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The Orenda

By Joseph Boyden (Hamish Hamilton)

Boyden's third novel, a grand historical epic documenting the tensions between the Iroquois and Huron set in early Canada, is unquestionably his best book. It's violent, tender, riveting and full of unforgettable characters.

The Luminaries

By Eleanor Catton (McClelland & Stewart)

Catton, the Canadian-born, New Zealand-raised 28-year-old winner of both the Man Booker Prize and the Governor General's Literary Award, had a remarkable year, but deservedly so. The Luminaries, set in 19th-century New Zealand, is an astounding exercise in voice and character.


By Lynn Coady (House of Anansi)

Coady's Giller-winning follow-up to her Giller-shortlisted novel The Antagonist, Hellgoing is a sleek collection of nine striking stories. It's also the first book of short fiction to take the country's most prestigious literary prize since 2006.

The Silent Wife

By A.S.A. Harrison (Penguin Canada)

In one of the year's most remarkable publishing stories, A.S.A. Harrison's chilling first novel, published shortly after her death, became a Gone Girl-style sensation, burning up bestseller lists around the world.

Emancipation Day

By Wayne Grady (Doubleday Canada)

Grady's long-awaited first novel, which arrives more than a dozen books into his storied career, is a piercing examination of the complexities of race in Canada, based on his own surprising family history.


By Margaret Atwood (McClelland & Stewart)

In this, the thrilling culmination to her MaddAddam trilogy, which began with Oryx and Crake and Year of the Flood, Atwood offers one of her best novels, at once intellectually stirring and extremely moving, a reminder of the possibilities of humanity itself.

Cataract City

By Craig Davidson (Doubleday Canada)

Davidson, long heralded for his gritty, tough stories, delivers again with this novel set in Niagara Falls. A finalist for the Giller Prize, it interestingly sets the stage for his next effort, a horror novel called The Troop to be published next year under the pseudonym of Nick Cutter.

The Son of a Certain Woman

By Wayne Johnston (Knopf Canada)

A surprising turn for the celebrated author of such CanLit staples as The Colony of Unrequited Dreams, Johnston's new novel tells the story of a boy named Percy, who's very, very in love with his mother. As elsewhere in his work, St. John's is here brought wonderfully to life.

Come Barbarians

By Todd Babiak (HarperCollins)

Known for his politically tinged satire, Babiak has written a thriller in cool blue and gunmetal grey, the taut, sometimes tragic, sometimes gory story of a man who is up against radicalized right-wing French forces to find his wife.

Oh, My Darling

By Shaena Lambert (Patrick Crean Editions)

Lambert's beautiful stories, which launched publisher Patrick Crean's new imprint at HarperCollins, are lives in miniature, each one bringing us familiar settings and situations, yet finding surprising and unexpected turns within.

Savage Love

By Douglas Glover (Goose Lane Editions)

One of Canada's best writers, Glover returns with a brilliant story collection displaying his considerable range and remarkably varied writerly gifts.

Born Weird

By Andrew Kaufman (Random House Canada)

Kaufman, who reviews children's books with the help of his kids for the Globe, is one of our finest chroniclers of the unexpected. His latest novel, about a group of very particular siblings who share the last name Weird, is hilarious and moving and delightfully bizarre.

Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die; Cherish, Perish: A Novel

By David Rakoff (Doubleday Canada)

A posthumous novel-in-verse, Love, Dishonor stands as the last testament of David Rakoff, beloved humourist, essayist and frequent contributor to This American Life. Above all, it is an argument for decency and beauty in a complicated world.

All We Want Is Everything

By Andrew Sullivan (ARP)

Sullivan, one of the country's most talented young writers, debuts with an extreme and extremely good short-story collection, a book of booze, bleakness and bruises. This is a writer to watch.

The Crooked Maid

By Dan Vyleta (HarperCollins)

Vyleta's moody and atmospheric novel set in Vienna after the Second World War was a finalist for the Giller Prize, and many expected him to win. His stylish prose and complex characters deserve a wider audience; hopefully this novel's success will bring him one.

The Demonologist

By Andrew Pyper (Simon & Schuster)

Pyper, whose previous hits include Lost Girls and The Killing Circle, makes a splash with this scary, sombre novel about a missing daughter and a father in crisis. The globetrotting first hundred pages are especially good, as is the nuanced tone of sadness laced throughout.

A Beautiful Truth

By Colin McAdam (Hamish Hamilton)

Not your ordinary book told partly from the perspective of a domesticated ape, Colin McAdam's third novel, published in the spring, has returned to prominence this fall after winning the Rogers' Writers Trust Fiction Prize.

River of Stars

By Guy Gavriel Kay (Viking Canada)

Kay's novels, magisterial blends of history and the fantastic, are always good. His latest, which returns to the China-inspired nation of Kitai in which his previous book, Under Heaven, was set, is an exemplary testament to the possibilities of the imagination.

A Tale for the Time Being

By Ruth Ozeki (Viking Canada)

A finalist for the Man Booker Prize, Ozeki's novel is an inspired puzzle box of a book spanning continents, stories and literary forms, yet somehow producing a mysterious and satisfying whole.


By Lisa Moore (House of Anansi)

Moore's thrillerish new novel, arriving just after she won CBC's Canada Reads for her previous book, February, is something of a departure for the Newfoundland author, though the prose remains classic Moore: precise, elegant, sparkling.

The Woman Upstairs

By Claire Messud (Knopf Canada)

Messud's book about an angry woman sparked much controversy, reviving the tired old discussion of whether characters must be likeable. Of course they mustn't, and Messud's stark tale proves the point perfectly.

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