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Most Anticipated: Spring 2014 Fiction Preview

There are so many exciting books forthcoming in the first half of 2014, and we'll be rounding them up over the next few weeks. First up is fiction, where it's immediately clear that we've got so much to look forward to. 

"Spring" of course, is a relative term (except when it isn't—that whole business of the vernal equinox and all) but we live by aspiration here at 49th Shelf, and therefore the spring publishing season begins right now. There are so many exciting books forthcoming in the first half of 2014, and we'll be rounding them up over the next few weeks. First up is fiction, where it's immediately clear that we've got so much to look forward to. 


Pastoral (February) is a new novel by André Alexis, a modern take on the age-old genre. Hysteric (March), by Nelly Arcan, has been translated into English by David Homel; it is described as "a chronicle of life among twenty- and thirty-somethings, a life structured by text messages, missed cell phone calls, the latest DJs and Internet porn." In Waiting for the Man (April), by Arjun Basu, a New York advertising executive starts listening to the voice in his head with surprising and sensational results. We like the sound of Greg Bechtel's Boundary Problems (March), a collection that "vibrates on the edge of meaning, as carjackers, accidental gunrunners, small-town cabbies, and confused physics students struggle to wring meaning from the strange events that overtake them." And those of us who loved his last novel are looking forward to Jonathan Bennett's The Colonial Hotel (May), the story of Paris and Helen recast for the 21st century. 

Book Cover Novelists

Mark Blagrave, whose first novel, Silver Salts, was nominated for the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the Atlantic Book Award for First Book, returns with Salt in the Wounds (May), a collection of short stories about characters' connection to this simple molecule. Nothing for You Here Young Man (May) is the latest by Marie-Claire Blais, translated by Nigel Spencer. Mirror on the Floor (March) is a reissue of the 1967 first novel by George Bowering. Novelists (April), by C.P. Boyko, is described as "a comedy of manners (and manuscripts), rivaling Vanity Fair for its satirical wit . . . though not, mercifully, for its length." Claire Cameron's second novel, The Bear (February), is the story of two young children fending for themselves in Algonquin Park after a bear attacks their parents. 

Frog Music

Horror novel The Troop (February), by Nick Cutter (pseudonym for a well-known Canadian literary author), is described as "part Lord of the Flies, part 28 Days Later." Emma Donoghue is back with her first novel since Room: Frog Music (April). In it a French burlesque dancer in 1876 San Francisco fights to bring a friend's murderer to justice. The World Afloat (February) is a collection of 75 stories by the acclaimed writer M.A.C. Farrant. I’m Not Scared of You or Anything (April) is a new short story collection by Jon Paul Fiorentino, illustrated by Maryanna Hardy. For Today I am a Boy (January), Kim Fu's first novel, is the story of a prized only boy in a Chinese-Canadian family who knows that he is a girl inside. 

After Alice

The Confabulist (April) is the story of Harry Houdini and the man who killed him, and also Steven Galloway's follow-up to The Cellist of Sarajevo. Hiromi Goto's groundbreaking feminist novel A Chorus of Mushrooms (April) is being reissued in a special 20th Anniversary edition. The Location of Unknown Possibilities (April) is a new novel by Brett Josef Grubisic; Grubisic's previous novel, The Age of Cities, was nominated for a City of Vancouver Book Award. The Glass Character (March), by Margaret Gunning, takes place in 1920s' Hollywood, when a teenager's crush on a screen idol changes her life forever. The Fledglings (April) is the latest by David Homel; it is the story of the daughter of a Jewish bootlegger in Prohibition-era Chicago. In Karen Hofmann's After Alice (April), a retired professor returns to the Okanagan Valley to find that her childhood home is still haunted with memories of her deceased sister. 

Prairie Ostrich

Fire in the Unnameable Country (March), by Ghalib Islam, is described as "the result of William S. Burroughs, Philip K. Dick, and M.C. Escher collaborating on a sequel to Inception; it's set on the Arabian Peninsula in the aftermath of a Reagan-era imperial intervention." Prairie Ostrich (March), by Tamai Kobayashi, is the story of Imogene Murakami (aka "Egg"), who is growing up in the shadow of her parents' grief on an ostrich farm in Alberta. All the Broken Things (January), by Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer, is about a bear-wrestling Vietnamese boy growing up in Toronto's Junction neighbourhood during the 1980s.

Oakdale Dinner Club

7 Ways to Sunday (April) is a new story collection by Lee Kvern; Kvern's previous book, The Matter With Sylvie, was nominated for an Alberta Book Award and a ReLit award. We are excited about the short story collection How Does a Single Blade of Grass Thank the Sun (April) by the Journey Prize-nominated Doretta Lau. And Nancy Lee's long-awaited first novel is The Age (March), her follow-up to the story collection Dead Girls. Shani Mootoo's new novel is Moving Forward Sideways Like a Crab (April); it's about a man who discovers that his estranged mother is living as a man. New Tab (April), by Guillaume Morissette, chronicles a young video game designer's attempt to reset his life. And in The Oakdale Dinner Club (May), Kim Moritsugu gives "bedroom community" a whole new meaning with her story of a suburban woman who sets out to have an affair. 

I Was There the Night He Died

Readers are watching out for Heather O'Neill's follow-up to Lullabies for Little Criminals, the novel The Girl Who Was Saturday Night (May). Paradise and Elsewhere (April) is the new short story collection by Orange Prize-nominated writer Kathy Page. Brian Payton's new novel is The Wind is Not a River, a story of love and courage in the North Pacific during World War Two. Griffintown, by Marie Hélène Poitras, won the Prix littéraire France-Québec in 2012, and appears in English translation by Sheila Fischman (June). Governor-General's Award-winner Kate Pullinger has a new novel called Landing Gear (April); it's about an ash cloud and a stowaway. Journalist Elizabeth Renzetti turns to fiction with Based on a True Story (June). Ray Robertson's latest book since the much acclaimed Why Not?: 15 Reasons to Live is I Was There the Night He Died (March). In Human Solutions (April), Avi Silbertstein takes the reader to Chile in 1973 where a man who engineers social solutions to any and all problems finds himself entangled with a cult run by an ex-Nazi with torturous ties to the Pinochet dictatorship.

The Cuckoo's Child

Eva Stachniak follows her bestselling The Winter Palace with Empress of the Night (March), this time from the point of view of Catherine The Great herself. Renowned children's author Allan Stratton releases a novel for adults, a satire called The Resurrection of Mary Mabel McTavish (April). Poet and Spoken Word Artist Andrea Thompson releases her first novel, Over Our Heads (May). In The Cuckoo’s Child (April), by Margaret Thompson, a woman who has lost her son embarks on a journey to discover her own birth family, armed only with a few clues from wartime England. Miriam Toews is back with All My Puny Sorrows (May), about one woman's quest to keep her suicidal sister alive. Acclaimed playwright Larry Tremblay's latest novel, The Obese Christ, is translated into English by Sheila Fischman (April). Governor-General's Award-winning writer Helene Vachon's latest novel, A Matter of Gravity, appears in English translation by Phyllis Aronoff. Padma Vishwanathan, who won acclaim with her first novel, A Twist of Lemon, returns with The Ever After of Ashwin Rao (March), a story set among families who lost loved ones in the 1985 Air India bombing. Richard Wagamese, whose Indian Horse was celebrated with Canada Reads 2013, has a new novel called Medicine Walk (April). And Alexi Zentner follows up his acclaimed novel, Touch, with The Lobster Kings (May).

*See our Most Anticipated Non-Fiction and Most Anticipated Kids' Books lists for spring as well!

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