Monday, February 23, 2015

Diane Schoemperlen in Quill & Quire, The Bull Calf

In the December issue of Quill & Quire, Diane Schoemperlen offers up a introduction to found text and collage, and the genesis of her latest book, By the Book: 

The stories in By the Book are in the tradition of the objet trouvé – taking the form of a found narrative or conversation or meditation – each being an expanded, exploded, and embroidered rearrangement of the original material. The selection and ordering of the sequences in each story was a very labour-intensive and time-consuming process, but one that I found immensely enjoyable and satisfying.
Reading and rereading each old book with a pencil in hand, I searched for its hidden treasures and marked each sentence that resonated for me. Then I moved them around like puzzle pieces, working out of instinct and my love of language and its unpredictable largesse, until the whole thing began to gel. More often than not, I was happily surprised by the power of the juxtapositions and how far I could take them. It was a matter of simultaneously trying to control the material while remaining open to accident, chance, and serendipity.
In The Bull Calf, Sarah Bezan offered up a positive take on By the Book:
Perhaps the most successful section of the book, entitled “By the Book or: Alessandro in the New World,” reads between the lines of the Nuovissima Grammatica Accelerata: Italian-Inglese Enciclopedia Popolare (1900), a book intended to be read by new Italian immigrants to the United States. The original text, which includes advice, notes on grammar and nomenclature, and a background on the American Constitution, also traces correspondence that can be used by its readers to navigate “everyday situations such as discussing the weather, looking for work, getting a hair cut, buying groceries, and visiting the doctor,” as Schoemperlen writes in the section’s introduction (2). Interspersed with extracts from the Nuovissima (indicated by Schoemperlen with the use of boldface), this section imagines a real world of love and loss in the character of Alessandro, who longs for his home country, and for the beautiful young women of the New World, in equal measure...Redeeming personal accounts and stories left untold between the lines of remaining documents, By The Book toys with the notion of completeness. Pieced together “the old-fashioned way by the traditional cut-and-paste method with real paper, real scissors, and real glue” (xi), her most recent book explores the enigmatic possibilities of juxtaposing unfamiliar elements in a bold creative practice of scission and adhesion.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Cast Your Vote: All Saints and Paradise & Elsewhere up for 2015 CBC Bookies

Prepare your ballots, dear readers: it is time again for the annual CBC Bookies.

We're pleased to say that this year both All Saints by K.D. Miller and Paradise & Elsewhere by Kathy Page are up for the 2015 Short Story Category! Click here to vote. (Note: if you wish, you can skip categories by pressing the "Next" button). Voting is open until Monday, February 23rd. 

Monday, February 02, 2015

Ondjaki interviewed in Numero Cinq + John Ralston Saul shows love for Good Morning Comrades on Twitter

Earlier today on Twitter, John Ralston Saul, President of PEN International and author of The Comeback, expressed his admiration for Good Morning Comrades, Ondjaki's "magical 1st novel."

To learn more about this up-and-coming star of Angolan fiction, check out this great interview with Benjamin Woodard, just posted on Numero Cinq. Woodard also wrote an excellent review of Granma Nineteen and the Soviet's Secret, Ondjaki's second novel in English, released in 2014.

Biblioasis is currently at work at translating Os Transparentes, winner of the 2013 Jose Saramago Prize, and generally considered Ondjaki's masterwork.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Happy 10th! David Worsley on Once and Thought You Were Dead

The Biblioasis titles that first worked for me were by Rebecca Rosenblum and Terry Griggs. Once and Thought You Were Dead had a younger urban focus and a lighter touch that I think are still a bit underrepresented in Canadian fiction. There's not a hell of a lot of mystery to getting introductory readers interested in a book. They need to see even a bit of themselves in it, and find something to identify with. It doesn't hurt when talent wins out in the process. With that in mind, Random House has apparently let Terry's book, Rogues Wedding, go out of print. It would look great in a Biblioasis reprint series.

- David Worsley, Words Worth Books 

30% Off All Used Books in February @ Biblioasis Bookstore

To say thanks for having recently voted us Windsor's 1# Bookstore in the Windsor Independent's annual Windy Indy awards for 2014, we're going to be holding a 30% off sale on all used books in the shop. If you're a diehard book addict and have had your eye on something for awhile, or if you're new to the shop and are looking to check us out for the first time, it's the perfect opportunity to browse and pick up some real gems at a steal. The sale includes rare books as well, but excludes 1$ books and used special orders.  Whether you're looking for fiction, philosophy, history,  religion, poetry, children's books, reference books, art books, biography or music, we've got something for everyone. Thanks again for the love, Windsor, and see you in February!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

"Powell actually cuts into you, leaves a mark": Michael Dennis Loves Inheritance

Michael Dennis, one of Canada's most ardent and prolific poetry bloggers, is head-over-heels with Kerry-Lee Powell's Inheritance, which he says "could be the best book of poems I've read since my own father died." He calls the book "a scourging, searing swat of emotional intensity" and expresses great admiration for the way Kerry-Lee  "mines the internal conflict" of her family legacy and "makes it public". 
Kerry-Lee Powell uses her personal history like a spring board. Watch as she jack-knives into your thoughts. These poems stay with you. The jack-knife in this case isn't the dive. Powell actually cuts into you, leaves a mark.

Inheritance was also chosen by Carmine Starnino as one of his "Top 10 Canadian Poetry Books of the Year" on the Vehicule Blog, a list which also includes fellow Biblioasis poet Catherine Chandler's excellent Glad and Sorry Seasons, which we released last spring. Sina Queyras also included Inheritance as one of her three favourite debuts in her 2014 poetry round-up over at Lemon Hound.

And if all that doesn't convince you to pick up a copy, head over to Verse Daily where today's featured poem is Kerry-Lee's "The Girls Who Work at the Makeup Counter," excerpted from Inheritance.

More (and More) Praise for Kathy Page

Now that we've had a few moments to recover from the inundation of year-end lists that closed out 2014, here's a brief recap of some nice things that were said about Kathy Page's Alphabet as we were on the cusp of ringing in 2015.

- Over at Salon's "What to Read Awards: Top critics choose the best books of 2014" feature, Laurie Muchnick, a fiction editor of Kirkus Reviews and the president of the National Book Critics Circle, was asked "What book sits outside your list, but has either been overlooked or deserves more attention? Something you really liked deserving of an extra look?" Guess what she chose?:
One book that I would like to have seen get more attention is Alphabet by Kathy Page, from the small Canadian press Biblioasis. It’s a sort of Clockwork Orange update: A man convicted of murdering his girlfriend volunteers for a special program designed to reprogram criminals by making them face their crimes head-on, but he’s not prepared for the humiliation involved.

-  And at The Boston Globe, the amazing Liberty Hardy of RiverRun Bookstore (who also kindly included Biblioasis as the only Canadian Press in her BookRiot "Must-Read Books from Indie Presses" round-up) chose Alphabet as her Pick of the Week for the week of December 13th.

- Moving on to The Brooklyn Paper, Jess Pane, bookseller at one of our most beloved Indies, Greenlight Bookstore, championed Alphabet as her favourite book of the year: 
This is my favorite book of the year. Kathy Page puts you inside the head of Simon. He’s in jail and doesn’t understand his rage. He’s murdered his girlfriend. He learns the alphabet and begins writing anonymous letters to women. He pretends to be someone else — someone who loves art — until someone figures him out and asks him for the truth, and it all unravels. This book is about identity, the prison system, and how to love yourself when you’ve been beaten down.
 - And last but not least, if you still have a moment to spare, I swear you'll not regret dropping in at The Rumpus for Leland Cheuk's fantastic and appreciative dual review of Alphabet and Paradise and Elsewhere. Here's a taste:
Studies have shown that reading literary fiction increases a reader’s ability to empathize. In her first books to be published in the U.S., Giller Prize-nominated British author Kathy Page puts that theory to a rigorous test. Would you like to spend 300 pages in the mind of a murderer? How about fourteen stories replete with the vengeful whispers from those vanquished by the injustices of globalization? In both the novel Alphabet and the story collection Paradise and Elsewhere, Page demonstrates that she is a master provocateur, unafraid to ask unpleasant questions about contemporary society...

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Second Printing of Local Sensation & National Bestseller From The Vault Due to Arrive Later This Week

That's right, the second printing of the bestselling local photo-history From The Vault, one of Windsor and Essex County's most sought-after holiday gift items this past December, is due to arrive back from the printers later this week. 

The response on this book, both locally and nationally, was unprecedented for us here at Biblioasis: within the course of less than six weeks, we sold through the entirety of the 7,000 copies that made up the first printing, making it not only a bestseller locally, but nationally. We received special orders from as far as the Western States, the UK, and even Australia. From The Vault was covered by The Windsor Star, CBC News, CTV News, and various other prominent media outlets, and was sold-out at local bookstores and retailers within the first couple weeks of December. 

The book, which retails for 39.95$ + tax, will be available for sale in Biblioasis Bookstore and online as of Friday, January 29th, and will be available throughout Windsor and the county in multiple traditional and non-traditional retailers as of February 1st. To reserve a copy at Biblioasis Bookstore, or for more info, including where you can locate a copy in a retailer near you, give us as call at 519-968-2206 or send us an email at

Let's make it 7,000 more, Windsorites! 

CNQ's Website Gets a Makeover

Canadian Notes and Queries' online presence has just gotten a whole lot prettier.

A new redesigned website has been launched for the feisty literary print tri-annual, featuring select articles from back issues, exclusive online content, and pithy blog posts regularly updated by editor Alex Good. We've also renewed our commitments to the Twittersphere. To keep up with some of the most lively and combative discussions on contemporary Canadian lit and culture, follow us here

And as an aside to all you subscribers: be on the lookout for CNQ 92, which will shipped and hitting the newsstands in the 2nd or 3rd week of February. It's a doozy of an issue, with pieces by Stephen Henighan on Mavis Gallant's cross-dressing Romanian mother, Jennifer Franssen on a Latin renaissance in East Scarborough, Patricia Robertson on writing the necessary, Alex Good on the long, long shadow of CanLit's golden generation, JC Sutcliffe on translations of Inuit and Innu fiction, Kasper Hartman on the golden age of indie video games, and much more. If you haven't subscribed yet, what are you waiting for? Save on the trip and the price of the newsstand and receive an exclusive collectible with each issue! 

“[CNQ]…may be the best literary journal in the land.” — John Fraser, National Post

Michael Dirda Praises The Pebble Chance in The Washington Post

"What draws a reader to a particular book?" asks Michael Dirda, over at The Washington Post. "A friend’s recommendation? A sign inscribed “Best Sellers” over a table in a bookstore? A review? For serious readers, it can be something hard to put into words, something highly subjective."

In the case of Marius Kociejowski's The Pebble Chance, Dirda confesses that even prior to the time of reading "there were several tugs on my attention, starting with the word “feuilletons.”" 
He elaborates:
Not often seen in English, this French word, associated with newspapers, might be translated in various ways: columns, trifles, “casuals” or even essays. That inimitable humorist S.J. Perelman used to refer to his comic pieces as “feuilletons.” Second, this Biblioasis paperback is slightly taller than most trade paperbacks, and its front and back covers are folded back on themselves to create dust-jacket flaps, a design feature common to European books. The Pebble Chance is consequently elegant in appearance and a pleasure to handle. Third, the author photograph of Kociejowski, with his handsome Slavic face and prematurely gray hair, makes him look like a Central European poet, a Zbigniew Herbert or Czeslaw Milosz.
And as for The Pebble Chance's content? Once he was drawn in, Dirda discovered a work whose virtues were equal to his initial intrigue, and found much to admire:
The Pebble Chance links together a meditation on Bernini’s sculpture of Apollo and Daphne, Kociejowski’s “continuing poetic silence,” the Italian game of bocce, and the place of skill and chance in artistic creation. It is a little tour-de-force, and...proffers the reader equal measures of autobiography, insight and quirky charm.

A rave stand-alone review of this sui genesis collection of literary essays in one of America's leading papers. Read the full review here.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Colette Maitland and Cynthia Flood on 2014 ReLit Short Fiction Shortlist

Great news: two Biblioasis short story collections, Cynthia Flood's Red Girl Rat Boy and Colette Maitland's Keeping The Peace, have been shortlisted for the 2014 ReLit Prize. The ReLit, whose mandate is "Ideas, Not Money," celebrates yearly the best new work published by Canada's indies, and The Globe and Mail has called it “The country’s pre-eminent literary prize recognizing independent presses." This year, the ReLit has mixed things up by eliminating longlists in favour of long shortlists. The shortlists are broken down by novels, poetry, and short fiction. 

Red Girl Rat Boy was also included in The National Post's recent roundup, "2014 Things of 2014: 20 Books Plus 3 Comics," where it was distinguished as one of their top three short story collections of the year. 

Best of luck to Cynthia and Colette and all the nominees! 

Happy 10th! Marilyn Gear Pilling on Robyn Sarah's Little Eurekas

Robyn Sarah’s Little Eurekas is a book that has meant a good deal to me. I open it regularly and for a variety of reasons. From it, I may gain inspiration or add to my knowledge of specific poets or read about one or another of a wide variety of topics that pertain to poetry. Or I may want to enter a world where poetry is taken seriously and filtered through the sensibility of a writer and critic whose work I greatly admire. At times I open the book just to be in her company for an hour or two. This is a work that enlightens, entertains, surprises, and communicates the beauty, depth and necessity of poetry.

- Marilyn Gear Pilling

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

New York Times Review of Diane Schoemperlen 'By the Book'

Bit of overdue, but noteworthy news: The New York Times Sunday Book Review featured By the Book: Stories and Pictures by Diane Schoemperlen in their December Holiday Issue. Dan wrote a great post about the enthusiastic coverage her book's been getting over the past month, and how we all feel about its success. Very gratifying to see that others in the media understand and appreciate this beautiful, brave, risk-taking collection, too.

If you're interested in learning more about Diane's process, and how she collected, chose, and assembled the collages that run with the stories in By the Book, you're in luck: not only did Diane write an essay about the subject for The Story Prize blog, she was also featured on a recent episode of CBC's Definitely Not the Opera with Sook-Yin Lee. You can listen to her interview here. (It starts around 39:15.)

Friday, December 12, 2014

Lemon Hound interviews Kerry-Lee Powell; Inheritance selected as part of Toronto Star's Christmas Gift Guide

Word is starting to spread about Kerry-Lee Powell's Inheritance, the searing poetic debut about PTSD and the redemptive power of song by the winner of the 2013 Boston Review Fiction Contest. 

The Toronto Star
warns its readers that "this remarkable debut collection isn’t light reading: the dark pulse driving it is family history as trauma and the devastating legacy of war," but goes on to say that "its tight rhythms, startling images and vivid, arresting turns of phrase make it utterly compelling." So compelling, in fact, that The Star selected it as one of their picks for their 2014 Christmas Book Guide

Another sign of Powell's rare accomplishment is that Inheritance has won the admiration of award-winning experimental poet and Lemon Hound proprietor Sina Queyras, who has called it one of her favourite books of the year. Canada's leading online magazine of the avant-garde sat down with Kerry-Lee earlier this month, and the resulting conversation between Queyras and Powell is fascinating. Here's a taste:

When I wrote “The Lifeboat” I had been more or less bedridden for a couple of years with what later turned out to be a manageable illness. At the time I had no hope of recovering, and I’m convinced it was this despair that allowed me to imaginatively relive my father’s experiences. I understood, fully and with compassion, why he had taken his own life. I was half-asleep with the window open and a notepad beside me when the last line seemed to rise out of my bed sheets like a swelling chorus, drowning out the voices of the children playing in the park across the road. It was a serious moment, perhaps one of the most serious moments I’ve ever had.
My task was then to pare the poem down to its barest elements, try to attain, to borrow a phrase from Plath, ‘the illusion of a Greek necessity.’ I wanted to strip away as much extraneous detail as I could to show that the poem wasn’t only about my father’s tragedy but about how grief is handed down in memories and in song. The poem is a lifeboat, bearing its reader back into the past to relive my father’s terrible experience. It seemed essential to find the music in each line, to ensure that it came as close to embodying its own message as it possibly could. I think, too, that a formal poem engenders its own sense of inevitability. In this poem, I wanted the rhymes to be uncluttered, but at the same time to toll and echo like bells, to resonate the way my father’s traumatic memories and suicide continue to resonate in my life. One of the great things about art is that grief needn’t be banished or ‘cured’ or disavowed, but can instead be given its full due.
As the interview makes clear, Powell is that rare poet who can talk about her craft with an attention and care that rivals the achievement of her poetry, and I'll leave you with an excerpt from her excellent essay "Falling In Love With Poetry: It's Complicated!" which just recently appeared in The New Quarterly. It discusses how Kerry-Lee's discovery of Leadbelly and Lighting Hopkins provided a lifeline during her "shitty jobs as an underage cocktail waitress, [and] chambermaid at a biker motel," blossoming into a secret love affair with the poetry of John Donne, Plath and others, a veritable crash course on "how to be human." Inheritance is available in better bookstores and online from Biblioasis. 
With its roots in the underworld and its high notes in the transcendent realm of the spiritual, the unearthliness of blues music endowed my own lack— of money, an identity, power—with pathos and a borrowed fervour. The lyrics and the music seemed contradictory and oddly complementary: a melancholy voice chronicling the solitudes and transience of human life with a subversive, life-affirming brilliance. I was falling in love with poetry, although I didn’t know it at the time.

Happy 10th! Eugene McNamara on For As Far As The Eye Can See and Straight Razor and Other Poems

For me two Biblioasis books that touched me where I live were collections of poems.

The first is Salvatore Ala's Straight Razor and Other Poems (2004).  These poems resonate with love: for his father, mother, grandmother, wife, children and sacred places. Windsor, Tuscany, Sicily.

Beginning with Frank Ala's barber shop. The poems roam far away but always come back.

Dennis Priebe's design and typesetting make a beautiful rendering of Sal's words in space. It is a wonderful thing to hold as well as read,

The second book that hit me where I live is Robert Melancon's For As Far As the Eye Can See (2013). Elegantly translated into English these poems are deep in the author's Quebec and afford someone like me who only knows that belle province from visits to Montreal a deep insight into lived life.

Both of these collections begin with geographic specifics but both poets lead us from there to the universal.

A friend of mine sometimes thanks me for "juice" gleaned from reading my poems. Both of these books do that for me. Thank you for them.

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Upcoming FROM THE VAULT events!

Love for Schoemperlen's By the Book

There's been a fair bit of love for Diane Schoemperlen's By the Book: Stories and Pictures of late, some of which has already hit, and some of which is coming down the pipe.  First up, Stacey Mae Fowles gave Diane's book a very smart review a few weeks ago in the Globe and Mail: 

"By The Book reveals with even more vibrancy Schoemperlen’s reconstructive impulse, this time in full glossy colour, with a more sophisticated hand and more depth of source materials. Culling the contents of long-forgotten encyclopedias, handbooks and hilariously dated how-tos, there is less of Schoemperlen’s own voice here and more of a virtuoso performance in found text and visual poetry. ... she reveals herself to be a curator of both juxtaposition and connection, luxuriating in the way language works and what feelings it can conjure when laid on the page."

The November issue of Quill and Quire also contained George Featherling's fine review of the same.  After discussing her process and how the stories work, Featherling offers up the following:
"Her wit, however, is just the glaze on her serious intentions. One need not squint to see that between the lines Schoemperlen is using history to ridicule our own societal certainties or even to protest Canada’s increasing authoritarianism. In every case, she looks for fresh ways of pushing the boundaries of Canadian fiction. She is an original."
We, of course, couldn't agree more, especially about Diane's wit, and her pushing of boundaries.  We've been pretty clear, on Thirsty and elsewhere, what we think of this book: I have been fascinated by it since it arrived a year and a half ago, and it's sent me scuttling back to Diane's earlier work like Forms of Devotion so hungry I've become for more.  This is a book which challenges what both the story and book can do as forms; it's also as joy-filled as a book can be.  

For the full Quill & Quire review, which is paired up with Molly Peacock's Alphabetique, please go here.  

Speaking of joy, Diane talked about how By the Book brought more joy to her than she's experienced in her writing in years on DNTO this past Saturday.  Working on By the Book, she told Sook Yin Lee, reminded her of something she'd forgotten over her years of trying to make a living as a writer: creation is supposed to be fun.  The theme of this episode of the show was garbage, and Diane turned the concept on its head, by showing how the detritus of one period can be transformed into the art of another.  It's a fascinating 9 minute interview, which begins approximately at 38:45, continuing until 47:45.  Take a listen here:

Friday, November 28, 2014


Craig Pearson and Daniel Wells with a few book
Last night was the launch party at The Windsor Star News Cafe.  Over 300 people came out to celebrate the release, including Rino Bortolin, newly elected city councillor for the downtown ward.  Bortolin says:
When you’re flipping through the pages you’re really getting a good historical overview of Windsor. It’s just a reminder that you’re rooted in the history of such a great community. It’s not just the buildings themselves: it’s the people and the energy of the community.
Marty Beneteau, editor of The Windsor Star.  
Courtesy of The Windsor Star.
Some highlights of the evening: an interview with CTV, introductions from Marty Beneteau, a performance by Crissi Cochrane, Craig and Daniel both speaking about their experiences and what they learned from working on the project, and then the anticipated signing of the books.  This party was quite the success!

The authors sign books for Marilyn Racovitis and her daughter
Helena Ventrella.  Courtesy of  The Windsor Star.
Today, The Windsor Star has not only graced a fantastic photo of Daniel's family on the cover, but has also included a special historical feature so be sure to grab a copy.
Special feature insert in The Windsor Star.
Front page spread.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

This Week's Recommended Reading: Kathleen Winter's "Of the Fountain"

Check out Kathleen Winter!

This morning her short story "Of the Fountain" was published by Electric Literature's Recommended Reading, one the best literary journals online, and among the best anywhere. ELRR posts one new story each week from a host of established and emerging authors. Some stories are recommended directly by the magazine (like Sasha Graybosch's amazing "Recovery Period"), but more are recommended by other authors (Aimee Bender rec'ed "Cathay" by Steven Millhauser), literary journals (Virginia Quarterly Review rec'ed "The Grave" By Katherine Anne Porter), and indie presses (House of Anansi rec'ed "Champ de Mars" by Mireille Silcoff). The result is a thoughtfully selected gallery of astonishingly good fiction, all chosen by super-editor Halimah Marcus. You can read Kathleen's story (and an introduction by our own Dan Wells) here.

This isn't the first excerpt published over the past month. "Anhinga," another of Kathleen's pieces, was placed in Storyville — a venue The New Yorker crowned the "digital pick of the week" for new fiction. Her story, along with others by William VollmannDonald Antrim, and Kseniya Melnik, were sent to subscribers of the Storyville app, and are currently available for purchase online. More on "Anhinga" can be found here.

Both "Of the Fountain" and "Anhinga" were excerpted from Kathleen's latest collection of short stories, The Freedom in American Songs, published by Biblioasis this fall. In addition to all the good reviews its received over the past few months, we were overjoyed to see it listed among the 5 Best Canadian Books of the Year on last weekend.

We couldn't be more pleased.

Special note to readers in the Maritimes: Kathleen will be a featured author of the Lorenzo Reading Series this January. A schedule of her appearances and readings will be available on their site soon.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Mia Couto Makes the 2015 IMPAC Dublin Literary Award Longlist!

So the longlist for the 2015 International IMPAC DUBLIN Literary Award was just announced, and Mia Couto is there for The Tuner of Silences! Congratulations are due to the author — but also to David Brookshaw (translator) and Stephen Henighan (editor), who guided the book along its path to the English-speaking world.

Unlike most awards, titles on the IMPAC DUBLIN longlist are there due to nominations by a select group of libraries across the globe. Two Portuguese libraries, in this case, are responsible for The Tuner of Silence's inclusion: Biblioteca Municipal de Oeiras and Biblioteca Pública Municipal do Porto. Other books on the list include MaddAddam by Margaret Atwood, The Orenda by Joseph Boyden, and The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan, winner of the 2014 Man Booker Prize.

Translated into English in 2013, The Tuner of Silences is the story of a son who's struggling to reconstruct his family history. Yet it's a history that his father can't discuss — until the arrival of a young woman, who breaks the silence of the past. The Independent called the book "a sad novel of poetic brilliance." And The Times Literary Supplement placed Couto "alongside the best Latin American magic realists."

After its publication, Couto was awarded the 2014 Neustadt International Prize for Literature. This followed two earlier international literary awards: the €100,000 Camões Prize in 2013 and the Latin Union Prize in 2007.

Needless to say, we're thrilled about Couto's inclusion on the longlist and hope he's awarded the prize. Not only because of the greater recognition The Tuner of Silences would receive, but because of the greater recognition Mia Couto would receive. Couto is a Mozambican writer of immense international acclaim, yet remains poorly read in North America. Given his unique perspective as an author, an environmental biologist, and a controversial essayist with strong and timely opinions on Africa, he is a man who deserves a much larger audience.

Speaking of Couto the essayist: the debut English translation of his best pieces are forthcoming from Biblioasis this spring, and it's a bombshell of a book. Keep posted!

Monday, November 24, 2014

K.D. Miller's ALL SAINTS Ascends the Heavenly Spheres

This book is truly indomitable. Against the odds, it continues to rise.

Let's pause for a moment and appreciate all the good things that have happened to — and continue to happen for! — this unlikely collection of stories linked by the parishioners of All Saints, the eponymous Anglican church at the centre of the book.

Last spring it received high praise from two major papers: The Globe and Mail ("absorbing, amusing, and deeply meaningful") and The National Post ("Miller is firing on all cylinders"). In its starred Quill and Quire review, Angie Abdou compared the book to Jennifer Egan's A Visit from the Good Squad, in that it "[walked] the line between novel and linked stories, reshaping each genre in the process." Publisher's Weekly wrote that Miller "has an ease of style that produces elegant turns of phrase." Finally, resoundingly, Maclean's Magazine dubbed the collection "a Canadian classic."

That was only last spring.

This fall we were thrilled to learn that All Saints had been shortlisted for The Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize, one of the "big three" literary awards, with a purse of $25,000. "From the first page of All Saints," wrote the jurors, "readers know they’re in the hands of a true writer." The papers then returned to Miller, with all the enthusiasm one would expect, though the book narrowly missed selection.

Now, near the close of the season, All Saints has started appearing on all the best of the Best of 2014 lists. First Quill and Quire posted it top and centre in their December issue, tagging the book as one of Miller's "strongest books to date." Soon after, just this past weekend, The Globe and Mail included it in "The Globe 100: Best Books of 2014," where it was selected among "Our Favourite Canadian Fiction of the Year." Quote: "[All Saints is] a sharp, engaging interconnected collection of stories.... Miller, once called 'Canada’s greatest unknown writer,' deserves to be known by all."

Given the well-deserved adulation All Saints has received over the past year, it's clear Miller's recognition is increasing. What excites us most is thinking ahead to the greater heights she'll climb.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Local History Launch @ Walkerville Brewery Tonight!

Dear Windsorites,

Please join us Tonight at the Walkerville Brewery for a launch of two new local history books from Biblioasis: David Newman's Postcards From Essex County and Patrick Brode's The River & The Land!

David Newman's Postcards From Essex County is the long-awaited follow-up to the popular Postcards From The Past, published by Walkerville Publishing in 2005. Boasting over 315 historic postcards featuring the churches, factories, fairgrounds, houses, beaches, trains and cars of the old towns in Essex County, this is a beautiful gift book in hardcover with full-colour illustrations.

With The River & The Land, Patrick Brode, author of The Slasher Killings and Unholy City, gives us an authoritative history of Windsor up to 1900. Featuring sections on Windsor's role in the American Civil War, Confederation and street-car manufacturing, and chronicling the cultural tensions between the French, English, Irish, and Scottish settlers of the region, The River & The Land is a thorough, compelling and readable history, sure to set the bar for local historians for years to come.

Doors open at 6 and readings/presentations will begin at 7. There will be snacks available and beer and pop are available for sale. Books are also of course available, cash or credit. See you there!

Friday, November 07, 2014

Wild Writers Literary Festival Is Upon Us!

Dear friends in the Waterloo/Kitchener/Guelph area: 
don't forget that this weekend is the date of the Wild Writers Literary Festival!
The weekend features some amazing programming, 
including appearances from K.D. Miller, Diane Schoemperlen, Ray Robertson, and Kathy Page.

For more info on schedules, tickets and directions, please see the festival's website

Happy Weekend!

Thursday, November 06, 2014

"Showstoppingly Exquisite Writing": Toronto Star on Freedom in American Songs

Over at The Toronto Star last week, Emily Donaldson said some kind words about Kathleen Winter's newly released short story collection The Freedom in American Songs.

"What unites these tales is the loneliness and isolation that besets their female characters," writes Donaldson. "Winter’s uniqueness as a writer her resistance to conventions such as narrative arcs and neat endings."

Donaldson is especially fond of the collection's opening "Marianne Stories," which chronicle the misadventures of a young woman who has moved from the city to a rural Newfoundland fishing village.  The complexity and beauty of Marianne as a character is that she "embraces her outsider status knowing it lets her see things others don’t." Yet Marianne also paradoxically yearns to belong, so that, as Donaldson puts it, "the simple achievement of building a fire that burns the same white smoke as her neighbours" becomes a cause for elation. 

 Donaldson calls the writing here "showstoppingly exquisite." 

Writing Spaces: Kerry-Lee Powell and Kathy Page

Ever wondered about the writing habits of your favourite Canadian authors?

For those of us that do, The New Quarterly's online Writing Space feature  helps satisfy some of that curiosity by providing an insider's glimpse into the working spaces of various authors.

Pictured below is Kerry-Lee Powell's tasteful yet functional office set-up whose beautiful matching desk and chair overlook some lovely verdant trees. Kerry-Lee says she keeps the "curtains open on that side of the room at night so that I can see their silhouettes against the sky."

And who wouldn't want to toil daily in Kathy Page's awe-inspiring rugged cabin/office in Salt Spring, situated by a "wooded valley visited by pileated woodpeckers, ravens, and many other birds, as well as rabbits and black-tailed deer."  

Writers as diverse and distinct as their natural habitats. Anyone else feel a smidgen of envy? Time to start organizing that office...

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

What Africa Does the African Writer Write About?

Demands are made of an African writer that are not made of a European or American writer.  Insistence is made on proof of authenticity. Questions are asked about the degree to which it is ethnically genuine. No one questions whether José Saramago represents Portuguese culture. It's irrelevant to know whether James Joyce corresponds to the cultural standards of this or that European ethnic group. Why should African writers have to show such cultural passports? This happens  because people persist in thinking of the production of these African writers as belonging to the domain of anthropology or ethnography. What they are producing isn't literature but a transgression of what is accepted as traditionally African.
The writer isn't just someone who writes. He’s someone who produces thought, someone capable of pollinating others with feeling and delight.
More than this, the writer challenges the basis of thought itself. He goes further than challenging the limits of political correctness. He subverts the very criteria that define what is correct, he questions the boundaries of reason.

An excerpt from the rousing essay "What Africa Does the African Writer Write About?" by 20 Neustadt Prize-winner Mia Couto, published for the first time in English earlier today on the BITSblog. The piece is also forthcoming in Pensativities: Selected Essays, Couto's first collection of non-fiction in English, forthcoming from Biblioasis in April. 

K.D. Miller in Maclean's and Globe and Mail: up for Writer's Trust Tonight!

Besides teaching me so much about writing, Alice Munro once taught me something about being a writer. It was 1986. She had just launched The Progress of Love and was doing a reading in a local library. I couldn’t afford to hand her one of the glossy new hardcovers to sign, so I took along my least-tattered Munro paperback – Lives of Girls and Women. She opened it tenderly, looked up and gave me a gracious smile before signing her name.I learned that night that the reader is to be honoured – even if she shows up with a second-hand copy of the wrong book.
A lovely anecdote from K.D. Miller about the graciousness of Alice Munro in The Globe and Mail as part of yesterday's feature on the Writer's Trust award, for which K.D. is up tonight. 

And speaking of influence and homage, K.D. was also featured in Maclean's this past Monday, where she spoke of her debt to Flannery O'Connor and her ability "as a religious person, to see beyond the borders of her faith and at times stare straight into the eyes of evil," something readers acquainted with All Saints and the character of Alice Vipond will no doubt be familiar with.

The Writer's Trust Award is announced tonight at 6:30PM at the Glenn Gould Studio in Toronto.

Our fingers are crossed for you, K.D.!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Alphabet Featured on Shelf Awareness

Each week, Shelf Awareness and its top industry insiders select and feature the top 25 new releases of the week.

In addition to the countless hits on its website, Shelf Awareness's weekly newsletter also goes out to over 300,000 subscribers.

Featured today on their front page is Alphabet by Kathy Page, an incredible novel we've released for the first time this fall in the United States, and also reissued here in Canada as part of our new Reset reprint series.

Shelf Awareness loves it:
Alphabet transforms from a novel of crime and punishment into a nuanced psychological profile of a killer, ultimately providing a gut-wrenching reminder of the atrocities contained within institutional walls and the lengths to which we are willing to go in order to protect our innermost selves. … Heartbreaking and emotional.
We're thrilled to see such great coverage for Kathy. Alphabet is gaining momentum and quietly making waves in the states. It's definitely a book to keep your eye on.

And it's not just Shelf Awareness and the starred reviews from Publisher's Weekly and Kirkus I'm talking about.

Hearty recommendations from the likes of indies like Emily Pullen from Brooklyn's Word Bookstore, featured below, give us the additional pleasure of knowing that the book is physically being put in people's hands. This is a book that will transform readers of all stripes, and there are people on the ground getting behind it and making this happen. 

We hope that those of you discovering the book through Shelf Awareness for the first time will try to seek out the novel from such unacknowledged heroes as Emily before making the digital rounds:

If you like fiction that makes you a little uncomfortable (but still has a compelling voice), try Alphabet by Kathy Page. The narrator is in prison in the UK for killing his girlfriend, and we see his various coping mechanisms and treatments and eventual attempts to learn how to connect with people in a healthy way. His journey will surprise you. - Emily Pullen

The Toronto Star loves Diane Schoemperlen's By The Book

A very intelligent review of Diane Schoemperlen's By The Book appeared in The Toronto Star today, courtesy of James Grainger. 

Calling Diane "a relentless literary experimentalist who challenges the conventions of the short story and novel formats" Grainger goes on to show why even, in her most radically challenging work, Diane has won "a wide and devoted readership in a marketplace increasingly hostile to “difficult” or “challenging” texts."

So what sets By The Book, her most formally adventurous work since the Governor General's award-winning novel Forms of Devotion, apart from the current experimental crop?

Grainger has some ideas, and we couldn't agree more:
One of the reasons for the popularity of Schoemperlen’s inventive work, which incorporates elements of collage, fragmentation, and other postmodern tropes, is that she seems to be having so much fun creating it. Her fiction also avoids turgid academic language in favour of playful re-imaginings of such mundane sources as romance advice columns, devotional texts, catalogues, and lifestyle questionnaires....Schoemperlen wants us to consider the randomness, absurdity, and militant certainties not only of another era’s texts and images but of our own, which will one day be judged as quaint as those of the Victorians. By the Book is a challenging read, but it never talks over or under the readers’ head, which should endear it to Schoemperlen’s fans and to adventurous readers unfamiliar with her work.
We've talked before about the undeniable weirdness of this book, its beauty and distinction  as a printed objet d'art, but perhaps this is the best way to view By The Book: as the work of a restlessly creative mind that above all else is reveling in having fun, and moreover a brand of fun that the reader is free to participate in. Like Douglas Glover says of By The Book, "none of the conventional words cover it for they miss the fantastic wit, the energy of humour, the divine ability to find comedic ore in the print detritus of our culture." The book is yours to discover.