We offer this as a beginning to a wide and varied reading list. So many titles and writers have not been included due to limited time and resources, but we hope this is an inspiring start. Many of these authors have also released new books since we first unveiled the list in 2011!
Wiles of Girlhood. Toronto: Press Gang, 1991.
My Grass Cradle. Toronto: Press Gang, 1992.
Ma MacDonald. Woman’s Press, 1993.
Breasting the Waves: On Writing and Healing. Toronto: Press Gang, 1995. (non-fiction).
Steepy Mountain: love poetry. Ontario: Kegedonce, 2004.
Mother Time: Poems New & Selected. Vancouver: Ronsdale, 2007.
Childbirth, poverty, and mixed heritage are concepts we become intimately acquainted with through Joanne Arnott’s verse—which as a Metis mother of six, she has plenty of experience in. Always seeking to undermine racism, Arnott works actively and creatively for social justice.
Soucouyant. Vancouver: Arsenal Pulp Press, 2007.
David Chariandry brings the loss of memory to the foreground in his debut novel about immigration, family, and time. In doing so he challenges us to rethink the fragility of our own pasts, our own cultures.
49th Parallel Psalm. Vancouver: Arsenal Pulp Press-Advance Editions, 1999.
After Canaan: Essays on Race, Writing, and Region. Vancouver: Arsenal Pulp Press, 2010.
Ed. Bluesprint: Black British Columbian Literature and Orature. Vancouver: Arsenal Pulp Press, 2001.
Performance Bond. Vancouver: Arsenal Pulp Press, 2004.
Wayde Compton is an invaluable resource of Black British Columbia. Half African-American and half Canadian, Compton translates history, race, ironies, and emotion with a dizzying language that will make you appreciate words again.
The Tipping Point: How Little Things Make a Big Difference. New York: Little Brown and Company, 2000.
Blink: The Power of Thinking, Without Thinking. New York: Little Brown and Company, 2005.
Outliers: The Story of Success. New York: Little Brown and Company, 2008.
What the Dog Saw: And Other Adventures. New York: Little Brown and Company, 2008.
Simply put, Malcolm Gladwell helps explain the world. From a Jamaican-Canadian background, Gladwell uses his unique perspective—in addition to his intellect and encompassing writing skills—to give a comprehensible take on social phenomena.
Blood In, Blood Out: A Universal Preparation. Vancouver: Mother Tongue Media, 1996.
World Class Animal. Vancouver: Mother Tongue Media, 1997.
Throwing Skin: South American Poems. Vancouver: Mother Tongue Media, 1999.
Cut of Buddha/ The Vancouver Eloquence. Vancouver: Mother Tongue Media, 2000.
The Golden Section. Vancouver: Mother Tongue Media, 2001.
Invisible World. Vancouver: Mother Tongue Media, 2004. (CD)
The Memorists. Vancouver: Mother Tongue Media, 2008. (CD)
Tanya Evanson blends languages, quests, desires and cultures in a flurry of spoken word, music, performance and print. Poet and publisher, organizer and Whirling Dervish, Evanson is mixed, in all senses.
Any Known Blood. Toronto: HarperCollins, 1997
Black Berry, Sweet Juice: On Being Black and White in Canada. Toronto: Harper Collins, 2001.
The Book of Negroes. Toronto: Harper Collins, 2007.
A Deserter’s Tale. Toronto: Anansi Press, 2007.
Some Great Thing. Toronto: Harper Collins, 2009.
In both his fiction and non-fiction, Lawrence Hill is unapologetically honest—about race, about love, and about Canadian history. With his masterful storytelling, Hill exposes not only the internal struggle but the external yet invisible; the disappointments and achievements of culture and country.
The White Wampum. Toronto: Copp Clark, 1895
In the Shadows. New York: Adirondack, 1898?
Canadian Born. Toronto: Morang, 1903
When George Was King and Other Poems. Brockville: Brockville Times, 1908.
Flint and Feather. Toronto: Musson Book CO., 1912.
Legends of Vancouver. Vancouver: Privately Printed, 1911.
The Mocassin Maker. Toronto: William Briggs, 1913.
The Shagganappi. Toronto: William Briggs, 1913.
Poet Pauline Johnson is an iconic Canadian figure, and her work celebrating her Native heritage has a well-deserved spot in Canada’s literary canon. Fully comprehending the purpose of culture, Johnson used both her British and Mohawk characteristics to create completely unique—and extremely popular—works.
Dead Girls. Toronto: Emblem Editions, 2003.
Nancy Lee is an author of Chinese and Indian descent. Her book, set in Vancouver, burrows deep into family, loss, and horror. It is hailed for its precision, eroticism, and urgency.
Morse, Garry Thomas.
Transverals for Orpheus. Burnaby: LINEbooks, 2006.
Streams. Burnaby: LINEbooks, 2007.
Death in Vancouver. Burnaby: LINEbooks, 2010.
After Jack. Vancouver: Talonbooks, 2010.
Discovery Passages. Vancouver: Talonboks, 2011.
Garry Thomas Morse manipulates and revitalizes the past, drawing on venerable sources from Ezra Pound, Jack Spicer, and his Native culture, particularly in oral traditions and myth. Part Kwak’wala and Cockney Jew, Morse embodies our emotion-wrought affair with our past that is so completely Canadian.
Halving the Bones. 1995. (film)
My Year of Meats. New York: Penguin Books, 1998.
All Over Creation. New York: Penguin Books, 2003.
Tale for the Time Being. New York: Penguin Books, 2013.
Japanese-American filmmaker and author Ruth Ozeki confronts our sensibilities about real life and narrative life. Drawing on real life for information about media, technology, and even GMO’s, while invoking classic themes like hubris and family, you can expect to be entertained and educated—but never lectured.
Lardeau. Toronto: Island Press, 1965.
Mountain. Buffalo: Audit Press, 1967.
Among. Toronto: Coach House Press, 1972.
Tree. Vancouver: Vancouver Community Press, 1972.
Earth. Canton N.Y.:Institute of Further Studies, 1974.
Pictograms from the Interior of B.C. Vancouver: Talonbooks, 1975.
Loki is Buried at Smoky Creek: Selected Poetry. Vancouver: Talonbooks, 1980.
Owners Manual. Lantzville: Island Writing Series, 1981.
Breathin' My Name With a Sigh. Vancouver: Talonbooks, 1981.
Grasp The Sparrow's Tail. Kyoto, 1982.
Waiting For Saskatchewan. Winnipeg: Turnstone Press, 1985.
Rooftops. Maine: Blackberry Books, 1987 and Red Deer: Red Deer College Press, 1988.
Music at the Heart of Thinking. Red Deer: Red Deer College Press, 1987.
Limestone Lakes Utaniki. Red Deer: Red Deer College Press, 1989.
So Far. Vancouver: Talonbooks, 1991.
Alley Alley Home Free. Red Deer: Red Deer College Press, 1992.
Diamond Grill. Edmonton: NeWest Press, 1996
Faking It: Poetics and Hybridity. NeWest Press, 2000.
Isadora blue. Victoria, B.C. : La Mano Izquierda Impresora, 2005.
Sentenced to light. Vancouver : Talonbooks, 2008. Sentenced to light. Vancouver : Talonbooks, 2008.
Fred Wah engages in “biofiction”, a blend of fact and fiction to create a unique and intriguing work, and to confuse booksellers everywhere. Particularly using his upbringing in a mixed Chinese Canadian household, Wah overturns perceptions; he innovates mixed-heritage and literature, even as he relates to all his readers on every significant level.
Durrow, Heidi W.
The Girl Who Fell From the Sky. North Carolina: Algonquin Books, 2011.
Heidi Durrow is a mixed African-American Dane, and so is the protagonist of her book. Durrow tells her story focusing on exoticism and racism—non-exclusive states of being for many people of mixed heritage.
White Teeth. England: Hamish Hamilton, 2000.
The Autograph Man. England: Hamish Hamilton, 2002.
On Beauty. England: Hamish Hamilton, 2005.
The Book of Other People. London, England: Penguin Books, 2008. (Editor)
British-Jamaican author and teacher Zadie Smith commands narrative in a giddy clash of class, family, race, expectations and religion—it seems she can do it all, with humour and intelligence. The reader is well and truly ensconced in Smith’s complex and cheeky world—and happy to be so.
Reading resource list compiled by Hapa-palooza Intern Cara Kauhane. Summer 2011