Queer Can Lit Links

This is random alphabetical list of links to authors (sorted by their last names), stores, blogs, publishers, and other resources relevant to this blog. More are added as I find them and this is NOT intended to be totally comprehensive. It’s more like a list of my personal favourites. I’ve also only included authors with more than one published book. Enjoy and let me know what you think I should add!

Arsenal Pulp Press, based in Vancouver, is one radical publishing house, with a great program of LGBTQ+ publishing. Among others, they publish queer Canadian authors Ivan Coyote, Amber Dawn, Vivek Shraya, S. Bear Bergman, and Kai Cheng Thom. They also have a great series of revived out of print queer titles introduced by contemporary authors called Little Sister’s Classics–in honour of the bookstore listed below.  Some of those titles are Patience and Sarah by Isabel Miller, Patrick Califia’s Macho Sluts, and Valerie Taylor’s lesbian pulp classic Whisper Their Love.You can find their titles at Little Sister’s, Venus Envy, and elsewhere in independent bookstores, as well as order them from Arsenal’s website.

The independently-owned Autostraddle is obviously the coolest queer lady website of them all.  And, they have awesome book-related content (if I do say so myself, since I write for them). Check out their biweekly series Lez Liberty Lit, which explores all kinds of queer and feminist writing.  You should also definitely my column, Ask Your Friendly Neighbourhood Lesbrarian, where I answer requests helping people find the kinds of LGBTQ+ books they’re looking for. So far I’ve helped people find queer high fantasy, lesbian romance audiobooks, books with Asian and Pacific Islander queer women characters, and more! You can find all of Autostraddle’s bookish content, including reviews and interviews, here.

Dionne Brand is one of Canada’s most talented wordsmiths, both as a poet and fiction writer–she just also happens to be a dyke. Her writing is always immediate, visceral, and seductive.  She’s often occupied with sexuality, the Black diaspora, multicultural politics, Toronto, and feminism. I highly recommend anything she writes–I’d even read her grocery lists.  See my review of her first novel In Another Place, Not Here here. and my review of her collection of essays Bread Out of Stone here.

caitlin pressCaitlin Press began as a feminist literary press in the 70s and has since evolved into a queer women-friendly press focused on publishing work by and about BC women.  The press is especially concerned with rural women and topics, and, according to their website, they want to “publish writers who reflect the concerns, culture and history of that part of Canada called the ‘middle north’ which lies between the southern, heavily populated areas and the far north.”  Some of the queer BC authors published by Caitlin are Arleen Pare, Andrea Routley, Jane Eaton Hamilton, and Jane Byers. Their imprint Dagger Editions is dedicated to publishing queer women and trans folks.

Anna Camilleri is a fierce femme writer, performer, editor, and visual artist based in Toronto. She’s been a part of two queer collaborative performance troupes, Taste This and SweLL, with Ivan Coyote (see below).  Her work in all forms interrogates femininity, gender, and queerness in a brave, unapologetic way.  Her memoir I Am a Red Dress: Incantations on a Grandmother, a Mother, and a Daughter is extremely powerful and unabashedly feminist.  See my review of the collaborative book Boys Like Her, which Camilleri co-authored, here.

The Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives in Toronto is an amazing comprehensive resource all of sorts of queer artefacts, not just books–although they have plenty of those, as well as book-like items such as zines. They have some pretty sweet events that are worth checking out: exhibitions, talks, fundraisers, etc!

hepbeaverCCanadian Lesfic is a site run by and dedicated to Canadian lesbian fiction writers.  If you fit into that category, get in touch because they’re always looking to add more names! So far there are writers of mystery, (a lot of) romance, science-fiction, fantasy, and literary fiction.  The list of books by genre is super helpful; there is also (an ever-expanding) list of authors.  Canadian Lesfic also features a blog, which includes a news roundup for Canadian lesbian fiction-related stuff.  This site is definitely worth a look, especially if you’re a romance reader!

If you’re queer and/or trans and Canadian, how do you not already have writer Ivan Coyote’s website bookmarked? Their subtly disarming kitchen-table style storytelling is breathtaking both on the page and in person, whether Ivan is taking on the nuances of butch identity, small-town childhood in the Yukon, or searching for a no-nonsense cup of brewed coffee in East Vancouver. Check out their website for upcoming live storytelling performances, which are a queer Canadian essential experience. You can see everything I’ve reviewed by Ivan here, including their latest, Tomboy Survival Guide.

Amber Dawn should be a familiar name if you’ve had a look around this website: her novel Sub Rosa was the very first book I reviewed here.  Dawn is a writer, filmmaker, and performance artist based in Vancouver who was for years the director of programming for the Vancouver Queer Film Festival.  She’s the editor of and contributor to the collection Fist of the Spider Woman: Tales of Fear and Queer Desire, a collection of horror and fantasty short stories, and co-editor with Trish Kelly of the anthology With a Rough Tongue: Femmes Write Porn.  I’ve reviewed both of her most recent books: How Poetry Saved My Life: A Hustler’s Memoir and Where The Words End and My Body Begins. Check out everything I’ve written about Amber here.

a m dellamonicaA.M. Dellamonica is a queer science fiction and fantasy writer who lives in Toronto. She has two series with queer women characters: Indigo Springs and Blue Magic, featuring a really inventive version of magic in the real world and a bisexual main character and a planned trilogy starting with Child of a Hidden Sea, a portal fantasy set in Stormwrack, a series of island nations with strange cultures, economies, and languages that the protagonist Sophie stumbles into from a back alley in San Francisco.

farzana doctorSince I started this blog and shamefully had no idea who she was, Toronto-based Farzana Doctor has become one of my favourite writers. Also a social and pyschotherapist, Doctor brings a calmness, non-judgemental attitude, and generosity to her characters in her three character-driven novels: All Inclusive, Six Metres of Pavement, and Stealing Nasreen. Her books are always centred on the emotional complexities of humans’ lives, whether it’s through looking at grief, relationships, sexuality, spirituality, belonging, love, and more!

Emma Donoghue is an Irish-born, London, ON-based lesbian writer with a large stack of books to her name.  She writes both contemporary and historical fiction, with equal grace and skill.  I LOVE her lesbian romance novel Landing, for its lovable characters and exquisite old-fashioned storytelling.  Donoghue’s historical fiction delves into the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries; if you want to read about these time periods with a dash of queer, I highly recommend Life Mask or The Sealed Letter. I’ve also reviewed Hood (a beautiful novel about grief), Kissing the Witch  (a collection of revamped fairy tales) and Astray (a collection of historical short stories). I’m so glad that Donoghue chose to make her home in Canada so I can include her in this site!

Anne Fleming is one of my favourite queer Canadian writers! Her blog is a good example of the kind of smooth, effortlessly funny way that this Vancouver and Kelowna-based woman writes about both the mundane and the extraordinary.  See my review of Fleming’s amazing first short-story collection Pool-Hopping here and of her novel Anomaly here; also see her lovely mention of my review here.  Her latest (fiction) book has the fantastic title Gay Dwarves in America and I review it here. She’s also recently published a children’s book and a collection of poetry.

Glad Day Bookstore has, unbelievably, been around since 1970 and is now the oldest queer bookstore around anywhere! It’s Toronto’s LGBTQ independent bookshop located in the ‘official’ gay village along the Church-Wellesley strip; like other independent bookstores, it’s had its share of financial troubles, but luckily it was bought by a collective of folks from the community and is now under new co-ownership.  They host awesome Pride events and readings and book launches by queer and trans writers.

Good Lesbian Books is an amazingly comprehensive lesbian book blog, with reviews and news on lesbians books in all kinds of  different genres: graphic, young adult, manga, science fiction, fantasy, romance, mystery, crime–you name it!  What I really appreciate about this site, besides its breadth, is that they post interesting, helpful lists, like of lesbian books that deal with physical disabilities and young adult lesbian books broken down by country and American state.

Hiromi Goto is a BC writer with multiple talents: she’s written poetry, children’s books, novels and short stories for adults, and two young adult graphic novels, with illustrator Jillian Tamaki–the impressive Half World and its companion Darkest Light; her writing is often genre-bending, dabbling in fantasy, realism, horror, and myth.  An author concerned with feminism, queerness, and Japanese- Canadian identities, among other issues, Hiromi Goto is perhaps most well-known as the author of A Chorus of Mushrooms and The Kappa Child.

Nalo Hopkinson is an author originally from Jamaica with ties to Toronto (she now lives in California); she’s published work in anthologies, novels, and short stories.  Honestly I think she’s one of the best authors writing fantasy and science fiction right now, let alone queer women of colour writing SF/F. She’s one of my all-time favourite writers. The fierce and impossibly unique power of her imagination and the clever way she mixes Caribbean mythology and spirituality into her fantastical worlds are among the many reasons you should check out her work.  I’ve reviewed Brown Girl in the Ring, Falling in Love with Hominids, Skin Folk, The Salt Roads, and Sister Mine.

leah horlickLeah Horlick is a talented mixed race queer poet living in Vancouver who’s published two collections of poetry so far: For Your Own Good and Riot Lung. Her writing is both technically incredible and emotionally powerful. For Your Own Good tackles a topic not often talked about: abusive lesbian relationships. It’s in some ways a devastating book, but also healing and gentle. Riot Lung is a lot about geographies, both of where Horlick grew up and her current home, but also about people as places.

tanya huffIt would definitely be an omission not to mention Tanya Huff on this page: she’s one of the foremothers of queer Canadian writing, and also one of the authors who essentially invented the genre of urban fantasy. Originally a Maritimer, she now lives in Ontario. She’s been publishing since the late 80s and to date has a ton of fantasy series featuring an array of LGBTQ+ characters. In particular, you should check out the Quarters series  and the Gale Women series if you’re looking for queer women.

Insomniac Press is an independent press based in little ol’ London, Ontario, publishing books they hope will keep you up at night, reading under the covers with your flashlight.  They often give new Canadian writers their first publications. They publish general LGBTQ titles, fiction, poetry, and nonfiction, as well as queer mysteries.  Some queer Canadian ladies they have published are: Jane Rule (reissues of some of her older books) and Karen X. Tulchinsky, as well as Liz Bugg and Nairne Holtz (both authors of queer mysteries).  Insomniac also published the anthology No Margins: Writing Canadian Fiction in Lesbian, which features a whole slew of awesome writers.

larissa laiCanada Research Chair in Creative Writing at the Unversity of Calgary, Larissa Lai has written two novels, Salt Fish Girl and When Fox Is a Thousand, as well as books of poetry and literary criticism. The fact I haven’t reviewed any of her books yet is a major oversight I plan to rectify soon. Danika at the Lesbrary says When Fox Is a Thousand book should be considered a lesbian classic. Her works often blends folklore, history, fiction, and fairy tales to create unique worlds featuring Chinese and Chinese-Canadian queer women.

leahI include Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha here on this list kind of honourarily, since she’s American and no longer lives in Toronto. I LOVE her poetry, especially her most recent collection Bodymap. Her work, poetry and memoir, talks about love, relationships (falling apart), disability, queer brown femme friendship, finding your people, and the Sri Lankan diaspora, among other things. I’ve also reviewed an earlier poetry book, Love Cake, and her recent memoir Dirty River: A Queer Femme of Color Dreaming Her Way Home.

The Lesbrary is a fantastic resource for all things book and lesbian. There’s a wide variety of reviews of all different kinds of lesbian/bi/queer books here, with a good amount of Canadian content, as well as great “link round ups” by Danika the lesbrarian that can point you to all that is going on in lesbian book cyberspace. Her link round ups are really great resources if you’re new to the queer women’s bookish world. Danika also has a Patreon, a YouTube channel, and a tumblr called Fuck Yeah Lesbian Literature. The site is trans-inclusive like mine! I also have (now oldish) reviews on this site.

elisha limElisha Lim is a genderqueer artist and writer of all varieties living in Montreal who has done some beautiful visual and comics work, often celebrating QTPOC lives as well as chronicling their own life. I’ve reviewed their adorable and moving zine Favourite Dating Tales and am planning to write about their other fabulous book, 100 Crushes after a re-read that I’m excited about. You should check out their Etsy store which is where I got my zine and have a look at their other work too!

Vancouver’s queer bookstore Little Sister‘s is legendary: they’ve been fighting for the rights of (queer) readers and writers for a long time now in longstanding court battles with Canada customs to allow so-called obsence (i.e., LGBTQ) material  into the country. Support them! Go check out the store if you’re in the Vancouver area. The film and sex toy section is definitely male-focused, but the book selection has a ton of options for women.  It’s in the heart of the ‘official’ gay village (as opposed to the queer women’s neighbourhood in the east end), on Davie street.  All in all, it’s a pretty rad bookstore.

Ann-Marie MacDonald is a multi-talented woman, as an actor, novelist, and playwright; in all forms she displays a gift for rich, layered storytelling.  You probably have heard of her first novel, Fall on Your Knees, because it was one of Oprah’s few well-chosen book club picks.  Her other work is definitely work checking out as well and you must see her as a neurotic queer bookstore owner in the film Better than Chocolate, one of the best movies to come out of the nineties.

Daphne Marlatt is an extraordinarily talented west coast poet who has been an important figure in Canadian literature since the 1960s. Her work is challenging–both in terms of content and form–but also breathtakingly beautiful and rewarding to read. Since the late 70s her writing has been explicitly preoccupied with feminism and issues surrounding women’s bodies, and women’s writing, as well as her lesbian sexuality–Marlatt came out later in life. Her novel–if a work that defies such categorization can be called that–Ana Historic is one of my favourite books, one I get more out of each time I read it; see my review here.

suzette-mayrSuzette Mayr is a queer writer based in Calgary with four novels to her name so far: Monocerous, Venous Hum, Moon Honey, The Widows. She also has a new novel slated to come out in late 2017, called Dr. Edith Vane and the Hares of Crawley Hall. So far I’ve read and reviewed Venous Huma wacky magical realist novel about vegetarian vampires, high school reunions, and extramarital affairs. It’s also a really funny novel. I loved it and excited to pick up more of her books!

metonymy_logo-1024x428Metonymy Press is a newish Montreal-based press that publishes literary fiction and nonfiction by emerging writers. In their words: “We try to reduce barriers to publishing for authors whose perspectives are underrepresented in order to produce quality materials relevant to queer, feminist, and social justice communities.” Recently two of their books—Small Beauty by jia qing wilson-yang and Fierce Femmes and Notorious Liars: A Dangerous Trans Girl’s Confabulous Memoir by Kai Cheng Thom—have been nominated for Lambda Awards!

Shani Mootoo is an incredibly sensual and instinctive writer and visual artist who has held my attention since I picked up her first novel Cereus Blooms at Night. She was born in Dublin, grew up in Trinidad, and has lived in Canada since 1981. I can’t really speak of her writing too highly!  See my review of her novels Valmiki’s Daughter and Moving Forward Sideways Like a Crab as well as her poetry collection The Predicament of Or and her short story collection Out on Main Street.

plenitude issue 2Plenitude is “your new queer arts and literature magazine”!  Recently launched from Victoria, there are already two issues of Plenitude out and I highly encourage you to pick them up: there’s a great diversity of work there by a wide variety of queer-identified folks–the only requirement for submissions is that artists self-identify as queer.  There’s visual art, poetry, prose, and reviews, all from different perspectives. There’s something in here for all kinds of readers: whether you want to read fiction about queer Portand punks, an essay about an amateur trying his hand at gay art porn, or gorgeous lesbian poetry about experiences with desire and homophobia.  Subscriptions are only 10 dollars!  Check out my review of the first issue here.

Casey-Plett-Headshotx400Y’all are seriously missing out if you are not reading Casey Plett, who hails from Winnipeg. Her debut collection of short stories A Safe Girl to Love is one of the best books I’ve ever read (and I’ve read a lot of books). If you’re looking for a writer who really, really, gets people—from twentysomething urban cis, trans, and queer folks to a 7o-year-old cis Mennonite guy to a cat channeling the spirit of an old English dude—Plett is your woman. She’s applied these talents to A Safe Girl to Love, a book dedicated to relationships between trans women. The also co-edited the 2017 anthology Meanwhile, Elsewhere, a collection of sci fi and fantasy stories by trans writers.

jane ruleJane Rule‘s list of published works is too long to list here, but suffice it to say she’s a Canadian lesbian writer legend who passed away in 2007 and left a gigantic legacy. I’ve reviewed her posthumous memoir Taking My Life as well as her Vancouver-set novel Memory Board and her well-known novel Desert of the Heart, which was turned into a movie and might very well have been the beginning of lesbian literature as we knew it in the late 20th century. Her writing in psychologically complex, intuitive, and sometimes brutally honest.

trish-salahTrish Salah is a foremother of Canadian trans and queer writing, having first published her stunning book of poetry Wanting in Arabic back in 2002; the book’s second edition in 2014 won the Lambda Award for Transgender Fiction. Wanting in Arabic is the kind of poetry that somehow manages to make the most clichéd poetic images—like roses and the immortal beloved—brand new. Her second book of poetry, Lyric Sexology Vol 1 was released in 2014. Her writing is often about gender, sexual, racial, and cultural identities, but it’s also about beauty, sex, language, mythology, and more.

vivek-shrayaToronto-based trans bisexual artist Vivek Shraya’s debut poetry collection Even This Page is White is a beautiful, accessible, smart, book about race and racism. Like so many talented artists, Shraya is at home in many formats, including different kinds of visual art and music. She also published a novel called She of the Mountains in 2014, a lyrical novel of two narratives: a re-imagining of Hindu mythology and a contemporary story about an unnamed feminine protagonist exploring bisexual identity. In addition her first book of poetry, Shraya also published her first children’s book last year, The Boy and the Bindi, about a young boy who’s fascinated by his mother’s bindi.

Talon Books, based in Vancouver, is a long-standing independent publisher focused on literary fiction, poetry, and drama.  They’ve especially made a name for themselves publishing Indigenous authors (including the amazing queer writer Tomson Highway), drama–a genre often not considered marketable, and translations of Francophone texts, including those by Quebecois lesbian author Marie-Claire Blais.  Talon published Jane Rule’s classic novel Desert of the Heart in the 70s and recently, her posthumous autobiography Taking My Life; also included in their recent publications are Karen X. Tulchinsky’s most recent novel, Gail Scott’s novels Heroine and Main Brides, and some of Daphne Marlatt’s poetry.  If you read any queer Canadian women authors in university, it’s likely Talon published them!

mariko tamaikiMariko Tamaki is one of the most talented YA authors working today with such a keen ear for authentic teen dialogue and emotion. Plus, a wicked sense of humour! I’ve read and loved a ton of her books, including: True Lies (an early memoir-ish collection of funny stories), now-classic Skim (a lesbian graphic YA novel), This One Summer, (a multi-award winning graphic novel about summer and those years right before teenagehood),  (You) Set Me on Fire (a dark, hilarious tale about first year of university), and her most recent Saving Montgomery Sole (mysteries and lesbian moms!). Her cousin Jillian Tamaki is her frequent collaborator for the graphic novels.

kai-cheng-thomKai Cheng Thom is a Canadian trans writer who’s recently burst onto the scene, publishing her first novel Fierce Femmes and Notorious Liars: A Dangerous Trans Girl’s Confabulous Memoir in 2016 with Metonymy Press and her first book of poetry, A Place Called NO HOMELANDwhich I fucking LOVED. It interrogates body, land, and language, pulling from traditions of oral storytelling, spoken word, and queer punk. Fierce Femmes is an explicit re-working of the well-known trans memoir genre.

Quill & Quire, Canada’s magazine for book reviews and news, has great high quality reviews and is super queer inclusive.  Check out especially their review of Mariko Tamaki’s queer young adult novel (You) Set Me On Fire as well as this glowing review of Hiromi Goto’s graphic novel Darkest Light (illustrated by Jillian Tamaki, the same person who’s worked with cousin Mariko–Can Lit is a small world).

Venus Envy, is a queer, feminist, women-centric sex shop and bookstore with locations in both Ottawa and Halifax.  They carry a great selection of queer Canadian women authors, with an emphasis on erotica and all kinds of sex/relationship books.  If you aren’t in Ontario or Nova Scotia, you can order books from them online–even ones that are not featured on their website.  They also conduct sex workshops and seminars.

Zoe Whittall is a Quebec-born, now Torontonian author who has written two fantastic novels, one of them Lambda-award winning, in addition to a zillion other awards; she’s also published three books of poetry.  If you’re looking for gritty, urban landscapes with tough yet endearing queer characters, you won’t be disappointed with Whittall’s fiction. I’ve reviewed her fantastic first novel Bottle Rocket Hearts here and amazing second novel Holding Still For As Long As Possible.

17 Responses to Queer Can Lit Links

  1. Andrea June says:

    Hi Casey! I wish you had your contact info up here – I have a Call for Submissions from Plenitude Magazine I’d love to send you. You can find out more on that at http://plenitudemagazine.ca

  2. Hi Andrea!
    I have my email address on the “About this Blog” page, actually. It’s casey@uvic.ca. I’d be happy to share the call for submissions on my site and twitter, etc. Is that what you had in mind? Send me an email, and we can confirm. Plenitude looks like an awesome, promising new project!

  3. bani.amor says:

    so many resources!

  4. Anonymous says:

    Lemon Hound! Syna Queyras http://lemonhound.blogspot.ca/

  5. Thank you for this incredible list of resources!! It is great to see how many Canadian queer authors there are. One suggestion: have you thought about adding Tanya Huff to your list? She is a lesbian Canadian author who often features queer characters in her urban fantasy and high fantasy series. For example, her Blood Books are about a bisexual male vampire, and her Smoke Books Series features a gay male wizard. Tanya Huff’s wife Fiona Patton is also a fantasy author, but I don’t know as much about her work.

  6. vita1512 says:

    HI, Just stumbled on this site. Thanks for putting this up and out there! Another author you might like to profile is Elizabeth Ruth ( http://www.elizabethruth.com ). She’s a Toronto lesbian author with 2 novels published.

  7. Hey Casey, wow! I ❤ this list! I'm from Aotearoa/ New Zealand so I'm not yet so familiar with Canadian queer writing. Also hehe with the queer synchronicity of girls who love girls who love books, and from a quick read of your blog, I figure we both attended the Imogen Binnie launch at Little Sister, and Amber Dawn's book launch at UBC, and I went to the Ivan Coyote & Rae Spoon performance at the Chan Centre. No doubt we'll bump into each-other at a queer writing thing soon…maybe Verses…

    • Thanks! Yes, it’s small literary queer woman’s world, isn’t it? I sadly missed Ivan and Rae’s show, but I was definitely at those other events! I am planning to check out some of the Verses shows this week (the queer ones, especially). I really liked your post about the Amber Dawn UBC launch, by the way! I’m working on a review of her book right now.

  8. Pingback: “Go Down the Hall”: A Response to David Gilmour | Lucia Lorenzi

  9. WeatherHeather says:

    You forgot about Betsy Warland! Where would nay of us be without Betsy Warland?

  10. Ali says:

    Jane Rule who wrote Desert of the Heart and was a major influence on Canadian Literature. Suzette Mayr at the U of Calgary who writes brilliant and witty novels that defy genre categories, she’s just published her 5th novel.

  11. Pingback: March Patron Update: New/Revised Queer Can Lit Links Page and More & More Free Queer Books | Casey the Canadian Lesbrarian

  12. Pingback: Patreon May Update: New Domain Name and Revised, Current Queer Can Lit Links Page | Casey the Canadian Lesbrarian

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