Canadian Suburban: Reimagining Space and Place in Postwar English Canadian Fiction
15 April 2022
Though a large proportion of Canadians live in suburban communities, the Canadian cultural imaginary is filled with other landscapes. The wilderness, the prairie, cityscapes, and small towns are the settings by which we define our nation, rather than the strip mall, the single-family home, and the developing subdivision, which for many are ubiquitous features of everyday life.Canadian Suburban considers the cultures of suburbia as they are articulated in English Canadian fiction published from the 1960s to the present. Cheryl Cowdy begins her excursion through novels set between 1945 and 1970, the heyday of modern suburban development, with works by canonical authors such as Margaret Laurence, Richard B. Wright, Margaret Atwood, and Barbara Gowdy. Her investigation then turns to the meaning of the suburbs within fiction set after the 1970s, when a more corporate model of suburbanization prevailed, and ends with an investigation of how writers from immigrant and racialized communities are radically transforming the suburban imaginary. Cowdy argues there is no one authentic suburban imaginary but multiple, at times contradictory, representations that disrupt prevalent assumptions about suburban homogeneity.Canadian Suburban provides a foundation for understanding the literary history of suburbia and a refreshing reassessment of the role of space and place in Canadian culture and identity.