Table of contents
Some of this fall’s biggest new releases need little introduction. International heavyweights including Salman Rushdie (Quichotte), Ann Patchett (The Dutch House) and Alice Hoffman (The World That We Knew) will all have new books on the shelves, as will Tash Aw (We, the Survivors), Michel Houellebecq (Serotonin), Edna O’Brien (Girl), Olga Tokarczuk (Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead) and Stephen Chbosky (Imaginary Friend). Ta-Nehisi Coates will release his first novel (The Water Dancer), and Zadie Smith’s first collection of stories (Grand Union) will hit stores too.
Closer to home, we can look forward to new novels from past Giller Prize winners Lynn Coady (Watching You Without Me), Sean Michaels (The Wagers) and M.G. Vassanji (A Delhi Obsession), as well as a collection of stories (Island) and essays (The Nothing That Is: Essays on Art, Literature and Being) from Johanna Skibsrud. Oh yes, there’s also a new one from Margaret Atwood. But you’ve probably already heard about it quite a bit.
Night Boat to Tangier by Kevin Barry (Knopf Canada): Reading a Kevin Barry book is like taking a bath in a Ganges of language. The City of Bohane author’s latest takes place on a single night in a Spanish port, where two aging criminals await the titular voyage to Morocco. Bathe some more in the audio book, which is also narrated by Barry.
Empire of Wild by Cherie Dimaline (Random House Canada): Joan grew up with stories that, as she got older, “started to feel like the worry of an old woman with more time than teeth.” Stories like the one about the rougarou. Broke Lent? Talked back? Threw a punch? The wolf-like rougarou will come and get you. Or your family. Now, Joan is searching for her missing husband. But when she finds him, he claims to be the Reverend Eugene Wolff. Dimaline’s brilliant, award-winning YA-crossover debut, The Marrow Thieves, spent more than a year on the Canadian bestseller list and has a TV adaptation in the works. For her follow-up, she takes inspiration from the traditional story of the werewolf-like rougarou, who haunts the roads and woods of small Métis communities. Dimaline’s blunt writing style makes for a tense reading experience, and the Georgian Bay-set novel renders Ontario as much a character as Joan or the rougarou itself.
Ducks, Newburyport by Lucy Ellmann (Biblioasis): This 1,020-page novel, which has made the Booker short list, is told in one breathtaking sentence (yes, you read that correctly). Narrated by an Ohio mother, this story of Trump’s America is being hailed as a modern Ulysses.
The Difference by Marina Endicott (Knopf Canada): Aboard a Nova Scotian merchant ship sailing the South Pacific in 1912, a woman forms a bond with a young boy. She brings him aboard, taking him as her own. The repercussions reverberate through this novel about difference.
Welcome to America by Linda Bostrom Knausgard (World Editions): In Bostrom Knausgard’s first book to be published in North America, a young girl stops talking after believing she killed her mentally ill father through prayer. An examination of faith, family, trauma and silence – and if the author’s name seems familiar, that’s because it is: She’s the former wife of that Knausgard.
The Topeka School by Ben Lerner (McClelland & Stewart): Already praised by the likes of Maggie Nelson, Rachel Kushner and Sally Rooney, the latest from award-winning MacArthur Fellows recipient Lerner (Leaving the Atocha Station, 10:04) sees him take on toxic masculinity in a nineties-set family saga sure to find new fans for the author.
Cursed! Blood of the Donnellys by Keith Ross Leckie (Douglas & McIntyre): A young Irish couple sets sail for Canada in 1846, fleeing famine and the disapproval of the woman’s parents. As the century wears on in rural Ontario, the Donnelly family cultivates new enemies. The troubles of the old country are not behind them after all.
The Man Who Saw Everything by Deborah Levy (Hamish Hamilton): The newest release from playwright, novelist and essayist Levy (Swimming Home, Hot Milk) is a slim, time-shifting novel set in former East Germany and London. When a young historian, about to travel to the GDR, is hit by a car, his life and relationships are derailed in far-reaching ways.
The Little Fox of Mayerville by Eric Mathieu (QC Fiction): Following the liberation of France in 1945, a young boy is born into a loveless family. Mere months later, he can speak in several languages, but his mother is unimpressed. Translated from French by Peter McCambridge, this novel from the small publisher of last fall’s surprise hit Songs for the Cold of Heart follows the fortunes of young Émile as he comes of age and searches for his real father in a changing France.
Chasing Painted Horses by Drew Hayden Taylor (Cormorant Books): Three friends on the cusp of adolescence add an odd 10-year-old girl to their group and are drawn into her fantasy world. Novelist and scriptwriter Taylor’s latest is set on a reserve north of Toronto.
Dealing with the Apocalypse
Greenwood by Michael Christie (McClelland & Stewart): In 2038, humanity struggles after an environmental collapse known as the Great Withering. One hundred years earlier, families struggle to survive in the Dust Bowl. In a narrative that first retreats, then advances through time, as through the growth rings of a tree, a remote island off the B.C. coast housing one of the world’s last remaining forests links the fates of five people over the course of a century. The novel, whose pages have beautiful, dipped edges resembling the cross-section of a grand tree trunk, has landed on the long list for the Scotiabank Giller Prize.
After the Flood by Kassandra Montag (HarperCollins Canada): America is under water, reduced by climate change to a few mountain-top colonies. In this postapocalyptic world reminiscent of The Road or Station Eleven, a mother embarks on a treacherous journey in search of her missing daughter. This is a big-buzz debut.
Rising Tides: Reflections for Climate Changing Times by Catriona Sandilands (ed.) (Caitlin Press): Carleigh Baker, Sonnet L’Abbé and Kyo Maclear are among the contributors to this collection of fiction, non-fiction and poetry, in which writers, climate-change experts and activists address the past, present and future of our warming planet.
Four New Voices
The Monster of Elendhaven by Jennifer Giesbrecht (Tor): In Nova Scotia native Giesbrecht’s debut, a monster who cannot be killed stalks an ocean city abandoned by the South and left to die. A compelling fantasy of darkness and cunning.
There Has to Be a Knife by Adnan Khan (Arsenal Pulp Press): Pay attention to Arsenal Pulp Press, a major force in indie Canadian publishing whose authors are finding big success. This debut novel by the 2016 RBC Taylor Emerging Writer Award-winner is an already much-praised story of race, masculinity and contemporary relationships.
Crow Winter by Karen McBride (Harper Avenue): After losing her father, Hazel Ellis decides to move back to her reserve. Algonquin demigod Nanabush, the old crow of Hazel’s dreams, comes to help her with her grief, but she soon discovers there’s more to it. An old quarry on her father’s land is stirring the magic between worlds, and Nanabush is there to unravel a web of deceit that could ruin her family. For fans of Eden Robinson and Tracey Lindberg, this debut from Algonquin Anishinaabe writer McBride is one to watch.
Different Beasts by J.R. McConvey (Goose Lane Editions): Including the Journey Prize-shortlisted How the Grizzly Came to Hang in the Royal Oak Hotel, this debut collection of wild, fantastical and strange stories asks what it means to be both human and monster.
New non-fiction from Linden MacIntyre (The Wake), Naomi Klein (On Fire), David Adams Richards (Murder: And Other Essays), Leslie Jamieson (Make it Scream, Make it Burn) and Malcolm Gladwell (Talking to Strangers) will be hitting shelves this fall. Here are a few more.
Halfbreed by Maria Campbell (McClelland & Stewart): Correcting the record: In 2018, a researcher discovered two unpublished pages of Campbell’s classic 1973 memoirs about her experiences as a Métis woman in Canada. Removed from the original without the author’s consent, those pages, in which she details her rape by an RCMP officer, appear for the first time in this new edition, which also carries a new afterword by the author.
Murdered Midas: A Millionaire, His Gold Mine, and a Strange Death on an Island Paradise by Charlotte Gray (HarperCollins): Popular historian Charlotte Gray (The Massey Murder) turns her keen eye toward another underdocumented chapter in history with an investigation into the 1943 murder of gold-mining tycoon Sir Harry Oakes. Styled at the time as “the crime of the century,” Oakes’s gruesome demise and the bungled investigation that followed it filled the papers and fascinated readers. But questions about his missing vast fortune remained unanswered, and although suspicion fell heavily on Oakes’s son-in-law, no murderer was ever convicted. Oakes’s story traverses prospecting in Canada and well-heeled socializing in the Bahamas, with characters including the former King Edward VIII. Gray brings fresh eyes, deep research and her trademark page-turning, plot- and character-driven style to this fascinating history of a scandal that rocked the postwar world.
Possess the Air: Love, Heroism and the Battle for the Soul of Mussolini’s Rome by Taras Grescoe (Biblioasis): Standing up to fascists is the historical (yet, sadly timely) focus of the latest book from the author of Straphanger and Bottomfeeder. At the height of Mussolini’s power, three people (two of them Canadian archeologists) defied the rising tide of populism in a bid to bring down Italy’s despot. This is their story.
Into the Planet: My Life as a Cave Diver by Jill Heinerth (Doubleday Canada): “If I die, it will be in the most glorious place that nobody has ever seen,” world-renowned explorer and cave diver Heinerth wrote. Blending memoirs and science, and featuring exceptional photography, this book promises to transport armchair adventurers to untouched corners of the watery world.
Peace and Good Order: The Case for Indigenous Justice in Canada by Harold R. Johnson (McClelland & Stewart): Moved to write by the outrage following the verdicts in the Colten Boushie and Tina Fontaine cases, former Crown prosecutor and bestselling author Johnson makes an urgent, informed and intimate condemnation of the Canadian justice system’s failures to serve Indigenous communities.
Truth Be Told: My Journey Through Life and the Law by Beverley McLachlin (Simon & Schuster): Following the huge success of her bestselling novel, Full Disclosure, the former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada shares her own story, from a childhood in the Alberta foothills to a seat in the country’s highest court.
Strangers in the House: A Prairie Story of Bigotry and Belonging by Candace Savage (Greystone Books): Author of more than a dozen books on a broad swath of topics, Savage possesses an essential Canadian voice and renowned curious mind. In her first book since the Hilary Weston Prize-winning A Geography of Blood (2012), she pieces together the history of the first occupant of her Saskatchewan home and discovers a family story marked by challenge and resilience.
Democracy in Canada: The Disintegration of Our Institutions by Donald J. Savoie (McGill-Queens University Press): It’s election season. Amid the attack ads and new promises of the parties, and some new tomes weighing in on the Justin Trudeau’s performance thus far, consider this book by award-winning public-administration scholar Savoie, which examines the historical failings of our national political institutions.
Blanket Toss Under Midnight Sun: Portraits of Everyday Life in Eight Indigenous Communities by Paul Seesequasis (Knopf Canada): An extension of Seesequasis’s social-media project to share positive stories and images of indigenous communities through the 20th century, this book features archival photographs, essays and interviews. An untold history brought to the page through a prism of positivity.
Yours, for Probably Always: Martha Gellhorn’s Letters of Love and War 1930 – 1949 by Janet Somerville (Firefly Books): This carefully curated collection of letters between war correspondent, journalist and novelist Gellhorn and her friends, colleagues and lovers – among them Dorothy Parker, Chiang Kai-shek and her husband, Ernest Hemingway – reveals the exciting life of a brilliant woman whose work paved the way for many who followed behind her.
NDN Coping Mechanisms: Notes from the Field by Billy-Ray Belcourt (House of Anansi): Dedicated to “those who have survived history and those who haven’t,” the new collection from one of the most important voices in contemporary Canadian poetry examines the realities of everyday life and Indigenous history.
Devil in the Woods by D.A. Lockhart (Brick Books): An Indigenous speaker engages with a series of famous, non-Indigenous Canadians, from Sarah Polley to Emily Carr, in this collection challenging the traditional view of Canada’s history.
Morning Glory on the Vine: Early Songs & Drawings by Joni Mitchell (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt): With Mitchell now in her late 70s, this compendium of handwritten lyrics and drawings, originally created for friends in 1971, is finally available to the public.
Re-Origin of Species by Alessandra Naccarato (Book*hug): The debut collection from the Bronwen Wallace Award and CBC Poetry Prize winner combines personal narrative and natural study to tell a story of adaptation and evolution.
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