Garden Inventories: Reflections on Land, Place and Belonging
NOVEMBER 14, 2023
200 pages | ISBN 978-1-989496-77-0
In Garden Inventories: Reflections on Land, Place and Belonging, scholar Mariam Pirbhai looks carefully at the pocket of land she has called home in Southern Ontario for the past seventeen years, which she notes is a milestone for her, and asks how long it takes to be rooted to a place? And what does that truly mean? Seeing the landscape around her with the layered experience of a childhood spent wandering the world, Pirbhai shares her efforts to create a garden and understand her new home. From the strange North American obsession with non-fruiting fruit trees to the naming conventions of plants that erase their heritage, she casts a sharp eye on the choices that have shaped our gardens, and our society. Pirbhai considers wildflowers and weeds, our obsession with lawns, the choices in our plant nurseries and even our Canadian dedication to the cottage with warmth and humour. The result is a delightful collection of essays that invites the reader to see the beautiful complexity of the land around us all in a new way.
“A novice tree planter and gardener and self-described émigré-settler on Indigenous lands in Canada, Mariam Pirbhai’s cascading essays in Garden Inventories: Reflections on Land, Place and Belonging are an enticing metaphoray, as Robin Wall Kimmerer states it, a walk through one’s world with all of the senses – mind, body, emotion, spirit and imagination – in search of home. Pirbhai’s keen observations of North American obsessions in gardening, her musings aloud on land and ownership, and the often-unspoken relationship with Indigenous peoples, are informative and revealing. She invites readers to take a meditative walk through time with her as she names, compares, evaluates and reconciles the life of plants and trees native and non-native to North America, to the Grand River region and to the small garden that she and her husband tend to in southern Ontario.” – Rita Bouvier, author of A Beautiful Rebellion
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Mariam's book makes this great list.
2023 Fall Preview: Nonfiction (Attila Berki; Cassandra Drudi; Andrew Woodrow-Butcher, Quill & Quire, 02/08/2023)
Garden Inventories is on the Nonfiction preview this year.
Mariam Pirbhai is the author of a debut novel titled Isolated Incident (Mawenzi 2022) featured among CBC’s “65 Works of Fiction to Watch For in Fall 2022); and a short story collection titled Outside People and Other Stories (Inanna 2017), winner of the IPPY and American BookFest Awards. Pirbhai is Professor of English at Wilfrid Laurier University, where she teaches and specializes in postcolonial studies and creative writing. She is also the author or editor of several academic books on the global South Asian diaspora, including Mythologies of Migration, Vocabularies of Indenture: Novels of the South Asian Diaspora in Africa, the Caribbean, and Asia-Pacific (University of Toronto Press 2009), and Critical Perspectives on Indo-Caribbean Women’s Literature (Routledge 2013). Pirbhai has served as President of CAPS (Canadian Association of Postcolonial Studies, formerly CACLALS), Canada’s longest-running scholarly association devoted to postcolonial and global anglophone literatures. Pirbhai is the daughter of Pakistani immigrants whose arrival in Canada followed a circuitous route from England, the United Arab Emirates and the Philippines. She and her husband live in Waterloo, Ontario.