Were you waiting for part 2? A looong time? So long that you’d forgotten a part 1? Well, in case you need a good book for the holiday break, here’s a round-up of some of the best books our UWaterloo people have been reading in the past year.
Renée Belliveau (MA graduate)
I recently picked up The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan, a Yale English graduate who sadly passed away five days after graduation, and I instantly saw myself reflected back. Her prose is fresh and puts forth a mixture of ambition and anxiety that I think a lot of us graduate students feel, or can at least remember feeling. I’ll tag on Anne Fadiman’s Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader to this post, for anyone looking to be reacquainted with their love for literature and the English language.
Andrew Deman (Lecturer)
ApocalyptiGirl: An Aria for the End Times by Andrew MacLean. Apart from featuring a badass gender positive female protagonist, ApocalyptiGirl is just a really rare SF beast: a whimsical dystopia that doesn’t undermine its own politics. The moving, central relationship of the story is the all-encompassing love between a girl and her cat, rendered without a hint of irony. I don’t know that I’ve ever read a text as free of cynicism or pretense. It’s a joyous read.
Jennifer Harris (Associate Professor)
It has to be Dread Nation, by Justina Ireland, the most original neo-slave narrative I have read in a very long time (apologies to Colson Whitehead). I’m generally not one to pick up a Young Adult novel with zombies, except this pulled me in: “Jane McKeene was born two days before the dead began to walk the battlefields of Gettysburg and Chancellorsville—derailing the War Between the States and changing America forever. In this new nation, safety for all depends on the work of a few, and laws like the Native and Negro Reeducation Act require certain children attend combat schools to learn to put down the dead.” As an allegory about slavery and post-slavery it is stunning.
Bibi Ashyana Harricharran (MA graduate)
The Grass Dancer by Susan Power. This is a powerful novel. Power manipulates with the Gothic to her own liking to demonstrate violence, power, and subjugation. The story is told through the first person where each character gets a chapter to tell his/her own story. One of the things that stood out to me the most is when Power integrates the play, Macbeth, to project catharsis. The characters in Power’s text go through a sense of catharsis because they experience the same betrayal as Duncan. It is a difficult narrative for an author to pull off: you either fail miserably or you succeed. Power succeeds because she remains faithful to her subtle perspective.
Linda Warley (Associate Professor and Associate Dean)
The best book I have read recently is Tanya Talaga’s Seven Fallen Feathers: Racism, Death, and Hard Truths in a Northern City. It won the RBC Taylor Prize. The book tells the stories of seven Indigenous teenagers who had to leave their home communities in order to attend high school in Thunder Bay, Ontario. They all died. Their deaths and the handling of the cases by policing and justice services reveals much about the systemic racism in Canada that affects the lives of Indigenous people today. It is a heartbreaking book, but necessary reading.