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Diverse Canadian Literature


Canada is a diverse country, full of eye-opening and dazzling stories. These books are written by diverse Canadian authors and include non-majority narratives exploring topics such as race, multiculturalism, sexual orientation, and gender identity.

Leung, Carrianne K. Y.
That time I loved you

Life is never as perfect as it seems. Tensions that have lurked beneath the surface of a shiny new subdivision rise up. The suburbs of the 1970s promised to be heaven on earth - new houses, new status, happiness guaranteed. But in a Scarborough subdivision populated by newcomers from all over the world, a series of sudden catastrophic events reveals that not everyone's dreams come true. Moving from house to house, Carrianne Leung explores the inner lives behind the tidy front gardens and picture-perfect windows, always returning to June, an irrepressible adolescent Chinese-Canadian coming of age in this shifting world. Through June and her neighbours, Leung depicts the fine line where childhood meets the realities of adult life, and examines, with insight and sharp prose, how difficult it is to be true to ourselves at any age.

Fu, Kim
The lost girls of camp Forevermore

A gripping and deeply felt novel about a group of young girls at a remote camp--and the night that changes everything and will shape their lives for decades to come.

Grady, Wayne.
Emancipation day

Jack Lewis meets and falls in love with Vivian Fanshawe while stationed in Newfoundland during the Second World War. They marry against her family's wishes and eventually travel to Windsor where Vivian meets Jack's family, only to discover he has lied to her about many aspects of his past.

Lindberg, Tracey

Birdie is a darkly comic and moving first novel about the universal experience of recovering from wounds of the past, informed by the lore and knowledge of Cree traditions.

Thúy, Kim.

Winner of the the 2015 Canada Reads competition and the 2010 Governor General's Award, Ru is an autobiographical tale of a woman's journey to Quebec from Vietnam. The beautifully told story involves a Malaysian refugee camp, assimilation into a new community, and a son with autism.

Fu, Kim
For today I am a boy

Peter Huang is a Chinese-Canadian boy who longs to be a girl. While he grows up in Ontario, and later Montreal, he must balance his own gender identity with the masculine expectations of his father. Beautifully written, this exploration of transexuality is tender, melancholy, and enlightening. Author Kim Fu was born in Vancouver to immigrant parents from Hong Kong.

Jamal, Tasneem.
Where the air is sweet

This engrossing story follows the experiences of 3 generations of an Ismaili Muslim family living in Uganda. In the year 1921, young Raju leaves his hometown of Malia, India and starts a new life in Uganda. Fifty years later General Idi Amin forces all Asian-Ugandans to leave the country, and the family must plan a new life for themselves in Canada. Author Tasneem Jamal was born in Mbarara, Uganda and currently lives in Kitchener Ontario.

Highway, Tomson
The rez sisters

Written by a Cree Canadian, The Rez Sisters is a 2 act play about the hopes and experiences of 7 women living on the Wasaychigan Hill Indian Reserve. It explores the bleak realities of life on the reserve, and aspects of Aboriginal spirituality. This gritty play incorporates humour, authentic dialogue in Cree and Ojibway languages, and dancing.

Maracle, Lee
Celia's song

Written by an First Nations elder on the West coast of Canada, this story explores the healing of a Sto:lo family. Celia is a dreamer-seer, whose son has committed suicide. Mink is a shape-shifter who has become intrigued by the dreamy, shaken state of Celia's village. The host of richly-imagined characters includes a sea-serpent, the survivor of a residential school, and many others affected by European colonization.

Mootoo, Shani
Moving forward sideways, like a crab

Johnathan was 9 when his his parents separated and his mother disappeared from his life. Years later, he reconnects with his mother, only to find that his mother has transitioned into a man. During this beautiful and emotional story, Johnathan makes many trips between his home in Toronto, and his native home Trinidad. Author Shani Mootoo was raised in Trinidad, and relocated to Vancouver at age 24.

Alexis, André
Fifteen dogs

In an effort to determine whether or not human intelligence contributes to happiness, the Greek gods Apollo and Hermes grant intelligence to 15 dogs in a Toronto veterinary clinic. Beautifully written and boldly imaginative, this book suggests big answers to metaphysical questions. Author André Alexis was born in Trinidad and Tobago and grew up in Ottawa.

King, Thomas
The inconvenient Indian

Thomas King writes candidly about what it means to be a Native American in North America today. Although the reality is at times bleak, the story is told with wit, sensitivity, and ultimately hope. Both a non-fiction historical account and a personal meditation, this is an important book by a talented Canadian writer.

Reid, Raziel
When everything feels like the movies

Winner of the 2014 Governor's General Literary Award for Children's Literature, this YA novel breaks barriers. Outspoken genderqueer teen Jude Rothesay lives in a small town, and is bullied for being different. Although he experiences explicit physical and verbal abuse, he never shies away from the spotlight, and consistently fights for his right to be respected. Canadian author Raziel Reid writes largely from his own experience.

Choy, Wayson
All that matters

Kiam-Kim moved from China to Vancouver's Chinatown when he was 3 in 1926. With the little help of a ghost, as he grows up he discovers the traditions and secrets of his family. This pleasant book includes many of the same characters as Choy's award winning novel The Jade Peony, but can be read on its own.

Mistry, Rohinton
A fine balance

This book features 4 characters living in urban India in the 1970s. Each reacts differently to the drastic political landscape of the "State of Internal Emergency" - trying to achieve "a fine balance" between hope and despair. The characters are tender yet resilient, and the narrative is full of insight. Canadian author Rohinton Mistry was born in India.

Nawaz, Saleema
Bone and bread

When mixed-race teenage sisters Beena and Sadhana's parents die, they are sent to live with their Sikh uncle in Montreal's Hasidic community. As the sisters grow up they become estranged, but are unable to shake their physical and psychological bond. This coming-of-age story incorporates racial politics, mental illness, and a surprise pregnancy. Author Saleema Nawaz was born in Ottawa to Indian-Caucasian parents.

Brand, Dionne
Love enough

Set in modern day Toronto, Love Enough follows the interconnected stories of 4 diverse characters: June, Bedri, Da’uud, and Lia. While the characters reflect on their pasts and try to find happiness in the city, the novel explores intimacy, heartbreak, oppression, and regret. Dionne Brand was born in Trinidad and Tobago, and held the title of Toronto's Poet Laureate from 2009-2012.

Winter, Kathleen.

Annabel is an intersex person, born with both male and female body parts, but is raised as a boy in small town Newfoundland. This is a complex coming-of-age story featuring psychologically intricate characters and unique perspectives.