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By Love Possessed By Lorna Goodison, Emblem, 262 pages, $19.99

The subject matter is Jamaicans of various classes and castes, passionately in and out of love. The style is a cool, faintly decorous prose, incorporating a witty, idiosyncratic Jamaican patois. Goodison's alchemy of standard and Jamaican English places us deep within the consciousness of her people.

Ralph Ellison In Progress From Invisible Man to Three Days Before the Shooting By Adam Bradley, Yale University Press, 244 pages, $22

Though he only published one novel, 1952's The Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison is arguably the pre-eminent black American writer of the 20th century. Scholar Adam Bradley looks at the 40 years Ellison spent teaching and writing essays and journalism, and working on his unfinished second novel, and reveals important truths about Ellison, race, the writing process and the American identity.

Every Time We Say Goodbye By Jamie Zeppa, Vintage Canada, 342 pages, $21

Jamie Zeppa's first novel explores three generations of a Canadian family in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., Zeppa takes us from the Depression to the late 1970s, spreading out the full spectrum of the human experience in an unpretentious and thoroughly convincing way.

The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother By Amy Chua, Penguin, 244 pages, $17

Amy Chua, a law professor at Yale University, caused a storm of controversy with this book, in which she argued that western parents were too easy on their children, compared them unfavourably to herself and her own Chinese parents, and told of the ultra-strict rules she enforced on her daughters.

Confetti for Gino By Lorenzo Madalena, Guernica, 402 pages, $25

In this portrait of the Sicilian fishing community of San Diego, Calif., in the 1950s, originally published in 1959, Lorenzo Madalena focuses on the DeMarino family and the conflict between Gino DeMarino, who wants to marry outside the community, and his mother, who is determined that he will marry a nice Sicilian girl.

Tiger, Tiger By Margaux Fragoso, Douglas & McIntyre, 314 pages, $18

Margaux Fragoso reminds us that "child molesters" do not exist in some separate category of humanity. Fragoso spent 14 years, from the age of 7 to 21, in an intimate, off-and-on sexual relationship with Peter, and in this unflinching portrait of their time together, he emerges as a complex, haunted and haunting character.