2014 Queer Canadian Books to Be Excited About

I really love to read (uh, duh).  But I think I actually get more excited talking about books than I do actually reading them.  Is that weird?  Anyway, there are some books coming out this year that I am pretty damn excited about.  Let’s have a look at them.

frog musicFrog Music by Emma Donoghue (1 April)  I had the great pleasure and luck to be at a talk by Emma Donoghue where she discussed doing the research for this book, which is an historical crime thriller set in 1870s San Fransisco.  Based on a real-life character named Jenny Bonnet who was arrested multiple times for cross-dressing (there’s evidence in newspapers—apparently they wrote up that kind of stuff in the crime section!), Frog Music actually starts with Jenny’s death.  Surviving her is a French burlesque dancer who is determined to find her friend’s (more than friend??) murderer.  This books sounds deliciously sultry, thrilling, and strange.  It’s called Frog Music because Jenny makes a living catching frogs and selling them to French restaurants.  Probably one of the occupations that was available to a woman who wanted to wear pants?

on loving womenOn Loving Women by Diane Obomsawin (18 February) I’m ashamed to say I had never heard of Quebecoise Francophone animator Diane Obomsawin until I got an email offering me a review copy of this book!  Apparently she’s done work for the National Film Board, as well as other graphic work in French and English.  On Loving Women is a graphic collection of stories about coming out, first love, and sexual identity. Fellow graphic artist and memoirist Ellen Forney says that this book is “in turns wistful, sexy, goofy, bittersweet, frank, and adorable.”  Obomsawin’s graphic style looks clean and simple, and the ‘people’ in the comics appear to be drawn as animals.  With boobs.  Could that be any more awesome?  I love it. (Update: I’ve reviewed it here).

prairie ostrichPrairie Ostrich by Tamai Kobayashi (4 March) Another writer I had never heard of until being made aware of this book!  Sometimes people ask me if I’m going to run out of authors to talk about on my blog.  I’m wondering if I’m going to have enough time in my lifetime to read all the books that qualify for this blog.  Toronto-based Japanese-Canadian Kobayashi has already published a few short story collections but this is her first novel, endorsed by Larissa Lai of When Fox Was a Thousand fame.  Prairie Ostrich follows a pair of sisters living with her family on an ostrich farm in the mid-70s.  The older sister, Kathy, is a solace for her younger sister in the wake of their brother’s death.  Kathy, though, has her own struggle: she’s in love with her best friend.  Whose name is Stacey. (Update: I’ve reviewed it here).

100 crushes100 Crushes by Elisha Lim (10 June) I just finished reading an adorable yet gut-punching zine about dating by Elisha Lim—including a heartbreakingly funny panel on the stages of text despair.  Review to come soon!  You might have also heard of Lim because they convinced Xtra! magazine of something a queer media shouldn’t have needed to be convinced of: to use gender neutral pronouns.  Lim is a Toronto-based artist, who, to quote their website “celebrates the dignity and power of being neither straight, nor white, nor cisgendered.”  100 Crushes is a compilation of five years’ worth of comics and some new material about queer dating, travel, gender non-conformity, and other such fun stuff.  I hope this book garners the praise Lim’s work deserves!

9781551525372_GenderFailureGender Failure by Ivan E. Coyote and Rae Spoon (15 April) If you missed Ivan and Rae’s show of the same name that toured in 2012, here’s your chance to catch up.  Both neither fitting the narratives for hetero and cisnormative gender or for dominant ideas about trans identities, Ivan and Rae are calling themselves gender failures.  But, it turns out, Gender Failure tells us that gender is never really a success for anyone. And that’s a good thing. Combining personal essays, song lyrics, and images, Gender Failure refuses to be put in the genre box as much as these two writers defy the gender binary.  This book is yet another awesome offering from Vancouver’s Arsenal Pulp Press.  I’m a big fan of both of these artists’ work and can’t wait to see what they can come up with together!


About CaseytheCanadianLesbrarian

Known in some internet circles as Casey the Canadian Lesbrarian, Casey Stepaniuk is a writer and librarian who holds an MA in English literature. She lives and works in the unceded territory of the Snuneymuxw First Nation (Nanaimo, BC). Topics and activities dear to her heart include cats, bisexuality, libraries, queer (Canadian) literature, running, and drinking tea. She runs the website Casey the Canadian Lesbrarian, where you can find reviews of LGBTQ2IA+ Canadian books, archives of the book advice column Ask Your Friendly Neighbourhood Lesbrarian, and some other queer, bookish stuff. She also writes for Autostraddle. Find her on Twitter: @canlesbrarian. Some of her old reviews, especially the non-Canadian variety, can be found at the Lesbrary.
This entry was posted in Asian, Butch, Canadian, Coming-of-age, Emma Donoghue, Fiction, Graphic, Ivan E. Coyote, Lesbian, Montreal, News, Queer, Rural, Short Stories, Toronto, Trans, Trans Masculine and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to 2014 Queer Canadian Books to Be Excited About

  1. Bookgeek says:

    Hi Casey, some Canadian authors of lesbian fictionhave banded together and created Moose Hall where all authors of Canadian lesbian fiction can showcase their books — and they have a blog for news.


  2. jessglenny says:

    Where’s the follow button!! This is great!

  3. Pingback: Koyama Press » 100 Crushes is a Queer Canadian Books to be Excited About in 2014

  4. Anonymous says:

    All great choices! Roewan Crowe’s new poetry collection, Quivering Land could be added to that list too. FYI, I wrote a second novel in 2005, Smoke, featuring a F to M transsexual, among other queerness. You must know about the LGBT index of literature compiled by a fellow librarian? Her name is escaping me at the moment, but she’s also a writer.

    • Thanks! I hadn’t heard of Crowe’s collection. I will add it to my to-read list!
      This must be Elizabeth Ruth? Smoke is definitely on my list already! I’m excited to hear it features a trans character!
      Hmm, I’m not sure what index you mean?? Someone from Canada or elsewhere?

  5. Pingback: News Roundup for February 5, 2014

  6. Pingback: Link Round Up: January 30 – February 5 | The Lesbrary

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