Meet Room col­lec­tive mem­ber and book re­views ed­i­tor Leah Golob

Leah Golob

Room Magazine - - CONTENTS - —Alissa McArthur

Meet Leah Golob, Room’s re­views ed­i­tor. Leah edited Room’s Queer and Cana­dian Gothic is­sues.

With so many user-gen­er­ated re­views out there, why do you think it’s im

por­tant for pub­li­ca­tions like Room to con­tinue pub­lish­ing book re­views? As CWILA [Cana­dian Women in the Lit­er­ary Arts] shows, at least with lit­er­ary and news pub­li­ca­tions, there’s still a gen­der bias in re­view­ing—men typ­i­cally want to re­view other men. Only in very re­cent years have many of these pub­li­ca­tions even be­gun to give equal at­ten­tion to men and women in their re­view sec­tions. I think re­views in Room, in par­tic­u­lar, are im­por­tant be­cause we make space each is­sue to show­case marginal­ized authors—and, of­ten, new authors—re­viewed specif­i­cally by other marginal­ized writ­ers. I’m not sure that user-gen­er­ated book re­view plat­forms (de­pend­ing on the site) are al­ways cul­ti­vat­ing a fem­i­nist lens to eval­u­ate con­tem­po­rary writ­ing in the same way a pub­li­ca­tion like Room his­tor­i­cally has.

What makes a good book re­view? I think a good re­view doesn’t ex­ist in a vac­uum, mean­ing that it con­nects to big­ger is­sues oc­cur­ring within con­tem­po­rary cul­ture.

An­other piece of ad­vice that was a huge “aha” mo­ment for me as a reviewer is that the critic should avoid fo­cus­ing on what they ex­pect or hope the book to be, and in­stead eval­u­ate the text based on what the au­thor is try­ing to ac­com­plish. For in­stance, this means a reviewer doesn’t dis­miss a par­tic­u­lar style just be­cause they’re not fond of it.

Lastly, a good re­view should be con­cerned with clar­ity of thought above all else.

Have you read any­thing good this year? In prepa­ra­tion for the Queer is­sue, I re-read some of my favourite CanLit po­etry books, which in­clude Leah Lak­shmi Piepzna-Sa­ma­ras­inha’s Bodymap and Am­ber Dawn’s Where My Body Ends and the World Be­gins.

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