Nobel-Shaped Literature and the Politics of Prestige


Alice Munro has won the Nobel Prize for Literature and many people – especially Canadians – are thrilled about what is widely portrayed as an achievement for Canada. I am too in my own way. Alice Munro is a favourite writer of mine and few books have moved me like Who Do You Think You Are? moved me when I first read it in my late teens. I think it is important, though, that we consider what the...

Wild Food Spring #3: A Feast of Weeds


In this series, Dylan Gordon considers cookbooks, memoirs and fictions about wild, foraged foods. Reviewed in this essay: A Feast of Weeds by Luigi Ballerini, University of California Press, 2012. Field guidebooks often overwhelm me with their formidable erudition. First in each entry come the botanical descriptors, identifying features of leaf and root that mostly escape my untrained eyes. Last...

Reading for mental wealth: Second-hand books a source of business and pleasure in Nairobi streets


Three-year-old Maxwell Gitau has a lot to live up to. He is named for his father’s hero: John C. Maxwell the self-styled leadership guru and motivational speaker from Garden City, Michigan, whose books have sold over 19 million copies and hit the New York Times bestseller list. Maxwell’s father, David Gitau, makes his living selling second-hand books on a pollution-steeped street in downtown...

Eerily well read: 5 lit-inspired Halloween costumes


What holiday could be a better match for the bookish among us than one that ushers in bags of candy and a temporary belief that anything, no matter how otherworldly, is possible? Halloween practically cries out for literature themed costumes, but in case you need a little help this year, try some of Chirograph’s suggestions. Ichabod Crane: Colonial Creepshow There really is no better way to set...

TRB Podcast: Audrey Jaffe on the Production of Realist Space


On April 28, the Victorian Studies Association of Ontario invited Audrey Jaffe to present at their 45th annual Spring Conference at York University. The TRB is pleased to present the podcast of her talk, entitled “Walk this Way: Adam Bede and the Production of Realist Space.” Listen and enjoy! Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip...

On Reading Fast and Slow


Some people count the number of books they read in a year. I only kept track once, in 2006, my final year as an undergraduate in English at the University of Toronto, and did so only out of curiosity. I wanted to know how many works of literature my professors had tried to stuff into my skull, and how many novels I’d managed to sneak in for pleasure. I forget the final count, but it was an...