Roundup: Four new and notable books that deserve attention


Roundup: Four new and notable books that deserve attention

Clara at the Door With a Revolver, by Carolyn Whitzman (On Point Press)

Subtitled “The Scandalous Black Suspect, the Exemplary White Son, and the Murder That Shocked Toronto,” this historical true crime book tells an intriguing story set in Toronto’s Parkdale in the late 19th century. Clara Ford of the title is an impoverished Black woman, known for wearing men’s clothes. She is accused of murdering Frank Westwood, son of a rich white businessman. The cast of characters is wide and colourful, from different families, classes, including journalists, the police and an all-white, all-male jury that ultimately acquits Clara — prompting an impromptu parade on the streets. A fascinating exploration of a part of Toronto’s history that deserves a new telling.

Eastbound, by Maylis de Kerangal, translated by Jessica Moore (Archipelago Books)

Beautiful writing is the first thing that grabs a reader of “Eastbound.” First published in French in 2012, this is the short, 127-page novel’s first English translation, by Toronto translator Jessica Moore. Aliocha has been drafted into the Russian army despite his efforts to avoid that fate, but decides to desert. On a Trans-Siberian train, he meets French woman Hélène, who takes him from his third-class car and hides him in her first-class sleeping car.

The Analog Sea Review, editor Jonathan Simons / Stolen, by Ann-Hel�n Laestadius, Scribner Canada

The Analog Sea Review 4, editors Elena Fritz, Jonathan Simons, Janos Tedeschi (Analog Sea)

For the love of solitude, independent thought and physical books, this is a lovely, hardcover book that encourages lingering. While Analog Sea founder Simons writes in his introduction, titled “Toward a New Renaissance,” that logging off from our digital lives can “feel like a dismal blend of exile and social irresponsibility,” he points out that “once we regard solitude or privacy as uncivil or counterproductive, we resign ourselves to the captivity of groupthink.” Inside, as with previous reviews, Simons has collected essays and artwork and small observations from a vast range of writers, including Canadians Robert Fulford and Leonard Cohen as well as Americans Rebecca Solnit, Joan Didion and others. You can get it only at independent bookstores all over Canada, the U.S. and U.K. — including in Calgary, a few in B.C., Ottawa and Montreal, and at Ben McNally Books in Toronto. If you want to know more about Analog Sea, you can subscribe to their newsletter — by snail mail, of course, although you can get their address by going to

Stolen, by Ann-Helén Laestadius (Scribner Canada)

An immersive novel set in Sápmi, north of the Arctic Circle, where Scandinavia’s Indigenous people the Sámi live. Award-winning writer Laestadius is of Sámi and Tornedalian descent, and usually writes YA and children’s books. This is her debut adult fiction and won Sweden’s book of the year in 2021. We first meet protagonist Elsa when she is nine years old and witness to the brutal killing of a reindeer calf, and follow her as she tries to find her own place in her male-dominated community, and fight for her Indigenous heritage and justice for her people.


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Credit: Roundup: Four new and notable books that deserve attention