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WOTS Book of the Month

Welcome to the WOTS Book of the Month Hub

 

WOTS Book of the Month showcases one fantastic Canadian author a month. Watch for our announcement on Twitter the first week of every month! Mid-month, we will hold a chat with the author on Twitter. If you have thoughts on the book, we welcome you to submit your review or reaction to be posted on our blog.

To submit a short (300 word max.) book review for this months’ title, please get in touch with Maya at maya@thewordonthestreet.ca

MAY – I Overcame My Autism, And All I Got Was This Lousy Anxiety Disorder

Sarah Kurchak is autistic. She hasn’t let that get in the way of pursuing her dream to become a writer, or to find love, but she has let it get in the way of being in the same room with someone chewing food loudly, and of cleaning her bathroom sink. In I Overcame My Autism and All I Got Was This Lousy Anxiety Disorder, Kurchak examines the Byzantine steps she took to become “an autistic success story,” how the process almost ruined her life and how she is now trying to recover.

Sarah Kurchak is a writer and retired professional pillow fighter living in Toronto. Her work as an autistic self-advocate and essayist has appeared in Hazlitt, Catapult, the Guardian, CBC, Vox and Electric Literature. She is a graduate of the Humber School for Writers, and this is her first book.

APRIL – The Youth of God by Hassan Ghedi Santur

Hassan Ghedi Santur emigrated from Somalia to Canada at age thirteen. He has a BA in English Literature and an MFA from York University, and an MA from Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. He has worked as a radio journalist for CBC radio and his print journalism work has appeared in the New York Times, Yahoo News, and The Walrus, among others. In 2010, he published his debut novel Something Remains, followed by Maps of Exile, an exploration of the plight of African migrants in Europe. He is currently working on his third novel, Other Worlds, Other Lives.

The Youth of God tells the story of Nuur, a sensitive and academically gifted seventeen-year-old boy growing up in Toronto’s Somali neighbourhood, as he negotiates perilously between the calling of his faith and his intellectual ambitions. Trying to influence him are a radical Muslim imam and a book-loving, dedicated teacher who shares his background. In its telling, this novel reveals the alienated lives of Somali youth in an environment riddled with crime and unemployment, while still in the grip of bitter memories of a home left behind.

MARCH – Secret Lives of Mothers and Daughters by Anita Kushwaha

Anita Kushwaha grew up in Aylmer, Quebec. Her road to publication included a fulfilling career in academia, where she studied human geography at Carleton University and earned an M.A. and a Ph.D. She is also a graduate of the Humber School for Writers creative writing program. Her first novel, Side by Side, won the silver medal for multicultural fiction from the Independent Publisher Book Awards in 2019. She is also the author of the novella The Escape Artist.

Secret Lives of Mothers & Daughters is a heart-wrenching novel about three interconnected women, the ties that bind these mothers and daughters and the secrets that can tear them apart. Veena, Mala and Nandini are three very different women with something in common. Out of love, each bears a secret that will haunt her life—and that of her daughter—because the risk of telling the truth is too great. But secrets have consequences. Particularly for Asha, a young woman on the cusp of adulthood, who links them together.

FEBRUARY – Daughters of Silence by Rebecca Fisseha

Rebecca Fisseha is the author of Daughters of Silence, chosen by CBC Books and 49th Shelf as one of the most anticipated books of fiction of the year and by Quill and Quire as one of the Best Books for 2019. Fisseha's stories, personal essays, and articles explore the unique and universal aspects of the Ethiopian diaspora and have appeared in literary journals and anthologies such as Room Magazine, Joyland, Lithub, Zora, and Addis Ababa Noir. Born in Addis Ababa, Fisseha now lives in Toronto.

Daughters of Silence
Ash from the Eyjafjallajökull volcano fills the skies. Flights are grounded throughout Europe. Dessie, a cosmopolitan flight attendant from Canada, finds herself stranded in Addis Ababa — her birth place.

JANUARY – Red Oblivion by Leslie Shimotakahara

Leslie Shimotakahara holds a Ph.D. in English from Brown University. Her memoir, The Reading List, won the Canada-Japan Literary Award in 2012, and her fiction has been shortlisted for the K.M. Hunter Artist Award. Leslie lives in Toronto.

Red Oblivion
When sisters Jill & Celeste Lau return to Hong Kong, they find their ailing father a shadow of his old self. According to his housekeeper, a couple of mysterious photos, anonymously mailed, led to his collapse. These pictures are only the first link in a chain of events that begin to reveal the truth about their father’s past. Someone from the old days has returned to haunt him. Can Jill piece together the story of her family’s past without sacrificing her father's love and reputation?

DECEMBER – My Story Starts Here by Deborah Ellis

Deborah Ellis has won the Governor General’s Award, the Ruth Schwartz Award, the University of California’s Middle East Book Award, Sweden’s Peter Pan Prize, the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award, and the Vicky Metcalf Award for a Body of Work. She is a member of the Order of Canada and has been named to the Order of Ontario.She is best known for her Breadwinner Trilogy, set in Afghanistan and Pakistan — a series that has been published in twenty-five languages, with $2 million in royalties donated to Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan and Street Kids International.

My Story Starts Here
Many readers will recognize themselves, or someone they know, somewhere in these stories. Being lucky or unlucky after an incident of shoplifting, or the drug search at school, or hanging out with the wrong kids at the wrong time. The encounter with a mean cop, or a good one, that can change the trajectory of a kid’s life. Couch-surfing, or being shunted from one foster home to another. The kids in this book represent a range of socioeconomic backgrounds, genders, sexual orientations and ethnicities. Every story is different, but there are common threads — loss of parenting, dislocation, poverty, truancy, addiction, discrimination.

Most of all, this book leaves readers asking the most pressing questions of all. Does it make sense to put kids in jail? Can’t we do better? Have we forgotten that we were once teens ourselves, feeling powerless to change our lives, confused about who we were and what we wanted, and quick to make a dumb move without a thought for the consequences?

NOVEMBER – Falling For Myself by Dorothy Ellen Palmer

Dorothy Ellen Palmer, is a disabled senior writer, accessibility consultant, and retired high school drama teacher and union activist.
She serves on the board and writes a regular column for CCWWP (Canadian Creative Writers and Writing Programs) and on the Accessibility Advisory Board for FOLD (The Festival of Literary Diversity).

Falling For Myself
In this searing and seriously funny memoir Dorothy Ellen Palmer falls down. A Lot. Born with two very different, very tiny feet, she was adopted
as a toddler by a 1950s family with no idea how to handle the interwoven complexities of adoption and disability. From childhood surgeries to a
political awakening at university to decades as a feminist teacher, improv coach and union activist, she spent much of her life hiding her disability.

But now, she’s sharing her journey to disabled pride. With deft comic timing, Palmer takes on adoption, childhood sexual abuse, ableism and ageism, reckoning with her past to reimagine everyone’s future. As a senior on a walker, in Falling for Myself, she allows herself to fall and get
up and fall again, knees and hands bloody, but committed to build a world where we are all respected, included and valued for who we are.

OCTOBER – All We Knew But Couldn't Say

Joanne Vannicola is an Emmy Award–winning actor who has worked in theatre, film, and television. A fierce advocate for LGBTQ+ rights, they live in Toronto.

Joanne Vannicola grew up in a violent home with a physically abusive father and a mother who had no sexual boundaries. In All We Knew But Couldn’t Say, Joanne relates her journey from child performer to Emmy Award–winning actor, from hiding in the closet to embracing her own sexuality, from conflicted daughter and sibling to independent woman.

AUGUST – This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone

Amal El-Mohtar is an award-winning author, editor, and critic. Her fiction has most recently appeared on Tor.com and Uncanny Magazine, and in anthologies such as The Djinn Falls in Love & Other Stories and The Starlit Wood: New Fairy Tales. She teaches creative writing at the University of Ottawa.

This Is How You Lose the Time War
Two time-traveling agents from warring futures, working their way through the past, begin to exchange letters—and fall in love in this thrilling and romantic book from award-winning authors Amal-El Mohtar and Max Gladstone. Among the ashes of a dying world, an agent of the Commandant finds a letter. It reads: Burn before reading. (Sage Press)

JULY – Little Fish by Casey Plett

Casey Plett is the author of the novel Little Fish (Arsenal Pulp Press) and the short story collection A Safe Girl to Love (Topside Press), and co-editor of the anthology Meanwhile, Elsewhere: Science Fiction and Fantasy from Transgender Writers (Topside Press). She wrote a column on transitioning for McSweeney's Internet Tendency and her essays and reviews have appeared in The New York Times, Maclean's, The Walrus, Plenitude, the Winnipeg Free Press, and other publications. She is the winner of a Lambda Literary Award for Best Transgender Fiction and received an Honour of Distinction from The Writers' Trust of Canada's Dayne Ogilvie Prize for LGBTQ Emerging Writers.

Little Fish
It's the dead of winter in Winnipeg and Wendy Reimer, a thirty-year-old trans woman, feels like her life is frozen in place. When her Oma passes away Wendy receives an unexpected phone call from a distant family friend with a startling secret: Wendy's Opa (grandfather) -- a devout Mennonite farmer -- might have been transgender himself. At first she dismisses this revelation, but as Wendy's life grows increasingly volatile, she finds herself aching for the lost pieces of her Opa's truth. Can Wendy unravel the mystery of her grandfather's world and reckon with the culture that both shaped and rejected her? She's determined to try.

JUNE – Surviving the City by Tasha Spillett; illustrated by Natasha Donovan

Tasha Spillett draws her strength from both her Nehiyaw and Trinidadian bloodlines. She is a celebrated educator, poet, and emerging scholar. Tasha is most heart-tied to contributing to community-led work that centres on land and water defence, and the protection of Indigenous women and girls.

Natasha Donovan is a freelance artist and illustrator from Vancouver, British Columbia. Her sequential work has been published in The Other Side anthology and This Place: 150 Years Retold (2019). Natasha is a member of the Métis Nation of British Columbia.

Surviving the City
Miikwan and Dez are best friends. Miikwan is Anishinaabe; Dez is Inninew. Together, the teens navigate the challenges of growing up in an urban landscape. When Dez’s grandmother becomes too sick, Dez is told she can’t stay with her anymore. With the threat of a group home looming, Dez disappears. Will Dez’s community find her before it’s too late?

MAY – Shut Up You're Pretty by Téa Mutonji

Téa Mutonji is an award-winning poet and writer. Born in Congo-Kinshasa, she now lives and writes in Scarborough, Ontario where she was named emerging writer of the year (2017) by the Ontario Book Publishers Organization.

Shut Up You're Pretty
In Téa Mutonji’s disarming debut story collection, a young girl looks for happiness inside a pack of cigarettes, a teenager contemplates her Congolese traditions during a family wedding, a young woman decides to shave her head in the waiting room of an abortion clinic, and an adult daughter reconnects with her mother through their shared interest in fish.
Tinged with pathos and humour, these punchy, sharply observed stories interrogate the moments in which femininity, womanness, and identity are not only questioned but also imposed.

APRIL – Rouge by Adrian De Leon

Adrian De Leon is an Abagatan (Southern) Ilokano writer and cultural educator from Baranggay Bagong Tanyag in Manila by way of Scarborough, Ontario. He teaches Philippine histories in university classrooms, community events, and martial arts gyms. He lives in Toronto.

Rouge
To commemorate a tragedy.

This series of poems is a response to the 2012 mass shooting at a block party on Danzig Street, Scarborough (Toronto). The city’s east end becomes a source of poetic inspiration, and the two intersecting subway lines provide the organizing structure. From west to east, and north to south–Kipling to McCowan, Finch to Downsview–the stations on the way inspiring form, voice, and content, meditation, commentary, and geometry. The City is the Poem.

MARCH – Come On You Reds by Joshua Kloke

Joshua Kloke is a sports and music journalist whose work has been published by Sports Illustrated, ESPN, Sportsnet, the Toronto Star, and the Globe and Mail. He currently covers Toronto FC and the Toronto Maple Leafs for the Athletic.

Come On You Reds
At inception it looked like Toronto FC had a bright future ahead of it, but what followed was eight seasons of misery through which TFC fans never wavered. Come on You Reds takes fans behind the scenes, from the beginning, through the team’s lowest years, and finally, to become arguably the best team in MLS history.

FEBRUARY – Original Prin by Randy Boyagoda

Randy Boyagoda is one of Canada’s funniest and most provocative writers. A regular on CBC Radio, his new novel Original Prin was recently selected as a Globe and Mail Best Book of the Year. Born to Sri Lankan parents in Oshawa, he lives in Toronto with his wife and four children. He’s a professor of English at the University of Toronto, where he also serves as Principal of St. Michael’s College.

Original Prin
Following a cancer diagnosis, Prin vows to become a better man and a better Catholic. But when his historic college in downtown Toronto faces a shutdown and he meets with the condominium developers ready to take it over, Prin hears the voice of God. He goes to the Middle East, hoping to save both his college and his soul. His ex-girlfriend from graduate school’s coming along.

JANUARY – The Grimoire of Kensington Market by Lauren B. Davis

Lauren B. Davis is the author of six novels, including Our Daily Bread, long-listed for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, and The Radiant City, a finalist for the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, as well as two short story collections. Lauren was born in Montreal and now lives in Princeton, New Jersey.

The Grimoire of Kensington Market
Toronto is being overtaken by a magical drug, elysium, that allows its users to slip into another world, before it consumes them. No one has escaped the drug and its dealer, the icily alluring Srebrenka, except Maggie. When her brother becomes addicted, she sets off on a quest to rescue him.