Join the Fairfield Community Book Club
Last Monday of every month
Youth Space, Fairfield Community Place, 1330 Fairfield Rd.
To add your email to the book club mailing list, email email@example.com
We keep one copy of each book club book to lend out to the community, get in touch if you’d like to borrow it!
HOW BOOK CLUB WORKS
The Fairfield Community Book club is run primarily through the volunteer efforts of its members. Everyone is welcome to come along and join the discussion. Each book club meeting is framed by volunteer facilitators around a few discussion points, and all voices are valued and welcomed. This is an opportunity to get to know your neighbours, exercise your brain, and expand your horizons!
Book Club members are encouraged to bring reading suggestions to the monthly meetings for the group to consider. Click here to view the CRITERIA FOR CHOOSING BOOKS
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for information on joining the Community Book Club facebook page.
Seven Fallen Feathers: Racism, Death and Hard Truths in a Northern City
By Tanya Talaga
Meeting September 24th, 2018 6:30 p.m.
In 1966, twelve-year-old Chanie Wenjack froze to death on the railway tracks after running away from residential school. An inquest was called and four recommendations were made to prevent another tragedy. None of those recommendations were applied.
More than a quarter of a century later, from 2000 to 2011, seven Indigenous high school students died in Thunder Bay, Ontario. The seven were hundreds of miles away from their families, forced to leave home and live in a foreign and unwelcoming city. Five were found dead in the rivers surrounding Lake Superior, below a sacred Indigenous site. Jordan Wabasse, a gentle boy and star hockey player, disappeared into the minus twenty degrees Celsius night. The body of celebrated artist Norval Morrisseau’s grandson, Kyle, was pulled from a river, as was Curran Strang’s. Robyn Harper died in her boarding-house hallway and Paul Panacheese inexplicably collapsed on his kitchen floor. Reggie Bushie’s death finally prompted an inquest, seven years after the discovery of Jethro Anderson, the first boy whose body was found in the water.
Using a sweeping narrative focusing on the lives of the students, award-winning investigative journalist Tanya Talaga delves into the history of this small northern city that has come to manifest Canada’s long struggle with human rights violations against Indigenous communities.
By MG Vassanji
Meeting August 27th, 2018 6:30 p.m.
In the indeterminate future in an unnamed western city, physical impediments to immortality have been overcome. As society approaches the prospect of eternal life, a new problem must be confronted: with the threat of the brain’s storage capacity being overwhelmed, people want to move forward into the future free from redundant, unwanted and interfering memories. Rejuvenated bodies require rejuvenated identities–all traces of a person’s past are erased and new, complete fictions are implanted in their stead. On occasion, though, cracks emerge, and reminders of discarded lives seep through. Those afflicted suffer from Leaked Memory Syndrome, or Nostalgia, whereby thoughts from a previous existence burrow in the conscious mind threatening to pull sufferers into an internal abyss.
One Day We’ll All be Dead and None of this Will Matter
By Scaachi Koul
Meeting July 30th, 2018 6:30 p.m.
In One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter, Scaachi Koul deploys her razor sharp humor to share all the fears, outrages, and mortifying moments of her life. She learned from an early age what made her miserable, and for Scaachi anything can be cause for despair. Whether it’s a shopping trip gone awry; enduring awkward conversations with her bikini waxer; overcoming her fear of flying while vacationing halfway around the world; dealing with internet trolls, or navigating the fears and anxieties of her parents. Alongside these personal stories are pointed observations about life as a woman of color, where every aspect of her appearance is open for critique, derision, or outright scorn. Where strict gender rules bind in both Western and Indian cultures, leaving little room for a woman not solely focused on marriage and children to have a career (and a life) for herself.
Gorgeous twins Nouschka and Nicolas Tremblay live with their grandfather Loulou in a tiny, sordid apartment on St. Laurent Boulevard. They are hopelessly promiscuous, wildly funny, and infectiously charming. On the eve of their twentieth birthday, the twins’ self-destructive shenanigans catch up with them when Nouschka agrees to be beauty queen in the local St. Jean Baptiste Day parade. The media spotlight returns, and the attention of a relentless journalist exposes the cracks in the family’s relationships. With all the wit and poignancy that made Baby such a beloved character in “Lullabies for Little Criminals,” O’Neill writes of an unusual family and what binds them together and tears them apart.
Where I Live Now
By Sharon Butala
Meeting May 28th, 2018 6:30 p.m.
When Sharon Butala’s husband, Peter, died unexpectedly, she found herself with no place to call home. Torn by grief and loss, she fled the ranchlands of southwest Saskatchewan and moved to the city, leaving almost everything behind. A lifetime of possessions was reduced to a few boxes of books, clothes, and keepsakes. But a lifetime of experience went with her, and a limitless well of memory—of personal failures, of a marriage that everybody said would not last but did, of the unbreakable bonds of family.
Often called one of this country’s true visionaries, Sharon Butala shares her insights into the grieving process and reveals the small triumphs and funny moments that kept her going. Where I Live Now is profound in its understanding of the many homes women must build for themselves in a lifetime.
With shimmering prose and mesmerizing precision, David Chariandy takes us inside the lives of Michael and Francis. They are the sons of Trinidadian immigrants, their father has disappeared and their mother works double, sometimes triple shifts so her boys might fulfill the elusive promise of their adopted home. Coming of age in The Park, a cluster of town houses and leaning concrete towers in the disparaged outskirts of a sprawling city, Michael and Francis battle against the careless prejudices and low expectations that confront them as young men of black and brown ancestry — teachers stream them into general classes; shopkeepers see them only as thieves; and strangers quicken their pace when the brothers are behind them. Always Michael and Francis escape into the cool air of the Rouge Valley, a scar of green wilderness that cuts through their neighbourhood, where they are free to imagine better lives for themselves.
Everyone knows a guy like Jared: the burnout kid in high school who sells weed cookies and has a scary mom who’s often wasted and wielding some kind of weapon. Jared does smoke and drink too much, and he does make the best cookies in town, and his mom is a mess, but he’s also a kid who has an immense capacity for compassion and an impulse to watch over people more than twice his age, and he can’t rely on anyone for consistent love and support, except for his flatulent pit bull, Baby Killer (he calls her Baby) — and now she’s dead. Jared can’t count on his mom to stay sober and stick around to take care of him. He can’t rely on his dad to pay the bills and support his new wife and step-daughter. Jared is only 16, but feels like he is the one who must stabilize his family’s life, even look out for his elderly neighbours. But he struggles to keep everything afloat… and sometimes he blacks out. And he puzzles over why his maternal grandmother has never liked him, why she says he’s the son of a trickster, that he isn’t human. Mind you, ravens speak to him — even when he’s not stoned.
Bad Endings: Stories
By Carleigh Baker
Meeting: Monday Feb. 26th, 2018, 6:30 p.m.
Native American Studies. Finalist for the 2017 Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize. Winner of the City of Vancouver Book Award. Carleigh Baker likes to make light in the dark. Whether plumbing family ties, the end of a marriage, or death itself, she never lets go of the witty, the ironic, and perhaps most notably, the awkward. Despite the title, the resolution in these stories isn’t always tragic, but it’s often uncomfortable, unexpected, or just plain strange. Character digressions, bad decisions, and misconceptions abound. While steadfastly local in her choice of setting, Baker’s deep appreciation for nature takes a lot of these stories out of Vancouver and into the wild. Salmon and bees play reoccurring roles in these tales, as do rivers. Occasionally, characters blend with their animal counterparts, adding a touch of magic realism. Nature is a place of escape and attempted convalescence for characters suffering from urban burnout. Even if things get weird along the way, as Hunter S. Thompson said, ‘When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.’ In BAD ENDINGS, Baker takes troubled characters to a moment of realization or self-revelation, but the results aren’t always pretty.
Next Year, For Sure
By Zoey Leigh Peterson
Meeting: Monday, January 29th, 2018 at 6:30pm
After nine years together, Kathryn and Chris are used to helping each other through every daily and existential dilemma. When Chris tells Kathryn about his feelings for Emily, a vivacious young woman he sees often at the Laundromat, Kathryn encourages her boyfriend to pursue this other woman-certain that her bond with Chris is strong enough to weather a little side dalliance. When Chris’s romance with Emily grows beyond what anyone anticipated, both Chris and Kathryn are invited into Emily’s communal home, where Kathryn will discover new romantic possibilities of her own. In the confusions, passions, and upheavals of their new lives, both Kathryn and Chris will be forced to reconsider their past and what they thought they knew about love.
Monday, December 18th at 6:30pm
It’s hard to worry about the future when you’re laughing at the hilarious absurdity of daily life. The days we live go by like slugs eating their way through leaves; everything changes, yet nothing changes, and the years soon accumulate. Who doesn’t read their daily horoscope, searching for guidance about what’s to come, how to live? What is life, but ordinary and special days, time passing, humour, sex, death, and love (making it all bearable)? All these are repeated gesturesthat run through The Days, a kind of absurdist guidebook made up of ninety unconventional, very short stories collected in three tight sections. This is fiction that thinks, fiction that cuts to the chase, told with Farrant’s trademark humour and acerbic wit. Her miniatures gracefully articulate the contemporary zeitgeist: anxiety about the future coupled with absurd mundanity. Somehow, always, Farrant captures the moments that buoy us up, crystallizing the experiences keepingus from being overwhelmed while calling our attention to overwhelming truths.
By Rawi Hage
Monday November 27th at 6:30pm
The novel takes place during one month of a bitterly cold winter in Montreal’s restless immigrant community, where a self-described thief has just tried but failed to commit suicide. Rescued against his will, the narrator is obliged to attend sessions with a well-intentioned but naive therapist. This sets the story in motion, leading us back to the narrator’s violent childhood in a war-torn country, forward into his current life in the smoke emigre cafes where everyone has a tale, and out into the frozen night-time streets of Montreal, where the thief survives on the edge, imagining himself to be a cockroach invading the lives of the privileged, but willfully blind, citizens who surround him.
By Barbara Gowdy
Monday October 30th at 6:30pm
Rose is a sensible woman, thirty-four years old. Together with her widowed mother, Fiona, she runs a small repertory cinema in a big bity. Fiona is in the early stages of dementia and is beginning to make painful references to Rose’s sister, Ava, who died young in an accident. It is high summer, and a band of storms, unusual for their frequency and heavy downpour, is rolling across the city. Something unusual is also happening to Rdfose. As the storm breaks overhead, she loses consciousness and has vivid, realistic dreams- not only about being someplace else, but also of living someone else’s life.
Is Rose merely dreaming? Or is she, in fact, inside the body of another woman? Disturbed and entranced, she tries to find our what is happening to her.
George Woodbury is a teacher at a prestigious Connecticut prep school. He is voted Teacher of the Year every year, after he rescued the school from a gunman attack. On his daughter’s 17th birthday this beloved husband and father, is arrested for sexual impropriety with teenage girls on a skiing trip. His wife, Joan, vaults between denial and rage as the community she loved turns on her. Their daughter, Sadie, a popular over-achieving high school senior, becomes a social pariah. Their son, Andrew, a lawyer, assists in his father’s defense, while wrestling with his own unhappy memories of his teen years coming out as gay. With George awaiting trial, how do the members of his family pick up the pieces and keep living their lives? How do they defend someone they love while wrestling with the possibility of his guilt?
The Best Kind of People is a portrait of a family on the brink of collapse. It gives no easy answers, but once you stay up all night reading it, you’ll want to talk about it with everyone you know.
The novel’s central character is Gabriel Quinn, a successful scientist of First Nations descent working for the multinational chemical company Domidion. Returning for a visit to Smoke River, the Indian reserve in British Columbia where his mother grew up, he finds a virtually deserted ghost town, and soon learns that GreenSweep, the defoliant product he helped to develop for the company, destroyed the local environment and killed or drove away the community’s residents.
Distraught over his role in the community’s destruction, he plans to commit suicide by drowning himself in the Pacific Ocean, but is drawn into a journey of spiritual redemption after jumping into the water to save a group of people from drowning. After the ordeal, he meets Mara, a young woman who lost her family in the Kali Creek crisis. Meanwhile, in Toronto, Domidion CEO Dorian Asher is drawn into a media frenzy as the company is implicated in another unfolding environmental disaster in the Athabasca Oil Sands.
By Bill Gaston (Victoria-based Author)
Monday July 31st at 6:30 pm
A recently divorced, early retiree accidentally burns down his house on the day he pays off the mortgage, only to discover that an uncharacteristic oversight has pitted him against an impassive corporate bureaucracy. An old friend of his, a middle-aged musician, enters into a final negotiation with the pain of esophageal cancer. Her father, who left his family years ago to practice Buddhism in Nepal, ends his days in a facility for Alzheimer s patients. These three are tied together by a book called The World, written by the old man in his youth.
Possibly autobiographical, the book tells the story of a historian who unearths a cache of letters, written in Chinese, in an abandoned leper colony off the coast of Victoria. He and the young Chinese translator fall in love, only to betray each other in the cruelest way possible, each violating what the other reveres most.
Magnificently written, structurally daring, and a masterful blend of imagination and observation, The World is arguably the greatest achievement so far of Bill Gaston’s career.
by Carmen Aguirre (Vancouver-based Author)
Monday, June 26th at 6:30 pm
Carmen Aguirre has lived many lives, all of them to the full. At age six she was a Chilean refugee adjusting to life as a Latina in North America. At eighteen she was a revolutionary dissident married to a generous-hearted man she couldn’t fully love. In her early twenties she fought to find her voice as an actress and to break away from the stereotypical roles thrust upon her–Housekeeper, Hotel Maid, Mexican Hooker #1–all the while navigating the complex paths of lust and heartbreak. As she grew in her career, Aguirre became a writer, a director, an actress, and then a mother, but alongside her many multi-faceted identities was another that was unbearable to embrace yet impossible to escape; that of the thirteen-year-old girl attacked by one of Canada’s most feared rapists. Thirty-three years after the assault, Aguirre decided it was time to meet the man who changed her life.
Fierce, funny and enlightening, Aguirre interweaves her account of coming to grips with the attack that shook her world with a host of stories of life and love. From her passionate but explosive relationship with a gorgeous Argentinian basketball player to the all-consuming days at drama school in Vancouver; from the end of the Chilean revolutionary dream to life among the Chicano theatre scene of Los Angeles; from the child who was made the victim of a terrible crime to the artist who found the courage to face her assailant, Aguirre tells a story of strength and survival that will leave you speechless.
Do Not Say We Have Nothing
by Madeline Thien
Monday, May 29th at 6:30pm
Master storyteller Madeleine Thien takes us inside an extended family in China, showing us the lives of two successive generations—those who lived through Mao’s Cultural Revolution and their children, who became the students protesting in Tiananmen Square. At the center of this epic story are two young women, Marie and Ai-Ming. Through their relationship Marie strives to piece together the tale of her fractured family in present-day Vancouver, seeking answers in the fragile layers of their collective story. Her quest will unveil how Kai, her enigmatic father, a talented pianist, and Ai-Ming’s father, the shy and brilliant composer, Sparrow, along with the violin prodigy Zhuli were forced to reimagine their artistic and private selves during China’s political campaigns and how their fates reverberate through the years with lasting consequences.
by Anosh Irani (Vancouver-based author)
Monday, April 24th 2017 at 6:30pm
“The Parcel is about a transgender sex worker, Madhu, in the red-light district of Bombay who is given an unexpected, harrowing task. Now, at forty, Madhu has moved away from prostitution, her trade since her teens, and taken up begging to support the leader of the hijras, Gurumai. One day Madhu receives a call from Padma Madam, the most-feared brothel owner in the district: A ‘parcel’ has arrived – a ten-year-old girl from the provinces, betrayed and sold by her aunt – and Madhu needs to prepare it for its fate.”