The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa
This novel paints a captivating picture of life, death, love, and loss that has stayed with me since turning the first page. Arikawa tells the story of Nana, an injured street cat who is taken in by Satoru, a middle-aged bachelor with a heart of gold. The reader experiences their blossoming bond through the episodic road trips Satoru and Nana take along the Japanese countryside. Arikawa’s prose is both poetic and humorous, as she alternates between Nana the cat’s sassy first-person perspective and a lyrical, omniscient narration of events. The Travelling Cat Chronicles is truly Studio Ghibli meets Pixar’s Up with its heart-wrenching exploration of the human condition and what it really means to live a fulfilling life. I would recommend this novel to anyone who has ever loved an animal; Arikawa captures that connection in a way that will reach you like nothing else.
— Eliana Freelund, Culture Editor
Viral Justice: How We Grow the World We Want by Ruha Benjamin
In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and anti-Black police violence, Benjamin explores how intricately anti-Black racism is embedded in North American society. The novel aims to offer insight into how we might go about transforming these oppressive structures. Often drawing from her own life experiences, Benjamin examines how these larger systems manifest in the lives of individuals by showcasing people who are already working to create a better world. I recommend this book to anyone looking for inspiration as to what a more just and liberated future could look like.
— Emma Bainbridge, News Editor
A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
Although this cult classic novel was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1981, no one I’ve spoken to seems to have heard of it. The novel was published 11 years after the death of its author, John Kennedy Toole, at the behest of his mother. There is nothing especially inspiring, captivating, beautiful, or lyrical about this novel, and I don’t believe its main character has a single good quality. However, A Confederacy of Dunces is the funniest book I’ve ever read. Thirty-year-old Ignatius J. Reilly is an unemployed medievalist who lives with his mother in New Orleans. A series of unfortunate events force Ignatius to take a job at a pants factory. The characters and circumstances he encounters in his confrontation with 20th-century capitalism – from the cowardly Patrolman Mancuso to the conniving Myrna Minkoff – colour the pages of Toole’s novel in ways that’ll have readers crying with laughter all the way through.
— Catey Fifield, Managing Editor
Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson
This novel follows the story of a woman named August who recalls growing up in1970s Brooklyn. She and her best friends, Sylvia, Angela, and Gigi, each have their own unique experiences, yet themes of womanhood, friendship, family, Black migration, and death intersect all of their teenage years. The girls dream of a better future for themselves and for Brooklyn. They hope for a world where they do not have to face such dangers growing up as young Black women. The novel is an excellent portrayal of growing up as a woman and how female friendship shapes this process. I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in reading a coming-of-age story which beautifully depicts the power of female friendship and the hope for a better future.
— Zoe Lister, News Editor
On Earth as it is in Heaven by Davide Enia
Set in 1980s Palermo, this book tells the story of Davidù, a young boy who dreams of becoming a boxer. Enia tells Davidù’s tale through exploring his various dreams and fears, which all tie into his family history. Every summer for the past five years, I have picked up my worn-out copy of this book and plunged back into this story. Enia’s gritty, vivid writing transports readers across Italy and Africa; you can almost smell the freshness of the lemons and taste the tang of the salt. Family is at the core of this novel as complex and endearing characters navigate their relationships in an Italy still plagued by maschilisimo. Enia’s perplexing characters experience a range of emotion as they navigate both the happiest and the darkest parts of life.This book is unlike anything I have ever read and it allows me to travel to the world of 1980s Palermo without leaving my chair. I recommend this book to readers who want to escape into the world of travel when they read.
— Zoé Mineret, Commentary Editor