Starting at Dixon’s Book Store, look in the fiction section for Our Sister Killjoy by Ghanaian poet and playwright Ama Ata Aidoo for $7.95. In the same section, search out Jamaican-born Canadian Olive Senior’s short fiction collection, Discerner of Hearts for $5.95.
In their literature section, look for Trinidadian Sam Selvon’s Moses Ascending. Selvon spent much of the 1970s and early 1980s in Alberta and at the University of Victoria (where he worked as janitor). It wasn’t until much, much later that the Canadian literary scene recognized him.
Across the street at Thea’s, go to the foreign litertature section and pull the shelf forward in order to reveal the shelf hidden behind it to find a marvellous collection: Modern South African Fiction ($10).
On the shelf right next to it, you will also find Jamaica Kincaid’s A Small Place and Alice Walker’s The Third Life of Grange Copeland.
Next door at Scholar’s, on the literature shelf you’ll find No Crystal Stair, Mairuth Sarsfield’s masterful coming-of-age story and struggle against racism and sexism in 1940s Montreal.
The book was re-introduced to Canadian readers when it was selected for contention in the 2005 edition of the Canada Reads competition.
On the same shelf, you will find two different editions of Nigerian author Buchi Emecheta’s The Joys Of Motherhood, an incisive account of one woman’s struggle between the new and old ways as she feels the pressure of tradition to be not only fertile, but also to give birth to sons.
William Earle’s Obi, or, The History Of Three-Fingered Jack is also a great find. Published in 1800, it was written by an abolitionist.
It tells the story of Jack Mansong, an escaped slave who became something of a folk hero overtime.
Last on Water Street is Books N’ Things. Go straight to the literature section to find South African born, Botswanan-raised Bessie Head’s A Question Of Power and The Cardinals ($6 and $7 respectively).
Conveniently, right beside those selections is the Trinidadian classic Crick Crack, Money by Merle Hodge.
Also available at Books N’ Things is a relatively recent edition of Solomon Northrup’s Twleve Years A Slave, upon which the celebrated movie was based.
On George Street now, go searching out the African literature section at Mark Jokinen’s for an excellent selection of African literature (well, by Peterborough standards) to explore a trio of Nigerian literary heavyweights, including Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka’s play The Lion and the Jewel, Ben Okri’s magical realist epic The Famished Road (which I can’t recommend enough) in hardcover form, and the heartbreaking and acclaimed Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
Head over to Knotaknew (on George Street) and head to the table closest to you as you enter. On said table, you will find a coffee table-sized book simply entitled Basquiat about the Haitian-descendant American artist. Filled with biography and full-colour pictures, it makes an excellent introduction to the challenging and subversive artist.
Two works by Maya Angelou, The Heart of a Woman and The Stars Look Lonely, are available as well (although you’ll have to tilt your head upwards and maybe grab a stool to get them).
Finally, the critically acclaimed Canadian work, The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill rounds out our Black Heritage Month special. Go buy some books already.