Each month, Librairie Drawn & Quarterly invites a local author or artist to curate a shelf in the store. This August, we bring you recommendations from Robyn Maynard!
Robyn Maynard is a Montreal-based writer and the author of the national bestseller Policing Black Lives: State violence in Canada from slavery to the present (Fernwood 2017). Maynard has a long history of involvement in community activism and advocacy. She been a part of grassroots movements against racial profiling, police violence, detention and deportation for over a decade.
All of Robyn's picks will be 15% off for the month of August. Here’s a sneak peek of what you’ll find:
BlaNk by NourbeSe Philip -
I am embarrassed at how late in my life discovered NourBese Phillips' work - she has quickly become one of my favourite writers as I rush to make up for lost time. This book of essays and interviews on diasporic Black life -in and outside of Canada is, on its own, a brilliant work of art and poetry. But it's also a valuable history lesson: among (many) other topics, Philip grounds the "CanLit" debates in an incredibly rich history of the activism and intellectual work of Black, as well as Indigenous and racialized writers to disrupt the cannon, and to challenge normative ideas of "Canadian" art, culture, and literature.
"We're rooted here and they can't pull us up": Essays in African Canadian Women's History by Peggy Bristol, Dionne Brand, Linda Carty, Afua P. Cooper, Sylvia Hamilton & Arienne Shadd
This book was written in 1994 by some of the fearless OG's of Black feminism in Canada: Dionne
Brand, Linday Carty, Peggy Bristol, Afua Cooper, Sylvia Hamilton and Adrienne Shadd make history as they tell it. These essays show the important roles that Black women played in fighting racism, building community, and challenging, when necessary, the rule of law, making clear that Black women, to use the authors' words, have always been "historical actors in their own right", despite having their histories "hidden or eradicated".
Aya: Life in Yop City by Marguerite Abouet & Clément Oubrerie
Live from the Afrikan Resistance! by El Jones
Everyone concerned with Black peoples lives in Canada should be reading El Jones - Halifax's former poet laureate, co-host of Black Power Hour - a prison radio show -and columnist in The Coast. This book captures the intensity that she brings to her spoken word performances, as well as the depth of her commitment to freedom.
In the Wake: On Blackness and Being by Christina Sharpe -
This is one of the book's I've engaged with the most in the last few years. I literally cannot stop coming back to it, and I'm convinced its reverberations will continue to be felt in the decades to come.
In a #Blacklivesmattter era, when many communities are trying to understand ongoing police killings, as well as, the infamous "Starbucks incident", this book makes a necessary intervention into how we understand policing. It's also a movement history that tells many over-looked stories of the past several decades of unapologetically feminist, queer-led activism that refused to let society erase Black, Indigenous, and racialized women.
7 And I Alone Escaped To Tell You by Sylvia D. Hamilton
8 Born Someplace Else by Colleen Cardinal -
This is the book that I am currently reading, written by an activist, organizer, and writer - and a friend - for whom I have immense respect. It tells Colleen's story of being a survivor of the 60's scoop, and illuminates part of Canada's history that, when discussed at all, is frequently only told through statistics and numbers. This is a vital read.
9 Binti by Nnedi Okorafor -
I spend a significant amount of time reading works that are, while beautiful, also incredibly painful, given that I spend a lot of time researching and writing about the racist and gendered violence that make up our collective past and present. Okorafor's Afrofuturist masterpiece, the Binti trilogy, takes me into a different realm entirely. This book creates for us fantastical visions of science, community and technology on the African continent in the past, present and future.