Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Which “Thing” will be your favourite? The New Algonquin Reads Book is A Number of Things by Jane Urquhart

The Algonquin Reads book for 2018/2019 is A Number of Things: Stories of Canada Told Through Fifty Objects by Jane Urquhart. According to Jessica Rose of the Hamilton Review of Books (2018), “Countless books and magazine articles tell us there is joy in ridding our lives of objects. The sorting and tossing of material goods is touted as therapeutic… but for novelist and poet Jane Urquhart, objects house inspiration. Her latest offering…is a celebration of unexpected artifacts and the unique narratives that tie them to the Canadian experience. Using a technique called scratchboard, draughtsman and illustrator Scott McKowen carefully and precisely recreates each object.  While many of Urquhart’s objects are of importance to Canadian history — the rope used to hang Louis Riel and a microphone used by CBC to spread radio news across Canada are just two examples — many are deeply personal. What makes A Number of Things unique is it brings with it a call to action, encouraging readers to ponder the importance of objects in their own lives and the captivating stories they hold. Inevitably stirring readers’ memories, A Number of Things is a rich collection that compels us to look at Canada in unexpected ways, leaving readers with stunning descriptions and anecdotes, but also unanswered questions: How might Canada be different without these objects? Why did Urquhart choose these particular objects and not others?” This is a nostalgic and thought provoking book for everyone to enjoy over the summer, and many professors should be able to find at least one object that relates to their course material – remember, if you use 10% or less of a book, you can post it for free on your LMS site! It is available as both print and e-book at the Ottawa Library and will be in stock soon at Connections – The Campus Store for $17 including tax.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Writing Contest Winners!

Three students won prizes in the Algonquin Reads Student Writing Contest. Each student submitted a piece of writing relating to this year's Algonquin Reads book, Bone and Bread by Saleema Nawaz.

Kiara Birtch - best poem
Cydney Banton - best short story
Brooklyn Wagner - best essay

Each student won a $75 cash prize, and will hopefully be featured in an upcoming issue of Algonquin Times.

Poem: The Hand That Feeds, By Kiara Birtch
Eyes are watching, judging
Broken and starved,
Stomach clenching
Empty plates shine as the lustre from her eyes fade,
Another pound wasted, her bones begin to ache.
Here my body lays,
A broken cage to call a frame
God forgive me, and let the kirtans play.
Let my sister find solace,
Let the grief turn into comfort.
Let her unborn child grow healthy,
Let not my actions divert-
The courses of their lives.
As I am not worth the time
Nor the energy.
Let my body reincarnate,
Under the blossoms of the banyan trees
Let the hunger within me,
Be the hand that feeds.

Short Story Excerpt: Cydney Banton

I could hear Beena’s familiar footsteps, loudly vibrating the entire metal staircase with each step. Soon she would reach the door of the apartment, her key rattling in the lock. I knew that despite the constant jamming during the colder months, I wouldn’t have much time. I stepped onto the cold hardwood and crouched down beneath my bed, where I kept my secrets hidden in a neat row of shoeboxes. I knelt down and felt a twinge of pain as my skin was pinched between the floor and my bone. Good, I thought, at least it’s working.
Essay Exerpt: Social Criticism in Bone and Bread, by  Brooklyn Wagner

Bone and Bread is a compelling novel that brings to light many forms of social criticism through a captivating storyline. The author, Saleema Nawaz, walks the reader through the tragic events of Beena Singh’s life while introducing and showing the consequences of the social criticisms that exist in today’s society. After overcoming the obstacle of losing booth parents at a young age, Beena is faced with teenage pregnancy, an anorexic sister, a sexiest Uncle and negligence of her sister’s sexuality. The author keeps the reader optimistic about Beena’s situations, while combatting the issues of different criticisms many people are faced with. Bone and bread is a very righteous and powerful read as it brings to discussion the social criticisms of teenage pregnancy, eating disorders, gender equality and sexual orientation.