I reviewed Admission Requirements by Phoebe Wang & Dead White Men by Shane Rhodes for The Globe & Mail. Both books are excellent & highly recommended!
Phoebe Wang’s Admission Requirements is a lyrical meditation on identity, migration, family and community. It examines invisible – and indivisible – connections and boundaries. Wang opens with a question: “Are we done at last/with the idea of breaking ground/now that every bit of terra nullius has been subdued?” Terra nullius is Latin for “nobody’s land” – an expression that informed international law and enabled occupation. This open challenge announces Wang’s incomparable voice and vision, as she proceeds to break new ground on every page.
Admission Requirements swells with bodies of water, longing across distances, the unpredictability of currents when swimming and the loaded menace of foreign species, as in Invasive Carp. In Night Ferry, Wang writes, “Like the deck of a Ouija board, the boat crawls” toward a city that is “burning its birthday candles.” There’s something necessarily unsettling about the relationship drawn between what’s ominous and what’s universal.