cover image The Breaks

The Breaks

Julietta Singh. Coffee House, $16.95 trade paper (168p) ISBN 978-1-566-89616-0

In a kind of spiritual successor to the genre-defying No Archive Will Restore You, Singh, an associate professor of English and gender studies, reveals the most intimate details of her life and politics. Using the form of a letter to her daughter, Singh offers “alternative histories... of those who have faced annihilation and lived toward survival” in the face of Western capitalism’s “wholesale destruction of the earth,” and criticizes the “dominant narratives” that have shaped mainstream culture—such as Disney’s painting of Indigenous peoples as “savage” and the white man as “fundamentally good” in the movie Pocahontas. To go “against the grain” of these racist depictions, Singh recalls her youth fighting discriminatory aggression as a mixed “Brown” child in the “purportedly multicultural Canada of the 1980s,” her lifelong endurance of bodily and medical trauma, and the home she’s created with her partner—as “queer collaborators” who play “with what constitutes family.” Singh has a tendency to wax academic, but that doesn’t detract from the beauty of her insights as she exquisitely links theory and poetics to her own fears, insecurities, and certainty that one day her child will need to break away from her. This is a stunning work. Agent: Tanya McKinnon, McKinnon Literary. (Sept.)