While reading Cheryl Cowdy’s Canadian Suburban: Reimagining Space and Place in Postwar English Canadian Fiction, I was transported back to my adolescence in Etobicoke, a suburb of Toronto that was amalgamated into the city in the late 1990s. The settings and themes that Cowdy unearths in fiction resonated with my memories of growing up on the fringes of Canada’s largest city: a landscape of houses with finished basements, apartment towers, malls, ravines, and highways, permeated by feelings of alienation and a desire for escape. The book elicits personal reflections because of its emphasis on coming-of-age narratives, as well as the author’s own suburban origin story. Yet despite the apparently common longing of suburban youth to find themselves elsewhere, Cowdy’s return to suburbia in its literary guises uncovers an unexpectedly rich and diverse terrain for investigation.
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Cheryl Cowdy, Canadian Suburban: Reimagining Space and Place in Postwar English Canadian Fiction (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2022).