Canada Reads @ SAPL: We Have Always Been Here

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We Have Always Been Here: A Queer Muslim Memoir by Samra Habib

Samra Habib has spent most of her life searching for the safety to be herself. As an Ahmadi Muslim growing up in Pakistan, she faced regular threats from Islamic extremists who believed the small, dynamic sect to be blasphemous. From her parents, she internalized the lesson that revealing her identity could put her in grave danger.

When her family came to Canada as refugees, Samra encountered a whole new host of challenges- bullies, racism, the threat of poverty, and an arranged marriage. Backed into a corner, her need for a safe space-in which to grow and nurture her creative, feminist spirit-became dire. The men in her life wanted to police her, the women in her life had only shown her the example of pious obedience, and her body was a problem to be solved.

So begins an exploration of faith, art, love, and queer sexuality, a journey that takes her to the far reaches of the globe to uncover a truth that was within her all along. A triumphant memoir of forgiveness and family, both chosen and not, We Have Always Been Here is a rallying cry for anyone who has ever felt out of place and a testament to the power of fearlessly inhabiting one’s truest self.

Why Canada Reads author Samra Habib shared her story about being a queer Muslim woman

Quill & Quire review

Video interview with Global News

Samra Habib, founder of gay Muslim project, turns the camera on herself in new memoir

Canada Reads @ SAPL: Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club

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Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club by Megan Gail

February in Newfoundland is the longest month of the year. Another blizzard is threatening to tear a strip off downtown St. John’s, while inside The Hazel restaurant a storm of sex, betrayal, addiction, and hurt is breaking. Iris, a young hostess from ’round the bay, is forced to pull a double despite resolving to avoid the charming chef and his wealthy restaurateur wife. Just tables over, Damian, a hungover and self-loathing server, is trying to navigate a potential punch-up with a pair of lit customers who remain oblivious to the rising temperature in the dining room. Olive, a young Indigenous woman far from home, watches it all unfurl from the fast and frozen street.

It is through Olive, largely unnoticed by the others, that we glimpse the truth behind the scathing lies and unrelenting abuse, and it is her resilience that proves most enduring in the dead of this winter’s tale. … This is blistering Newfoundland Gothic for the twenty-first century, a timely portrait of a place in the throes of enormous change, where two women confront the traumas of their past in an attempt to overcome the present and pick up the future.

CBC Canada Reads page

Quill & Quire review

CBC Radio Interview

Canada Reads @ SAPL: Son of a Trickster

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Son of a Trickster by Eden Robinson

With striking originality and precision, Eden Robinson, the Giller-shortlisted author of Monkey Beach, blends humour with heartbreak in this compelling coming-of-age novel.

Everyone knows a dude like Jared — or at least they think they do. He’s the high school burnout who sells drugs, has an addict for a father, and an unhinged mother who mixes substances and weapons. Jared is only sixteen but feels like he is the one who must stabilize his family’s life, even look out for his elderly neighbours. But he’s puzzled over why his maternal grandmother has never liked him, why she says he’s the son of a trickster, that he isn’t human. Mind you, ravens speak to him – even when he’s not stoned.

Why Canada Reads author Eden Robinson wrote a modern Trickster tale

The Bukowski Agency review of Son of a Trickster

Eden Robinson’s Son of a Trickster, reviewed: At her untidy best

National Post article

Canada Reads @ SAPL: Radicalized

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Book cover and author photo Radicalized by Cory Doctorow

Radicalized by Cory Doctorow

From New York Times bestselling author Cory Doctorow, Radicalized is four urgent SF novellas of America’s present and future within one book

Told through one of the most on-pulse genre voices of our generation, Radicalized is a timely collection consisting of four SF novellas connected by social, technological, and economic visions of today and what America could be in the near, near future.

“Unauthorized Bread” is a tale of immigration, the toxicity of economic and technological stratification, and the young and downtrodden fighting against all odds to survive and prosper.

In “Model Minority”, a Superman-like figure attempts to rectify the corruption of the police forces he long erroneously thought protected the defenseless…only to find his efforts adversely affecting their victims.

“Radicalized” is a story of a darkweb-enforced violent uprising against insurance companies told from the perspective of a man desperate to secure funding for an experimental drug that could cure his wife’s terminal cancer.

The fourth story, “Masque of the Red Death”, harkens back to Doctorow’s Walkaway , taking on issues of survivalism versus community.

Donald Trump made Cory Doctorow so anxious he wrote a book to feel better — now Radicalized is on Canada Reads

Cory Doctorow and Akil Augustine discuss Canada Reads contender Radicalized

Cory Doctorow’s website,

L.A. Times article

Canada Reads @ SAPL: From the Ashes

Find out more about Canada Reads 2020 @ the Library

book cover for From the Ashes

From the Ashes: My Story of Being Métis, Homeless, and Finding My Way by Jesse Thistle

From the Ashes is a remarkable memoir about hope and resilience, and a revelatory look into the life of a Métis-Cree man who refused to give up.

Abandoned by his parents as a toddler, Jesse Thistle briefly found himself in the foster-care system with his two brothers, cut off from all they had known. Eventually the children landed in the home of their paternal grandparents, but their tough-love attitudes meant conflicts became commonplace. And the ghost of Jesse’s drug-addicted father haunted the halls of the house and the memories of every family member. Struggling, Jesse succumbed to a self-destructive cycle of drug and alcohol addiction and petty crime, spending more than a decade on and off the streets, often homeless. One day, he finally realized he would die unless he turned his life around.
In this heartwarming and heartbreaking memoir, Jesse Thistle writes honestly and fearlessly about his painful experiences with abuse, uncovering the truth about his parents, and how he found his way back into the circle of his Indigenous culture and family through education. An eloquent exploration of what it means to live in a world surrounded by prejudice and racism and to be cast adrift, From the Ashes is, in the end, about how love and support can help one find happiness despite the odds. (Publisher)


How Jesse Thistle survived addiction, homelessness and incarceration — and became a Canada Reads finalist

Jesse Thistle author website

Video: From The Ashes Interview with Author Jesse Thistle

From the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness: ‘Back into the circle’: Q&A with Jesse Thistle