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Although most brick-and-mortar bookstores might not yet reopen in the early days of 2021, there are more than enough reasons to keep those stores’ online ordering systems in healthy business over the next few months. Here are five Canadian books we can’t wait to read this year.
The Push by Ashley Audrain
Audrain, former publicity director for Penguin Canada, has written a psychological thriller about motherhood that led to a bidding war and record-breaking deal that will see the debut novel published by her former employer, Penguin Canada, and in many other markets simultaneously – including the U.S. and U.K.
Blythe Connor has her first baby, but the experience is not all it’s cracked up to be. Is there something wrong with her daughter? Or is this just maternal anxiety, as her husband believes? Then she has another child, Sam, and feels all those emotions she had expected the first time around. But then … Whatever happens next has people who have read it raving that this book is unputdownable. (Jan. 5, Viking Canada)
Gutter Child by Jael Richardson
Richardson’s debut novel is a dystopian tale that should provide some distraction from – and insight into – our own hellish times. She has created a divided world: The Mainland is where the privileged live; the Gutter is where the enslaved are forced to work to pay off a societal debt.
Elimina Dubois, 14 when the novel begins, is one of 100 children who were taken from the Gutter and raised in the Mainland as part of a social experiment. But when her Mainland mother dies, she is sent away – to a new school and a new world, where she learns some devastating lessons. (Jan. 26, HarperCollins)
Return of the Trickster by Eden Robinson
I have had a(n entirely appropriate) literary crush on Jared Martin – a teenage pot dealer with a heart of gold – since Son of a Trickster was published two years ago. By book two, Trickster Drift, Jared had moved from Kitimat to Vancouver, but could not shake his demons. I was still smitten, fretting over the fate of the now-17-year-old as he navigated the hazards of the big city – both human and supernatural. So I’ve been counting the days until I can read the trilogy’s conclusion, Return of the Trickster, which its publisher promises offers an “explosive, surprising and satisfying resolution” – just what we will need one year into this pandemic. (March 2, Knopf Canada)
Sufferance by Thomas King
King is a master of so many genres. This novel fits right in with these fraught times that have shone a light on financial, racial and social inequality. Protagonist Jeremiah Camp has a gift – he can see the patterns that generate opportunities for the rich and powerful. But when his visions leave him feeling hopeless about the future, he takes off and goes into hiding at an old residential school on a small reserve, shutting himself off from the world – except that it turns out that is one thing he can’t do. His publisher calls this “a bold and provocative novel about the social and political consequences of the inequality created by privilege and power – and what we might do about it.” (May 18, HarperCollins)
Care Of by Ivan Coyote
Finding all of their gigs suddenly cancelled in March and their schedule unprecedentedly clear, Coyote finally found time to deal with a huge backlog of correspondence. They began writing replies: heartfelt and heartbreaking, candid and caring, hilarious and inspirational. If the bring-the-Zoom-house-down reading Coyote did on opening night of the Vancouver Writers Fest is any indication, this book is going to be the kind of thing that will help get us through the last difficult months as we begin to emerge from the COVID-19 nightmare. The pandemic has caused so much harm, but has also offered some gifts: such as the time to reflect and connect, like this book. (June 8, McClelland & Stewart)