Jules’ Tools for Social Change: Feminist Reading Resolutions

Welcome to this New Year, new you edition of Jules’ Tools for Social Change: Julia’s serving up five books that’ll help you be a more intersectionally feminist reader this year. As she puts it: “Won’t you join me in reading books from more Indigenous writers, more writers of colour, more trans and non-binary writers, more women writers, more queer writers and more disabled writers in 2018?” We WILL.


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Dear Reader,Welcome to this month’s edition of Jules’ Tools for Social Change, a column that features a book, author or publisher whose work deals with issues of race, gender, sexuality, ability, colonialism, economic justice, or other social justice topics.#BecauseIt’s2018, I’ve decided to devote my first column of the year to inspiring some feminist reading resolutions, with a few recommendations. Won’t you join me in reading books from more Indigenous writers, more writers of colour, more trans and non-binary writers, more women writers, more queer writers and more disabled writers in 2018? Check out the fabulous 2018 reading challenge from The FOLD if you’re looking for further inspiration.’Til next time,Julia
Cherie Dimaline, from the Georgian Bay Métis community, has been recently long-listed for Canada Reads 2018 for her latest book, The Marrow Thieves. While you’re waiting for your library hold to come in, read her short story collection A Gentle Habit from Kegedonce Press.From the publisher: “Following this theme of extraordinary ordinariness, A Gentle Habit is a collection of six new short stories focusing on the addictions of a diverse group of characters attempting normalcy in an unnatural world.”
Another Canada Reads 2018 long-listed nominee is Scarborough by writer and theatre practitioner Catherine Hernandez, published by Arsenal Pulp Press. Scarborough was also a finalist for the City of Toronto Book Award and a Globe 100 Best Book of the Year.From the publisher: “Scarborough is a low-income, culturally diverse neighbourhood east of Toronto, the fourth largest city in North America; like many inner-city communities, it suffers under the weight of poverty, drugs, crime, and urban blight. Scarborough the novel employs a multitude of voices to tell the story of a tight-knit neighbourhood under fire.” Scarborough deserves every one of its accolades. Hernandez is a pretty fun person to follow on social media, too: watch her dance with joy upon hearing the Canada Reads news!
Reaching into the backlist, I heartily recommended Kaleigh Trace’s debut memoir/educational gem Hot, Wet, and Shaking, published by Invisible Publishing. Kaleigh, a queer, disabled sex educator, is frank, brilliant and refreshing.From the publisher: “This is a sex book. It’s a book about having sex by yourself, with one person, or with twenty people if everyone is down. It’s about saying words like cunt, fuck, and come. But it’s also about the things we don’t talk about–the mystery, the expectations, and the bullshit that can go along with sex.”I interviewed Kaleigh for my very first Jules’ Tools column. We chatted over Skype; beyond the great conversation, it’s worth watching just to enjoy her charming laugh!
Professor and researcher Trish Salah’s Wanting in Arabic was originally published by TSAR Publications in 2002 and re-issued in a new edition by the same publishers, now known as Mawenzi House, in 2013. From the publisher: “Wanting in Arabic is a refusal of convenient silences, convenient stories. The author dwells on the contradictions of a transsexual poetics, in its attendant disfigurations of lyric, ghazal, l’écriture feminine, and, in particular, her own sexed voice.”Winner of the 2013 Lambda Literary Award for Transgender Fiction, Wanting in Arabic skirts the line between poetry and fiction, with strong elements of memoir. “Without a memory of her father’s language, the questions her poems ask are those for a home known through photographs, for a language lost with childhood.”
Finally, from my personal reading resolution for 2018, Blank by M. NourbeSe Philip, published by Book*hug. The styling of the title of the book means that while it is generally read as “Blank,” it can also be read as “Black.” This is a book of previously out-of-print essays and poems, along with new works, by a writer who covers such intersecting topics as racism, Black diaspora, art, sexism, capitalism, and other unflinching truths about how blankness and Blackness “constitute the axis around which [Philip] exist[s] as a writer in Canada.”The juxtaposition of older and newer works in this book offer a theme of recurrence, showing how the same issues have been present over the last 25 years. Blank exists as a way to highlight what has been hidden; from the publisher: “Her imperative becomes to make us see what has gone unseen by writing memory upon the margin of history, in the shadow of empire and at the frontier of silence.”* * *For more Jules’ Tools, click here.