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Disaster reads

Your Secrets Sleep with Me
By Darren O’Donnell
Coach House Books, 2004

The Toronto of Darren O’Donnell’s 2004 novel Your Secrets Sleep with Me only seems far from the real thing. In the book, a flood of refugees flees a United States in a state of emergency, protests are met by a quickto- anger police force, the heat of the urban summer is broken by a tornado that tosses the CN Tower into the lake and, on top of all that, a precocious group of child protagonists develop miraculous powers. But the book, with its experimental narrative style and playful language, doesn’t just capture the feverish nature of Toronto, but also what it might mean to live here if we were pushed to the brink.
—Ron Nurwisah

By Gary Geddes

Goose Lane, 2007

Vancouver poet Gary Geddes’ Falsework builds a narrative of poems around the collapse of that city’s Second Narrows Bridge on June 17, 1958. A miscalculation involving the falsework, the temporary structure carrying the weight of the bridge under construction, caused an accident that killed 17 bridge workers and one rescue diver. Geddes’ poems reach closer to the tragedy by imagining it from the perspectives of workers, engineers and family members. Falsework surprises with its multifaceted humanity: humour, sex, art and philosophy mingle in the face of loss and disaster. Appropriately, Geddes’ book ends with the impression of still being under construction, continuously reaching for a better understanding of the past.
— Sarah Greene

Can You Hear the Nightbird Call?
By Anita Rau Badami

Random House, 2006

In her third novel, Can You Hear the Nightbird Call?, Anita Rau Badami tells the story of three women and the complexities of their intertwined lives, shaped by separation, displacement, loss and turmoil. The author takes you on a journey through half a century of Indian history, from the partition of India and Pakistan in 1947 to the bombing of the Air India plane that left Vancouver in 1985, leaving you to question the painful legacy of colonialism in the subcontinent, but more specifically on the lives of ordinary people. Set in both India and Canada, with a focus on the effect of being uprooted, the book highlights the internal struggle of immigrants to belong.
—Tania Tabar


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