Books

18 Canadian books to read for Pride Month

June is Pride Month. Celebrate by checking out these Canadian books.

June is Pride Month. Celebrate by checking out these Canadian books.

Jonny Appleseed by Joshua Whitehead

Jonny Appleseed is a novel by Joshua Whitehead. (Submitted by Joshua Whitehead/CBC, Arsenal Pulp Press)

Jonny Appleseed is a novel about a two-spirit Indigiqueer young man who has left the reserve and becomes a cybersex worker in the big city to make ends meet. But he must reckon with his past when he returns home to attend his stepfather's funeral. 

Jonny Appleseed won Canada Reads 2021, when it was championed by actor Devery Jacobs.

It was on the longlist for the 2018 Scotiabank Giller Prize and the shortlist for the Governor General's Literary Award for fiction and was a finalist for the Amazon Canada First Novel Award

Joshua Whitehead is a two-spirit, Oji-nêhiyaw member of Peguis First Nation, currently pursuing his PhD. He is also the author of the poetry collection full-metal indigiqueer and is the editor of the anthology Love after the EndJonny Appleseed is his first novel.

Canada Reads champions Devery Jacobs and Joshua Whitehead joined Tom Power to talk about winning this year's battle of the books with Whitehead's debut novel Jonny Appleseed. 12:39

Butter Honey Pig Bread by Francesca Ekwuyasi

Butter Honey Pig Bread is a novel by Francesca Ekwuyasi. (Monica Phung, Arsenal Pulp Press)

Butter Honey Pig Bread is a novel about twin sisters Kehinde and Taiye, and their mother, Kambirinachi. Kambirinachi believes she was a spirit who was supposed to die as a small child. By staying alive, she is cursing her family — a fear that appears to come true when Kehinde experiences something that tears the family apart, and divides the twins for years. But when the three women connect years later, they must confront their past and find forgiveness.

Butter Honey Pig Bread was championed by Roger Mooking on Canada Reads 2021.

Francesca Ekwuyasi is a writer, filmmaker and visual artist. Her writing has appeared in the Malahat Review, Guts and Brittle Paper, and she was longlisted for the 2019 Journey PrizeButter Honey Pig Bread is her first book. She currently lives in Halifax.

Francesca Ekwuyasi on her Canada Reads 2021 book, Butter Honey Pig Bread 13:46

Tales from the Bottom of My Sole by David Kingston Yeh

Tales from the Bottom of My Sole is a novel by David Kingston Yeh (David Kingston Yeh, Guernica Editions)

Tales from the Bottom of My Sole is a sequel to David Kingston Yeh's debut novel A Boy at the Edge of the WorldThis time, protagonist, former hockey player Daniel Garneau, is dealing with the sudden return of his long-lost sibling, who is now a trans man named Luke. At the same time, his ex Marcus is planning the premiere of his one-man show which could further throw a wrench into his new relationship.

Yeh is a Toronto-based writer and LGBTQ counsellor. He is also the author of the novel A Boy at the Edge of the World.

A History of My Brief Body by Billy-Ray Belcourt 

A History of My Brief Body is a book by Billy-Ray Belcourt. (Tenille Campbell, Hamish Hamilton)

Billy-Ray Belcourt was the youngest-ever winner of the Griffin Poetry Prize. He was also the first First Nations Rhodes scholar from Canada. But he was once a young boy, growing up in Driftpile Cree Nation in Alberta. A History of My Brief Body tells his story: how his family was impacted by colonialism and intergenerational trauma, yet still hold joy and love in their hearts and lives; how he came into his queer identity; how writing became both a place of comfort and solace and a weapon for a young man trying to figure out his place in the world.

Belcourt is a poet, writer and academic from Driftpile Cree Nation in northern Alberta. He is a Rhodes Scholar and earned his PhD in English at the University of Alberta. His debut collection of poetry, This Wound is a Worldwon the 2018 Griffin Poetry Prize. He is also the author of the poetry collection NDN Coping Mechanisms

Ahead of Tuesday's results for the Governor General's Literary Awards, Billy-Ray Belcourt joins Piya Chattopadhyay to discuss his memoir A History of My Brief Body — which has been nominated for a non-fiction award — and how love and joy can be liberating practices for Indigenous people. 14:06

Like a Boy but Not a Boy by andrea bennett

Like a Boy but Not a Boy is a book by andrea bennett. (CBC, Arsenal Pulp Press)

Like a Boy but Not a Boy is a collection of essays by non-binary poet and writer andrea bennett as they explore parenthood, gender, mental illness, creativity, mortality and identity and how it all interconnects. Like a Boy but Not a Boy is about forging your own path and accepting yourself, and finding family, love and faith on your own terms.

bennett is an editor, journalist and poet from Montreal. Their work has appeared in the Globe and Mail, the Walrus and Reader's Digest. Like a Boy but Not a Boy is their first book.

Mother’s day has Thomas a little triggered as he talks to Tranna about the complex relationship he shares with his mom. It’s the perfect opportunity for these two to talk to award-winning writer, andrea bennett, whose brilliant collection of essays, Like a Boy but Not a Boy, examines and redefines parenthood from a non-binary perspective. Also on the show is the delightfully fabulous Richie Shazam, co-host of the new OutTV series, Shine True, a makeover that centres trans and non-binary folks—who doesn’t love a good a glow up? 43:19

Where Things Touch by Bahar Orang

Where Things Touch is a book by Bahar Orang. (@baharoh/Twitter.com, Book*hug Press)

Bahar Orang is a physician-in-training. She's also a poet. In Where Things TouchOrang tries to find the beauty in her clinical encounters and redefines and reimagines what beauty is and how it's defined. She explores intimacy, queerness, love, memory and asks what makes beauty — from physical attributes to human connection.

Orang is a writer and physician-in-training. Her writing has appeared in Arts Medica, Hamilton Arts & Letters and Guts. Where Things Touch is her first book.

Physician Bahar Orang talks about writing her debut essay collection Where Things Touch while in medical school. 2:20

ZOM-FAM by Kama La Mackerel

ZOM-FAM is a book by Kama La Mackerel. (Metonymy Press, lamackerel.net)

In ZOM-FAMKama La Mackerel tells a coming-of-age story of a child growing up in the 1980s and 1990s on the island of Mauritius. This child doesn't conform to a specific gender and searches for a vocabulary and a narrative that includes and understands them. This poetry collection tells a new story of Mauritius's history, one that includes and celebrates the queer and trans stories that helped shape the island's history.

La Mackerel is a Mauritian artist, educator, poet and translator from Montreal. CBC Arts named them one of nine artists who were making a difference in Canada in 2016. They have translated several Canadian works from English into French, including I'm Afraid of Men by Vivek Shraya. ZOM-FAM is their first book.

Thomas and Tranna kick off an all-new season in a world that feels turned upside down. Who better to turn to for advice on navigating these difficult days than superstar astrologer, Jessica Lanyadoo, who takes Chosen Family into the stratosphere with a deep dive on all things astrology. Plus T and T share their current obsessions: Kama La Mackerel’s debut poetry collection, Zom-Fam, and Backxwash’s breakthrough album, God Has Nothing To Do With This Leave Him Out Of It. 45:01

Burning Sugar by Cicely Belle Blain

Burning Sugar is a poetry collection by Cicely Belle Blain. (VS. Books)

Burning Sugar is a poetry collection that explores Black identity, history and the impact of colonization on Black bodies. Burning Sugar illuminates how systems, society and culture are all structured to reinforce racism. But it also explores and celebrates the nuance and joy in life.

Cicely Belle Blain is a poet and activist originally from London, U.K., and now lives on the lands of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh peoples, in Vancouver. They founded Black Lives Matter Vancouver. CBC Radio named them one of 150 Black women and non-binary people making change across Canada in 2018. Burning Sugar is their first book.

Poet and activist Cicely Belle Blain on her debut collection of poetry, Burning Sugar. 12:48

Knot Body by Eli Tareq El Bechelany-Lynch

Knot Body is a book by Eli Tareq El Bechelany-Lynch. (Metatron Press)

Knot Body is a poetry collection by queer mixed race Arab poet Eli Tareq El Bechelany-Lynch that confronts racism, capitalism, ableism, transphobia and fatphobia. It's about the limits we have in and on our bodies and how those limits define how we connect with the world — and how we can break these limits down to remake a more inclusive world.

Bechelany-Lynch is a poet from Montreal. Their work has appeared in The Best Canadian Poetry, The Puritan and The New Quarterly. They were longlisted for the 2019 CBC Poetry Prize for Nancy Ajram Made Me Gay.

Care Of by Ivan Coyote

Care Of is a book by Ivan Coyote. (McClelland & Stewart, Ivan Coyote)

Care Of is a collection of moving correspondence Ivan Coyote wrote in the early days of the COVID-19 lockdown, in response to letters and communications they had received, some of which dated back to 2009. The correspondence ranges from personal letters to Facebook messages to notes received after performing onstage, Coyote told CBC Radio host Dave White on Airplay. 

Ivan Coyote is a writer, storyteller and performer from Yukon. They have written more than a dozen books, created four short films and released three albums combining storytelling with music, and are known for exploring gender identity and queer liberation in their writing. Their other books include Tomboy Survival GuideRebent SinnerGender FailureOne in Every Crowd and the novel Bow GripCoyote won the 2020 Freedom to Read Award, in recognition of their body of work that examines class, gender identity and social justice.

Ivan Coyote talks to Shelagh Rogers about Care Of: Letters, Connections and Cures. 17:12

it was never going to be okay by jaye simpson

it was never going to be okay is a book by jaye simpson. (Nightwood Editions, Divya Nanray)

it was never going to be okay is a collection of poems that explores intergenerational trauma, Indigeneity and queerness by Oji-Cree non-binary trans woman writer jaye simpson.

it was never going to be okay won the 2021 Indigenous Voices Award for English poetry.

simpson is an Oji-Cree non-binary trans woman writer who lives in Vancouver. Their work has been featured in This Magazine, Prism International and Room. it was never going to be okay is their first book.

What If We Were by Axelle Lenoir

What If We Were is a book by Axelle Lenoir. (Top Shelf Comix)

What If We Were is about teen girls Nathalie and Marie who have had a secret game they've played since childhood: What If We Were? The more creative and challenging the premise the better. But when a new girl comes to town, and joins their game, their worlds are turned upside down. Can they make it through this round with their friendship, and their hearts, still in one piece?

Axelle Lenoir is a cartoonist from Quebec. She is also the author of the graphic novel Camp Spirit and the Mertownville series.

The Family Way by Christopher DiRaddo

The Family Way is a novel by Christopher DiRaddo. (Vincent Fortier, Vehicule Press)

In The Family Way, Paul, a gay man about to turn 40, is asked by his friends, the lesbian couple Wendy and Eve, to father their child. Over the course of 18 months, Paul must confront his own relationship with his father, his notion of family and grapple with what fatherhood will mean for his own relationship.

Christopher DiRaddo is a novelist and producer from Montreal. He is a former CBC Literary Prizes coordinator and is the current president of the Quebec Writers' Federation. He is also the author of the novel The Geography of Pluto.

The new novel The Family Way, follows the story of Paul, a gay man who is asked to be a sperm donor by his good friends Wendy & Eve. Montreal author Christopher DiRaddo tells us about his real-life experience as a donor, which led him to write this book about love, friendship and what it means to be a family. 14:15

Stone Fruit by Lee Lai

Stone Fruit is a comic by Lee Lai. (Fantagraphics, Leah Jing)

Stone Fruit is a comic about a queer couple, Bron and Ray, and the ups and downs a relationship goes through as it begins to fall apart. Stone Fruit explores family, identity and relationships through Bron and Ray's journey.

Lee Lai is an Australian cartoonist who now lives in Montreal. Stone Fruit is her first book.

Love after the End

Love after the End is an anthology edited by Joshua Whitehead. (Arsenal Pulp Press, Joshua Whitehead)

Love after the End is an anthology of nine speculative fiction stories that imagine a utopian future for LGBTQ and two-spirit people, curated and edited by poet and novelist Joshua Whitehead. The stories range in scope and creativity but all centre on LGBTQ and two-spirit people and have a happy ending.

Contributors include Nathan Adler, Darcie Little Badger, Gabriel Castilloux Calderon, Adam Garnet Jones, Mari Kurisato, Kai Minosh Pyle, David Alexander Robertson, jaye simpson and Nazbah Tom.

Joshua Whitehead and Darcie Little Badger talk to Shelagh Rogers about Love After The End. 17:19

The Subtweet by Vivek Shraya

The Subtweet is a novel by Vivek Shraya. (ECW Press)

In The Subtweet, Neela Devaki's song is covered by internet-famous artist Rukmini. When the two musicians meet, a transformative friendship begins. But, as Rukmini's star rises, jealousy creeps in, and Neela sends out a highly-destructive tweet that blows up their friendship. 

Vivek Shraya is a writer, artist and musician from Alberta. Her books include the novel She of the Mountains, the poetry collection even this page is white, the essay I'm Afraid of Men and the comic book Death Threat.

Artist, writer and musician Vivek Shraya returns to q to talk about her latest project, The Subtweet. It’s a novel that examines internet culture and what it means to be an artist in the 21st century — themes that have taken on a new urgency in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Shraya joined Tom Power from her home in Calgary to tell us more. 13:28

Witchmark by C.L. Polk

Witchmark is a fantasy novel by C.L. Polk. (Tor.com, @clpolk/Twitter)

Witchmark takes place in a world similar to Edwardian England. During the aftermath of a major war, a young doctor named Miles Singer must hide his magical healing gifts or be committed to witches' asylum. When a patient's death exposes Miles' powers, he knows he must figure out what happened — before it's too late. And to do so, he must forge an alliance with a family he despises and rely on a very handsome stranger.

Both The Midnight Bargain and Witchmark are fantasy novels written by Polk that include rivalry, romance, magic and mystery. Witchmark is the first book in Polk's Kingston Cycle trilogy which also includes Stormsong and Soulstar.

Crosshairs by Catherine Hernandez

Crosshairs is a book by Catherine Hernandez. (Yeemi Tang, HarperAvenue)

Crosshairs is a dystopian novel about a near-future where a queer Black performer named Kay and his allies join forces against an oppressive Canadian regime that is rounding up those deemed "Other" in concentration camps. A near-future Toronto is ravaged by climate change. It is a situation that has led to massive floods, rampant homelessness, unemployment and starvation. In this chaos, a government-sanctioned regime called the Boots seizes the opportunity to force communities of colour, the disabled and the LGBTQ2S into labour camps called workhouses in the city. 

Catherine Hernandez is a former theatre professional and daycare provider from Scarborough, Ont. She is also the author of the novel Scarboroughwhich is being adapted into a feature film. CBC Books named Hernandez a writer to watch in 2017.

Catherine Hernandez's second novel, Crosshairs, takes place in a chilling dystopian future where a fascist regime seeks to eliminate all those deemed "Other." 13:51

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