Best Canadian Essays 2023

Best Canadian Essays 2023 blends memoir and reportage to illuminate such topics as racial identity and the social effects of Covid-19. Editor Mireille Silcoff (Urban Animals) selects 16 entries that showcase authors "working their way through a skein of ideas and experience, even conflicting, to come to some understanding." Ethnic diversity is a potent seam. Jalamuddin Aram agonizes over the resurgence of the Taliban as friends evacuate his native Afghanistan; Chafic LaRochelle wonders what his father endured during Lebanon's civil war; Kunal Chaudhary decries the criminalization of majority ethnic communities; and Christopher Cheung exposes how journalism ignores people of color. The question of who can claim Indigenous ancestry underpins Michelle Good's indignant essay about "Play Indians" and Emma Gilchrist's introspective search for her birth father. Another major theme is loneliness, often exacerbated by illness, as in Sharon Butala's heartrending "On Ageing Alone." Kathy Page describes the "new grey passport" Parkinson's disease issued her for "the kingdom of the sick," while Sarmishta Subramanian examines the pandemic's implications for friendships.

Youth culture, Twitter politics, overworking and new motherhood are additional subjects. Allan Stratton's controversial piece challenges the radical fringe of trans rights activism. In the delightful odd one out, the McDonald's Filet-O-Fish plays a nostalgic role for Jane Hu. Best of all is M.E. Rogan's "Quitting America," which is about renouncing U.S. citizenship during Trump's presidency.

These bold, timely essays present strong personalities and cutting-edge points of view. And as Silcoff asserts, "a frontier... is the best place--for a conversation between sides to begin." --Rebecca Foster, freelance reviewer, proofreader and blogger at Bookish Beck

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