What We've All Been Waiting For: Most Anticipated Books of Fall 2011

In publishing, springtime arrives in the autumn, which marks the blossoming of scores of brand new books into the world. And though summer is decidedly still at its height, one can't help but look ahead to the bounty the Fall 2011 season promises to deliver.

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The Antagonist by Lynn Coady is her first novel since 2006's Mean Boy, and the story of a wayward man who discovers a former friend has written a novel stolen from his life. The Little Shadows by Marina Endicott, about the Vaudeville lives of three singing sisters, is eagerly awaited by readers who loved her Scotiabank Giller-nominated novel Good to a Fault. Natural Order is Brian Francis's very different follow-up to 2009 Canada Reads contender Fruit, a witty portrait of an older woman reflecting on the choices she's made throughout her life. In Frances Itani's Requiem, a man is pulled into a painful past to understand the effects of the Japanese-Canadian internment upon his family.

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Beauty Plus Pity by Kevin Chong is "the tragicomic modern immigrant's tale" of a wannabe-model whose plans are derailed when his fiancée leaves him, and the death of his father reveals a half-sister he never knew existed. Johanna Skibsrud's This Will Be Difficult to Explain and Other Stories is the first collection of short stories published by the writer of the Scotiabank Giller Award-winning novel The Sentimentalists. Happiness Economics by Shari Lapena is the story of a man who founds The Poets' Preservation Society, whose celebrity economist wife doesn't understand him. In The Reinvention of Love by Helen Humphreys, Chopin, George Sand, Alexandre Dumas and Victor Hugo mix with ordinary citizens in 19th century France.

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In The Perfect Order of Things, David Gilmour's first novel since the Governor General's Award-winning A Perfect Night to Go to China, the narrator of Gilmour's previous novels writes his fictional autobiography. Ami McKay's The Virgin Cure is the long-awaited follow-up to The Birth House, and promises to deliver the same combination of historical fact and mesmerizing fiction. The Big Dream is Rebecca Rosenblum's second collection of short stories, after the Metcalf-Rooke Award-winning Once, and follows the lives of several employees of Dream Inc., a lifestyle magazine publisher.

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Claire Tacon's In the Field on the 2010 Metcalf-Rooke Award, and is a novel about a woman returning to her hometown in Nova Scotia after the breakdown of her marriage. Once You Break a Knuckle by DW Wilson is a debut story collection set in the Kootenays, where life is "always dangerous, barbed with violence and the possibility of betrayal". Hold Me Now by Stephen Gauer tells of a man struggling to make sense of the world after the murder of his son. Stephens Gerard Malone's Big Town takes place in Halifax's Africville during the 1960s.

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Two noted poets mark their debuts as novelists, Dani Couture with Algoma, and Sina Queyras with The Autobiography of Childhood. And how about checking out The Journey Prize Stories 23, edited by acclaimed young writers Alison Pick, Sarah Selecky, and Alexander MacLeod?

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Great non-fiction to look forward to includes Room for All of Us by Adrienne Clarkson, Sunray: The Death and Life of Captain Nichola Goddard by Valerie Fortney, Damned Nations: Greed, Guns, Armies and Aid by Samantha Nutt and DarkMarket: CyberThieves, Cybercops, and You by Misha Glenny. In October, Conrad Black will tell his own story in A Matter of Principle. Dragon's Den star Arlene Dickinson writes about the art of the sell in Persuasion.

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In the arts, Dave Bidini releases Writing Gordon Lightfoot: The Man, The Music and the World in 1972, which focuses on Lightfoot and the 1972 Mariposa Music Festival. Carol Bishop-Gwynn's The Pursuit of Perfection: A Life of Celia Franca is a biography of the founder of the National Ballet of Canada. In Outside the Box: The Life and Legacy of Mona Gould, the Grandmother I Thought I Knew, Maria Meindl reassesses the life of poet/broadcaster Gould. In Stories About Storytellers, Douglas Gibson engagingly recounts his experiences publishing authors including Mavis Gallant, Alice Munro and Robertson Davies.

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Finally, two books not-to-be-missed by noted fiction writers taking a non-fictional turn are Walk Like a Man, Robert J. Wiersema's Bruce Springsteen book ("the liner notes for a mix tape, a blend of biography, music criticism, and memoir"), and Eating Dirt, Charlotte Gill's broad look at treeplanting culture, and its complicated role within the forest industry.

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The always surprising David McGimpsey's latest poetry collection is Li'l Bastard: "This is confessional poetry as written by a chronic trickster and a committed liar." Governor General's Award-winning Stephanie Bolster's A Page from the Wonders of Life on Earth is a new collection of "investigative poetry," a tour through zoos, aviaries, formal gardens and menageries to give a coherent vision of nature. The poems in Wanda Campbell's Daedalus Had a Daughter show the lives of girls and women, and "offers alternatives to flying too close to the sun and sinking into the sea." George Jonas' The Jonas Variations is "a literary séance", a collection of variations, imitations and translations of poetry that has inspired Jonas. Groundwork is the eagerly awaited debut by Amanda Jernigan.

And now for something completely different: a choose-your-own-adventure-type book for adults written from the perspective of a cat. Of course!

August 10, 2011
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