Adjacencies: Minority Writing in Canada


256 pages
Contains Bibliography
ISBN 1-55071-167-9
DDC C810.9'8





Edited by Lianne Moyes et al
Reviewed by Carol A. Stos

Carol A. Stos is an assistant professor of Spanish Studies at Laurentian


Adjacencies is a collection of 12 essays (with an introduction by Sherry
Simon) that grew out of a 1998 conference on Canadian minority writing
at l’Université de Montréal. The contributors address the issue of
writing from many different perspectives, both cultural and
intellectual. The variety and interdisciplinarity of their critical
approaches—from cinema, psychoanalysis, and gender studies to
comparative literature, feminist criticism, and Native studies, among
others—provide rich and thought-provoking fare.

The essays demonstrate the vitality of Canadian minority writing and
recognize that the energy and experimentation that mark these works are
powering a shift from the periphery toward the centre. As Simon notes,
the “simple ideas of difference” are no longer viable. Amaryll
Chanady, Lucie Lequin, and Daisy Neijmann go to the heart of the matter
as they focus on the difficult and amorphous notion of “minority
writing.” Domenic Beneventi and Lianne Moyes treat spatial
relationships and spatial reconfiguration in their respective studies of
Italo-Canadian writers and Robert Mazjel’s novel City of Forgetting.

Language is the focus of essays by Licia Canton, Christl Verduyn, and
Pamela Sing, but for each it is a different language (Italian, Dutch,
and French, respectively) and a different issue: the tensions that arise
from the intercalation of another language in an English text; the
effacement of a mother tongue that is always present through its loss;
the “invisibility” of the author who writes and publishes in one
official language from within an extreme geographical, psychic, and
linguistic isolation in the other.

Julie Rak, studying the prison diary of the Freedomite Doukhobors, and
Heike Harting, discussing the performative force of metaphor in Austin
Clarke’s work, examine the effect of a particular form of writing or
writing practice “when it is deployed by emergent subjectivities.”
Don Randall and Samara Walbohm each reread a classic literary text to
consider how critical interpretations distort literary identities when
these texts are transposed to another medium (film) or problematized by
the publication of a “pre-text.”

This collection is an insightful contribution to the study of Canadian
minority writing and a testament to its complexity and innovation.


“Adjacencies: Minority Writing in Canada,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 17, 2024,