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We Recommend

Uzma Shakir, Director at City of Toronto and community activist

Uzma Shakir is a community-based researcher, advocate and an activist. She is past Executive Director of Council of Agencies Serving South Asians and the South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario; and an Atkinson Economic Justice Fellow and Adjunct Professor, U of T. Uzma holds several degrees in English Literature, International Relations, Law and Diplomacy, Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, and Business. Her work at the city focuses on legislative and policy compliance; administering the Human Rights Office; and embedding equity in all corporate services. She is also a writer; a lecturer on issues facing racialized communities; and the recipient of multiple awards.

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Desai, Kiran, 1971-
I loved this book because it spoke to my reality of growing up in post-colonial Pakistan and then becoming an immigrant in Canada - both characterized by 'loss' in different forms.
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Roy, Arundhati, author.
Wikipedia describes the story as: "...about the childhood experiences of fraternal twins whose lives are destroyed by the 'Love Laws' that lay down 'who should be loved, and how. And how much.' The book explores how the small things affect people's behavior and their lives". To me, it is just the most lyrical narrative. Arundhati Roy has a writing style that is simultaneously beautiful and political - often a hard combination.
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Said, Edward W.
A hard read but it gave a meaning and an analytical framework to my discomfort of studying/living in the West and being shaped by its hegemonic narrative which I found problematic, but just did not have the language to articulate. It had so many Aha! moments for me and still continues to shape my world view.
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Hamid, Mohsin, 1971-
A really simple, beautiful book written like a monologue that made the reality of my Muslim children, born and brought up in Canada in post 9/11 North America, real. It is not preachy and not defensive and yet it manages to break the stereotypical narrative in North America of Good Muslims vs. Bad Muslims.
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Rushdie, Salman.
As a child of parents who lived through the 1947 partition of India and Pakistan, this book made that history come alive in both funny and tragic ways. I also found his subversion of English narrative through insertion of Urdu and Hindi words and phrases fascinating. Rushdie is a wonderful writer and storyteller - at least in this book!
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Atwood, Margaret, 1939-
I read this book when living in Pakistan under a military dictatorship where religious laws were being used to roll back the gains women had made after independence. Until that time, Pakistan had one of the most progressive Family Law Ordinances of all the Muslim countries. But draconian legislation was passed to take away those rights in the name of religion and culture. Under the circumstances, Handmaid's Tale resonated with me perfectly. It may have been futuristic when first published, but was very 'contemporary' to me when I read it. Ironically, it has once again become contemporary in the current political environment but now in North America! I guess through this book (and now the TV adaptation), I have come a full circle.
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Atwood, Margaret, 1939-
By the time I read Alias Grace, I had migrated to Canada. This book appealed to me since it is set in the GTA which was now home, and because it is a fascinating story but mostly because Atwood's lead female characters are universal and any woman can identify with them.
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Achebe, Chinua.
Things Fall Apart was another post-colonial narrative that showed vividly the ravages of colonial rule. As a child of post-colonial South Asia, this book was both personal and unique since the African experience was new to me.
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Fanon, Frantz, 1925-1961.
This book had a profound effect on me in my most formative years as a young graduate student in England. For the first time, I was able to understand the 'psychological' implications of colonialism and racism and yet was offered a way to link my own reality to other colonial struggles (in this case Algeria).
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Williams, Tad.
(4 novels) - I am interested in science fiction movies but not a very avid reader of science fiction books. Even though these four novels are long (very long - almost 800 pages each) I could not put them down. The idea of virtual existence and reality becoming intertwined in ways that makes it difficult to separate the two is brilliant and very compelling.
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Sansom, C. J.
Sansom has created a character in the Shardlake series that is unforgettable, but the real strength of these novels is the attention to historical details almost to the point where you can smell the very putrid air wafting from the Thames in 16th century England. Set against the era of Henry the VIII and his assault on the Catholic Church led by the ominous and dangerous Cromwell, Shardlake is the hunchback lawyer and sleuth who investigates murders. However, inevitably his investigations make him come up against the Palace, both endangering him personally and those around him. The atmospheric element of these novels is unparalleled.
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