Queer Can Lit Newsflash: New Arsenal Pulp Press Books, Queer Canadian Books on 2017 Best Books Lists, and More!

Is this December’s Queer Can Lit Newsflash or is it January’s?? Only time will tell! Here are some things that have been happening in Canadian LGBTQ2IA+ bookish world:

Vancouver’s Arsenal Pulp Press has some new books coming out in 2018, two of which are by two of my favourite authors: Amber Dawn and Casey Plett.

Plett’s novel is called Little Fish and it sounds AMAZING! You can read an early excerpt of the novel as a work in progress from Plenitude Magazine. Here’s the publisher’s description:

In this debut novel by the author of the Lambda Literary Award-winning story collection A Safe Girl to Love, Wendy Reimer is a thirty-year-old trans woman in Winnipeg who comes across evidence that her late grandfather–a devout Mennonite farmer–might have been transgender himself. At first she dismisses this revelation, having other problems at hand, but as she and her friends struggle to cope with issues in their increasingly volatile lives–which range from alcoholism, to sex work, to suicide–Wendy grows increasingly drawn to the lost pieces of her grandfather’s life, becoming determined to unravel the mystery of his truth.

Alternately warm-hearted and dark-spirited, desperate and mirthful, Little Fish explores the winter of discontent in the life of one transgender woman as her past and future become irrevocably entwined.

little fish casey plett

Amber Dawn’s new novel is called Sodom Road Exit and you can now read an excerpt of the first chapter at Room Magazine’s website. Here’s the synopsis:

It’s the summer of 1990, and Crystal Beach in Ontario has lost its beloved, long-running amusement park, leaving the lakeside village a virtual ghost town. It is back to this fallen community Starla Mia Martin must return to live with her overbearing mother after dropping out of university and racking up significant debt. But an economic downturn, mother-daughter drama, and Generation X disillusionment soon prove to be the least of Starla’s troubles: a mysterious and salacious force begins to dog Starla; inexplicable sounds in the night and unimaginable sights spotted on the periphery. Soon enough, Starla must confront the unresolved traumas that haunt Crystal Beach.

Sodom Road Exit might read like a conventional paranormal thriller, except that Starla is far from a conventional protagonist. Where others might feel fear, Starla feels lust and queer desire. When others might run, Starla draws the horror nearer. And in turn, she draws a host of capricious characters toward her―all of them challenged to seek answers beyond their own temporal realities.


Remember last year when I was telling you about the new imprint and mentorship program headed by Vivek Shraya in conjunction with Arsenal Pulp Press? Their first writer, whose book will be published in spring 2019, is Téa Mutonji. She is:

a writer and poet in Scarborough, Ontario. She has been awarded and published by The Scarborough Fair Magazine in fiction and nonfiction and by the Ontario Book Publishers Organization as a Scarborough Emerging Writer in the 2017 “What’s Your Story?” contest. Her poem “Après Viol” won excellence in poetry at the University of Toronto’s 2017 English Undergraduate Conference. She is currently finishing her minor in Creative Writing, and her debut collection of short stories will be released in Spring 2019. Find her on Twitter and Instagram at @teamutonji.

Apparently I am very slow on the uptake because The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline, which won the 2017 Governor General’s award for young people’s literature (it’s a YA novel), has queer characters? I obviously need to get my hands on this book asap, and you probably should too! Its description:

Humanity has nearly destroyed its world through global warming, but now an even greater evil lurks. The indigenous people of North America are being hunted and harvested for their bone marrow, which carries the key to recovering something the rest of the population has lost: the ability to dream. In this dark world, Frenchie and his companions struggle to survive as they make their way up north to the old lands. For now, survival means staying hidden – but what they don’t know is that one of them holds the secret to defeating the marrow thieves.

Quill and Quire published a short Best of 2017 Canadian Books List chosen by their reviewers and there two queer books on it: Scarborough by Catherine Hernandez and Next Year For Sure by Zoey Leigh Peterson. I also read and reviewed and liked Scarborough and Next Year For Sure!

The Globe and Mail’s 100 Best 2017 Books also featured Scarborough and Next Year For Sure! In a section on the list devoted to small press books, Ahmad Danny Ramadan’s The Clothesline Swing also came up (my review here). I also counted two books about trans people not by trans people, which is … unfortunate, although both of the writers are parents of trans kids? (The books are The Unfinished Dollhouse by Michelle Alfano and This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel).

Book Riot’s Best Queer Books of 2017 also featured a few Canadian picks, including 10 Things I Can See From Here by Carrie Mac, The Lotterys Plus One by Emma Donoghue, and Meanwhile Elsewhere: Science Fiction and Fantasy from Transgender Writers edited by Cat Fitzpatrick and Casey Plett (that one was one of my picks, obviously!).

Got some news you think I should cover in the next Queer Can Lit Newsflash? Email me at stepaniukcasey [at] gmail.com!

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 Canadian, Emma Donoghue, Fantasy, Fiction, Indigenous, Lesbian, Queer, Queer Can Lit Newsflash, Sex Work, Trans, Trans Feminine, Young Adult. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Queer Can Lit Newsflash: New Arsenal Pulp Press Books, Queer Canadian Books on 2017 Best Books Lists, and More!

  1. syrens says:

    Reblogged this on The Breathings of My Heart and commented:

  2. MxSallyBend says:

    Ooooh, thanks for the tip! I already had Sodom Road Exit on my TBR list (I love Amber Dawn, I love the sound of the story, and I have fond memories of Crystal Beach), but Little Fish is definitely one I need to add.

    I’ll have my most anticipated list up next Wed. 🙂

  3. I got to read Little Fish in manuscript and it is amazing!

  4. Hi Casey, Just my two cents and of course you are entitled to your own thoughts about this issue. I appreciate your interest in The Unfinished Dollhouse but I would hope, as a librarian and educated person, you might read a book before describing it as “unfortunate” because it is written by the mother of a trans child rather than a trans person. If you had, you might have seen it as unconditional love for, and support of, a vulnerable child in a difficult situation. I would be pleased to send you a copy so that you might make a more nuanced evaluation of it.
    Best, Michelle Alfano

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