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Reverend Joseph Lowery, President of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, his wife Evelyn, and John Lewis (L-R) led several thousand civil rights marchers across the Edmund Petus Bridge to continue their 160 mile trek from Carrollton to Montgomery in protest of the imprisonment of two black women on vote fraud charges and to dramatize support of the voting rights act, Feb. 14, 1982. John Lewis was one of the original Selma to Montgomery marchers who was severely beaten on the bridge in 1965. Photo: Bettmann Archive/Getty Images

> The Listicles

Holiday Gift List: Activists and Allies

These 10 stimulating titles by powerful writers will ignite conversation and inspire resistance / BY Nathalie Atkinson / December 16th, 2021

In these portraits of trailblazers and books that explore the roots of community protest, politics, identity and history, words speak as loudly as actions.

Obsessive Book Buyers: Zoomer editors have carefully curated our book coverage to ensure you find the perfect read. We may earn a commission on books you buy by clicking on the Buy Now button. 

1A Little Devil in America: Notes in Praise of Black Performanceby Hanif Abdurraqib

In this finalist for the National Book Award, the MacArthur “genius grant” fellow weaves personal and American history together to chart a path through cultural moments, from American singer and French resistance spy Josephine Baker to the TV show Soul Train and even Whitney Houston’s awkward dance skills.

2Dream Visions: The Art of Alanis Obomsawinedited by Peter O’Brien

A recent TIFF honouree, Obomsawin is an American-Canadian Abenaki filmmaker recognized as one of our finest documentarians, with more than six decades and 50 films that spotlight Indigenous stories and hold a mirror up to Canada. This book is introduced by an essay on Obomsawin’s visual language by Wanda Nanibush, the Art Gallery of Ontario’s curator of Indigenous art, with appreciations by cultural titans such as Laurie Anderson and Arcade Fire’s Richard Reed Parry, as well as Indigenous luminaries like Bonnie Devine and Jesse Wente. 

3All That She Carried: The Journey of Ashley’s Sack, A Black Family Keepsakeby Tiya Miles

Miles, a Harvard professor, excavates the history of women and slavery from a family artifact – a simple cotton sack – from the collection of the National Museum of African American History and Culture in this extraordinary 2021 winner of the National Book Award for non-fiction.

4As We Rise: Photography from the Black Atlantic by Kenneth Montague

Nigerian-American cultural critic Teju Cole introduces this book of photographs, a companion to exhibitions scheduled for Toronto and Vancouver in 2022, which are curated by Aperture, a New York nonprofit foundation. The works are drawn from the Wedge Collection that Montague, a Toronto collector, started in 1997 to explore Black identity and the African diaspora with work by artists from Canada, the Caribbean, the African continent and beyond.

5How the Other Half Eatsby Priya Fielding-Singh

This eye-opening look at racial stereotypes, and how dietary differences, public health and inequality begin in the kitchen, encompasses years of the American sociologist’s field research on eating habits, and focuses on four different families divided by class and race.

6John Lewis: The Last Interview and Other ConversationsEdited by Melville House

The latest in the Last Interview series highlights the work of congressman John Lewis (1940-2020), the Civil Rights activist and icon who died of cancer in July 2020, with an introduction by New Yorker staff writer Jelani Cobb. It includes his 1965 testimony about being beaten by state troopers on Alabama’s Edmund Pettus Bridge during the historic Selma march for racial justice, as well as his final interview with Zak Cheney-Rice of New York magazine. 

7Let the Record Show: A History of ACT Up New York, 1987-1993 Sarah Schulman

This book, a monument to the ACT UP movement, builds on more than 200 oral histories conducted with members to explore its impact on policy and public consciousness in the early days of the AIDS crisis. It’s as much a living as an archival document, with a call to action for the next generation.

8Misfits: A Personal Manifestoby Michaela Coel

Coel, the acclaimed British creator of the searing series I May Destroy You, adapts her keynote speech from the Edinburgh International Television Festival in 2018 in this inspirational, pocket-sized book. Coel shares her experience growing up on a London council estate, her discovery of theatre and storytelling, and her experiences of race and gender in this rousing manifesto.

9Missed Connections: A Memoir in Letters Never Sentby Brian Francis

The bestselling Canadian author of the 2004 novel Fruit writes a moving and multi-layered memoir that builds on the responses to a personal ad he placed as a 21-year-old, closeted university student in 1992. (It was also the basis for his Buddies in Bad Times stage show, Box 4901, which was nominated for several Dora Mavor Moore awards). The dialogue around 13 of the letters explores coming of age and his complicated relationship with his mother.

10Permanent Astonishmentby Tomson Highway

The first of five planned memoirs by Highway, 70, one of Canada’s most esteemed Indigenous writers, playwrights and performers, begins with his birth in a northern Manitoba snowbank and covers his childhood in residential schools through to his mid-teens. It’s this year’s winner of the Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for non-fiction.


American novelist Joshua Cohen wins the Pulitzer Prize for fiction for “The Netanyahus”The 2022 Pulitzer prizes include this satirical look at identity politics, focused on the father of former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, at a crucial time in the Jewish state’s history

Margaret Atwood, Alice Munro Among Canadian Authors Recognized in Commemorative Reading List Marking Queen’s Platinum JubileeThe authors are among six Canadian scribes included on the The Big Jubilee Read list.

Queen Elizabeth II’s Aide Reveals Details of Life in Royal Pandemic Lockdown in New Addition to BookAngela Kelly, who's worked for the Queen for 20 years, discusses everything from cutting the Queen's hair to "the light and laughter that was shared ... even in the darkest moments."

New Leonard Cohen Story Collection, ‘A Ballet of Lepers,’ Set for October ReleaseThe collection features a novel, short stories and a radio play written between 1956 and 1961.

Archived Letters Reveal How Toni Morrison Helped MacKenzie Scott Meet Future Husband Jeff BezosBezos hired Scott at the hedge fund where he worked after receiving a recommendation from Morrison. Shortly thereafter, the pair married and Scott helped Bezos launch Amazon.

Prince Harry’s Memoir is Set to Rock the MonarchyFriends say the California-based royal got a million-pound book deal to write "an intimate take on his feeling about the family."

European Jewish Congress Asks Publisher to Pull Anne Frank BookThe Congress says 'The Betrayal of Anne Frank' has "deeply hurt the memory of Anne Frank, as well as the dignity of the survivors and the victims of the Holocaust."

Canadian Author Details Anne Frank Cold-Case Investigation That Named Surprise Suspect in Her Family’s Betrayal in New BookAhead of the 75th anniversary of the publication of Frank's 'The Diary of a Young Girl' in June, a team that included a retired FBI agent and around 20 historians, criminologists and data specialists identified a relatively unknown figure as a leading suspect in revealing her family's hideout.

Man Who Tricked Authors Into Handing Over Unpublished Manuscripts Arrested by FBI in New YorkFilippo Bernardini, an employee of a well known publication house, has been arrested for stealing hundreds of unpublished manuscripts.

Hollywood Legend Betty White Has a Last Laugh in New Biographic Comic BookThe creators of the biographical comic book have released similar books about Hollywood legends like Carrie Fisher, Lucille Ball, David Bowie and Elizabeth Taylor.

Barack Obama Reveals His List of Books That Left “A Lasting Impression” in 2021Obama's favourite 2021 reads include two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning author Colson Whitehead's 'Harlem Shuffle' and 'Klara and the Sun,' by Nobel Prize-winning author Kazuo Ishiguro

“Interview With the Vampire” Author Anne Rice Dies at 80 — Tributes Pour in From Stuart Townsend and OthersThe author, who was best known for her work in gothic fiction, died on Saturday evening as a result of complications from a stroke.

Norma Dunning wins $25,000 Governor General’s English fiction prize for ‘Tainna’The Edmonton-based Inuk writer explores themes of displacement, loneliness and spirituality in six short stories

Omar El Akkad wins $100,000 Giller prize for “What Strange Paradise”The former Globe and Mail reporter, who published "American War" to acclaim in 2017, tackles the global migrant refugee crisis in his second novel

South African Author Damon Galgut Wins the Booker Prize For ‘The Promise’Galgut received nominations for his 2003 and 2010 works before finally taking home the prize this year. 

Hollywood Legend Paul Newman Discusses Life, Acting and Aging Gracefully in Newly Discovered MemoirPublishers of the newly discovered memoir say the Hollywood legend wrote the book in the 1980s in response to the relentless media attention he received during that time.

Here’s What You Need to Know About the Toronto International Festival of AuthorsDirector Roland Gulliver lands in Toronto to open his second, much-expanded virtual festival with more than 200 events

Tanzanian Novelist Gurnah Wins 2021 Nobel Prize in Literature for Depicting the Impact of Colonialism and Refugee StoriesGurnah, 72, is only the second writer from sub-Saharan Africa to win one of the world's most prestigious literary awards

Miriam Toews Garners Third Giller Prize Nomination for “Fight Night” after Shortlist AnnouncedSophomore efforts from novelists Omar El Akkad and Jordan Tannahill join debut books from Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia and Angélique Lalonde

Tina Brown’s New Book, ‘The Palace Papers’, Covers the Royal Family’s Reinvention After Diana’s Tragic DeathTina Brown's sequel to her 2007 release 'The Diana Chronicles' is set to hit shelves April 12, 2022. 

Audible.ca Releases Andrew Pyper’s Exclusive Audiobook “Oracle” For New Plus Catalogue LaunchThe thriller about a psychic FBI detective is one of 12,000 titles now available for free to members

Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen to Release Book Based On Their “Renegades” PodcastThe new book will feature a collection of candid, intimate and entertaining conversations

Prince Harry Will Publish a Memoir in Late 2022Harry says he's writing the book "not as the prince I was born but as the man I have become."


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