Summer books find light in language and nature

Vancouver's Evelyn Lau and Lindsay Wong are among writers with bold new titles for the season

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      Summer is upon us—a different kind of summer this time, to be sure. But books remain the inexpensive, endlessly rich resource they’ve always been, and Canadian authors and publishers need your support in this economically strained season. So do them and yourself a favour by searching out the kinds of fine writing represented by the titles below.

      My Summer of Love and Misfortune

      By Lindsay Wong. Simon & Schuster

      The fast-rising Vancouver-based author shifts to buoyant YA fiction in the wake of her award-winning 2018 debut memoir The Woo-Woo. Saddled with the “total sexist bullshit” of having been born a girl in an unlucky Year of the Tiger, and thus viewed by her parents as bound for little more than embarrassment and frivolity, young Chinese American Iris Wang is sent to Beijing to connect with relatives and ground herself in their culture. She thinks she’ll be a tourist, but her time among the city’s wealthiest residents winds up revealing a lot more than any museum visit could.

      Pineapple Express

      By Evelyn Lau. Anvil

      Few themes in poetry have as long and grand a history as depression. With her eighth collection, former Vancouver poet laureate Evelyn Lau brings the subject into our troubled century, blending timeless cares about aging, loss, and internal darkness with present-day images of diagnosis and medication, as well as our own peculiar sense of a world spinning out of control. Like the poets of bygone centuries, Lau performs the alchemical process of turning leaden states of feeling into glowing language—“sunlight shot through a brocade of smog,” as she writes in the verses of “Tinder Dry”.


      By Gil Adamson. Anansi

      A full 13 years after the popular and critical success of her debut novel The Outlander, Toronto’s Gil Adamson returns with a striking sequel, set like its predecessor in the wilds of the Canadian West a century ago. As the First World War echoes in the distance, the tale mixes western and mystery. Once again, Adamson’s powers as a poet weave her characters deeply into the natural world.

      Spirits of the Coast: Orcas in Science, Art and History

      Edited by Martha Black, Lorne Hammond, and Gavin Hanke, with Nikki Sanchez. Royal BC Museum

      Among all the marvels of life on the West Coast, there’s nothing quite like spotting a black dorsal fin arcing through the waves. The Royal BC Museum’s history- and culture-spanning exhibit on the orca was originally planned for a May 15 opening but has been pushed back to next year for reasons everyone knows and never needs to hear explained ever again. But the accompanying hardcover book has been published in advance. Its luminous, large-format pages offer everything from Haida storytelling to marine biology, all to show our too-often-ignored kinship with this astonishing animal.