Friday, 12 October 2018

The Hidden Keys by Andre Alexis


Image resultParkdale’s Green Dolphin is a bar of ill repute, and it is there that Tancred Palmieri, a thief with elegant and erudite tastes, meets Willow Azarian, an aging heroin addict. She reveals to Tancred that her very wealthy father has recently passed away, leaving each of his five children a mysterious object that provides one clue to the whereabouts of a large inheritance. Willow enlists Tancred to steal these objects from her siblings and help her solve the puzzle.
A Japanese screen, a painting that plays music, a bottle of aquavit, a framed poem and a model of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater: Tancred islured in to this beguiling quest, and even though Willow dies before the puzzle is solved, he presses on.
As he tracks down the treasure, he must enlist the help of Alexander von Wurfel, conceptual artist and taxidermist to the wealthy, and fend off Willow’s heroin dealers, a young albino named ‘Nigger’ Colby and his sidekick, Sigismund ‘Freud’ Luxemburg, a clubfooted psychopath, both of whom are eager to get their hands on this supposed pot of gold. And he must mislead Detective Daniel Mandelshtam, his most adored friend.
Inspired by a reading of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure IslandThe Hidden Keys questions what it means to be honorable, what it means to be faithful and what it means to sin.


About the Author

André Alexis (born 15 January 1957 in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago) is a Canadian writer who grew up in Ottawa and currently lives in Toronto, Ontario. He has received numerous prizes including the Windham-Campbell Literature Prize.
Alexis began his artistic career in the theatre, and has held the position of playwright-in-residence at the Canadian Stage Company. His short play Lambton, Kent, first produced and performed in 1995, was released as a book in 1999.[1] His first novel Childhood was published in 1998. Alexis published Ingrid and the Wolf, his first work of juvenile fiction, in 2005.
Alexis wrote the libretto for James Rolfe's opera Aeneas and Dido, which premiered at Toronto Masque Theatre in 2007.[2] He had previously worked with Rolfe twice before, on Orpheus and Eurydice (2004) and Fire (1999), and with Veronica Krausas.[3]
His novel Asylum was published in 2008, and is set in Ottawa during the government of Brian Mulroney.[4]
In 2014 Alexis published Pastoral, the first in a planned series of five novels on philosophical themes.[5] Fifteen Dogs, the second novel in the series, was published in 2015.[6] The third novel, The Hidden Keys, was published in 2016.
Alexis is a juror for the 2017 Scotiabank Giller Prize.[7]

Alexis lives and works in Toronto, where he has hosted programming for CBC Radio, reviews books for The Globe and Mail, and is a contributing editor for This Magazine. He is an Adjunct Professor in the MA in English and Creative Writing program at the University of Toronto, and was formerly Writer in Residence at the University of Ottawa, and a Barker Fairley Distinguished Visitor in Canadian Studies[10] at University College in the University of Toronto





Wednesday, 28 March 2018

The Birth House by Ami MacKay


The Birth House - Canadian Trade Paperback.The Birth House is the story of Dora Rare, the first daughter to be born in five generations of Rares. As a child in an isolated village in Nova Scotia, she is drawn to Miss Babineau, an outspoken Acadian midwife with a gift for healing. Dora becomes Miss B.’s apprentice, and together they help the women of Scots Bay through infertility, difficult labours, breech births, unwanted pregnancies and even unfulfilling sex lives. Filled with details as compelling as they are surprising, The Birth House is an unforgettable tale of the struggles women have faced to have control of their own bodies and to keep the best parts of tradition alive in the world of modern medicine



                               Author Bio

                              Author Website 


As a writer of fiction, essays, musical theatre, radio documentaries and dramas, Ami is a dedicated artist who brings creativity and passion to her work. With over 15 years of experience in musical theater she has scored several productions, including The Clouds, Mother Courage, A Midsummer Night's Dream and The Tempest.
She believes that the power and magic of a good story can only come through the strength of the characters, plot and place. Her work has been described as "a balance of stories - observation and internal musings, matter of factness and fancy." Her radio documentary for the CBC, Daughter of Family G won an Excellence in Journalism Award at the 2003 Atlantic Journalism Awards and her novel, Given, was awarded second  place in the 27th annual Atlantic Writing    Competition.
Born in Indiana, Ami currently lives in an old farm house in Scots Bay, Nova Scotia. She's an avid blogger and is an active member of PEN Canada as well as an Associate Editor of Fiction for The Antigonish Review.
Her first novel, The Birth House was published by Knopf Canada in 2006 as their New Face of Fiction's 10th anniversary title (publication by Luitingh Sijthoff - Holland, and Wilhelm Goldmann Verlag -Random House Germany to follow).

Reviews


Wednesday, 14 March 2018

The Golden Spruce: a True Story of Myth, Madness and Greed by John Vaillant

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The golden spruce stood in the Queen Charlotte Islands, an unusually rich ecosystem where the normal lines between species blur, a place where “the patient observer will find that trees are fed by salmon [and] eagles can swim.” The islands’ beauty and strangeness inspire a more personal and magical experience of nature than western society is usually given to. Without romanticizing, Vaillant shows that this understanding is typified by the Haida, the native people who have lived there for millennia and know the land as Haida Gwaii – and for whom the golden spruce was an integral part of their history and mythology. But seen a different way, the golden spruce stood in block 6 of Tree Farm License 39, a tract owned by the Weyerhaeuser forest products company. It survived in an isolated “set-aside” amidst a landscape ravaged by logging.The Golden Spruce is the story of a glorious natural wonder, the man who destroyed it, and the fascinating, troubling context in which his act took place. 

A tree with luminous glowing needles, the golden spruce was unique, a mystery that biologically speaking should never have reached maturity; Grant Hadwin, the man who cut it down, was passionate, extraordinarily well-suited to wilderness survival, and to some degree unbalanced. But as John Vaillant shows in this gripping and perceptive book, the extraordinary tree stood at the intersection of contradictory ways of looking at the world; the conflict between them is one reason it was destroyed. Taking in history, geography, science and spirituality, this book raises some of the most pressing questions facing society today. 

Grant Hadwin had worked as a remote scout for timber companies; with his ease in the wild he excelled at his job, much of which was spent in remote stretches of the temperate rain forest, plotting the best routes to extract lumber. But over time Hadwin was pushed into a paradox: the better he was at his job, the more the world he loved was destroyed. It seems he was ultimately unable to bear the contradiction. 

On the night of January 20, 1997, with the temperature near zero, Hadwin swam across the Yakoun river with a chainsaw. Another astonishing physical feat followed: alone, in darkness, he tore expertly into the golden spruce – a tree more than two metres in diameter – leaving it so unstable that the first wind would push it over. A few weeks later, having inspired an outpouring of grief and public anger, Hadwin set off in a kayak across the treacherous Hecate Strait to face court charges. He has not been heard from since


Image result for john vaillantAuthor Bio

John Vaillant is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, National Geographic, and Outside, among others.  His first book,  The Golden Spruce (Norton, 2005), was a bestseller and won several awards, including the Governor General's Award for Non-Fiction (Canada).  His second nonfiction book, The Tiger (Knopf, 2010), is also an award-winning bestseller. His latest book, a novel, is The Jaguar's Children (HMH/Knopf Canada). 

Monday, 12 February 2018

the Lady and the Monk by Pico Iyer

When Pico Iyer decided to go to Kyoto and live in a monastery, he did so to learn about Zen Buddhism from the inside, to get to know Kyoto, one of the loveliest old cities in the world, and to find out something about Japanese culture today -- not the world of businessmen and production lines, but the traditional world of changing seasons and the silence of temples, of the images woven through literature, of the lunar Japan that still lives on behind the rising sun of geopolitical power.

All this he did. And then he met Sachiko.

Vivacious, attractive, thoroughly educated, speaking English enthusiastically if eccentrically, the wife of a Japanese "salaryman" who seldom left the office before 10 P.M., Sachiko was as conversant with tea ceremony and classical Japanese literature as with rock music, Goethe, and Vivaldi. With the lightness of touch that made Video Night in Kathmandu so captivating, Pico Iyer fashions from their relationship a marvelously ironic yet heartfelt book that is at once a portrait of cross-cultural infatuation -- and misunderstanding -- and a delightfully fresh way of seeing both the old Japan and the very new.


About the Author                        

Iyer was born Siddharth Pico Raghavan Iyer in Oxford, England, the son of Indian parents. His father was Raghavan N. Iyer, an Oxford philosopher and political theorist. His mother is the religious scholar Nandini Nanak Mehta. He is the great-great-grandson of Indian Gujarati writer Mahipatram Nilkanth. Both of his parents grew up in India then went to England for tertiary education.
When Iyer was seven, in 1964, his father started working with Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions, a California-based think tank, so the family also moved to California, as his father started teaching at University of California, Santa Barbara (1965–1986). Thus for more than a decade Iyer moved back and forth several times a year between schools and college in England and his parents' home in California.
He was a King's Scholar at Eton College, was awarded a Congratulatory Double First in English Literature at Oxford University and then received his second master's in literature at Harvard. In 2017, along with Plácido Domingo and Mario Vargas Llosa, he was awarded an honorary doctorate (in Humane Letters) by Chapman University.
He taught writing and literature at Harvard before joining Time in 1982 as a writer on world affairs. Since then he has travelled widely, from North Korea to Easter Island, and from Paraguay to Ethiopia, while writing eight works of non-fiction and two novels
Pico Iyer has been based since 1992 in Nara, Japan  where he lives with his Japanese wife, Hiroko Takeuchi ,the "Lady" of his second book, and her two children from an earlier marriage. Iyer's family home in Santa Barbara burned down due to a wildfire in 1990, a biographical landmark that may have had a deep impact on his peripatetic perspective on 'being at home' in general. In his literary essays and TED-Talks, he repeatedly said: “For more and more of us, home has really less to do with a piece of soil, than you could say, with a piece of soul.”
Asked if he feels rooted and accepted as a foreigner (regarding his current life in Japan) Iyer replies:
"Japan is therefore an ideal place because I never will be a true citizen here, and will always be an outsider, however long I live here and however well I speak the language. And the society around me is as comfortable with that as I am… I am not rooted in a place, I think, so much as in certain values and affiliations and friendships that I carry everywhere I go; my home is both invisible and portable. But I would gladly stay in this physical location for the rest of my life, and there is nothing in life that I want that it doesn’t have.”

Author Facebook:  

Reviews

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Friday, 29 December 2017

The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro

Kazuo Ishiguro's Booker Prize-winning masterpiece became an international bestseller on publication, was adapted into an award-winning film, and has since come to be regarded as a modern classic

The Remains of the Day is a spellbinding portrayal of a vanished way of life and a haunting meditation on the high cost of duty. It is also one of the most subtle, sad and humorous love stories ever written.
 It is the summer of 1956, when Stevens, a man who has dedicated himself to his career as a perfect butler in the one-time great house of Darlington Hall, sets off on a holiday that will take him deep into the English countryside and, unexpectedly, into his own past, especially his friendship with the housekeeper, Miss Kenton. As memories surface of his lifetime "in service" to Lord Darlington, and of his life between the wars, when the fate of the continent seemed to lie in the hands of a few men, he finds himself confronting the dark undercurrent beneath the carefully run world of his employer..



About the Author

Even under the best of circumstances, writing is a difficult task. It requires a great deal of concentration, as well as plenty of time for daydreaming, experimenting, and chasing potential dead ends. So when the British novelist Kazuo Ishiguro, who won  the Nobel Prize in Literature , found himself stalled on a book, he and his wife developed a plan. He would set aside four weeks to devote himself exclusively to writing. And his wife, Lorna? She would take care of everything else.
In an article written for The Guardian back in 2014, Ishiguro explains that this division of household labor was essential in the creation of his Man Booker Prize-winning novel The Remains of the Day:

I would, for a four-week period, ruthlessly clear my diary and go on what we somewhat mysteriously called a “Crash.” During the Crash, I would do nothing but write from 9am to 10.30pm, Monday through Saturday. I’d get one hour off for lunch and two for dinner. I’d not see, let alone answer, any mail, and would not go near the phone. No one would come to the house. Lorna, despite her own busy schedule, would for this period do my share of the cooking and housework. In this way, so we hoped, I’d not only complete more work quantitively, but reach a mental state in which my fictional world was more real to me than the actual one.

Reviews

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler



     "It was a beautiful, breezy, yellow-and-green afternoon." This is the way Abby Whitshank always begins the story of how she fell in love with Red that day in July 1959. The whole family--their two daughters and two sons, their grandchildren, even their faithful old dog--is on the porch, listening contentedly as Abby tells the tale they have heard so many times before. And yet this gathering is different too: Abby and Red are growing older, and decisions must be made about how best to look after them, and the fate of the house so lovingly built by Red's father. Brimming with the luminous insight, humor, and compassion that are Anne Tyler's hallmarks, this capacious novel takes us across three generations of the Whitshanks, their shared stories and long-held secrets, all the unguarded and richly lived moments that combine to define who and what they are as a family





About the Author

Anne Tyler was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 1941; her family moved frequently, generally living in Quaker communities in the Midwest and South, before settling in North Carolina. Tyler attended Duke University, where she majored in Russian. In her first year, she became a pupil of Reynolds Price, who himself would become a major novelist and long-time friend. Price encouraged Tyler to pursue writing more vigorously, but she instead dedicated most of her attention to Russian. She graduated in 1961 then entered Columbia University to continue her studies. In 1962, she returned to Duke as Russian bibliographer for the library. The following year, Tyler married Taghi Modarressi, a psychologist from Iran. In 1964, the two moved to Montreal, where Tyler worked as an assistant librarian at McGill University Law School and wrote her first two novels If Morning Ever Comes (1964) and The Tin Can Tree (1965). In 1967, she and her husband moved to Baltimore, the setting for most of Tyler's subsequent novels. With the publication of A Slipping-Down Life (1970) and The Clock Winder (1972), Tyler began to receive more serious and positive critical attention, but only in the mid-seventies, when such writers as Gail Godwin and John Updike called attention to her, did her novels benefit from widespread recognition. Tyler's stature as an important literary figure was confirmed by the success of Morgan's Passing (1980), which was nominated for the National Book Critics Circle award and received the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize. Dinner at Homesick Restaurant (1982) won the PEN/ Faulkner Award for fiction and was nominated for a National Book Critics Circle award and the 1983 Pulitzer Prize. The Accidental Tourist (1985) and Breathing Lessons (1988) were honored respectively with a National Book Critics Circle Award and a Pulitzer Prize.

Reviews

The Guardian

The NY Times

The Chicago Tribune



Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Firewater: How Alcohol is Killing My People (and Yours)



A passionate call to action, Firewater examines alcohol—its history, the myths surrounding it, and its devastating impact on Indigenous people.


Drawing on his years of experience as a Crown Prosecutor in Treaty 6 territory, Harold Johnson challenges readers to change the story we tell ourselves about the drink that goes by many names—booze, hooch, spirits, sauce, and the evocative “firewater.” Confronting the harmful stereotype of the “lazy, drunken Indian,” and rejecting medical, social, and psychological explanations of the roots of alcoholism, Johnson cries out for solutions, not diagnoses, and shows how alcohol continues to kill so many. Provocative, irreverent, and keenly aware of the power of stories, Firewater calls for people to make decisions about their communities and their lives on their own terms.


Author Bio

 Born and raised in northern Saskatchewan, Harold Johnson has a Master of Law degree from Harvard University and most recently worked as a Crown Prosecutor. He has served in the Canadian Navy, and worked in mining and logging. Johnson is the author of five works of fiction, several of which are set in northern Saskatchewan against a background of traditional Cree mythology. He is also the author of two non-fiction titles. His most recent novel, Corvus, was shortlisted for the 2016 Saskatchewan Book Award for Aboriginal Peoples' Writing, and The Cast Stone won the 2011 Saskatchewan Book Award for Fiction.

Johnson lives "off the grid" in La Ronge, Saskatchewan, with his wife, where he operates his family's traditional trap line.