Thursday Book Beat: Boyden Controversy, Remembering Carrie Fisher and Twitter Troll Gets Book Deal

Happy New Years book lovers! Hope you all had a lovely holiday, I spent mine eating and sleeping and doing close to nothing — it was wonderful. New year, new me right? My two resolutions are to read more and dedicate time to reading and to save money. Not sure how those will go hand in hand, but I’ve been thinking of getting a library card! What are your resolutions book or non-book related?

You may be aware of the current controversy surrounding critically acclaimed Canadian author Joseph Boyden. His most recent book Wenjack, a small novel about Chanie Wenjack, a young Ojibwa boy who died trying to escape a residential school has been praised and popular. Boyden has titled himself an Indigenous writer and has been classified as such, so when First Nations writer Robert Jago and others began to point out the contradiction in his accounts of his ancestry, anger and confusion was brought to the surface. I am not Indigenous. I have studied the culture but even that is limited knowledge and from a privileged standpoint. What I do know and what I think all Canadians know — or should know — is that we have a colonial history and the continued silencing of Indigenous voices can not continue to happen. Boyden posing in the way of other voices is controversial, is he stealing the light? Earlier today I read the article Wab Kinew (an Anishinaabe author) penned about accepting Boyden as an outsider but someone whose work should still be honoured. You can read his thoughts on the matter here. Other members of the Indigenous community have called out Boyden on not actually representing and creating a space/giving back to the tribes he mentions and claims to be a part of. This blog highlights how his appropriation is a continuation of colonial tropes. I also urge you to check out Debbie Reese on Twitter who has been following this topic with a critical, needed eye.

Debbie Reese (@debreese) on Boyden Controversy

It seems the holidays were filled with controversy. Publishing house Simon & Schuster have decided to publish a book by Twitter abuser Milo Yiannopoulos, after he was banned form Twitter after his online abuse towards Ghostbusters actress and SNL member Leslie Jones. Many authors and industry members have called out the publishers for creating a platform for hate and are rethinking buying from and being involved with the company. You can read more about the issue here.

Another devastating event happened over the holidays, Carrie Fisher died followed by her mother Debbie Reynolds. Many remember Fisher as Princess Leia/General Leia but she was also a fantastic, hilarious author who often wrote about mental illness in a funny but poignant way. She was brave and honest and wouldn’t be stifled by a male dominated, ableist industry. She was also a script doctor — lauded as one of the best, making key changes to films like Hook, Sister Act and The Wedding Singer. A few weeks ago, I wrote about reading her new biography in Book Beat and will make it my mission to try to read all her books and remember her as more than a Princess but a mental health advocate, talented writer and fierce warrior.

So, a bit depressing news to start the year but I am sure 2017 will bring us positive news as well and I can’t wait to get started on my new reading list.

Happy Thursday!

Ashley Ash

Ashley Ash

Ashley is a proud Torontonian, third year social worker student, full time child advocate and national award winning writer. She will defend Anakin Skywalker and Jon Snow till she dies.