Cana­dian au­thors pick the year’s best books

The Walrus - - FRONT PAGE - DAVID CHAR­IANDY is the au­thor of Brother.

The Blue Clerk by Dionne Brand

An “ars po­et­ica” and in­stant mod­ern clas­sic,

The Blue Clerk of­fers an orig­i­nal phi­los­o­phy of writ­ing by stag­ing the cre­ative act as “a ne­go­ti­a­tion be­tween what is said and what is un­said, be­tween what is writ­ten and what is with­held,” be­tween the recto (the right-hand page) and the verso

(the left-hand page), and be­tween the iden­ti­ties of “the au­thor” and “the clerk.” Through drama and prose po­etry, Dionne Brand tack­les cen­sor­ship, the archive, the agency of lan­guage, and the ide­olo­gies of au­thor­ship. Point­edly, the book is about cre­ativ­ity in the af­ter­math of slav­ery and colo­nial­ism, about life within the necrotic scripts of his­tory. The Blue Clerk is beau­ti­ful—phys­i­cally beau­ti­ful— in the naked­ness of its stitched blue spine. But the book is beau­ti­ful, most sub­stan­tially, in its sump­tu­ous and in­cen­di­ary lan­guage, in its fierce chal­lenge to the il­lu­sions of lit­er­a­ture, and in its man­i­fest be­lief in the act of writ­ing.

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