Carmen Aguirre’s 2011 debut book, Something Fierce: Memoirs of a Revolutionary Daughter, won the most controversial and emotionally charged Canada Reads competition ever. In her follow-up, Mexican Hooker #1: And My Other Roles Since the Revolution, coming from Random House Canada in April, Aguirre divulges more details from her fascinating life and career as she struggles to become an actress, enters into a passionate relationship with an Argentinian basketball player, and confronts the man who raped her when she was only 13 years old.
Desperate for cash before finding success as a novelist, Craig Davidson (Rust and Bone, Cataract City) took a job working as a bus driver for special-needs kids. An expansion of the touching but humorous 2013 National Magazine Award–winning story of how the year-long experience changed Davidson’s life, Precious Cargo: My Year of Driving the Kids on School Bus 3077 rolls into town in May with Knopf Canada.
Minutes after the news broke about the death of Newfoundland’s beloved troubadour Ron Hynes, the power went out in St. John’s. Now Harvey Sawler hopes to shed a different kind of light on the singer-songwriter in One Man Grand Band: The Lyric Life of Ron Hynes, coming from Breakwater Books in March. • Author and passionate music lover Ray Robertson profiles musical artists in Lives of the Poets (With Guitars): Thirteen Outsiders Who Changed Rock & Roll (Biblioasis). • Journalist Phil Saunders and photographer Derek von Essen travel back to Toronto’s exploding mid-’80s music scene in No Flash, Please! (Anvil Press). • Here’s one for all the fashionable people: Josh O’Kane’s Nowhere with You: The East Coast Anthems of Joel Plaskett, The Emergency and Thrush Hermit comes out with ECW Press in April.
After Teva Harrison was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer at age 37, she turned her experiences living with the disease into a beautifully honest illustrated series for The Walrus. The collected comics, In-Between Days: A Memoir About Living with Cancer, is being released with House of Anansi Press in April.
Beverly Little Thunder collaborated with Sharron Proulx-Turner on her oral memoir, One Bead at a Time (Inanna Publications). The book recalls how the Lakota elder founded the first Women’s Sundance after being forced to leave her spiritual community when she came out as a lesbian.
Margaret Christakos gets to the heart of middle age in her writings on genealogy, life changes, and sexuality. Paraphernalia: On Motherlines, Sex/Blood/Loss and Selfies (BookThug) doubles as a love song to Christakos’s mother and daughter.
Romantic relationships can be an emotional minefield at the best of times, but author Diane Schoemperlen’s memoir, This Is Not My Life: The Story of My Prison Years (HarperCollins), reveals the complexities of her unconventional affair with Shane, a former federal prison inmate.
Home and gardens
• West Coast artist, photographer, and stylist Heather Ross demonstrates how to forage outdoors and in vintage shops to create a unique personal style in The Natural Eclectic: A Design Aesthetic Inspired by Nature (Figure 1 Publishing).
• While it may seem like a hill of beans to some, the United Nations has declared 2016 the year of the pulses. Perfect timing to learn how to cook them properly. The Power of Pulses: Saving the World with Peas, Beans, Chickpeas, Favas and Lentils (Douglas & McIntyre) is by Dan Jason, Hilary Malone, and Alison Malone Eathorne.
• Icing fiends will want to get their sticky hands on Prairie Girl Cupcake Cookbook: Living Life One Cupcake at a Time (Appetite by Random House) by Toronto lawyer turned baker Jean Blacklock.
• Horticulturalist Judith Adam guides amateur green thumbs with Firefly’s Your First Garden.
1. With player names like Velveteen Rabid and Naomi Cannibal, who wouldn’t want a trackside seat for D.D. Miller’s Eight-Wheeled Freedom: The Derby Nerd’s Short History of Flat Track Roller Derby (Wolsak & Wynn)?
2. Unless you’ve witnessed a moose tapping his own maple syrup, it doesn’t get much more Canadian than the former poet laureate George Bowering’s new book, The Hockey Scribbler (ECW), a look at the past 50 years of his favourite sport.
3. With spring training right around the corner it’s time to think peanuts and Cracker Jack. Sports writer Andrew Forbes looks at the influence of baseball on and off the diamond in The Utility of Boredom: Baseball Essays, coming out with Invisible Publishing.
→ Governor General David Johnston is single-handedly keeping the art of letter-writing alive with The Idea of Canada: Letters to a Nation (Signal/M&S), in which he shares missives he’s sent to Chris Hadfield, Clara Hughes, his family, and more.
→ Canadian Dimension founder Cy Gonick collects essays from 27 writers on topics such as health care and aboriginal relationships in Canada Since 1960: A Left Perspective on 50 Years of Politics, Economics, and Culture (James Lorimer).
→ In Seasons of Hope (Dundurn Press), James Bartleman reflects on 70 years of life, including the aftermath of a brutal beating he received during a robbery, and his successes as a diplomat and Ontario’s first aboriginal lieutenant-governor.
Bestselling memoirist (and Q&Q contributor) Kamal Al-Solaylee travelled through 10 countries and four continents to explore issues of race and skin colour in the May release Brown (HarperCollins). • Sean Mills examines how migrants transform societies through the overlapping histories of Quebec and Haiti in A Place in the Sun: Haiti, Haitians, and the Remaking of Quebec (McGill-Queen’s University Press). • Ukrainian-Canadian author George Melnyk peels back the complicated issues surrounding personal identity and self-image in his new essay collection, First Person Plural (Frontenac Press). • Lainey Gossip writer Duana Taha went from name-ashamed to being proud of her given moniker. She shares her obsession in The Name Therapist: How Growing Up with My Odd Name Taught Me Everything You Need to Know about Yours (Random House Canada).
• Kay Parley brings experience as both psychiatric patient and nurse to Inside “The Mental”: Silence, Stigma, Psychiatry, and LSD, from University of Regina Press.
• Doctor David Goldbloom gives a glimpse behind locked doors in How Can I Help? A Week in My Life as a Psychiatrist, co-written with psychiatrist Pier Bryden (S&S Canada).
• Mari Swingle’s i-Minds (New Society Publishers) examines how clicking and swiping is changing our brains.
1. Journalist Sarah Barmak employs reportage and personal observations to find the happy ending in Closer: Notes from the Frontier of the Female Orgasm (Coach House Books).
2. Ottawa biology professor Steven Le suggests that food trends like the paleo diet cause more harm than good, and if we want to be healthy, we should look even further back in One Hundred Million Years of Food: What Our Ancestors Ate and Why It Matters Today (HarperCollins).
3. After being diagnosed with breast cancer, Kristina Hunter employed M.L. Kenneth to produce photos of post-surgery women that focus on beauty, rather than the clinical. Free copies of the photo-essay collection Woman Redefined: Dignity, Beauty, and Breast Cancer (Second Story Press, April) will be distributed to breast health centres.
4. Editor Ruth Daniell, writers Lorna Crozier, Nancy Lee, and others share personal mammary stories in the Caitlin Press essay collection Boobs: Women Explore What It Means to Have Breasts.
Globe and Mail journalist Joe Friesen examines the hard-knock life (and death) of one of Canada’s most notorious gangsters in The Ballad of Danny Wolfe: The Life of a Modern Outlaw (M&S). • Israeli-Canadian Matti Friedman provides some context to modern warfare in a memoir of his time as a soldier in a dangerously remote part of Lebanon during the late 1990s. Pumpkinflowers: A Soldier’s Story of a Forgotten War appears with Algonquin Books in May. • World squash star Maria Toorpakai – who now lives in Toronto – risked everything to pursue her beloved sport by disguising herself as a boy and fleeing her home in the violent northwest tribal region of Pakistan. A Different Kind of Daughter: The Girl Who Hid from the Taliban in Plain Sight comes out with Viking in May.
Inspired by Sei Shonagon’s The Pillow Book, Rivka Galchen’s Little Labors (New Directions) is a “slanted, enchanted literary miscellany” conjoining babies and literature.
Saskatchewan scholar Brenda Beckman-Long investigates Carol Shields’s preoccupation with feminist activism and how it affected her body of work in Carol Shields and the Writer-Critic (UTP).
While Robert Kroetsch’s critical writing and novels have received much scholarly analysis, his poetry has not. Kroetsch’s colleague and friend, Dennis Cooley, examines the late writer’s poetic work, drawing on archival materials, existing scholarship, and personal memories. The Home Place is published by University of Alberta Press.
As an East Coast female painter, Lucy Jarvis has remained a marginalized figure in Canadian art. Goose Lane partners with the Beaverbrook Gallery to celebrate her prolific body of work in Roslyn Rosenfeld’s Lucy Jarvis: Even Stones Have Life.
No stranger to controversy, expect poet Michael Lista’s essay collection, Strike Anywhere: Essays, Reviews & Other Arsons (The Porcupine’s Quill), to polarize readers with his views on literary criticism and cultural consumption.
To celebrate its 20th anniversary, Conundrum Press founder Andy Brown has forgone the giant cake and candles, and invited 20 former writers and cartoonists to create a piece of original work for a new anthology. 20x20: Twenty Years of Conundrum Press, coming in May, features Shary Boyle, Jillian Tamaki, Elisabeth Belliveau, David Collier, Joe Ollman, and more.
→ Using Toronto as a case study, journalist John Lorinc and environmental designer Jay Pitter investigate whether urban diversity promotes inclusiveness. Subdivided: City-Building in an Age of Hyper-Diversity hits the streets in June (Coach House).
→ Queen’s University prof Mohammed Abdul Qadeer investigates the definition of urban diversity in Multicultural Cities: Toronto, New York, and Los Angeles (UTP).
→ The Graphic History Collective and editor Paul Buhle give social justice a comics treatment in Drawn to Change: Graphic Histories of Working-Class Struggle (Between the Lines).
Steve Jenkins and Derek Walter thought they were buying one of those wee designer micro-pigs, but then Esther grew into a 700-pound sow. Despite Esther’s gigantic size and appetite, the surprised Ontario couple (and their dog) fully adopted the pig into their lives and home. As Jenkins and Walter transformed into dedicated animal-rights activists, housebroken Esther settled into the role of a photo-hogging social-media star. Esther the Wonder Pig: Changing the World One Heart at a Time, co-written with Caprice Crane, comes out of the pen with Grand Central Publishing in May.
Micah White, who helped spearhead the Occupy Wall Street movement, presents his manifesto on the future of activism in The End of Protest: A New Playbook for Revolution (Knopf Canada). • Weighing in at more than 700 pages, Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-first Century was a surprise bestseller. His latest, Why Save the Bankers? And Other Essays on Our Economic and Political Crisis (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), translated by Seth Ackerman, examines how international concentration of wealth impacts democracy.
Goop and snoop
1. Gwenyth Paltrow returns to the kitchen with It’s All Easy: Delicious Weekday Recipes for the Super-Busy Home Cook, which promises no sugar, fat, or gluten, but still deliciousness. The book is the first under Paltrow’s new Goop imprint.
2. Rock biographer Philip Norman had Macca’s approval for the new biography Paul McCartney: The Life (Little Brown/Hachette).
3. William Shatner took it on the chin for missing Leonard Nimoy’s funeral, but here he is with his buddy tribute, Leonard: My Fifty-Year Friendship with a Remarkable Man, out with Thomas Dunne Books in February.
Don’t treat it as a how-to book, but Geoff Manaugh’s A Burglar’s Guide to the City (FSG Originals) looks at 2,000 years of architecture from the perspective of those who commit heists and break-ins.
→ Lisa Hanawalt’s most recognizable work may be her character designs for the animated Netflix series Bojack Horseman, but her wacky, subversive illustrations have brought her a loyal fanbase, not to mention a James Beard Foundation award for humour. A collection of her food-related funnies, Hot Dog Taste Test, is forthcoming with Montreal’s Drawn & Quarterly.
→ French painter and bestselling author Françoise Gilot, best known as the lover and artistic muse of Pablo Picasso, finally gets her due in Malte Herwig’s The Woman Who Says No: Françoise Gilot on Her Life With and Without Picasso (Greystone Books).
→ A drummer since she was 10, Patti Niemi honed her skills at Juilliard and in the whiplashed musical world of 1980s New York. Sticking It Out: From Juilliard to the Orchestra Pit, a Percussionist’s Memoir arrives from ECW in April.
→ Japanese artist Rokudenashiko, whose art involves 3-D renderings of her vulva, has been jailed twice for obscenity and distributing pornographic materials and has plenty of say on the subject in What is Obscenity? The Story of a Good for Nothing Artist and Her Pussy (Koyama Press).
→ Writer Lindy West has become one of Twitter’s most direct and outspoken feminists, not to mention a sharply hilarious pop-culture critic. Expect West’s Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman (Hachette) to receive plenty of shout-outs when it arrives in May.
Q&Q’s spring preview covers books published between Jan. 1 and June 30, 2016. All information (titles, publication dates) was supplied by publishers and may have been tentative at press time. Titles that have been listed in previous previews do not appear here.