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My Current 2017 Reading List

Now that a very busy semester is nearly over, my marking is almost finished, and I'm about to enter a jobless EI summer between contracts, I'm finally going to have time to do some reading that is not job related. Thinking about the amount of reading time that has opened up has also got me thinking about the books coming out this year that I've marked in my to read lists. In lieu of a substantial post, and in an effort to stop this blog from being empty, I've decided to provide a list, in no particular order, of the soon-to-be-published books on my radar.

1. Ottawa and Empire by Tyler Shipley

A year and a half ago I had the opportunity to help with some thesis-to-book editing of this upcoming work on Canadian imperialism in Honduras. The problem with doing this kind of editing on a piece-meal basis is that it is difficult to get a picture of the book as a whole since you're focused on the minutia. I'm looking forward to reading it as a completed coherent work, particularly since it has already garnered some great advanced praise and is the first rigorous work on Canada's role in the Honduran coup. The Toronto book launch will be at Another Story on May 4th and I can't wait to purchase a copy.

2. Winterglass by Benjanun Sriduangkaew

This novella, by one of my favourite contemporary SFF authors, will be released at the end of 2017 so I won't get a chance to read it over the summer. Even still, it's one that I've been looking forward to ever since Apex announced it had purchased the manuscript. Those familiar with Sriduangkaew's work will be aware that the unity of literary form and narrative content in her stories is quite sophisticated. She's my favourite SFF short story writer to date and so I'm quite excited to see what she will do with her second run at longer form.

3. Egalitarian Moments by Devin Z. Shaw

Subtitled "from Descartes to Rancière," my main interest in this book is the author's contribution to debates about political subjectivity. Although the hardcover was released in 2015 who besides institutions can afford to buy exorbitantly priced hardcover academic books? The softcover will be out in May and I have the good luck to be able to meet the author and secure a copy by exchanging a copy of my upcoming Austerity Apparatus.

4. A Song for Quiet by Cassandra Khaw

Last fall I read Khaw's novella Hammers on Bone, a Lovecraftian noir that was both elegant and chilling. My only problem with it was that I wanted it to go on for longer than its 100 pages but that would have been impossible because it would have had to sacrifice its elegance to do so. Hence I'm looking forward to A Song of Quiet which takes place in the same fictional universe. A blues musician with a seed in his mind that will destroy the world when it hatches! Arkham and "the Thousand Young lurking in the woods." When Lovecraft-inspired fiction is alienated from its racist origins and detourned by an author from the global south it is far more fascinating than the pedestrian "Cthulhu Mythos" fare.

Lovely cover design too!

5. The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy

Twenty years since The God of Small Things and Roy has finally published her second novel. In those two decades she has made a name for herself as an essayist and public intellectual, putting her career and life on the line in the defense of anti-systemic movements in India. While I have great love for her non-fiction work, not to mention her integrity as a leftist intellectual, like many others I've been waiting for her to write another novel since her first one was so beautiful, tragic, powerful, and (despite what raving racists like Bloom claimed at the time) important. More exciting is the fact that Roy's first ever visit to Toronto will be the launch of this novel––again hosted by Another Story on June 22nd.

6. October by China Mieville

While I still have yet to read Mieville's last two works of fiction (and probably should once I can get them from the library), the fact that his literary non-fiction retelling of the October Revolution, released upon its 100th anniversary, will be released in May is truly exciting. He does know how to tell a great story and there was a time when he was my favourite SFF author––he's still one of my favourites, along with authors such as Sriduangkaew mentioned above––partly because of his Marxism but mainly because, at the time, his genre work was utterly wild. My only worry about this book is that it will craft a Bolshevik narrative that, due to his past as an SWP member, is indebted to a Trotskyist rather than a more ecumenical Marxist perspective. The test this book needs to pass to transcend Trostkyite sectarianism will be two-fold: i) to be honest about Trotsky's Menshevik roots and differences with Lenin; ii) to treat Stalin, regardless of what Mieville might think of him later, as an important player in Bolshevik clandestine activity. If it ends up being a narrative that centres Trotsky at the expense of Lenin and Stalin it will be a disservice to the centennial. I'm both excited and terrified.

7. What is Islamophobia edited by Narzanin Massoumi, Tom Mills, David Miller

A timely book since the rise of Islamophobia coincides with the rise of new fascisms. While the resurgence of fascism encourages the return of classic anti-semitism it has also found a new locus in Islamophobia––as the cooperation of the Jewish Defense League and the Soldiers of Odin, among other things, indicates. Critical left essays designed to make sense of this racist phenomenon at this conjuncture will be useful and I'm hoping this book will rise to the challenge.

8. Radicals in the Barrio by Justin Akers Chacón

After reading the MIM-Prisons book on Aztlán nearly a year ago, I've been looking for further examinations of Chicanx struggles within the US prison house of nations. This book, written by an author whose previous work (with Mike Davis) provided a name for one of Canada's longest running migrant justice organizations ("No One Is Illegal"), seems promising.


Hopefully I'll get to read all of these books but, as those of you who are also in similar situations as myself are aware, we also always have a large stack of unread books that we need to get through––books that have been waiting a year, delayed by work and the reading requirements of said work, for our attention. In any case, 2017 looks like a good year for books!