I HATE HOCKEY Translator Peter McCambridge wins John Dryden Translation Prize

PeterMcCambridgePeter McCambridge, translator of I Hate Hockey and the forthcoming Adventures of Radisson with Baraka Books, has been awarded the prestigious John Dryden Translation Prize. The annual literary translation prize is awarded by the British Comparative Literature Association to what it considers to be that year’s best unpublished translation of poetry, prose, or drama from any period into English.

Peter’s winning entry was a translation from the first chapter of Bestiaire, Eric Dupont’s touching and often hilarious account of the aftermath of the Quiet Revolution, a part of history that remains relatively uncharted in Québec literature and all but unheard-of in English translation. Bestiaire was the novel that inspired Peter to become a literary translator, and he published his first translation, <a href="http://www.barakabooks singulair for”>I Hate Hockey by François Barcelo, with Baraka Books in 2011.

More information is available on Peter’s blog on literary translation in Québec. Read more John Dryden Translation Prize.

Sadly Bullying is a fact of life – Survive to day to thrive tomorrow

By Nick Fonda (Author of Principals and Other Schoolyard Bullies)

My first memory of being bullied goes back to Grade 3. The exact details are blurred beyond recall – or perhaps purged; our bodies do much self-healing without our being at all aware of the process. All that is left of that early experience is an image of me in the middle of a class of 8-year-olds, fearful and in tears. What came before and what came after, I do not recall.

Nick Fonda's most recent book is PRINCIPALS AND OTHER SCHOOLYARD BULLIES published by Baraka Books

Nick Fonda’s most recent book is PRINCIPALS AND OTHER SCHOOLYARD BULLIES published by Baraka Books. He taught school in Quebec and the UK.

The next year we moved to another city and I attended a different school. What did I do differently? I don’t remember, but I got through the rest of my schooling without being seriously victimized again, even though there were bullies around. I learned to be careful about people and places; I didn’t dare go into the boys’ washroom in my high school until I was in Grade 11, by which time the 20-year-old toughs in Tech Voc were a little less intimidating and I felt it was almost safe to stand for a minute at the urinal with my back turned. Bullying wasn’t newsworthy in those days, but it was very much a fact of life just the same.

I became a teacher and remained one for a long time. I had occasion to break up the occasional fight, and I know that at least a few times I was being used as a human shield by some students for whom getting from one classroom to another was a perilous journey. I have no doubt that I witnessed only a fraction of what was going on.

Only in the latter stages of my unexpectedly long career did I have parents approaching me with requests to intervene on behalf of a child who was being bullied, or to protect a child from the physical or psychological attacks of aggressive classmates. Sometimes I was able to help a little, but there were also times when I was of very little help, and on at least one occasion I probably made the situation worse.

As a child and an adolescent, I often wished for magic powers that might allow me to deal with injustices and inequalities. Superman comic books offered thrilling narratives but not a shred of practical information…But just as I long ago stopped dreaming of becoming a superhero, I no longer hold on to the hope that there is any real solution to the problem of bullying.There is something in Nature that pushes all forms of life to exploit the individual who is smaller or weaker or in some way different.

My father was a hobby farmer. One spring, in addition to ordering 100 newborn chicks, he also ordered 10 newly hatched turkeys. One of these turned out to be a runt. When we noticed that the other birds were pecking at the runt’s head, we removed him and put him in his own small enclosure.

He showed no signs of being happy on his own, ignoring his food to search for a break in the netting to rejoin the others. Eventually, we put him back, only to see the others almost immediately commence pecking at his head again.

With each blow, he would dip his head, but never would he try to flee or fight back.

We removed him several times, but in the end left him with the others. One morning we found him dead in the sawdust, his cranium cracked open.

In the course of writing about bullying, I found that I was no more successful than the creators of Superman in coming up with a blueprint for dealing with bullies.

There is no simple, universal solution. Fighting back can be as dangerous as running away.

The majority of the stories I have heard about bullying have led me to believe that, with luck, most of us will outgrow our bullies. If the stories have a moral, it might be: survive today to thrive tomorrow.

Nick Fonda of Richmond taught high school and elementary school in the Eastern Townships for more than a quarter of a century. He is also a journalist and author, most recently of Principals and Other Schoolyard Bullies, a book of short stories published by Baraka Books.

(Article published in the Montreal Gazette on Tuesday, January 10, 2012)


Baraka’s Books Now Available as Ebooks

Baraka Books is proud to announce that eight titles in our catalogue can now be purchased as Ebooks (in all formats). More titles will be available soon.

The eight titles are:

A People’s History of Quebec by Jacques Lacoursière and Robin Philpot Buy Ebook

Barack Obama and the Jim Crow Media, The Return of the Nigger Breakers by Ishmael Reed Buy Ebook

An Independent Quebec, The Past, the Present and the Future by Jacques Parizeau Buy Ebook

Break Away, Jessie on My Mind by Sylvain Hotte (Translated by Casey Roberts) – Winner of the John Glassco Prize awarded by the Literary Translators’ Association of Canada Buy Ebook

Roads to Richmond, Portraits of Quebec’s Eastern Townships by Nick Fonda Buy Ebook

Discrimination in the NHL, Quebec Hockey Players Sidelined by Bob Sirois Buy Ebook

You could lose an eye, My first 80 years in Montreal by David Reich Buy Ebook

The Riot that Nevers Was, The military shooting of three Montrealers in 1832 and the official cover-up by James Jackson. Buy Ebook

Baraka Books is grateful for the support received from La SODEC for the conversion of books to Ebook Format

Translator Casey Roberts wins John Glassco Literary Translation Prize for BREAK AWAY, JESSIE ON MY MIND by Sylvain Hotte

Winner of John Glassco Literary Translation Prize 2011

Winner of John Glassco Literary Translation Prize 2011

Casey Roberts was awarded the prestigious John Glassco Literary Translation Prize 2011 for his translation of Sylvain Hotte’s prize-winning young adult novel Break Away, Jessie on My Mind published in May 2011. The prize was presented to Casey at a Gala on September 25, 2011 organized by the Literary Translators’ Association of Canada/L’association des traducteurs et traductrices littéraires du Canada.

“In this young adult novel about hockey, love and the wilderness, the translator met the challenge of rendering the teenage narrator’s lively and quirky voice in a faithful yet inventive idiom. Break Away, Jessie on My Mind is a re-creation that reads as smoothly as the original” – The Jury.

Jury Members consisted of Sheila Fischman, Nelly Roffé and Lori Saint-Martin and was chaired by Karin Montin.

Break Away, Jessie on My Mind is the Translation of Sylvain Hotte’s Panache (Vol. 1 of Aréna), Les Intouchables, 2009).

Casey Roberts and Jury President Karin Montin at John Glassco Award Gala

Casey Roberts and Jury President Karin Montin at John Glassco Award Gala

Order the book directly: Order now


286 pp Trade paper   29.95  9781926824116

286 pp Trade paper 29.95 97819268241


Wilhelm Weike’s Arctic Journal and Letters (1883-84)
by Ludger Müller-Wille & Bernd Gieseking (Translated by William Barr)

Wilhelm Weike, a 23-year old ordinary handyman from Minden/Germany, accidentally found himself spending the year of 1883-84 among Inuit and wintering with whalers on Baffin Island in the Canadian Arctic. He was hired as servant to the fledgling scientist Franz Boas (1858-1942), later the eminent cultural anthropologist. During this sojourn Weike attended to and assisted Boas in his geographical and ethnological research following the first Polar Year of 1882-83. He kept a journal, a fascinating text and the longest he would ever write in his life, an exceptional piece of working-class literature.

This common man with basic education wrote a unique account of meeting and interacting with Inuit in a remote world totally alien to him. He keenly observes the life and habits of the Inuit, accepting them as equals and exhibiting no cultural arrogance. His journal provides an unusual historical glimpse of the human condition in the Arctic in the late nineteenth century. It complements the journals that Boas wrote simultaneously. Müller-Wille and Gieseking edited and annotated Weike’s journal extensively and, in addition, present his biography and highlight his observations and contributions next to Boas’ scientific work.

In bookstores November 1

Ludger Müller-Wille (anthropologist/geographer, McGill University) has studied human conditions in the circumpolar North—in Finland with Sámi and Finns, in Canada with Inuit, Dene, and Naskapi. His previous book is Franz Boas among the Inuit of Baffin Island 1883-1884 (1998).

Bernd Gieseking is a writer, playwright, and stage and radio comedian who, Like Weike and Boas, is from Minden, Germany. His dramatization of Weike’s and Boas’ arctic sojourn, The Colour of Water, premiered in 2010.

William Barr is a senior research associate with the Arctic Institute of North America, University of Calgary. He has translated many books from French, German, and Russian on Arctic and Antarctic explorers and scientists, including the arctic journals of Franz Boas.


278 pp   $27.95  9781926824123

278 pp $27.95 9781926824123


German “Mercenaries” with the British in Canada during the American Revolution (1776-83)



By Jean-Pierre Wilhelmy

The British Army that fought the American Revolutionaries was in fact an Anglo-German army. The British Crown had doubts about the willingness of English soldiers to fight against other English-speaking people in North America. It also doubted the loyalty of the Canadiens who had only just been taken over after the conquest of New France. It thus turned to the princes of German States, who were also relatives of England’s ruling family, to obtain troops. To the Americans, these soldiers are known as The Hessians. In return for large amounts of money, German princes and barons provided about 30,000 soldiers, of whom some 10,000 were located in Canada for up to seven years and 2,400 chose to remain in Canada after the war. Many were dragged unwillingly from their families and sent to fight in a war in which they had no interest. Those who remained in Canada represented close to five percent of the male population at the time. They melted into the French and English-speaking societies, their names were Gallicized or Anglicized, but their history was unknown until this book appeared, even to their own descendants.

Jean-Pierre Wilhelmy is a Montreal historian who, in the late 1970s, wanted to know where his ancestors came from and discovered a major unexplored part of Canadian history. He published his work in French originally in 1980s and has constantly updated it. He has also written two books of historical fiction based on his research. This updated English adaptation of his research is his first publication in English.

In bookstores in Canada, November 15 (March 2012 in the United States)

Fiction Fall 2011: PRINCIPALS & OTHER SCHOOLYARD BULLIES by Nick Fonda and I HATE HOCKEY by François Barcelo

I-hate-hockey-cover-lite-171x275“I hate hockey!” is the first and last sentence of this  novel by François Barcelo. But hockey is a pretext for unlikely adventure in this sardonic roman noir that at times flirts with the outrageous.

Narrator Antoine Vachon is a total loser living in a pitiful bachelor apartment after he has lost his wife and his job as a car salesman. When his son’s hockey coach is found dead, he is browbeaten into coaching the team for one game. He makes it through the game (to great comic effect), but things take a turn for the worse when they stop at a motel after the game. Who killed the former coach and why? Was Antoine’s son involved? Or his ex-wife? The late coach was liked by all and was a pillar in the community. He was close to his player, perhaps too close… Why is Antoine unable to communicate with his son?

François Barcelo’s humour and brilliant story telling is finally available in English. I Hate Hockey reads quickly, but is meticulously but stitched together. Though subtle signposts are present throughout, every development comes as a total surprise.

François Barcelo is a GG-award-winning novelist. I Hate Hockey is his first book to appear in English.

Barcelo is not a genius. He just has talent… but he has a lot of it.” Gilles Marcotte, L’actualité.

An excellent short thriller, set in somber surroundings, that also gets you laughing… darkly.” Jessica Émond-Ferrat


By François Barcelo
Translated by Peter McCambridge
In bookstores in Canada October 15, 2011
ISBN 978-1-926824-13-0


After his successful Roads to Richmond: Portraits of Quebec’s Eastern Townships, Nick Fonda now offers readers Principals & Other Schoolyard Bullies, a collection of eleven short stories that, while unified by a dark theme, are diverse and surprisingly optimistic.

Everybody knows that bullying is not limited to physical violence or intimidation and that bullies don’t necessarily look or dress like thugs. Through the voices of boys and girls, men and women, Nick Fonda recounts events and puts words to feelings and emotions that mark people’s lives. His characters include the biased principal who wreaks havoc as he protects his own pets, wicked adoptive parents, and the neighborhood tough who, with his parents’ approval, terrorizes anybody smaller than him.

Advance Praise

“Principals & Other Schoolyard Bullies tells the truth about school through these eclectic stories about the complicated lives of both students and educators, and a system that often purports to be about doing good, and ends up being something else entirely. Fonda’s characters are well-drawn, coming to life on the page with intelligence and imagination.” —Zoe Whittall, prize-winning poet and novelist, The Middle Ground

Principals & Other School Yard Bullies
In bookstores September 15, 2011
188 pages: Trade paper $19.95 ISBN 978-1-926824-07-9.

Troubling Silence on Jane Jacobs’ Writings on Nations and Separatism

Jane Jacobs’ book THE QUESTION OF SEPARATISM, QUEBEC AND THE STRUGGLE OVER SOVEREIGNTY is finally back in print augmented by a previously unpublished 2005 interview with her and a new preface. Below are excerpts from a recent article published in Counterpunch.

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Jane Jacobs, five years later

Troubling Silence on Jane Jacobs’ Writings on Nations and Separatism

By Robin Philpot *

Jane Jacobs passed away five years ago on April 25, 2006. She will be remembered for her matchless contribution to cities throughout the world.

Less remembered—sometimes belittled—is her work on nations, national sovereignty, and the relationship between cities and the development of nations. Yet her third and her forth books dealt specifically with these issues and, in light of the current election campaign in Canada, they are still very relevant. The Question of Separatism (1980) and Cities and the Wealth of Nations (1984) were published in the wake of her two seminal books on cities, The Death and Life of Great American Cities (1961) and The Economy of Cities (1968), both written before she moved to Canada.

Jane-JACOBS-cover-178x275Nagging questions remain five years after her death? Why has the work of a leading thinker on the unfolding story of nations received so little attention? Why is the only book she wrote about her adopted country, The Question of Separatism, never discussed? Why, unlike her other six books, was it out of print for 25 years? How can 35 experts put together a 400-page anthology, What we see, Advancing the observations of Jane Jacobs (2010), without mentioning the book?

Jacobs answered these questions in part in an interview she granted me in 2005. She pointedly broke with her no-interview policy because this interview was to focus on her book The Question of Separatism, Quebec and the struggle over sovereignty, 25 years after it appeared and ten years after the 1995 Quebec referendum on sovereignty.

Asked if the media ever talked to her about her book on separatism, Jacobs replied, “No. Practically never! You’re the first.” Explaining the silence she added: “Don’t want to think about it… or engage in talking pros and cons and why people feel this way. It’s an unwelcome subject (…) It was fear that there would be no more identity for Canada, that it would disintegrate if Quebec were to separate. It was foolish because there are so many examples of separatism, and nothing has disintegrated, unless they went to war. There were over thirty of these cases in very recent times since the issue of Quebec was raised in 1980.”

As in her other books, Jane Jacobs brought to bear her renowned capacity to observe the real world, avoided ideology and sloganeering, and set forth practical win-win solutions. Using examples, particularly that of Norway and Sweden, she discussed the timeless issues that influence—or afflict—debate on separatism in the world, such as emotion, national size and paradoxes of size, duality and federation, and the relationship between competing urban centres.

Jacobs posited that large regional cities and the nations they drive require a degree of political sovereignty to develop successfully, failing which they become “passive and provincial,” relegated to the shadow of a dominant city region. That is what she so accurately predicted about Montreal and Toronto, a result of the “gathering force” of national centralization concentrated in her home city of Toronto. She added that the desire for Quebec sovereignty was not about to disappear, unless of course Montrealers—and Quebecers—were ready to resign themselves to being a satellite of the greater Toronto city region. Ever the pragmatist, Jane Jacobs also showed how all parties stand to gain from a new arrangement that respects the Quebec people’s will for sovereignty.

The actors have changed since 1980 but the script remains the same. The current stalemat would not have surprised Jane Jacobs, who stood behind her 1980 conclusions. When I asked her in 2005 if she would write the same book again, she smiled confidently, “Yes, not because it is in my head, but because that’s the way it is in the world, and it still holds.”

Five years after her death, hopefully we will benefit from her work on nations as much as we have from her work of cities.

* Robin Philpot is Montreal writer and publisher whose 2005 interview with Jane Jacobs is published in the new edition of The Question of Separatism, Quebec and the Struggle over Sovereignty (Baraka Books 2011)

Ishmael Reed’s Barack Obama and the Jim Crow Media continues to spark debate

Rarely a week goes by that the Ishmael Reed’s important book of essays Barack Obama and the Jim Crow Media, The Return of the Nigger Breakers is not in the news. This is the book that was published in Montreal, Québec, because, according to Ishmael Reed’s agent, “no American publisher would touch it.”



Is the United States “post-race”? Ishmael Reed says no and makes a very convincing case in this book of essays covering the primaries, the 2008 presidential elections, and the aftermath.

“Isn’t it ironic,” writes Reed, “A media that scolded the Jim Crow South in the 1960s now finds itself hosting the bird.”

“With Ishmael Reed, the most persistent myths and prejudice crumble under powerful unrelenting jabs and razor-sharp insight.” Le Devoir, Montreal.

Now available: BREAK AWAY, JESSIE ON MY MIND by Sylvain Hotte and the great Jane Jacobs’ THE QUESTION OF SEPARATISM

Two new books in spring 2011.

Break Away, Jessie on my mind; the award-winning young adult novel by
Sylvain Hotte, Translated by Casey Roberts; Illustrated by Pierre Bouchard.
ISBN 978-1-926824-05-5 | $16.95 (April 1 2011; US May 2011)

Alexandre McKenzie lives on North Shore of the St. Lawrence River. In summer he rides the logging trails on his quad. Come winter he isa promising young hockey star who seeks solitude at a bush camp by the frozen lake. But when he plunges into a relationship with a girl plagued by tragedy, things turn ugly. Fighting his own demons Alex fights to hold his head high, like the bull moose that haunts him from the moment he meets Jessie. Break Away tells of friendship, family, pride and love. It’s a story that could happen wherever winter, hockey, and young people come together.

"From the first page it is hard to put down... excellent for teens... characters are lively, likeable and endearing." Info-culture

“From the first page it is hard to put down… excellent for teens… characters are lively, likeable and endearing.” Info-culture

“…“ They’re nice, the magic tricks, McKenzie, the fancy plays, the razzle-dazzle…. but I don’t give a damn if we won! That’s not what I’m here to talk about. It’s about you, your game.”

Normally, his lectures made me fidgety and I’d stare at the floor waiting for him to finish. But this time, I held my head up, grinning from ear to ear. My mind was a million light years from Larry’s office. I didn’t care about the game. Didn’t care about his advice or anything else. There was one indelible image planted in my brain: Jessie jumping up and down and cheering her heart out after I scored the winning goal.”….”

Sylvain Hotte is an award-winning writer of fiction for young adults and children. He was born in Montreal to an Innu mother and a Québécois father and now lives in Quebec City. His first series Darhan was astoundingly successful. Break Away, Jessie on my mind is the first book of a trilogy.

Casey Roberts is a translator and editor based in Montreal.


THE QUESTION OF SEPARATISM, Quebec and the Struggle over Sovereignty
By Jane Jacobs, with an exclusive unpublished 2005 interview with Jane Jacobs and a new preface by Robin Philpot
ISBN 978-1-926824-06-2 | $19.95 (April 2011)

Jane-Jacobs2-172x275The incomparable Jane Jacobs passed away five years ago on April 25, 2006. Baraka Books proudly offers readers a new edition of her third, least-known book to mark that anniversary. Undeniably a genius on urban issues, Jane Jacobs also grappled with the question of nations and political sovereignty. Out of print since the mid 80s, The Question of Separatism, Quebec and the struggle over sovereignty now includes a new preface and an exclusive and previously unpublished 2005 interview conducted in Jane Jacobs’ Toronto home just a year before she died. Random House first published the book in 1980.

“There’s no writer more lucid than Jane Jacobs, nobody better at using wide-open eyes and clean courtly prose to decipher the changing world around us.” San Francisco Chronicle.

Jane Jacobs (1916-2006) was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and lived in New York and Toronto. She wrote six other books that have sold in millions, including the groundbreaking The Death and Life of Great American Cities (1961).