A Twilight Celebration, Marie-Claire Blais, translated by Nigel Spencer (Arachnide): The eighth novel in Blais’s 10-book magnum opus, told in her signature stream-of-consciousness style, looks inward to the soul of the writer, something Blais knows about: She’s simply among the best writers working today.
The Walking Boy, Lydia Kwa (Arsenal Pulp Press): It’s a little bit fantasy, a little bit historical, weird in the best way and will hold you like only a good yarn can. Read this or Kwa’s Oracle Bone first – you’ll likely want to read both.
Broke City, Wendy McGrath (NeWest Press): The finale in McGrath’s portrait of the artist as a young girl growing up in working-class Edmonton, the Santa Rosa trilogy captures a young creative mind and a now-lost neighbourhood of the city.
Agnes, Murderess, Sarah Leavitt (Freehand Books): A graphic novel about a legendary woman, a Victorian-era serial killer in the B.C. Interior, this is really about the ghosts European immigrants brought to what turned out to be not such a “new” world.
The Girl Who Stole Everything, Norman Ravvin (Linda Leith Publishing): Set in Vancouver and a post-Communist village outside Warsaw, Ravvin’s novel is about what was lost in the Holocaust and asks how we contend with the crimes big and small that shape who we are.
Rebent Sinner, Ivan Coyote (Arsenal Pulp Press): Coyote ought to be recognized as one of Canada’s great humorists, although often the stories are the laughing-through-tears variety. A lot of grit and a lot of heart.
Swimming with Horses, Oakland Ross (Dundurn Press): Is it possible for a novel to be both a Bildungsroman about a sensitive Canadian teenager who loves horses and a noirish thriller about apartheid-era South Africa? Somehow, yes.
The Hope that Remains: Canadian Survivors of the Rwandan Genocide, Christine Magill (Véhicule Press): Twenty-five years later, 10 Canadians share their stories of the Rwandan genocide, warn of the dangers of ethnic hatred and tell us where they find hope – something worth living for.
Coconut Dreams, Derek Mascarenhas (Book*hug Press): These linked stories about the Pinto family – once of Goa, now of Canada – stick long after the first read. Each story is distinct – evidence of a great collection.
Little Blue Encyclopedia (for Vivian), Hazel Jane Plante (Metonymy Press): Plante makes it look easy, inventing an entire TV show as a device to talk about grief and unrequited love, but that is not easy at all. Super smart, and her debut to boot.
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