2023 FOLD Challenge - July - The FOLD

2023 FOLD Challenge — July

A book by a Black author from the East Coast

By Alexandra Yeboah

This month as we pave the way for the observance of Emancipation Day in Canada, we’ve selected books from Black Atlantic Canadian authors that center the experiences of Black individuals all over the African Diaspora. These individual and collective narratives touch on themes relating to racial identity, motherhood, prison justice, family and community, and generational trauma.

Book cover for HOLD MY GIRL by Charlene Carr. Cover features double silhouette of a girl in magenta and yellow. Background is a textured teal colour.
Hold My Girl by Charlene Carr - Available on Audible Canada

For fans of Jodi Picoult, Kate Hewitt and Ashley Audrain, a heart-wrenching novel about two women whose eggs are switched during IVF 

Katherine is a woman full of obsessions. Everything clean, everything perfect, all the time. After seven years of trying—and failing—to conceive, she finally gives birth to Rose, her IVF miracle child. But she’s afraid that Rose may not be her daughter; her pale skin doesn’t match Katherine’s own.

Tess never got her happy ending. She took on IVF alongside Katherine and a group of hopeful mothers, but her daughter, Hanna, was stillborn. After a series of poor choices, she’s divorced, broke and stuck in a job that’s below her skill set.

Ten months later, Katherine and Tess get a call from the fertility clinic that reveals shocking news: the two women’s eggs were switched. While Katherine’s perfect life beings to crumble around her, for Tess it’s the glimmer of hope she needs to get her life back on track. But it will take a custody battle to decide who deserves to be Rose’s mother, a battle that will push both women to the brink.

With themes of racial identity, loss and betrayal, this emotional novel centred around a difficult moral question beautifully explores the complexities of motherhood.

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Book cover for ABOLITIONIST INTIMACIES by El Jones. Cover shows a bouquet of various flowers attached by straight green steams. The background is dark green.
Abolitionist Intimacies by El Jones

In Abolitionist Intimacies, El Jones examines the movement to abolish prisons through the Black feminist principles of care and collectivity. Understanding the history of prisons in Canada in their relationship to settler colonialism and anti-Black racism,

Jones observes how practices of intimacy become imbued with state violence at carceral sites including prisons, policing and borders, as well as through purported care institutions such as hospitals and social work.

The state also polices intimacy through mechanisms such as prison visits, strip searches and managing community contact with incarcerated people. Despite this, Jones argues, intimacy is integral to the ongoing struggles of prisoners for justice and liberation through the care work of building relationships and organizing with the people inside.

Through characteristically fierce and personal prose and poetry, and motivated by a decade of prison justice work, Jones observes that abolition is not only a political movement to end prisons; it is also an intimate one deeply motivated by commitment and love.

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Book cover for SOCIAL OBLIVION RAISED BLACK IN CANADA by Thandiwe McCarthy. Cover features a grayscale headshot of McCarthy with a Canada flag overlay.
Social Oblivion: Raised Black in Canada by Thandiwe McCarthy

Born in 1987, Thandiwe McCarthy was raised in a big Black family in the small white town of Woodstock, New Brunswick. Always either lost in thought or found screaming and pulling pranks, Thandiwe’s family of five aunts, four uncles, and many cousins did their best to nurture and instill the values of community and self-respect.

It wasn’t until he moved away to the city of Fredericton, where no one knew how to put up with his antics, that Thandiwe was forced to face the world without the safety net of family.

Now far away from his family support, he will have to walk the line between accepting the aggressive objectives of public education and defending the family values he was raised with. Or risk falling into social oblivion.

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Book cover for UNSPOKEN TRUTH by Angela Bowden. Cover features a white silhouette of a Black man and woman looking at each other. Below then is a fountain pen leaking red ink into an ink pot.
Unspoken Truth by Angela Bowden

With strength and resilience, Africans have persevered through the Trans-Atlantic slave trade and were able to rebuild a life after slavery while enduring the inhumane conditions of the civil rights Jim Crow era forced upon them by the African diaspora. The lack of acknowledgement of the generational trauma these events have had on their descendants continues to create further injury. Even today, barriers prevent their healing and transition from survival to a thriving existence.

Unspoken Truth is a bold collection of poetry highlighting the generational pain of Africans living in the diaspora. Through her poems, Bowden creates a panoramic view of the terrible conditions they endured for centuries. Deliberately, with dignity, she brings the trauma stories of African Nova Scotians told around kitchen tables for decades to the homes of readers while restoring the balance of humanity and royalty from which the African journey began. Despite all odds, they were able to preserve their lineage and lean on the resilience buried deep in their souls while passing this pride, culture, and strength on to future generations so they may one day fulfill the hopes and the dreams of the former slaves.

This collection seeks to spark the necessary conversations the larger society needs to engage in around the perseverance of systemic racism, a society now grappling to make the connections between historical trauma and current-day conditions of inequality. It summons the conscience of every reader to acknowledge the truth and reconcile it with their own dissonance. The poems pay homage to the ancestors, honour the elders, and provide inspiration for the youth so they can heal from this historical inheritance and build upon their own narratives.

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