Books·Black History Month

Why The Bridge host Nantali Indongo loved No Crystal Stair by Mairuth Sarsfield

The CBC Montreal host selects a favourite book written by a Black author.
Nantali Indongo is the host of CBC Montreal's provincial arts and culture program, The Bridge. (CBC/Canadian Scholars' Press)

It's Black History Month. Throughout February, CBC Books is asking CBC hosts to recommend a Black author or book written by a Black writer that is meaningful to them.

Nantali Indongo, host of CBC Montreal's arts and culture program, The Bridge, picked the bestselling novel and Canada Reads 2005 contender No Crystal Stair by Mairuth Sarsfield.

"After a lot of back and forth on the criteria for my selection, I decided on No Crystal Stair by Mairuth Sarsfield. I wanted to prioritize Canadian women writers who helped me understand a little more about the history of my country, my province and my city.

"I read No Crystal Stair in 2004, and fell in love with the protagonists — a family of Black women. But what I enjoyed the most about this book is how it spoke to intersectionality long before it became a worthy topic of discussion in Canadian academic and media institutions.

"The book validated certain histories I already knew about Black Canadians in Montreal and taught me about new histories as well. It's exciting to recognize yourself in a work of literature, especially one that is set in the past. At a micro level, it helps to build a sense of belonging to the communities and cultures in which you exist. But at a macro level, it validates your sense of identity — in this case a Quebecer and a Canadian.

"When Mairuth came to Montreal on her book tour, I was fortunate enough to get to the Westmount Public Library in time for the reading and she signed my copy! It's nowhere to be found now, sadly, because I enthusiastically lent it to friends in way of spreading the word, not only about the book, but also to bring others to the story of a great Black Canadian woman in arts and culture."

Nantali Indongo is the host of CBC Montreal's provincial arts and culture program, The Bridge, Saturdays on CBC Radio One and arts contributor for CBC Montreal. She's also member of Nomadic Massive, a multilingual hip hop group based in Montreal. A graduate of University of Ottawa and Humber College, Indongo has shared her knowledge of music and culture as a community educator and public speaker. 


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