As laid out in the first-ever Evan Yeong Literary Awards, the purpose of these blog posts has been to provide a retrospective of the books read in the past year. Typically these have been written and published in January, but here we are. Better late than never, as I always say.
This is the first of these awards to be written during my relatively new career in publishing. While I wouldn’t say I have a strong understanding of the ins and outs of what’s hot in the industry, I certainly have a healthier grasp of things, especially compared to past years when I had none whatsoever.
The other notable difference is that the list of books read has been censored in part, due to a number of the books having been unsolicited manuscripts that I was asked to read during my time as an Editorial Intern at Penguin Random House Canada. A handful were also unpublished manuscripts or ARCs (Advanced Reader Copies) and have been marked as such. You can check out a full list [with the exact dates of when I read each one] at this link.
ALMOST AS COMPLEX AS THEIR NAMESAKE
Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth by Reza Aslan
Those who aren’t as familiar with the works of C.S. Lewis should know that “Aslan” is the name of the Judeo-Christian-God-stand-in of that author’s Narnia series. The lion is a complex figure, embodying a dichotomy of a being that is “isn’t safe” while also “good”. Aslan himself is a likewise complicated man, having been raised Muslim, converted to Christianity in his teens, then back to Islam, a faith he continues to practice, and did during the writing of this book. A fascinating fact for both believers and nonbelievers alike is his statement that whether or not he was the son of God, the Nazarene definitively performed miracles.
SHOULD HAVE WON THE 2017 GILLER PRIZE
Brother by David Chariandy
One of many short, powerful works of fiction that I read this year, Brother is as unpretentious and beautiful a novel as you’re likely to find, and a worthy contender for Canada’s loftiest and most coveted literary prize. Shining a spotlight on Scarborough in the 90s, an area that I have (recently) shamefully joked about only “technically being Toronto”, this book would have served as a reminder of the real life stories that are overlooked and underheard.
The actual winner of the 2017 Scotiabank Giller Prize was Michael Redhill’s Bellevue Square, which I read the ARC of. Brother was longlisted. Continue reading
Posted in art, Canada, Christianity, Comedy, food, Islam, literature, race, relationships, religion, review, science, sex, writing
Tagged An Ocean of Minutes, Anonymous, Beauty Queens, Blink, books, brother, David Chariandy, E. V. Cunningham, Evan Yeong Literary Awards, Horns, horror, Joe Hill, Joey Comeau, Joy Kogawa, Libba Bray, literature, Malagash, Michael Pollan, novel, Obasan, race, relevant, Reza Aslan, romance, satire, Ted Dekker, The Botany of Desire, The Case of the One-Penny Orange, The Incest Diary, Thea Lim, Zealot
It has been 51 days since Drumpf became president, and I lock the door to my apartment for the final time. It’s a cold day in March, but even my thick coat raises eyebrows as I arrive at the station.
They say Mussolini made the trains run on time, but I’m guessing the strange intricacies that seem to govern the Greyhound buses would’ve sent tears running down the fat, doughy face of the Italian despot. My ticket reads 5:30 to Chicago, No. 302, but the sun is already starting to rise over the desert. All the seats have been taken. I find myself a free spot of ground beneath a leering poster of the president. The bitter morning wind, reeking of diesel fumes and cigarette ash, sends loose papers skittering across the concrete. Discarded ticket stubs, crumpled receipts- a single page that looks like it may have come from some shoolboy’s essay. All decadent, unpatriotic schools have been replaced with Drumpf Universities, where we are to be re-educated to stop thinking like “bimbos” and “losers.”
An hour passes, and the guards return- weak, winter sunlight glittering off of their glossy, golden uniforms. They have proper haircuts- as we all do now. Aryan blonde, brushed forward to cover the parts of our head that absolutely aren’t balding. Any illicit hairstyles will earn you and your barber 80 lashings. They takes measurements our hands, to ensure their proper size. They search my belongings. I’ve prepared for this. Just enough clothes for a three day trip. No money. No passport. Just my mandatory certificate proving native birth and authorized religious beliefs. My papers say that I am going to Houghton to visit a sick friend. I am lucky that I already have documents that show I went to college there- at least, to the Houghton in New York. I do not think I could have afforded to have all my papers forged. Continue reading
Posted in America, bizarreness, Canada, Europe, Islam, morality, news, politics, religion
Tagged America, bigotry, Canada, Daesh, Donald Drumpf, Drumpf, Europe, Immigrants, immigration, ISIS, Islam, Islamophobia, Migrants, news, racism, refugees, satire, Trump, Violence
As soon as I saw the promo pictures on the CBS website I began dreading this week’s episode of 2 Broke Girls. “And the Inside Out Situation” centres entirely around LGBT discrimination and political correctness, and let’s just say that the writers on this show have not exactly shown the tact of John Oliver and co. at Last Week Tonight or the biting satire of the South Park people.
From the very beginning things look rough, as the LGBT character they chose to put front and centre, I, introduces themselves:
“To be clear, I am neither he nor she, mister nor misses, male nor female. And the only part of me that is transitioning are my heels from day to evening. I am simply ‘I’. And I cannot be labelled. I am gender fluid.”
The issue with this is when the audience chooses [and/or is prompted] to laugh. After the first joke, the reference to heels, is a given. The second, on the other hand, comes right after I tells the two girls that they are gender fluid. Now this is a word that has garnered a good amount of negative connotations in the past few years, but that is problematic to say the least. Continue reading
Posted in Comedy, lgbt, review, television, writing
Tagged 2 Broke Girls, And the Inside Out Situation, Beth Behrs, Caroline, CBS, Family Foremost Foundation, gender fluid, hate group, hate speech, I, Kat Dennings, lgbt, Max, Michael Patrick King, Protest, review, S5E4, satire, Transgender
That’s right, boys and ghouls-
Good for you.
That’s not something you’d expect someone to say about the genre, is it?
Sure, you might hear about horror “classics”. There are plenty of fans out there who’ll talk about their personal favorites. You might even hear critics fondly contemplate how certain horror flicks were telling of their times. But morally edifying?
Well that’s the argument I’m going to be presenting to you today.
Be warned- spoilers may follow.
Now this isn’t the first time I’ve tried to champion the macabre. I don’t expect it to be the last either- not considering the reaction folks give me when I say I enjoy the stuff.
And before we really dig in here- let me get the obvious out of the way.
Yes, a lot of horror movies are garbage. The slasher/”teen-scream” subgenres use cheap gore and excessive nudity as a crutch for plot. More serious attempts still rely on the same cliches that have been around for decades. Plenty are poorly acted and have production values that could be outstripped by a middle school enactment of Romeo & Juliet.
But that’s hardly unique to horror. Continue reading
Posted in art, bizarreness, crime, film, media, morality
Tagged action, advertising, art, Cinema, comedy, evil, Fear, film, genre, horror, machete, memphis three, morality, movie, Panic, quality, rom-com, satire, slasher, society, teen scream, why horror movies are good for you
While the tragic terrorist attack on the offices of French satirical paper Charlie Hebdo may be a month behind us, that doesn’t mean that a lot of people aren’t still talking about it. Most recently, one of those people is (quite surprisingly, given his reclusive reputation) famed animator and all around wonderful human being Hayao Miyazaki.
Now if you don’t already know who this guy is, you are a deprived human being. Go watch Spirited Away, seriously. The guy is responsible for some of the most beautiful, creative, and thought-provoking animated films of our age. He also has some great stuff to say about the state of animation in his home country of Japan.
But anyway, Charlie Hebdo. In case you’ve been living under a rock, a quick summary: the aforementioned French satirical paper often featured crude, insulting cartoons mocking various religions, and recently contained a few choice ‘toons about the prophet Muhammad, which then sparked a brutal terrorist attack in which 12 of its staff were killed. Since then, sales of the periodical have skyrocketed, and many have marched in support of Charlie Hebdo under the banner of “Je suis Charlie” (“I am Charlie”). All in all, the victims have been seen as martyrs for “free speech.”
And what does Miyazaki have to say about all of this? Well, basically, that the Charlie Hebdo comics were a “mistake.”
Clearly, this will not sit well with many. But hey, let’s let the man explain.
“For me, I think it’s a mistake to make caricatures of what different cultures worship […] It’s a good idea to stop doing that.”
[via Kotaku‘s translation from Yahoo! News].”
So basically… He wants people to be respectful of the dearly held beliefs of others.
Posted in art, Comedy, Europe, religion
Tagged Charlie Hebdo, comedy, controversy, France, free speech, Hayao Miyazaki, Howl's Moving Castle, Islam, Islamophobia, Je suis Charlie, Miyazaki, My Neighbor Totoro, racism, religion, satire, Spirited Away, terrorism, Xenophobia
Writing “Shame Days” is harder than it looks. You gotta find a subject that’s extensive enough to merit an entire post of ranting without it being so reprehensible as to leave you speechless (Scott Lively, you satanic **********er, I’m looking at you). With that in mind, and as it’s rapidly approaching 9:00 PM as I write these words, we’re going to revisit an old subject that I personally don’t think got the lashing they deserve.
So who’s being drawn and quartered today?
It was in the title of this piece, so I guess the question’s pretty dang redundant.
“Your Fave is Problematic” is a Tumblr blog devoted, much like these Shame Day posts, to calling out celebrities and artists who the authors view as having committed bigotry in some form or another. Evan and I have both briefly touched on these guys, with us generally concluding that while noble in intent, they tend to be a bit extreme in their measures of what is and isn’t acceptable. Evan specifically stated that “I truly believe that Your Fave Is Problematic is doing a good thing”, however, after myself digging through their blog a bit more, I really just can’t say the same.
These guys are *******es.
Let me break it down here. Continue reading
Posted in Africa, America, art, Asia, bizarreness, celebrity, fashion, film, history, internet, media, race, religion, Shame Day
Tagged appropriation, Arab, bigotry, Black face, celebrity, Colbert, colonialism, Cultural, Culture, die antwoord, dreadlocks, ethnicity, evil boy, history, Mad Men, race, racism, satire, Scott Lively, shame, shame day, SJW, stephen colbert, TCK, white guilt, Your Fave Is Problematic
I’ve just started watching Kroll Show (named for its star and creator, comedian Nick Kroll) recently but it’s already risen to the top of my list in terms of TV- so much so that I’ll be taking this Fame Day to recommend it to you.
Now in concept alone, Kroll Show isn’t anything new. Each episode is comprised of skits (interspersed lightly with commentary from Kroll and his comic co-stars) riffing on television, with reality TV taking the brunt of the riffs. You’ve probably seen this done before in less successful enterprises or recognize it as roughly 50-85% of all Seth McFarlane jokes.
Posted in Comedy, Fame Day, television
Tagged Chelsea Peretti, comedy, Comedy Central, Culture, Europe, Fame Day, John Mulaney, Kroll Show, MTV, Nick Kroll, Pete Holmes, racism, satire, Seth McFarlane, sketch, skit, SNL, Spotted Ox Hostel, TLC, TV