, the three North Shore Libraries (West Vancouver, North Van City and North Van District) and the North Shore Writers Association join together to host this free community literary festival which has something for every aspiring writer or avid reader to enjoy. Here we present a sample from some of our headliners from year’s past. Make sure you don’t miss this year’s Festival! Dates to be announced this fall…. stay tuned

John Valliant  jaguarschildren

The Golden Spruce, Valliant’s first book was an instant BC classic and continues to be one of my favourite and most recommended titles. His second book, The Tiger made me almost quit my life and travel to Russia. Meanwhile he also writes complex and compelling fiction! As a bonus, Valliant is from North Vancouver. Check out his latest novel, The Jaguar’s Children from the Library today!

Camilla Gibb

thisishappyI had the pleasure of meeting Camilla Gibb at last year’s Festival when she read from her new memoir This is Happy, a beautifully told story about the author’s experience going through heartbreak and becoming a new mother. She first gained notoriety with her smash-hit novel Sweetness in the Belly.  Whenever I read Gibb’s writing I’m stuck by her thoughtful and insightful prose and her ability to craft a tangible sense of place.

Heather O’Neil 

Heather O’Neil’s 2006 novel Lullabies for Little Criminals devastated me with it’s sharp lullabiesforlittlehumour, and piercing imagery of a young girl trying to survive in a rough urban environment. Since then, O’Neil has written other classics such as The Girl Who Was Saturday Night (which was nominated for both the Scotiabank Giller Prize and the Bailey’s Prize) as well as the Lonely Hearts Hotel. If you like dark comedy,k and even darker plot lines then O’Neil is for you!

 

Adventures_in_Solitude_book_coverGrant Lawrence

CBC personality, Indie Rock band lead-man, goalie, writer, GRant Lawrence is a local force to be reckoned with. He also happens to host the North Shore writer’s Festival’s Literary Trivia Contest which makes him a personal favourite! I loved his book Adventures in Solitude; What Not to Wear to a Nude Potluck and Other Stories from Desolation Sound both for his hilarious storytelling and the way he truly captures life in some of BC’s more “rustic” coastal communities. If you’d like to see Grant in person, come check out this year’s Literary Trivia contest!

Remember this is just a small sliver of the incredible talent we’ve hosted at the Festival! To learn more about the festival and our talented alumni, visit the Festival website!