We can think of lots of reasons to write about work. Like Jason Allen says, in his new piece for LitHub, writing about people at work opens the senses to characters and helps express things about them and their world you wouldn’t get otherwise.
But, there are other things writing about work can do for us. It can give us insight into how characters and worlds are shaped by who does what, for whom, and at what cost. It can show how alienation and exploitation filter into our most intimate expressions and affect our ability to take action in the world. And in sci fi, speculative fiction, or fantasy, answering the question of how work happens and how society gets reproduced is crucial for setting the terms of the world and exploring the possibilities to be otherwise than what we have now.
We are always excited by finding work in the texts we read. Check out our most recent episode, Scarborough Takes on Can Lit, for a discussion of how two books about a neighbourhood in Canada’s biggest city weave stories of work together with stories of trauma and mutual support to showcase conspicuously Canadian forms of racism, power, and bureaucracy.
And we’re back with a brand new episode!
This time, we’re looking at Scarborough (2017) by Catherine Hernandez and Brother (2017) by David Chariandy, two powerful novels that bring voice to a diverse and chronically underfunded community in Canada. Both set in Scarborough, Ontario, they use intimacy and bureaucracy to show the workings of Canadian forms of power, structural racism, and economic inequality in ways not often seen in the historically white and middle-class Can-Lit (Canadian Literature). Through their work, we’re invited to ask who gets to determine what a community looks like, whose stories are told, and when and how does survival happen.
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We’d also love to hear your feedback or ideas for other books we could look at. Let us know in the comments, or fill out a review on iTunes.
Just want to let everyone know that we are working on a new episode – we’re just having some trouble getting a space to record. We should have something posted this month.
In the meantime, I was inspired by some words by sci-fi author Nnedi Okorafor so I thought I’d take a moment to share with you:
And here’s a video of a great TedTalk she did on afro-futurism and science fiction:
We’re back this month with a two-part series: Reading is a Singular Pleasure.
In this series, we talk about authors who mean a lot to one of us, and less to the other, and explore how our reading styles can draw us to very different kinds of writing. Most people find certain kinds of stories and storytelling more compelling than others, and that’s okay. It’s important to distinguish between the practice of pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and seeing the value of reading things you might not normally think of, and those moments when you find deep connections with the way a particular author writes. Styles are political and they’re personal. It doesn’t mean every book is good, or that styles can’t be problematic; rather, it shows how ‘this author’s style doesn’t grab me’ can be a really productive moment for delving into your own politics as a reader.
This series is structures in two interviews. Part 1 talks about the poetic politics of Dionne Brand, and Part 2 looks at the work and legacy of John Steinbeck.
Episodes available in the media player (to the left) or on your favourite Podcasting app!
Words of (Dis)Comfort: on the luxuries and limitations of reading while white
The Problematic Fave Series
Recently, in one of those rather random moments at a bookstore, I picked up the short novel Vanessa and Virginia by Susan Sellers. Written in 2009, the novel is a fictionalized, yet by all accounts very faithful, account of the relationship between Vanessa Bell and her sister Virginia Woolf told from Vanessa’s point of view. I love family drama, so I probably would enjoy it regardless. But it also touched a chord because of the role Virginia Woolf’s novels played for me as a teenager and young woman. Reading her prose allowed me to feel things I wasn’t, and opened a journey of queer-feminism at a time when I found little else to guide me. I’ve since grown and reflected on Woolf’s work in a more critical way, but there was a time in my life that I held her books close and thought of her as my favourite author.
This episode asks: how is contemporary fiction incorporating (or not) the present realities of climate change and can it provide avenues for building a response to climate crisis?
To do this we look at two recent books about post-climate change dystopia – American War by Omar El Akkad and Gold Fame Citrus by Claire Vaye Watkins. We also bring in essays by Amitav Ghosh from his book The Great Derangement and reflect on his claim that “the climate crisis is also a crisis of culture, and thus of the imagination”.
It’s a big topic, and we do our best to keep the conversation on point. It also sets us up for a future episode on Land Epics (you know you want to know what that’s all about!).
Episodes are now updated in our media player (on the left) or available through https://anchor.fm/conspiracy-of-equality
You can also find us in Spotify, iTunes, and other podcasting apps!
We’ve got some great news everyone – you can now listen to us on a real podcasting platform!
Going forward we’ll be posting all our episodes to our feed on anchor.fm. Click here to find us, or download the app to subscribe. Use anchor.fm/conspiracy-of-equality in your podcatcher. Hopefully we will soon be up on other platforms (stay tuned!). Episodes will continue to be available on the website for now.
Also in the great news department – we have a brand new episode! In this episode we’re taking a step back to look at why we’re doing this project and who we are as readers. We delve deep into our own stories of becoming better readers and some of the early reads that pushed us along in our journey through fiction and liberation.
Our intention is to become more intentional with this project. With that in mind, we’ve set out a schedule to have new episodes out every couple months. We’ll be keeping roughly the same format but with lots of new ideas for content ranging from fiction and climate change to Isabel Allende’s vision of freedom, to our many feelings about John Steinbeck and Dionne Brand.
We’re super excited to do more with this project, so please take a listen, like us, and share! Also, check out our cool new logo