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Great gifts: U of T books of 2013

Highlights of the year in publishing by alumni, faculty, students and staff

Alumna and U of T instructor Rita Leistner explores what it was like to "examine the face of war through the extensions of man" (author photo by Lisa Petrole)

Festive shoppers searching for that last-minute gift can choose from an eclectic array of books published by University of Toronto faculty, students, staff and alumni in 2013.

The choices range from alumna Margaret Atwood’s acclaimed novel MaddAddam, final instalment of the trilogy that includes Oryx and Crake and The Year of the Flood, to alumna Rita Leistner’s just-released Looking for Marshall McLuhan in Afghanistan – the award-winning photojournalist’s account of an experiment that saw her embedded with the U.S. Marine Corps in Helmand province using social media and her smartphone to expand the boundaries of war reporting.

“I arrived home from Afghanistan in the spring of 2011 with a smartphone full of photographs and a bad case of the blues," said Leistner, an instructor at U of T. "Looking for McLuhan, who I knew almost nothing about, began as a kind of prophylactive therapy to keep me from sliding into full-blown depression. It ended in an amazing journey of process and discovery: both self-help book and guidebook to this time in history when smartphones and war first collide.”

Earlier this year, U of T News published a photo gallery showing some of the books by U of T authors on publishers' spring lists. Since then, the gift-giving options have only increased. Highlights of the year's books include great reads for kids such as the acclaimed novel Curse of the Dream Witch  from award-winning children’s author and Victoria College alumnus Allan Stratton, and Trinity College alumna Teresa Toten's The Unlikely Hero in Room 13B, winner of the 2013 Governor General’s award for children’s literature.

Toten was joined on the Governor General’s awards list by School of  Continuing Studies instructor and University College Barker Fairley Distinguished Visitor Shyam Selvadurai who was nominated for the 2013 Governor General’s Award for Fiction for The Hungry Ghosts.

Fellow Continuing Studies instructor Cary Fagan also had a banner year, publishing the children’s novel Danny, Who Fell In A Hole and the picture book Oy, Fey, So and seeing his 2012 picture book Mr. Zinger’s Hat, win the $20,000 Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award in October. Meanwhile, Fagan’s critically-acclaimed adult novel, A Bird’s Eye, was nominated for the 2013 Rogers’ Writers’ Trust Prize. 

However, the Rogers’ Writers’ Trust Prize went to U of T alumnus Colin McAdam for A Beautiful Truth.

U of T authors turned up on nomination lists for every major Canadian literary award this year. School of Continuing Studies instructor Dennis Bock was nominated for the 2013 Scotiabank Giller Prize for Going Home Again

Bock’s colleagues at School of Continuing Studies also published many gift options for fiction and poetry fans in 2013. Instructors' works include: The Other Side of Youth by Kelli Deeth; Her Hair Rises on the Wings of Insects by Catherine Graham; and Up and Down by Terry Fallis.

Works published by students from the School include: Running Scared by Beverley Terrell-Deutsch and Rachel’s Promise by Shelly Sanders. And staff member Ed Carson, director and chief academic officer at the School, saw his book, Birds Flock Fish School named one of top 50 book covers of the year.

For fans of non-fiction, the U of T options are also extensive. Just published this month: The History of the Kiss! by semiotics professor Marcel Danesi. Or alumna Michelle Orange’s This Is Running For Your Life, a collection of essays published earlier this year that received extensive praise in publications ranging from The New Republic to Harper’s. Orange is a contributing editor at The Rumpus and a regular contributor to Capital New York whose essays, features, fiction and criticism have appeared in McSweeney's, The Nation, the Virginia Quarterly Review, the New York Times, the Village Voice, Movieline and other publications.

Alumnus and Faculty of Music staff member John Beckwith co-edited with alumnus and professor Robin Elliott Mapping Canada's Music: Selected Writings by Helmut Kallmann. Kallmann (1922-2012) was himself a Faculty of Music graduate (1949) and a U of T honorary graduate (1971) who served as head of the CBC Music Library and became the founding head of the music division of the National Library of Canada (now Library and Archives Canada), Ottawa. His History of Music in Canada 1534-1914 (University of Toronto Press, 1960) was the first historical account of Canadian musical life; he also founded the Canadian Association of Music Libraries and was senior editor of the Encyclopedia of Music in Canada. The new book includes the first English-language publication of Kallmann’s memoir of growing up in a Jewish family in pre-War Berlin. Nearly all his relatives perished in the Holocaust, and he settled in Canada after spending three years in a prison camp for "enemy aliens." 

Iris Au and Jack Parkinson, senior lecturers in economics in the Department of Management at the University of Toronto Scarborough created a Canadianized version of the macroeconomics section of the Krugman/Wells text, Economics, Third Edition, maintaining the structure and spirit of the U.S. version but adapting it to reflect Canadian macroeconomic policies and to appeal more directly to Canadian instructors and students, replacing U.S. data sets, cases, research and policy discussions with Canadian material.

And award-winning economist and University of Toronto professor Wendy Dobson has just published Partners and Rivals: The Uneasy Future of China’s Relationship with the United States, with Rotman-UT Publishing.

Partners and Rivals forcefully reminds us that all politics, including geopolitics, start at home,” said Joseph Caron, former Canadian Ambassador to China. “Wendy Dobson’s thoughtful, informed and up-to-date analysis of the drivers and future prospects of U.S.-China relations is grounded in the domestic challenges that China must not only address, but overcome. She argues that no power becomes 'super' absent a strong economic basis, which is a useful and important reminder that the stage is set for a very long game indeed.”

To see the book covers of some of these works and more scroll through the photo gallery below.