Beyond Literary Landscapes—Greater Toronto Area

From my early beginnings as a young introvert, the public library has always been a bit of a refuge.  Years later, not much has changed, albeit with an additional affinity for endless hours spent scouring second-hand bookstores to add to my ever-growing “to-read” pile.

From one bookworm to another, this column will be underscoring and outlining various literary genres, authors, and recent reads and can serve as an introduction for those unfamiliar with these works, as a refresher for long-time aficionados, and maybe as an inspiration for readers to share their own suggested topics.


This week, instead of a specific focus on an author, genre, or theme, we take a look at a specific setting, namely the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and beyond.  Specifically, the GTA refers to Toronto, including Scarborough, North York, and Markham, as well as Durham, Halton, Peel, and York regions.

Authors who write about the area include David Chariandy, Eternity Martis, and Silmy Abdullah.

Additional authors include Austen Clarke, Zalika Reid-Benta, and MG Vassanji.


Some well-known novels located in the general Greater Toronto Area include Brother by David Chariandy, set just east of Toronto in Scarborough, They Said This Would Be Fun: Race, Campus Life, and Growing Up by Eternity Martis, taking place in Toronto and London, and Home of the Floating Lily by Silmy Abdullah, with many short stories taking place in east end Toronto and Scarborough.  In addition, students who would like to read more about this area may also enjoy Feel Ways: A Scarborough Anthology edited by Adrian De Leon, Téa Mutonji, and Natasha Ramoutaroronto.

Other examples of locally set books include We Have Always Been Here by Samra Habib, Saga Boy: My Life of Blackness and Becoming by Antonio Michael Downing, No New Land by MG Vassanji, Scarborough by Catherine Hernandez, More by Austen Clark, and Frying Plantain by Zalika Reid-Benta.


Many of these works take place in the Greater Toronto Area, particularly Toronto, Scarborough, East York, North York, as well as further in London and Hamilton, Ontario.


Many of these works take place during the 21 century.


These works may be of interest to readers who would like to read about their city (and surrounding areas), or those who would like to know more about the area.


AU’s wide range of diverse courses make it easy to study this topic in depth.  Courses related to novels set in the Greater Toronto Area are available in a variety of disciplines, including one’s that may fit into your Degree Works.  (Always check with a counsellor to see if these particular courses fulfill your personal graduation requirements!)

AU students interested in learning more about this topic may consider ENGL 351: Comparative Literature I, a senior-level, three-credit course, which examines “the national literatures, the voices of women, national myths and stereotypes, regionalism, and immigration.”  The current course revision includes works by Austen Clark and MG Vassanji.  (Please note that ENGL 211: Prose Forms and ENGL 212: Poetry and Plays are required prerequisites.  This course also requires prior course coordinator approval.)  Happy reading!

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