Yolanda T. Marshall
Winter is upon us. In the words of my late Guyanese grandmother, outside is “COLD like dawg nose!” Emphasis is placed on the word “cold” as it is expressed loudly while looking out the window at the accumulated snow. By the way, did you see the books I recommended two weeks ago? That list included Suzette Mayr, who recently won the $100K Scotiabank Giller Prize for the novel, The Sleeping Car Porter. Don’t sleep on the recommended lists; a good book, a blanket, and a comfortable space will keep you warm.
Jade Is a Twisted Green
Written by Tanya Turton, a Jamaican-born storyteller and educator raised in Toronto.
“Jade Brown, a twenty-four-year-old first-generation Jamaican woman living in Toronto, must find a way to pick up the pieces and discover whom she is, following her twin sister’s mysterious death. Grappling with her grief, Jade seeks solace in lovers and friends during an array of hilarious and heartbreaking adventures. As she investigates life’s most frustrating paradoxes, she holds tight to old friends and her ex-girlfriend, lifelines between past and present. On the journey to turning twenty-five, she finally sees that she belongs to herself and goes about reclaiming that self. Through a series of whirlwind love affairs, parties, and trips abroad, Jade stumbles toward relinquishing the weight of her trauma as she fully comes into her own as a young Black woman and writer.”- Rare Machines – Dundurn Press, September 2022.
Fifteen is for padded cups.
Written by Sabrina Moella, a Congolese-Canadian author based in Toronto.
“Aurelia is a 15-year-old Congolese French girl trying to cope with her rapidly changing body, being accepted at school and longing for her first kiss. When a very religious aunt comes and spends time with her family just the week before she’s supposed to go to a highly coveted end-of-the-school-year party, family tensions ensue, and Aurelia struggles between trying to be the perfect African child at home and a cool and hip student within her new circle of friends.
A sweet coming-of-age story by Congolese Canadian writer Sabrina Moella, ‘Fifteen is for padded cups’ is an ode to 90’s teenage angst, unforgettable summers, and the timeless quest for one’s true self. – Kwambila Press, November 2021.
The Possible Lives of W.H. Sailor
Written by Bushra Junaid, A Canadian writer, curator, and arts administrator born in Montreal to Jamaican and Nigerian parents.
“In this powerful and deeply moving poetic narrative, author/artist Bushra Junaid gives presence to W.H., a mysterious nineteenth-century sailor whose remains were discovered in Labrador in the late 1980s. What little can be deduced about W.H. archaeologically is that he was of African heritage and buried alone in a stark landscape. Junaid’s poem embraces the mystery of W.H., ponders his life — which he might have been, how he might have lived – and in so doing, not only offers a daring look at the history of the African experience in North America but claims as kin a man isolated, alone, and until now, forgotten.” – Running the Goat, November 2022.
Written by Sheila Murray and earned a spot as a finalist for the 2022 Governor General’s Literary Award for fiction. This prolific author was born in England and migrated to Canada in her teens. Murray currently resides in Hamilton, Ontario.
“Cyril Rowntree migrated to Toronto from Jamaica in 2012. Managing a precarious balance of work and university, he begins navigating the implications of being racialised in his challenging new land. A chance encounter with a panhandler named Patricia leads Cyril to a suitcase full of photographs and letters dating back to the early 1920s. Cyril is drawn into the letters and their story of a white mother’s struggle to give up her mixed-race baby, Edward. Abandoned by his white father as a small child, Cyril’s keen intuition triggers a strong connection, and he looks for the rest of Edward’s story. As he searches, Cyril unearths fragments of Edward’s itinerant life as he crisscrossed the country. He discovers hidden pieces of Canada’s Black history along the way and gains the confidence to take on his new world.” – Cormorant Books, June 2022.