A random roughly alphabetical list of links to authors, stores, blogs, publishers, and other resources relevant to this blog–more added as I find them!:
Arsenal Pulp Press, based in Vancouver, is one radical publishing house, with a great program of gay and lesbian publishing. Among others, they publish queer Canadian authors Ivan E. Coyote, Amber Dawn, S. Bear Bergman, and Anna Camilleri. They also have a great series of revived out of print queer titles introduced by contemporary authors called Little Sister’s Classics–in honour of the bookstore listed below. Some of those titles are Patience and Sarah by Isabel Miller, Patrick Califia’s Macho Sluts, and Valerie Taylor’s lesbian pulp classic Whisper Their Love.You can find their titles at Little Sister’s, Venus Envy, and elsewhere in independent bookstores, as well as order them from Arsenal’s website.
The independently-owend Autostraddle just may be the coolest queer lady website of them all. And, they have awesome book-related content. Check out their recently launched biweekly series Lez Liberty Lit, which explores all kinds of queer and feminist writing. My blog was featured as the internet place of the week in this Lez Liberty! So exciting! Also, Malaika’s Canadian additions to the Read a F*cking Book column (aptly called Read a F*cking Canadian Book, eh) are amazing; check out her review of Alex Leslie’s People Who Disappear and Shani Mootoo’s Cereus Blooms at Night.
Dionne Brand is one of Canada’s most talented wordsmiths, both as a poet and fiction writer–she just also happens to be a dyke. Her writing is always immediate, visceral, and seductive. She’s often occupied with sexuality, the Black diaspora, multicultural politics, Toronto, and feminism. I highly recommend anything she writes–I’d even read her grocery lists. See my review of her first novel In Another Place, Not Here here.
Caitlin Press began as a feminist literary press in the 70s and has since evolved into a lesbian-friendly press focused on publishing work by and about BC women. The press is especially concerned with rural women and topics, and, according to their website, they want to “publish writers who reflect the concerns, culture and history of that part of Canada called the ‘middle north’ which lies between the southern, heavily populated areas and the far north.” Queer BC author Arleen Pare’s recent novel Leaving Now was published by Caitlin and one of their forthcoming titles is a short story collection by Andrea Routley, editor of the fabulous Victoria-based queer literary journal Plenitude (see my review of the first issue here).
Anna Camilleri is a fierce femme writer, performer, editor, and visual artist based in Toronto. She’s been a part of two queer collaborative performance troupes, Taste This and SweLL, with Ivan E. Coyote (see below). Her work in all forms interrogates femininity, gender, and queerness in a brave, unapologetic way. Her memoir I Am a Red Dress: Incantations on a Grandmother, a Mother, and a Daughter is extremely powerful and unabashedly feminist. See my review of the collaborative book Boys Like Her, which Camilleri co-authored, here.
The Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives in Toronto is an amazing comprehensive resource all of sorts of queer artefacts, not just books–although they have plenty of those, as well as book-like items such as zines. They have some pretty sweet events that are worth checking out: exhibitions, talks, fundraisers, etc!
Canadian Lesfic is a brand-new site run by and dedicated to Canadian lesbian fiction writers. If you fit into that category, get in touch because they’re always looking to add more names! So far there are writers of mystery, (a lot of) romance, science-fiction, fantasy, and literary fiction. The list of books by genre is super helpful; there is also (an ever-expanding) list of authors. Canadian Lesfic also features a blog, which includes a news roundup for Canadian lesbian fiction-related stuff. This site is definitely worth a look, especially if you’re a romance reader, since I don’t really have any info on that genre here.
If you’re queer and/or trans and Canadian, how do you not already have writer Ivan Coyote’s website bookmarked? Their subtly disarming kitchen-table style storytelling is breathtaking both on the page and in person, whether Ivan is taking on the nuances of butch identity, small-town childhood in the Yukon, or searching for a no-nonsense cup of brewed coffee in East Vancouver. Check out their website for upcoming live storytelling performances, which are a queer Canadian essential experience. See my review of Taste This’s book Boys Like Her here and of Persistence: All Ways Butch and Femme, which Coyote co-edited with their wife Zena Sharman, here. I also recently read and reviewed the new collection specifically for queer youth One in Every Crowd.
Tanya Davis originally hails from Prince Edward Island and is now based in Halifax; she just released her first book of poetry, At First, Lonely last year, but she’s been performing as a spoken word poet / musician for much longer. Her work often deals with queer love and relationships, singing bittersweetly in the song “Eulogy for you and me” that “clocks and hearts and time keep going but we didn’t.” She is also interested in topics such as religion, art—leaving her secure government job to be a happy but poor artist, for example—and her own social awkwardness. She has a sweet, understated lyricism that is really mesmerizing, on the stage and on her records. Check her out if she is playing near you! In Halifax, she is often playing at the Company House, a fantastic lesbian-owned live music venue.
Amber Dawn should be a familiar name if you’ve had a look around this website: not only did she recently win the 2012 Dayne Ogilvie Prize for emerging LGBTQ writer, her novel Sub Rosa was the very first book I reviewed here. Dawn is a writer, filmmaker, and performance artist based in Vancouver who was for years the director of programming for the Vancouver Queer Film Festival. She’s also the editor of and contributor to the collection Fist of the Spider Woman: Tales of Fear and Queer Desire, a collection of horror and fantasty short stories, and co-editor with Trish Kelly of the anthology With a Rough Tongue: Femmes Write Porn. Dawn also has a fantastic essay/letter, “To All the Butches I Loved Between 1995 and 2005: An Open Letter about Selling Sex, Selling Out, and Soldiering On” in Persistence: All Ways Butch and Femme. Her latest book came out in 2013 and it’s called How Poetry Saved My Life: A Hustler’s Memoir; I review it here.
Emma Donoghue is an Irish-born, London, ON-based lesbian writer with a large stack of books to her name. She writes both contemporary and historical fiction, with equal grace and skill. I recently read and reviewed her lesbian romance novel Landing; I loved it for its lovable characters and exquisite old-fashioned storytelling. Donoghue’s historical fiction delves into the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries; if you want to read about these time periods with a dash of queer, I highly recommend Life Mask or The Sealed Letter. I’m so glad that Donoghue chose to make her home in Canada so I can include her in this site!
Anne Fleming is a new favourite writer of mine, and happens to be a friend of a friend, although I recently missed a chance to meet her. Damn. Her blog is a good example of the kind of smooth, effortlessly funny way that this Vancouver and Kelowna-based woman writes about both the mundane and the extraordinary. See my review of Fleming’s amazing first short-story collection Pool-Hopping here and of her novel Anomaly here; also see her lovely mention of my review here. Her latest book has the fantastic title Gay Dwarves in America and I review it here.
Glad Day Bookstore has, unbelievably, been around since 1970 and is now the oldest queer bookstore around anywhere! It’s Toronto’s LGBTQ independent bookshop located in the ‘official’ gay village along the Church-Wellesley strip; like other independent bookstores, it’s had a few financial troubles recently, but luckily it was bought by a collective of folks from the community and is now under new co-ownership. They hosted some awesome Pride events last year, such as the Proud Voices reading series, and plan to continue to have other fun events going on.
Good Lesbian Books is an amazingly comprehensive lesbian book blog, with reviews and news on lesbians books in all kinds of different genres: graphic, young adult, manga, science fiction, fantasy, romance, mystery, crime–you name it! What I really appreciate about this site, besides its breadth, is that they post interesting, helpful lists, like of lesbian books that deal with physical disabilities and young adult lesbian books broken down by country and American state.
Hiromi Goto is a BC writer with multiple talents: she’s written poetry, children’s books, novels and short stories for adults, and two young adult graphic novels, with illustrator Jillian Tamaki–the impressive Half World and its companion Darkest Light; her writing is often genre-bending, dabbling in fantasy, realism, horror, and myth. An author concerned with feminism, queerness, and Japanese and/or Canadian identities, among other issues, Hiromi Goto is currently the new YA & Genre Fiction Mentor at Simon Fraser University’s The Writer’s Studio. Those lucky students!
Nalo Hopkinson is a Toronto-based author originally from Jamaica; she’s published work in anthologies, novels, and short stories. You don’t often hear of queer women of colour writing fantasy and science fiction, but that’s exactly what Hopkinson does, and that’s not the only reason you should check her writing out: the fierce power of her imagination and the clever way she mixes Caribbean mythology and spirituality into her fantastical worlds are reasons enough. You can check out my review of Brown Girl in the Ring here.
Insomniac Press is an independent press based in little ol’ London, Ontario, publishing books they hope will keep you up at night, reading under the covers with your flashlight. They often give new Canadian writers their first publications. They publish general LGBTQ titles, fiction, poetry, and nonfiction, as well as queer mysteries. Some queer Canadian ladies they have published are: Jane Rule (reissues of some of her older books) and Karen X. Tulchinsky, as well as Liz Bugg and Nairne Holtz (both authors of queer mysteries). Insomniac also published the anthology No Margins: Writing Canadian Fiction in Lesbian, which features a whole slew of awesome writers.
The Lesbrary is a fantastic resource for all things book and lesbian. There’s a wide variety of reviews of all different kinds of lesbian/bi/queer books here, with a good amount of Canadian content, as well as great “link round ups” by Danika the lesbrarian that can point you to all that is going on in lesbian book cyberspace. I also have reviews on this site!
Vancouver’s queer bookstore Little Sister’s is legendary: they’ve been fighting for the rights of (queer) readers and writers for a long time now in longstanding court battles with Canada customs to allow so-called obsence (i.e., LGBTQ) material into the country. Support them! Go check out the store if you’re in the Vancouver area. The film and sex toy section is definitely male-focused, but the book selection has a ton of options for women. It’s in the heart of the ‘official’ gay village (as opposed to the queer women’s neighbourhood in the east end), on Davie street. All in all, it’s a pretty rad bookstore.
Ann-Marie MacDonald is a multi-talented woman, as an actor, novelist, and playwright; in all forms she displays a gift for rich, layered storytelling. You probably have heard of her first novel, Fall on Your Knees, because it was one of Oprah’s few well-chosen book club picks. Her other work is definitely work checking out as well and you must see her as a neurotic queer bookstore owner in the film Better than Chocolate, one of the best movies to come out of the nineties.
Daphne Marlatt is an extraordinarily talented west coast poet who has been an important figure in Canadian literature since the 1960s. Her work is challenging–both in terms of content and form–but also breathtakingly beautiful and rewarding to read. Since the late 70s her writing has been explicitly preoccupied with feminism and issues surrounding women’s bodies, and women’s writing, as well as her lesbian sexuality–Marlatt came out later in life. Her novel–if a work that defies such categorization can be called that–Ana Historic is one of my favourite books, one I get more out of each time I read it; see my review here.
Shani Mootoo is an incredibly sensual and instinctive writer who has held my attention since I picked up her first novel Cereus Blooms at Night. I can’t really speak of her writing too highly, which is why I’m frustrated that she doesn’t seem to have her own website! What I’ve linked is a fairly recent article discussing her stint as writer-in-residence at the University of Guelph and her master’s thesis, which deals with her ideas about fiction writing. This article is also great, and gives a more detailed background of Mootoo and her diverse body of work. Plus, the cute picture of her is bigger. See my review of her latest novel Valmiki’s Daughter here.
Plenitude is “your new queer arts and literature magazine”! Recently launched from Victoria, there are already two issues of Plenitude out and I highly encourage you to pick them up: there’s a great diversity of work there by a wide variety of queer-identified folks–the only requirement for submissions is that artists self-identify as queer. There’s visual art, poetry, prose, and reviews, all from different perspectives. There’s something in here for all kinds of readers: whether you want to read fiction about queer Portand punks, an essay about an amateur trying his hand at gay art porn, or gorgeous lesbian poetry about experiences with desire and homophobia. Subscriptions are only 10 dollars! Check out my review of the first issue here.
Talon Books, based in Vancouver, is a long-standing independent publisher focused on literary fiction, poetry, and drama. They’ve especially made a name for themselves publishing Indigenous authors (including the amazing queer writer Tomson Highway), drama–a genre often not considered marketable, and translations of Francophone texts, including those by Quebecois lesbian author Marie-Claire Blais. Talon published Jane Rule’s classic novel Desert of the Heart in the 70s and recently, her posthumous autobiography Taking My Life; also included in their recent publications are Karen X. Tulchinsky’s most recent novel, Gail Scott’s novels Heroine and Main Brides, and some of Daphne Marlatt’s poetry. If you read any queer Canadian women authors in university, it’s likely Talon published them!
Quill & Quire, Canada’s magazine for book reviews and news, has great high quality reviews and is super queer inclusive. Check out especially their recent review of Mariko Tamaki’s queer young adult novel (You) Set Me On Fire as well as this glowing review of Hiromi Goto’s graphic novel Darkest Light (illustrated by Jillian Tamaki, who has also worked with her cousin Mariko–Can Lit is a small world).
Venus Envy, is a queer, feminist, women-centric sex shop and bookstore with locations in both Ottawa and Halifax. They carry a great selection of queer Canadian women authors, with an emphasis on erotica and all kinds of sex/relationship books. If you aren’t in Ontario or Nova Scotia, you can order books from them online–even ones that are not featured on their website. They also conduct sex workshops and seminars.
Zoe Whittall is a Quebec-born, now Torontonian author who has written two fantastic novels, one of them Lambda-award winning, in addition to a zillion other awards; she’s also published three books of poetry. If you’re looking for gritty, urban landscapes with tough yet endearing queer characters, you won’t be disappointed with Whittall’s fiction. I’ve reviewed her fantastic first novel Bottle Rocket Hearts here and amazing second novel Holding Still For As Long As Possible.