2023 FOLD Challenge - November - The FOLD

2023 FOLD Challenge — November

An epistolary title by an author from a marginalized community

By Monica Nathan

For November’s reading challenge, we’re recommending books by authors from marginalized communities who utilize the epistolary format; work primarily composed of written correspondence or diary-type entries. This unique style provides an intimate and revealing perspective into a character’s thoughts and emotions while also offering profound insight on the relationship dynamics between writer and recipient. Whether fiction, non-fiction, memoir, or sci-fi, each title mines character experiences to deliver rich story-telling and strong emotional impact.

Book cover for I’ve Been Meaning to Tell You by David Chariandy. Cover background has paintings of faceless people.
I’ve Been Meaning to Tell You by David Chariandy – Available on Audible Canada

A poignant letter about identity and belonging to a daughter on the brink of adulthood.

Fuelled by the racial politics of 2017 and the memory of a racist encounter in Toronto’s west end, Chariandy offers his daughter a series of deeply reflective essays to make sense of the past and arm the next generation for the future. I’ve Been Meaning to Tell You delves into Chariandy’s personal history, tracing his ancestors from indentured servitude in Trinidad through to his experiences as a new father, each missive a tender search for belonging in the country of his and his daughter’s birth.

A poetic contemplation bursting with hope and vulnerability, this memoir is an essential read for anyone who seeks a deeper understanding of the human spirit in the face of life’s challenges.

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Book cover for This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone. Cover features a light blue background and red and blue bird.
This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone – Available on Audible Canada

Two rival, time-travelling agents find themselves entangled in an illicit love affair.

In this high stakes, sweeping tale set in richly imagined worlds across time, two equally matched enemy agents leave messages for each other in the wake of their battles. From the initial taunting and boastful letters emerge a weary admiration that transforms into an increasingly intimate connection. The agents begin making small deviations from their missions to ensure each other’s safety, risking treason, and ultimately, death.

Vividly rendered and sharply executed, El-Mohtar and Gladstone use a deft hand in crafting this intricate sapphic romance. At once historical and fantastical, this story offers profound insights into the complexities of human emotion and the need for understanding. This is How you Lose the Time War is a masterfully written story that transcends genres, weaving together a tale of duty, war, and the enduring power of love.

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Book cover for Ordinary Notes by Christina Sharpe. Cover features purple/orange blurred background.
Ordinary Notes by Christina Sharpe – Available on Audible Canada

A collection of thought-provoking notes that explores the forced limitations of Black lives while considering their future possibilities.

Historical articles, images, and personal anecdotes combine and compound to form a deeply moving story about the history of Black lives. Sharpe delves into the complexities of private reflections and public memorial, blending the common and the profound to invite readers to contemplate a past that connects us all.

This book defies traditional form with meticulously placed memories and observations that adds stark, emotional depth to its narrative. The layering of everyday experiences with revelatory information coupled with Sharpe’s keen observations makes Ordinary Notes anything but ordinary.

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Book cover for Letters to Amelia by Lindsay Zier-Vogel. Cover features a yellow background with a red paper airplane with writing on it.
Letters to Amelia by Lindsay Zier-Vogel – Available on Audible Canada

A heartbroken woman finds healing through tracing Amelia Earharts’s love letters.

Raw and dejected after the abrupt end of a seven-year relationship, Grace Porter returns to work at Toronto’s Fisher Library. There, she is asked to summarize a cache of newly discovered letters detailing an affair between Amelia Earhart and Gene Vidal. As Grace delves into Amelia’s secret love story and begins her own correspondence with the aviation hero, she is forced to reckon with her life-choices, ultimately discovering a renewed sense of purpose.

Letters to Amelia soars with hope as Grace puts her life back together through mapping Amelia’s ambitions. Set against beautiful landscapes and infused with a sense of adventure, Zier-Vogel captures a transformative journey of self-discovery.

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