CNFC stands in solidarity with all those across the country, protesting the injustices continually faced by our BIPOC community. “It falls on all of us, regardless of our race or station — to work together to create a ‘new normal’ in which the legacy of bigotry and unequal treatment no longer infects our institutions or our hearts.” – Barack Obama
Your voice matters.
20 CNF Releases by Canadian BIPOC Authors in 2020
Zahara Al-harazi with Sarah J. Robbins: What it Takes
Harper Collins, January 2020
The trajectory of Zahra Al-harazi’s life defies expectations. In this electrifying book that travels from a small village in Yemen to a small town in Minnesota to a Calgary suburb, Al-harazi describes surviving two civil wars; her years as a young, stay-at-home immigrant mother with little education; and how she became one of Canada’s most successful businesswomen.
Dionne Brand: An Autobiography of the Autobiography of Reading
University of Alberta Press, January 2020
Internationally acclaimed poet and novelist Dionne Brand reflects on her early reading of colonial literature and how it makes Black being inanimate. She explores her encounters with colonial, imperialist, and racist tropes; the ways that practices of reading and writing are shaped by those narrative structures; and the challenges of writing a narrative of Black life that attends to its own expression and its own consciousness.
Desmond Cole: The Skin We’re In
Random House Canada, January 2020
Both Cole’s activism and journalism find vibrant expression in his first book, The Skin We’re In. Puncturing the bubble of Canadian smugness and naive assumptions of a post-racial nation, Cole chronicles just one year—2017—in the struggle against racism in this country. It was a year that saw calls for tighter borders when Black refugees braved frigid temperatures to cross into Manitoba from the States, Indigenous land and water protectors resisting the celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday, police across the country rallying around an officer accused of murder, and more.
Harold R. Johnson: Cry Wolf
University of Regina Press, January 2020
Growing up on a northern trap line, Harold Johnson was taught to keep his distance from wolves. For decades, wolves did the same for humans. But now this seems to be changing. In 2005, twenty-two-year-old Kenton Carnegie was killed in a wolf attack near his work camp. Part story, part forensic analysis, Cry Wolf examines this and other attacks, showing how we fail to take this apex predator seriously at our own peril.
Lisa Boivin: I Will See You Again
HighWater Press, February 2020
When the author learns of the death of her brother overseas, she embarks on a journey to bring him home. Through memories and dreams of all they shared together and through her Dene traditions, she finds comfort and strength. The lyrical art and story leave readers with a universal message of hope and love.
Jillian Christmas: The Gospel of Breaking
Arsenal Pulp Press, February 2020
In The Gospel of Breaking, Jillian Christmas confirms what followers of her performance and artistic curation have long known: there is magic in her words. Befitting someone who “speaks things into being,” Christmas extracts from family history, queer lineage, and the political landscape of a racialized life to create a rich, softly defiant collection of poems.
Eternity Martis: They Said This Would Be Fun
Random House Canada, March 2020
A booksmart kid from Toronto, Eternity Martis was excited to move away to Western University for her undergraduate degree. But as one of the few Black students there, she soon discovered that the campus experiences she’d seen in movies were far more complex in reality. Over the next four years, Eternity learned more about what someone like her brought out in other people than she did about herself. She was confronted by white students in blackface at parties, dealt with being the only person of colour in class and was tokenized by her romantic partners. She heard racial slurs in bars, on the street, and during lectures. And she gathered labels she never asked for: Abuse survivor. Token. Bad feminist. But, by graduation, she found an unshakeable sense of self–and a support network of other women of colour.
Tessa McWatt: Shame on Me
Random House Canada, March 2020
Tessa McWatt has been called Susie Wong, Pocahontas and “black bitch,” and has been judged not black enough by people who assume she straightens her hair. Now, through a close examination of her own body — nose, lips, hair, skin, eyes, ass, bones and blood — which holds up a mirror to the way culture reads all bodies, she asks why we persist in thinking in terms of race today when racism is killing us.
Paul Bae: You Suck, Sir.
Arsenal Pulp Press, April 2020
Over twelve years of teaching English, Paul Bae – known simply as “Sir” or “Mr. Bae” – kept several journals in which he recorded conversations he had with his students. You Suck, Sir presents the best of those conversations. Ranging from outrageously funny to touchingly poignant, these vignettes are full of heart. Paul’s stories are an irreverent, honest glimpse of teaching and learning and an inspiring peek into the connection one teacher has with his students. Both educators and anyone who has ever been a student will see themselves and their daily triumphs and struggles reflected here.
Perdita Felicien: My Mother’s Daughter
Random House Canada, April 2020
Decades before Perdita Felicien became a World Champion hurdler running the biggest race of her life at the 2004 Olympics, she carried more than a nations hopes — she carried her mother Catherine’s dreams. As Perdita grew and began to discover her preternatural athletic gifts, she was edged onward by her mother’s love, grit, and faith. Facing literal and figurative hurdles, she learned to leap and pick herself back up when she stumbled. This book is a daughter’s memoir — a book about the power of a parent’s love to transform their child’s life.
Duncan McCue: The Shoe Boy
UBC Press, April 2020
At the age of seventeen, an Anishinabe boy who was raised in the south joined a James Bay Cree family in a one-room hunting cabin in the isolated wilderness of northern Quebec. In the five months that followed, he learned a way of life on the land with which few are familiar, where the daily focus is on the necessities of life, and where both skill and finesse are required for self-sufficiency.
Munira Premji: Choosing Hope: One Woman. Three Cancers.
Mawenzi House Publishers Ltd, April 2020
Choosing Hope: One Woman. Three Cancers. is the story of how the author battled three advanced cancers: Stage 4 Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma, Stage 3 Multiple Myeloma, and Stage 3 Breast Cancer within a period of five years. It is an inspirational story about resilience and hope in the face of overwhelming odds in the face of death. The book is written as a series of anecdotes, based on entries from a blog the author started shortly her first diagnosis, when her focus was simply on surviving.
Madhur Anand: This Red Line Goes Straight To Your Heart
Strange Light, May 2020
An experimental memoir about Partition, immigration, and generational storytelling, This Red Line Goes Straight to Your Heart weaves together the poetry of memory with the science of embodied trauma using the imagined voices of the past and the vital authority of the present. We begin with a man off balance: one in one thousand, the only child in town whose polio leads to partial paralysis. We meet his future wife, chanting Hey Rams for Gandhiji and choosing education over marriage. On one side of the line that divides this book, we follow them as their homeland splits in two and they are drawn together, moving to Canada and raising their children in mining towns, on Indigenous reservations, in crowded city apartments. And when we turn the book over, we find the daughter’s tale—we see how the rupture of Partition, the asymmetry of a father’s leg, the virus of a mother’s rage, makes its way to the next generation.
Larry Audlaluk: What I Remember, What I Know
Inhabit Media, May 2020
Larry Audlaluk has seen incredible changes in his lifetime. Born in northern Quebec, he relocated with his family to the High Arctic in the early 1950s. They were promised a land of plenty. They discovered an inhospitable polar desert. Sharing memories both painful and joyous, Larry takes the reader on a journey to the Arctic as his family struggles to survive and new communities are formed. By turns heart-wrenching and humorous. Larry tells of his journey through relocation, illness, residential schooling, and the encroachment of southern culture.
Billy-Ray Belcourt: A History of My Brief Body
Hamish Hamilton, May 2020
Billy-Ray Belcourt’s debut memoir opens with a tender letter to his kokum and memories of his early life in the hamlet of Joussard, Alberta, and on the Driftpile First Nation. From there, it expands to encompass the big and broken world around him, in all its complexity and contradictions: a legacy of colonial violence and the joy that flourishes in spite of it, first loves and first loves lost, sexual exploration and intimacy, and the act of writing as a survival instinct and a way to grieve. What emerges is not only a profound meditation on memory, gender, anger, shame, and ecstasy, but also the outline of a way forward.
Joshna Maharaj: Take Back the Tray
ECW Press, May 2020
Take Back the Tray is part manifesto, part memoir from the trenches, and a blueprint for reclaiming control from corporations and brutal bottom lines. Maharaj reconnects food with health, wellness, education, and rehabilitation in a way that serves people, not just budgets, and proves change is possible with honest, sustained commitment on all levels, from government right down to the person sorting the trash. The need is clear, the time is now, and this revolution is delicious.
Bahar Orang: Where Things Touch
Book*Hug, May 2020
Part lyric essay, part prose poetry, Where Things Touch grapples with the manifold meanings and possibilities of beauty. Drawing on her experiences as a physician-in-training, Orang considers clinical encounters and how they relate to the concept and very idea of beauty. Such considerations lead her to questions about intimacy, queerness, home, memory, love, and other aspects of human existence. Throughout, beauty is ultimately imagined as something inextricably tied to care: the care of lovers, of patients, of art and literature, and the various non-human worlds that surround us.
Jivesh Parasram: Take d Milk, Nah?
Playwrights Canada Press, July 2020
Jiv is “Canadian.” And “Indian.” And “Hindu.” And “West Indian.” “Trinidadian,” too. Or maybe he’s just colonized. He’s not the “white boy” he was teased as within his immigrant household. Especially since his Nova Scotian neighbours seemed to think he was Black. Except for the Black people—they were pretty sure he wasn’t. He’s not an Arab, and allegedly not a Muslim—at least that’s what he started claiming after 9/11. Whatever he is, the public education system was able to offer him the chance to learn about his culture from a coffee table book on “Eastern Mythology.” And then he had a religious epiphany while delivering a calf in Trinidad. By now, Jiv’s collected a lot of observations about trying to find your place in your world. In this funny, fresh, and skeptical take on the identity play, Jivesh Parasram blends personal storytelling and ritual to offer the Hin-dos and Hin-don’ts within the intersections of all of his highly hyphenated cultures
Cheryl Thompson: Uncle: Race, Nostalgia, and the Cultural Politics of Loyalty
Coach House Books, August 2020
Uncle Tom, the eponymous figure in Harriet Beecher Stowe’s sentimental anti-slavery novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, was a loyal Christian who died a martyr’s death. But soon after the best-selling novel appeared, theatre troupes across North America and Europe transformed Stowe’s story into minstrel shows featuring white men in blackface. In Uncle, Cheryl Thompson traces Tom’s journey from literary character to racial trope. She explores how Uncle Tom came to be and exposes the relentless reworking of Uncle Tom into a nostalgic, racial metaphor with the power to shape how we see Black men, a distortion visible in everything from Uncle Ben and Rastus The Cream of Wheat chef to Shirley Temple and Bill “Bojangles” Robinson to Bill Cosby.
Cicely Belle Blain: Burning Sugar
Arsenal Pulp Press, September 2020
Activist and poet Cicely Belle Blain intimately revisits familiar spaces in geography, in the arts, and in personal history to expose the legacy of colonization and its impact on Black bodies. They use poetry to illuminate their activist work: exposing racism, especially anti-Blackness, and helping people see the connections between history and systemic oppression that show up in every human interaction, space, and community.
All blurbs taken from publisher’s websites.