Leading up to the holidays, we asked some of Canada's most notable authors for the one book they know they'll give this Christmas. Earlier this week we featured the picks of Lisa Moore, Todd Babiak, Steven Heighton, Stacey May Fowles, Cynthia Flood, Amber Dawn, Nicole Lundrigan, and Charlotte Gill.
Today, we add even more to the mix with Douglas Glover, Ayelet Tsabari, George Murray, Matthew Heiti, Catherine Bush, Saleema Nawaz, Jennifer LoveGrove, Kelli Deeth, and Sandra Ridley. You can link to their books, too (and be glad you did!).
Thanks to all the amazing authors who participated—and here's to another stunning year in Canadian books, writing, and reading.
Douglas Glover picks Leonard Cohen's Beautiful Losers: "Beautiful Losers is a blasphemous, masturbatory, scatological masterpiece, one of the few Canadian works of literature to escape the gravitational pull of verisimilitude (that seems to have a lock on the Canadian creative soul) and project itself into the larger world discourse of modernism and postmodernism.
After Beautiful Losers, one wonders why people keep trying to write nice, earnest novels. Of course, one wondered that after reading Rabelais, too. Also a lesson book on how to pray."
Douglas Glover's latest is the collection of short stories, Savage Love.
Ayelet Tsabari picks Kamal Al Solaylee's Intolerable: A Memoir of Extremes: "I’ll be buying Intolerable for a friend who could relate. This story of a Yemeni boy growing up gay in the Middle East is a sad one, so perhaps not the most obvious holiday choice, but it is also story of courage and hope, and a love song to Toronto, a city I’ve also grown fond of over the last few years."
Ayelet Tsabari is the author of The Best Place on Earth.
George Murray would not restrain himself to one pick. He chose David Seymour's For
Display Purposes Only, Elisabeth de Mariaffi's How to Get Along With Women, and Peter Roman's The Mona Lisa Sacrifice, saying:
"For Display Purposes Only is lean and mean and metaphysically keen. It's that rare beast, poetry that is both lyrical and allusive, yet deeply accessible. Seymour took many years between books, and the patience shows. I'm giving to people who are interested in poetry but haven't read a lot of contemporary work. This will blow their minds."
"How to Get Along With Women was this year's Giller longlist small press dark horse, and while it didn't get to the shortlist, it did earn accolades for doing something new and exhilarating with the short story. I'm giving it to women under 50, who I suspect will connect deeply with this."
"The Mona Lisa Sacrifice is literary novelist Peter Darbyshire's pseudonymous genre debut. It's a rip-roaring, millennia-spanning, blasphemous minecart careening through the dark underbelly of myth, religion, literature, and history. It'll appeal to fantasy, sci-fi, thriller, dark-humour and horror audiences alike, and leave its readers breathless."
George Murray is the author, most recently, of the poetry collection, Whiteout.
Similarly, Matthew Heiti wouldn't stop at one: "I'm going to be 'that guy' and give two answers, because the first one is a bit of cheat. I will be giving on beating, and getting beaten, Jeremy's Whiston's self-published chapbook. There's something about the holidays that blends joy and desolation so perfectly, and this is the most amazing collection of stab-in-the-heart, punch-in-the-gut stories I could hope to share. It's dark, but beautifully so. You can track down one of the last copies on his website.
The second pick is more traditional. I've purchased In the Skin of a Lion by Michael Ondaatje for more people than I can remember. It's the book that ignited my interest in personal mythology. It's also a lesson in how something can be both exhilarating and lyrical in every line."
Matthew Heiti's novel is The City Still Breathing.
Catherine Bush picks Rebecca Silver Slayter's In the Land of Birdfishes: "It’s so hard to choose one book. Before doing so, I’d like to give a shout-out to the books of all my fellow writers making recommendations here, and another to those books published just this year by the graduates of the Guelph MFA program, whose literary accomplishments continue to astonish me.
This time of year, as the long nights close in, I find myself yearning for stories that take pleasure in the telling of stories and that demonstrate the necessity of remaking the world in words. In that spirit, I’m going to give Rebecca Silver Slayter’s first novel, In the Land of Birdfishes, to someone in my family but—shhh—I can’t say to whom. This is a novel of wonder and darkness, of two sisters whose lives hurtle forward from early family tragedy. I love its tone, its generous and ardent storytelling. It’s the kind of novel about which I’d say, clear time to read this and follow its journey all the way through."
Catherine Bush's latest novel is Accusation.
Saleema Nawaz picks Wayne Johnston's The Son of a Certain Woman: "Johnston is one of Canada’s best writers, and he is wonderful in every register—from memoir to historical fiction to outrageous comedy. A tour de force of blasphemous hilarity, this book is a modern fable for all the proud misfits of the world."
Saleema Nawaz is the author, most recently, of Bone and Bread.
Jennifer LoveGrove picks Shaena Lambert's Oh, My Darling: "I try to only give books that I've already read and can personally recommend and tailor carefully to the recipient's interests or tastes, and I know that this short story collection will be appreciated for its subtle power, and that the giftee will enjoy it as much as I did. Every story in this book is strong, and each differs significantly the other, all exploring the complexities and contradictions that make us human, with a skilled mastery of tension and pacing."
Jennifer LoveGrove is the author, most recently, of Watch How We Walk.
Kelli Deeth picks ... Oh, My Darling, too: "It's a lovely, powerful collection. Shaena Lambert delves so deeply into the lives of her characters, and brings stories to life with exquisite detail and language."
Kelli Deeth's latest short story collection is The Other Side of Youth.
Sandra Ridley picks Julie Joosten’s Light Light: "This solstice, I’ll be giving Light Light to as many people as I can. Lovingly elegiac and elementally celebratory, this book comes from a writer who is fully attentive, and the work speaks of ways of being in the world. Her poems move through fields of ecology and fields of the mind, while playing with the ghosts of science. This is a remarkable collection of poetry where breath itself seems to illuminate each page. 'Lightning seed inhabitation, lightening second, I blushed to realize/that this can happen, the soul can travel between bodies.' I love it."
Sandra Ridley is the author of the poetry collection, The Counting House.
Check out Part One of this series for the picks of Lisa Moore, Todd Babiak, Steven Heighton, Stacey May Fowles, Cynthia Flood, Amber Dawn, Nicole Lundrigan, and Charlotte Gill.
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