Homegrown: Locally Produced Reads (October 12)

Our final batch of Homegrown fall releases from your favourite independent Canadian literary presses, include pop culture essays; queer, Black stories; a debut novel, and more.

Locally Produced Reads: Homegrown


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Girls, Interrupted: How Pop Culture is Failing Women

by Lisa Whittington-Hill (Véhicule Press)

Non-Fiction / Pop Culture

Why it’s on our list: It’s not a surprise to anyone reading this that women have always been held to impossible, often punishing, standards; and that’s especially true of women in the spotlight. In her new collection of essays, Lisa Whittington-Hill challenges the notion that representations of women in the media have improved after movements like #MeToo and #TimesUp. She argues that pop culture’s treatment of women is still marked by misogyny and examines how mainstream media fails women, using examples like Amy Winehouse versus Kurt Cobain. And while the essays highlight the biases against women, they also explore what we can do about it. As fellow feminist Lauren McKeon said: “This is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand how pop culture affects our everyday lives, for better and, often, for worse.”

Since 1973, Véhicule Press has published award-winning poetry, fiction, essays, translations, and vintage noir from it greystone office in the Plateau Mont-Royal arrondissement in Montreal.

Click here for more about Girls, Interrupted + purchasing options.

The Red One by Safia Fazlul (Mawenzi House)

Fiction / Novel

Why it’s on our list: Another book on this roundup of Homegrown titles that explores unfair societal expectations on women is The Red One. A debut from Toronto-based writer Safia Fazlul, this is a novel about an unhappy marriage, risky attraction, and childhood trauma. Nisha, who is known in their tight-knit South Asian community, as “Azar’s beautiful wife” is trying to outrun her past the trauma of her sexual assault as a child by finding comforts in suburban life, fake friends, and a drug problem. When the Red One–a mysterious man she meets at a charity event–throws her for a loop, Nisha’s path becomes clear and her past comes into focus.

Mawenzi House publishes 10-12 titles of fiction, poetry, and nonfiction every year with a focus on works that are culturally diverse. They aim to reflect non-Western experiences, cultural values, and traditions through stories.

The Rage Letters by Valérie Bah,

translated by Kama La Mackerel (Metonymy Press)

Fiction / Short Stories

Why it’s on our list: In an interview with Journal Métro, Valérie Bah said “I wanted to relate something unique to our generation of Black, queer, and trans people that our parents didn’t necessarily experience. It was important for me to talk about both the shitty jobs and the burnout and the magic of our everyday lives.” We’re intrigued about this collection of linked short stories, which were originally published in French and have been translated into English by Kama La Mackerel. In it, the intertwined lives of a group of Black queer and trans characters—whose links become clear over the course of the narrative—navigate the social violence, traumas, and contradictions of their circumstances. We can’t wait to read it when it’s published in November 2023.

Tiohtià:ke-based (Montreal) publisher Metonymy Press is an indie specializing in beautiful literary books by emerging writers that appeal to queer, feminist, and social justice communities. In their own words, they “want to keep gay book lovers satisfied.”

World’s End, by rob mclennan (ARP Books)


Why it’s on our list: One of Canada’s prolific poets and critics, rob mclennan has published more than thirty trade books of poetry, fiction, and non-fiction. His newest, World’s End, is a collection of eight extended poem-sections that explore topics like relocating from Centretown to suburban Ottawa and the birth of his third child. This is a collection interested in the lyric across and beyond barriers, propelled by language and fueled by the pitter-patter of tiny feet.

Arbeiter Ring Publishing was founded in 1996 through the work of a group of activists in Winnipeg. Now operating as ARP Books, they publish innovative books, including poetry, fiction, and non-fiction, with an emphasis on leftist political analysis of contemporary issues.

Click here for more about World’s End, + purchasing options.

21 Black Futures edited by Obsidian Theatre

(Playwrights Canada Press)


Why it’s on our list: A fascinating collection from Obsidian Theatre, a Toronto-based theatre company that develops and produces plays by Black artists, 21 Black Futures starts with a question: what is the future of Blackness? For Obsidian’s twenty-first anniversary in 2021, twenty-one artists were tasked with creating twenty-one new stories about imagined Black futures, scripting a ten-minute monodrama each. The result was a communal, unapologetically Black offering that brought Black artists together to create something empowering and compelling with artistic director Mumbi Tindyebwa Otu at the helm. And all twenty-one pieces are time capsuled in this collection, including works by GG-winner Amanda Parris, Cheryl Foggo, Shauntay Grant, Donna-Michelle St. Bernard, Lawrence Hill, Djanet Sears, and many others.

Since 2000, Playwrights Canada Press has been publishing new Canadian plays as a standalone press (previously an imprint of the professional association of Canadian playwrights, the Playwrights Guild of Canada). Publishing about thirty books of plays, theatre history, and criticism each year, the press boasts a diverse and innovative list of dramatic award-winning titles.

Click here for more about 21 Black Futures + purchasing options.

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Thanks for following along with our #ALUhomegrown series. Catch them all here.

Books can be purchased on All Lit Up (with free shipping Canada-wide), or from your local indie bookstore (try our Shop Local button located on every book listing to find copies at your local indie).