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New Canadian Literature at Biblioteca

By Judy Rosenthal

The literature of a country can be a window into understanding a national culture. When I mention Canadian literature to most people in San Miguel de Allende, they only think of Alice Munro, whose Chekhovian short stories both surprise and delight, or Margaret Atwood, who is best known for her feminist dystopias. However, many readers have no notion of the great diversity of the citizens of Canada.

Americans may falsely associate Canada as a symbol of the lost innocence of their own country. However, Canada is no longer the last frontier of North America. 78 percent of its citizens are urbanites, with 32 percent living in the cities of Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver.

Also, Canada is not only filled with Anglophone and/or Francophone citizens. Because of immigration policy changes in the 1990s, a full 48 percent of new Canadians are of Asian descent, both South Asian and East Asian.

In addition, the provinces of Canada are so separated by geography that the novels of native writers can be extremely different. Our San Miguel library tries to include the great range of Canadian fiction. For some examples, we have the experimental writing of a San Miguel writer, Merilyn Simonds. From Ontario, we have Mary Lawson and Emma Donoghue. Toronto writers include Kristyn Dunnion, Lawrence Hill, and Barbara Gowdy.

From Montreal, look for Xui Yiwei and Ru by Kim Thuy (a French-speaking Vietnamese author). From Saskatchewan, look for Dianne Warren’s Cool Water and Yann Martel’s The High Mountains of Portugal.

From Winnipeg, look for the wildly funny books of Miriam Toews—All My Puny Sorrows and The Flying Troutmans. Sidura Ludwig writes about the Jewish community in Winnipeg in Holding My Breath.

First Nation authors are represented by the many novels of Leanne Betasmosake Simpson, Joseph Boyden, Richard Wagamese, and Thomas King.

Newfoundland authors include Lisa Moore and Wayne Johnston. From Nova Scotia, look for Ami McKay’s The Birth House.

Paulette Jiles moved to the US and transformed American history in her novels—Missouri during the Civil War in Enemy Women and Reconstruction Texas in News of the World.

The Caribbean Island novelists include David Chariandy (Soucouvant), the poetry of Rupi Kaur, and Andre Alexis’ Fifteen Dogs. This last novel is not about dogs at all, but about a bet made between the Greek gods Hermes and Apollo. When they gift 15 dogs with consciousness, will they find happiness, or will they be as unhappy as human beings?

You can find the nov


els of all these Canadian authors in the fiction section of our Biblioteca Publica. Look for yellow dots on the NEW Canadian novels.


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