By Meg Wheeler
The FOLD is all about pushing us to expand our horizons and read more broadly. This country has a tendency to focus on its big cities, so for this month’s reading challenge we’re focusing on Prairie authors. Coast coast, Canada is teeming with brilliant writers, so let’s focus on some found between our biggest cities and between our coasts. These four books are written by authors from or living in Alberta, Manitoba, or Saskatchewan.
Marcello Di Cintio, author of Pay No Heed to The Rockets: Palestine in the Present Tense, resides in Calgary, AB. Marcello first visited Palestine in 1999. Like most outsiders, the Palestinian narrative that he knew had been simplified by a seemingly unending struggle, a near-Sisyphean curse of stories of oppression, exile, and occupation told over and over again.
In Pay No Heed to the Rockets, he reveals a more complex story, the Palestinian experience as seen through the lens of authors, books, and literature. Using the form of a political-literary travelogue, he explores what literature means to modern Palestinians and how Palestinians make sense of the conflict between a rich imaginative life and the daily tedium and violence of survival.
Di Cintio begins his journey on the Allenby Bridge that links Jordan to Palestine. He visits the towns and villages of the West Bank, passes into Jerusalem, and then travels through Israel before crossing into Gaza. En route, he meets with poets, authors, librarians, and booksellers. He begins to see Palestine through their eyes, through the stories of their stories.
At the seventieth anniversary of the Arab-Israeli War, Pay No Heed to the Rockets tells a fresh story about Palestine, one that begins with art rather than war.
Lindsay Nixon, author of Nîtsânak, grew up in Regina, Saskatchewan. Lindsay’s nîtisânak honours blood and chosen kin with equal care. A groundbreaking memoir spanning nations, prairie punk scenes, and queer love stories, it is woven around grief over the loss of their mother. It also explores despair and healing through community and family, and being torn apart by the same. Using cyclical narrative techniques and drawing on their Cree, Saulteaux, and Métis ancestral teachings, this work offers a compelling perspective on the connections that must be broken and the ones that heal.
Joan Thomas, author of Five Wives, resides in Winnipeg, MB. Based on shocking real-life events, Five Wives is a novel set in the rainforest of Ecuador about five women left behind when their missionary husbands are killed.
In 1956, a small group of evangelical Christian missionaries and their families journeyed to the rainforest in Ecuador intending to convert the Waorani, a people who had never had contact with the outside world. The plan was known as Operation Auca. After spending days dropping gifts from an aircraft, the five men in the party rashly entered the “intangible zone.” They were all killed, leaving their wives and children to fend for themselves.
Five Wives is the fictionalized account of the real-life women who were left behind, and their struggles – with grief, with doubt, and with each other – as they continued to pursue their evangelical mission in the face of the explosion of fame that followed their husbands’ deaths.
Five Wives is a riveting, often wrenching story of evangelism and its legacy, teeming with atmosphere and compelling characters and rich in emotional impact.
Jenny Heijun Wills, author of Older Sister. Not Necessarily Related. resides in Winnipeg, MB. Jenny was born in Korea and adopted as an infant into a white family in small-town Canada. In her late 20s, she reconnected with her first family and returned to Seoul where she spent four months getting to know other adoptees, as well as her Korean mother, father, siblings, and extended family.
Little by little, Jenny is learning and relearning her stories and those of her biological kin, piecing together a fragmented life into something resembling a whole.
Delving into gender, class, racial, and ethnic complexities, as well as into the complex relationships between Korean women – sisters, mothers and daughters, grandmothers and grandchildren, aunts and nieces – Older Sister. Not Necessarily Related. describes in visceral, lyrical prose the painful ripple effects that follow a child’s removal from a family, and the rewards that can flow from both struggle and forgiveness.