Rowan Hisayo Buchanan’s Featured Book

Starling Days

Starling Days is unlike anything I’ve ever read. Both quiet and scorching, this is a story about mental health, desire, and the myriad mythologies we both build and destroy. Rowan Hisayo Buchanan has offered us another supreme gift of a novel, a rare opportunity to love and forgive our darkest and most shimmering selves.” – T. Kira Madden, author of Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls

The moving new novel by the author of Harmless Like You, a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice and NPR Great Read

On their first date, Mina told Oscar that she was bisexual, vegetarian, and on meds. He married her anyhow. A challenge to be met. She had low days, sure, but manageable. But now, maybe not so much … Mina is standing on the George Washington Bridge late at night, staring over the edge, when a patrol car drives up. She tries to convince the policeman she’s not about to jump, but he doesn’t believe her. Oscar is called to pick her up.

With the idea of leaving New York for London – a place for Mina “to learn the floorplan of this sadness” – Oscar arranges a move. In London, Mina, a classicist, tries grappling with her mental health issues by making lists. Of WOMEN WHO SURVIVED – Penelope, Psyche, Leda. Iphigenia, but only in one of the tellings. Of things that make her HAPPY – enamel coffee cups. But what else? She at last finds a beam of light in Phoebe, and friendship and attraction blossom until Oscar and Mina’s complicated love is tested.

A gorgeously wrought novel, variously about love, mythology, mental illness, Japanese beer, and the times we need to seek out milder psychological climates, Rowan Hisayo Buchanan’s Starling Days – written in exquisite prose rich with lightly ironic empathy – is a complex and compelling work of fiction by a singularly gifted young writer. 

Buy the Book:
Owl’s Nest Books | Shelf Life Books

Borrow the Book from the Library:
Calgary Public Library

Rowan Hisayo Buchanan’s Other Book

Harmless Like You

“This brilliant debut novel by Rowan Hisayo Buchanan is cause for celebration.” – Lorrie Moore

Written in startlingly beautiful prose, Harmless Like You is set across New York, Berlin and Connecticut, following the stories of Yuki Oyama, a Japanese girl fighting to make it as an artist, and Yuki’s son Jay who, as an adult in the present day, is forced to confront his mother who abandoned him when he was only two years old.

Harmless Like You is an unforgettable novel about the complexities of identity, art, adolescent friendships and familial bonds, offering a unique exploration of love, loneliness and reconciliation.

Buy the Book:
Owl’s Nest Books Shelf Life Books

Borrow the Book from the Library:
Calgary Public Library

Rowan Hisayo Buchanan’s Recommended Books

Two Trees Make a Forest: In Search of My Family’s Past Among Taiwan’s Mountains and Coasts by Jessica J. Lee

NATIONAL BESTSELLER
WINNER
 of the 2020 Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Non-Fiction Prize
Shortlisted for Canada Reads 2021
One of The Globe and Mail’s “100 favourite books of 2020”
On CBC’s list of “the best Canadian nonfiction of 2020”

An exhilarating, anti-colonial reclamation of nature writing and memoir, rooted in the forests and flatlands of Taiwan from the winner of the RBC Taylor Prize for Emerging Writers

Two Trees Make a Forest is a finely faceted meditation on memory, love, landscape — and finding a home in language. Its short, shining sections tilt yearningly toward one another; in form as well as content, this is a beautiful book about the distance between people and between places, and the means of their bridging.” –Robert Macfarlane, author of Underland

A chance discovery of letters written by her immigrant grandfather leads Jessica J. Lee to her ancestral homeland, Taiwan. There, she seeks his story while growing closer to the land he knew.

Lee hikes mountains home to Formosan flamecrests, birds found nowhere else on earth, and swims in a lake of drowned cedars. She bikes flatlands where spoonbills alight by fish farms, and learns about a tree whose fruit can float in the ocean for years, awaiting landfall. Throughout, Lee unearths surprising parallels between the natural and human stories that have shaped her family and their beloved island. Joyously attentive to the natural world, Lee also turns a critical gaze upon colonialist explorers who mapped the land and named plants, relying on and often effacing the labor and knowledge of local communities.

Two Trees Make a Forest is a genre-shattering book encompassing history, travel, nature, and memoir, an extraordinary narrative showing how geographical forces are interlaced with our family stories.

Buy the Book:
Owl’s Nest Books Shelf Life Books

Borrow the Book from the Library:
Calgary Public Library

Open Water by Caleb Azumah Nelson

Open Water is tender poetry, a love song to Black art and thought, an exploration of intimacy and vulnerability between two young artists learning to be soft with each other in a world that hardens against Black people.” –Yaa Gyasi, author of Homegoing

In a crowded London pub, two young people meet. Both are Black British, both won scholarships to private schools where they struggled to belong, both are now artists — he a photographer, she a dancer — and both are trying to make their mark in a world that by turns celebrates and rejects them. Tentatively, tenderly, they fall in love. But two people who seem destined to be together can still be torn apart by fear and violence, and over the course of a year they find their relationship tested by forces beyond their control.

Narrated with deep intimacy, Open Water is at once an achingly beautiful love story and a potent insight into race and masculinity that asks what it means to be a person in a world that sees you only as a Black body; to be vulnerable when you are only respected for strength; to find safety in love, only to lose it. With gorgeous, soulful intensity, and blistering emotional intelligence, Caleb Azumah Nelson gives a profoundly sensitive portrait of romantic love in all its feverish waves and comforting beauty.

This is one of the most essential debut novels of recent years, heralding the arrival of a stellar and prodigious young talent.

Buy the Book:
Owl’s Nest Books Shelf Life Books

Borrow the Book from the Library:
Calgary Public Library

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