The Other Woman: Women of Colour in Contemporary Canadian Literature


457 pages
Contains Photos, Bibliography
ISBN 0-920813-47-X
DDC C810.9'9287




Edited by Makeda Silvera
Reviewed by Lisa A. Dickson

Lisa A. Dickson teaches English at McMaster University in Hamilton.


The Other Woman is a collection of essays and interviews with, and by,
Canadian women writers from a wide range of cultural backgrounds.
Surveys like Uma Parameswaran’s “Names Resonant and Sweet: An
Overview of South Asian Canadian Women’s Writing” introduce the
reader to the richness of this group’s literary activity in the
context of what she calls the “three R’s of feminist literary
scholarship: retrieval, recording and re-reading,” while articles such
as Frederick Case’s “Babylon and the Spirit Lash” and Lien
Chao’s “Constituting Minority Canadian Women and Our Sub-Cultures:
Female Characters in Selected Chinese Canadian Literature” provide
close readings in a critical context. Saloni Mathur’s “bell hooks
Called Me a ‘Woman of Colour’” and Arun P. Mukherjee’s
“Canadian Nationalism, Canadian Literature and Racial Minority
Women” interrogate the defining terms of the collection’s title,
exploring the ideological and critical implications of the very project
in which they are engaged.

The interviews, which are conducted either by Makeda Silvera or by
other writers, are given titles (e.g., “Sky Lee Talks to C. Allyson
Lee” and “Maria Campbell Talks to Beth Cuthand”) that suggest
conversations rather than more traditional interrogation-and-answer
sessions. Here, in what is really the heart of the book, we hear writers
talking to writers about what it means to write as and about women of
color in Canada. Even Dionne Brand’s (playful?) resistance to the
interview format and refusal to discuss “process” are potentially as
revealing as her insistent reiteration of commitment to that process.
Each interview adds a personal voice to the critical analyses provided
elsewhere in the collection.


“The Other Woman: Women of Colour in Contemporary Canadian Literature,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 27, 2024,