PuSh Blog

Cozy Up! Your Holiday Reading List is Here

December 06, 2018

New this holiday season, PuSh and the Vancouver Public Library have created reading lists for selected 2019 PuSh Festival shows. Grab your library card, brew some coffee (or may we suggest hot chocolate?) and have a blanket ready for these timely and insightful reads, handpicked by librarians at the VPL.

Kiinalik: These Sharp Tools
Buddies in Bad Times Theatre (Canada)

A concert, a conversation and a multimedia performance all in one, Kiinalik: These Sharp Tools is the meeting point for two people—Inuk artist Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory and queer theatre-maker Evalyn Parry—and two places: Canada’s North and South.

After having met on an Arctic expedition from Iqaluit to Greenland, Williamson Bathory and Parry now share a stage; these two powerful singers and storytellers, aided by music and video projection, give voice and body to the histories, culture and climate we’ve inherited, and ask how we reckon with “these sharp tools.

In the Inuktitut language, when a knife is dull, it is said to “have no face”. The word “kiinalik” translates to mean the knife is sharp—or, “it has a face.” Embodying the stories of their heritage, Parry and Williamson Bathory put a face to the colonial histories, power structures and changing climate that lie between them, producing an unforgettable encounter in the process.


The VPL compiled a list of books relating to the many themes addressed in this show, including: colonialism, Inuit culture & history, and reconciliation.

  1. Dunning, Norma. Annie Muktuk and Other StoriesEdmonton: The University of Alberta Press, 2017.
  2. Fortier, Craig. Unsettling the Commons: Social Movements Within, Against, and Beyond Settler ColonialismWinnipeg: ARP Books, 2017.
  3. Manuel, Arthur. The Reconciliation Manifesto: Recovering the Land, Rebuilding the EconomyToronto: James Lorimer & Company Ltd., 2017.
  4. Morra, Linda, and Deanna Reder. Learn, Teach, Challenge: Approaching Indigenous LiteraturesWaterloo: Wilfred Laurier University Press, 2016.
  5. Nungak, Zebedee. Wrestling with Colonialism on Steroids: Quebec Inuit Fight for Their HomelandMontreal: Véhicule Press, 2017.
  6. Samson, Colin. Indigenous Peoples and Colonialism: Global PerspectivesCambridge; Malden: Polity Press, 2017.
  7. Watt-Cloutier, Sheila. The Right to Be Cold: One Woman’s Story of Protecting Her Culture, the Arctic, and the Whole PlanetToronto: Allen Lane, 2015.
  8. Weetaltuk, Eddy. From the Tundra to the TrenchesWinnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 2016.
  9. Capitaine, Brieg, and Karine Vanthuyne. Power Through Testimony: Reframing Residential Schools in the Age of ReconciliationVancouver; Toronto: UBC Press, 2017.

Selina Thompson (UK)

The Transatlantic Slave Triangle connected Africa with Europe and the Americas; it was the transport route for innocent masses stolen in the name of racism and greed. Some of us look away from this tragic history, while others have the courage to face it head-on. Among the brave is Selina Thompson, and in this gripping performance she recounts her journey along one stretch of the route by cargo ship. Speaking directly to the audience, she holds forth on the past, both recent and distant; on confinement, both physical and mental; on the ways in which people forget and the choice they can make to remember…

Combining ritual, ceremony and oratory to powerful effect, Thompson’s work is as social as it is theatrical: she works to generate discussion about the ways we might heal and change. For all its communal power, though, salt. is an intensely personal work. It offers us large-scale history through the prism of one disquieted soul.


The VPL compiled a list of books relating to the many themes addressed in this show, including: heritage, slavery, and grief.

  1. Basker, James. Amazing Grace: An Anthology of Poems about Slavery, 1660-1810. New Haven; London: Yale University Press, c2002.
  2. Butler, Octavia. KindredBoston: Beacon Press, 1988, c1979.
  3. Gyasi, Yaa. HomegoingToronto: Bond Street Books, a division of Penguin Random House, 2016.
  4. Jones, Edward. The Known WorldNew York: Amistad, 2003.
  5. Levy, Andrea. The Long SongLondon: Headline Review, 2010.
  6. Marlon, James. The Book of Night WomenNew York: Riverheads Books, 2009.
  7. Morrison, Toni. BelovedNew York: Knopf, 1987.
  8. Nelson, Alondra. The Social Life of DNA: Race, Reparations, and Reconciliation After the GenomeBoston: Beacon Press, 2016.
  9. Reynolds, Graham. Viola Desmond’s Canada: A History of Blacks and Racial Segregation in the Promised Land. Halifax; Winnipeg: Fernwood Publishing, 2016.
  10. Selvon, Samuel. The Lonely LondonersToronto: TSAR, 1991.

Pancho Villa From a Safe Distance
Graham Reynolds and Lagartijas Tiradas al Sol (USA/Mexico)

This bilingual, cross-border, cross-genre opera about the enigmatic general, legendary bandit and hero of the Mexican Revolution presents a non-linear collage of scenes from, or inspired by, his life. Six musicians—playing keyboards, drums, violin, cello, electric guitar and bass/tuba—accompany two singers, who in turn are aided by both pre-recorded and live video images, frequently overlaid.

Originally commissioned by Ballroom Marfa, this award-winning project brings together an impressive array of artistic collaborators from both sides of the Rio Grande, including Austin-based composer Graham Reynolds and librettists Lagartijas Tiradas al Sol of Mexico City. Melding an avant-garde aesthetic with political overtones and a blend of Tejano and Mexican music, the piece provides a timely focus on the relationships and overlaps between the communities of Mexico and the US, as well as the borderlands in between.


The VPL compiled a list of books relating to the many themes addressed in this show, including: Mexican revolution, borders, and Mexican-American history and current relationship.

  1. Barkan, Joshua. Mexico: StoriesLondon; New York: Hogarth, 2017.
  2. Bolaño, Roberto. 2666New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2008.
  3. Cantú, Francisco. The Line Becomes A RiverNew York: Riverhead Books, 2018.
  4. Corchado, Alfredo. Homelands: Four Friends, Two Countries, and the Fate of the Great Mexican-American MigrationNew York: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2018.
  5. Groom, Winston. El Paso: A NovelNew York: Liveright Publishing Corporation, a division of W.W. Norton & Company, 2016.
  6. Herrera, Yuri. Signs Preceding the End of the WorldLondon; New York: And other stories, 2015.
  7. Knight, Alan. The Mexican Revolution: A Very Short IntroductionOxford: Oxford University Press, 2016.
  8. Moore, John. Undocumented: Immigration and the Militarization of the United States-Mexico BorderBrooklyn: PowerHouse Books, 2018.
  9. Selee, Andrew. Vanishing Frontiers: The Forces Driving Mexico and the United States TogetherNew York: Public Affairs, 2018.
  10. Stone, Michel. Border Child: A NovelNew York: Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, 2017.
  11. Quintana, Alejandro. Pancho Villa: A BiographySanta Barbara: Greenwood, c2012.
  12. Urrea, Luis Alberto. Into the Beautiful North: A NovelNew York: Little, Brown and Co., 2009.
  13. Urrea, Luis Alberto. The Devil’s Highway: A True StoryBoston: Little, Brown, c2004.
  14. Urrea, Luis Alberto. The House of Broken Angels: A NovelNew York: Little, Brown and Company, 2018.
  15. Velázquez, Carlos. The Cowboy Bible and Other StoriesBrooklyn: Restless Books, 2016.
  16. Vulliamy, Ed. Amexica: War Along the BorderlineNew York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2010.