CONTEMPORARY FICTION

COURSE A – Tuesday 1-3 p.m.

Lecturer: Damiano Pietropaolo
Tartu College, 310 Bloor St. West, entrance on Madison

November 12 – WARLIGHT by Michael Ondaatje
Set in foggy and drizzly London, Warlight explores the young
lives of Nathaniel and his older sister Rachel, whose parents
have all but evaporated in Singapore. The children’s dubious
caretakers, fondly nicknamed by the teenagers the Darter and
the Moth, are shadowy and inscrutable figures who expose the
pair to a seductive underworld that quickly erases their
innocence.
December 10 – THERE THERE by Tommy Orange
This timely debut by a member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho
tribes pulls together divergent tales of modern-day Native
Americans in and around Oakland, Calif., to examine the thorny
issue of identity – and all the shame and pride it inspires. As
characters prepare to converge on a powwow at the Oakland
Coliseum, it becomes clear that there’s no single Native
American experience.
January 14 – ASYMMETRY by Lisa Halliday
Drawing on the author’s own past relationship with acclaimed
author Philip Roth, Asymmetry details the affair between
20-something writer Alice and the much older literary figure Ezra
Blazer. Interspersed with this story is that of Iraqi-American
Amar, who’s been detained at Heathrow on his way to visit his
brother. The links between the two stories are delicate and
resonant and surprising.
February 11 – FUTURE HOME OF THE LIVING GOD
by Louise Erdrich
What if human beings are neither inevitable nor ultimate? A
chilling dystopian novel both provocative and prescient,
Future Home of the Living God is a startlingly original work
from one of our most acclaimed writers: a moving meditation on
female agency, self-determination, biology, and natural rights
that speaks to the troubling changes of our time.
March 17 – CIRCE by Madeline Miller
Miller’s reimagining of the Greek myth of Circe, the sun god’s
unloved daughter and a witch who seduced Homer’s Odysseus,
is a powerful and enchanting feminist parable about the binds of
family and the extent to which a woman must fight for her
sovereignty. If the mention of a Greek myth brings boring ancient
history class to mind, think again.
April 7 – THEORY by Dionne Brand
Dionne Brand gives voice to a narrator who doesn’t ascribe to
gender, known only as Teoria – a tortured academic perpetually
led off course by a series of lovers, who each take the “all-knowing” narrator by surprise. Full of wry humour and biting critique,
Theory is a masterful work from a writer who still knows how to
have fun.
May 12 – DAYS BY MOONLIGHT by Andre Alexis
Botanist Alfred Homer is invited on a road trip by his parents’
friend Professor Morgan Bruno; what follows is a journey through an underworld that looks like southern Ontario taken during the “hour of the wolf,” that time of day when the sun is setting and the traveller can’t tell the difference between dog and wolf, a time when the world and the imagination won’t stay in their own lanes. The novel is a darkly comic portrait of two beings: Alfred Homer and the Southern Ontario he loves. And it asks that perpetual question: how do we know the things we know are real and what is real anyway?
June 9 – AN AMERICAN MARRIAGE, by Tayari Jones
Many couples have a safe word they use to call time out from going
into a too-hurtful place. For happily married Celestial and Roy, it is
two words: “November 17,” the anniversary of their first date. When
Roy utters these words in the midst of a fight with Celestial, it’s
impossible to fathom the repercussions of trying to do the right
thing. That night, Roy is wrongly accused of committing a violent
crime, and later sentenced to twelve years in prison. What follows is
a tender and propulsive story set in the New South about honouring
love and family while daring to imagine a brighter future.

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