By Yolanda Marshall
Summer is hot! What are you reading while sipping your cold homemade sorrel drink, cane juice, coconut water or lemonade? Here are a few of my recommended Canadian books and most are fresh off the press.
Written by Sophie Jai.
Jai graduated from Humber School for Writers in Toronto and holds a Hons. B.A. from York University. This Trinidadian-born author grew up in Toronto and was a 2020 Writer-in-Residence and Visiting Fellow at the University of Oxford.
“When a call from one of her sisters brings Cassandra news of Chevy’s death, she must return home for the funeral. Moving between Toronto and Trinidad, Wild Fires is a vivid and compelling story exploring how we mourn and why we avoid the things that can save us.” – The Borough Press, August 2022.
The Island of Forgetting
Written by Jasmine Sealy.
Sealy is a Barbadian-Canadian writer residing in Vancouver, Canada. She is an MFA graduate and has been shortlisted for the Prairie Fire’s annual fiction contest, the CBC Short Story Prize and the Commonwealth Short Story Prize, amongst many others. This book won the UBC/HarperCollins Best New Fiction Prize in 2020.
“The Island of Forgetting is an intimate saga spanning four generations of one family who run a beachfront hotel. Loosely inspired by Greek mythology, this novel is about the echo of deep—and sometimes tragic—love and how a family’s past can haunt its future.” – Harper Avenue, 2022.
The Junta of Happenstance
Written by Tolu Oloruntoba
Dr Oloruntoba is a Nigerian/Canadian writer/poet and physician based in British Columbia, Canada. He is the winner of the 2022 Griffin Poetry Prize for this debut book.
“In the face of struggles against social injustice, Oloruntoba navigates the contemporary moment with empathy and intelligence, finding beauty in chaos and strength in suffering. The Junta of Happenstance is an important and assured debut.” – Anstruther, 2021.
Written by Sadé Smith and illustrated by Ken Daley.
Smith is a Canadian-born children’s book author of Jamaican descent, and this is her brilliant debut book. The story celebrates the delicious, vibrant Jamaican culture and country. Daley, an award-winning illustrator and artist, brought this story to life with his vivid illustrations.
“Shelly-Ann lives with her Granny on the beautiful island of Jamaica. When Shelly-Ann becomes hungry, she asks her Granny for something to eat. Granny tells her, “Gyal, you betta can cook!” and teaches Shelly-Ann how to get in touch with her Jamaican roots through the process of cooking.” – Feiwel & Friends, July 2022.
Written by Thalia Bennett and illustrated by Beatriz Mellow.
Bennett, a Canadian-born author with Caribbean roots, is a Registered Psychotherapist based in Canada. Her culturally sensitive books speak to themes of mental wellness, parenting, diversity, and inclusion. Beatriz Mellow is a talented illustrator based in Brazil.
“Trinbagonian culture meets British culture as Emily visits her Tanty- a respected aunt or elderly woman, in Canterbury, England. Emily has trouble paying attention, is easily distracted, and is sometimes hyperactive. Tanty teaches Emily about being mindful, a universal state of being involving slowing down, being open, and using one’s senses. Is Emily able to master mindfulness and enjoy her vacation?” – Reflections Counselling and Psychotherapy Services, June 2022.
Because You Are
Written by Jael Richardson and illustrated by Nneka Myers
Richardson is an award-winning Canadian author, the executive director of the Festival of Literary Diversity, a books columnist on CBC Radio’s q and an outspoken advocate on issues of diversity. Nneka Myers is a Canadian with Caribbean heritage. This illustrator and character designer for TV animation is based in Toronto.
“Conceived as a letter to her younger self, Because You Are captures Jael Richardson’s insightful lessons about growing up, being joyful and loving yourself as a young Black girl. By exploring what inner beauty means, this story inspires children to recognize and build their self-worth, to dream big and to make a difference in the world.”- Harper Collins, July 2022.
Please support your local bookstores, such as Nile Valley Books, A Different Booklist, Knowledge Bookstore, and Manifest Bookstore. Cheers and happy summer readings!