This month on All Lit Up, we're putting a spotlight on books by and about women and the people behind them. Today we celebrate award-winning Victoria-based indie publisher Brindle & Glass that offers a range of diverse and homegrown literature by Western Canadian authors, including a variety of stories by women.
Scroll on to read more about Brindle & Glass and check out a sampling of the books they're publishing by women today.
Brindle & Glass was founded by Ruth Linka and Lee Shedden in 2001, operating out of Edmonton, Alberta, and initially focusing on drama and history titles. Just two years in, the press was awarded Emerging Publisher of the Year at the Alberta Book Awards. In 2007 B&G moved west to Victoria, BC, and took up residence as the literary imprint of TouchWood Editions, whose wider publishing mandate is to celebrate diverse voices and produce books of cultural significance to western Canada.
Twenty years on, Brindle & Glass continues to live up to its original intentions to showcase the varied, unique, and homegrown literary talents of Western Canadians. Through literary fiction, memoir, and narrative nonfiction, B&G offers compelling and relevant stories that represent diverse people and perspectives. And whether it’s accounts of women travelling solo to far-flung destinations, historical fiction, dystopian fiction, urban short stories, rural novels, or an anthology of personal essays focused on migration—B&G’s women-authored literature has, over the years, demonstrated pretty handily that it’s a niche that’s anything but.
Adding Canadian stories to the official celebration of Women's History Month in the US, and as one piece of the diversity puzzle, here is a roundup of some of B&G’s recent women-authored memoirs and fiction titles:
Set in the cities, reserves, and rural reaches of Alberta, Katie Bickell’s debut novel is told in a series of stories that span the years from 1990 to 2016, through cycles of boom and bust in the oil fields, government budget cuts and workers rights policies, the rising opioid crisis, and the intersecting lives of people whose communities sometimes stretch farther than they know. Prairie Books NOW calls it “Richly textured and absorbing.”
When Marty, age 57, is diagnosed with ALS, his wife, Alison, begins to keep a journal as a way to navigate the overwhelming state of her mind and soul. It becomes a chronicle of caregiving as well as an emotional exploration of the tensions between the intuitive and the pragmatic, the logical and illogical, and the all-consuming demands of being both spouse and nurse. The result is Dance Me To the End, which fellow memoirist Lindsay Wong (The Woo Woo) describes as a “beautiful masterclass on love, loss, marriage, and grief from an unflinching storyteller.”
In 1808, eighteen-year-old Anna Petrovna Bulygina, the Russian bride of a ship’s captain, is captured by an Indigenous community on the Pacific coast in retaliation for the ship’s crew having stolen Indigenous food stores. Terrified at first, Anna soon discovers that nothing—including slavery—is what she expected. By getting to know her captors, she begins to question everything about her own way of life, including her values and beliefs, and the aspirations of her country in the New World. Based on historical record, Anna, Like Thunder is, as Broken Pencil calls it, “a page turner that does not disappoint.”
In the spring of 1977, twelve-year-old Delilah’s mother drags her from their life in Vancouver and deposits them in the middle of Old Town Yellowknife on the doorstep of her semi-estranged father. Desperate for a sense of belonging, Delilah clings to their new family dynamic, but when her mother abandons them for an artists’ colony and her father begins to spend more and more time away from home, any sense of stability she felt immediately vanishes. Now who can she trust, and where does she belong? An engrossing family saga that tends towards YA, One Good Thing is “a microcosm of life on the fringe of an isolated town” (Coast Reporter).
From Dr. Martina Scholtens, this is a collection of honest, vulnerable, and poignant stories from a ten-year career as a physician at a refugee clinic in Vancouver. As the Globe and Mail describes it, this stunning memoir is “both an eye-opening account for Canadians wanting to understand the challenges facing refugees and a strong argument for refugee health, including mental health, to receive dedicated treatment and funding . . . . Your Heart Is the Size of Your Fist is also about the person in the white coat: a mother trying to find balance between the personal and professional, and a doctor whose patients expand her notions of what a doctor should be.”
Inspired by EMMA Talks, a speakers’ series committed to amplifying the voices of thinkers, activists, scholars, artists, and community builders who are also women-identified, trans, and gender-nonconforming folks, this collection of essays “urge and coax us to soften ourselves to one another and the planet...a chorus of gorgeously diverse voices that share personal glimpses of their lives and remind us of what it’s like to be human. Both heart-opening and eye-opening, Radiant Voices is an important and necessary celebration of marginalized and triumphant voices” (Dani Burleson, editor All of Me: Stories of Love, Anger and the Female Body).
Humour, adventure, and little-to-no self-exploration are the themes of this travel memoir by indie backpacker S. Bedford, “a Canadian waitress who swears like a fishwife [and] goes to Boracay” (New York Times). Far from the poplar Eat Pray Love narrative of self-discovery, this year-long chronicle of laugh-out-loud events (running from lions in the dark, wearing Chucks to climb a mountain, learning that meditation is much more than just, as she calls it, “a successful re-branding of the nap”), this is a tale of one woman who, along with her aggravatingly perfect friend, tripped into one chaotic situation after another and lived to tell the tale.
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