January is a fine time for looking ahead, and for scoping out the scene on the forthcoming reading year. Spoiler: it's going to be a good one. Throughout the month, we'll be sharing titles of books you're going to be falling in love with. This week it's fiction; don't miss our kids' book preview from last week.
The fifth instalment in Cathy Ace's Cait Morgan mystery series is The Corpse with the Sapphire Eyes (May), in which Cait's destination wedding (at a Welsh castle, no less!) gets tied up in murder. In her debut novel, Things You’ve Inherited From Your Mother (May), Hollie Adams "takes the conventional wisdom about 'likeable' literary heroines and shoves it down an elevator shaft." Fifteen Dogs (April), by André Alexis, is a story about Hermes and Apollo granting human consciousness to a group of dogs in order to settle a drunken bet about human happiness. Anita Anand's first book is Swing In the House and Other Stories (May), which reveals the complexities of modern family life. And Suzanne Alyssa Andrew's debut is Circle of Stones (March), about one man's cross country search for his missing girlfriend, told from the separate perspectives of intricately linked strangers.
Breakneck (May), by Nelly Arcan, Jacob Homel trans., is the story of two women who share a submissive love for the same man. Gary Barwin's latest fiction collection is I, Dr. Greenblatt, Orthodontist, 251-1457 (June). The second book by Michel Basilières (following the acclaimed Black Bird) is A Free Man (May), a boy-meets-girl story of the worst kind and a time travel story about a future where the world is ruled by robots and humans are vermin. In The Girl Who Was Born that Way (May), Gail Benick tells the story of a not-exactly-ordinary Jewish family, trying to bury its Holocaust past while starting over in post-war USA.
Attention mystery lovers! Joanne Kilbourn is back in Gail Bowen's latest tale, 12 Rose Street (March). And Flavia de Luce returns as well in Alan Bradley's As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust (January). One Hundred Days of Rain (March), by Carellin Brookes, is written in prose reminiscent of Elizabeth Smart’s beloved novel By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept, exposing the inner workings of a life that has come apart. Award-winner Carol Bruneau's new book is These Good Hands (April), which interweaves the biography of French sculptor Camille Claudel and the story of the nurse who cares for her during the final days of her 30 year incarceration in France's Montdevergues Asylum. Novelist and Filmmaker Martyn Burke's new book is Music for Love or War (March), about two Afghan vets lost in the wilds of Los Angeles. The second book in Steve Burrows' well-reviewed Birder Murder series is A Pitying of Doves (May), which begins with the curious question, "Why would a killer ignore a cache of expensive jewellery and take a pair of turtle doves as his only bounty?"
With Chinkstar (June), Jon Chan Simpson mashes up the (graphicless) graphic novel and the second-generation-immigrant narrative to forge a bold new vision of what the novel can be. Kristi Charish's debut is Owl and the Japanese Circus (January), the story of a modern-day “Indiana Jane” who reluctantly navigates the hidden supernatural world. Michael Christie follows up his award-winning short story collection with a novel, If I Fall, If I Die (January), of which Patrick de Witt has said, "Rarely has the tender claustrophobia of the mother-son dynamic, the raw humanity of mental illness, or the delicate, dangerous process of growing up been rendered with such heart and sensitivity." Celebrated author Joan Clark's new novel is The Birthday Lunch (June), about a family caught in the aftermath of unexpected loss.
Lynn Crosbie’s new novel, Where Did You Sleep Last Night? (May), is a fantastical love story about a teenage girl who embarks on a relationship with the dead spirit of Kurt Cobain. Set in mysterious, magic-riddled 7th-century England, Against a Darkening Sky (April) is Lauren B. Davis's first novel since the Scotiabank-Giller-nomined Our Daily Bread. Another Giller-nominee, Elisabeth De Mariaffi, launches her first novel, The Devil You Know (January), about a rookie reporter whose memories of the murder of her childhood best friend bring danger—and a stalker—right to her doorstep. And Aaron Cully-Drake's debut novel is Do You Think This Is Strange? (April), about an autistic teenager with a talent for boxing and the new girl in his class who is an old friend and helps bring him to a moment of truth.
Famous Last Meals (April), by Richard Cumyn, is a trio of contemporary novellas about the roles we play in an inauthentic age when everyone is an actor. The latest in William Deverall's Arthur Beauchamp series is Sing a Worried Song (April). In Welcome To the Circus (May), by Rhonda Douglas, a choir processes its collective grief at the loss of one of its members to cancer; a teenage boy marks himself with the poetry of John Donne; God explains the collapse of the cod fishery; Mata Hari stands trial; and two sisters try to reconcile their respective places in the family porn emporium business before everything blows up. And more! Kim Echlin, whose novel, The Disappeared, was nominated for the Scotiabank-Giller Prize, returns with Under the Visible Life (March), a story that takes readers from the bustling harbour of Karachi to the palpable political tension on the streets of 1970s Montreal to the smoky jazz clubs of New York City.
Ruined Abbey (May) is the latest in Anne Emery's Collins-Burke series, a prequel set in 1989 as The Troubles are raging in Ireland. Her readers are looking forward Close to Hugh (May), the new novel by Marina Endicott, in which two generations in a seemingly ordinary small town navigate extraordinary rites of passage during one fateful week in autumn. Katherine Fawcett's first book, The Little Washer of Sorrows (March), is a collection of short stories that explores what happens when the expected and usual are replaced with elements of the rare and strange. Saltwater Cowboys (February), by Dayle Furlong, tells of the misadventures of a Newfoundland family displaced to the wilds of rural Alberta. This Godforsaken Place (May), by Cinda Gault, is the story of a woman in 1885 who buys a rifle and sets off on a journey towards New York, towards Annie Oakley and Bill Cody’s Wild West Show, where adventure and love await.
The latest from W. Mark Giles, whose first book won the W.O. Mitchell City of Calgary Book Award, is Seep (May), about a man trying to preserve the stories of his hometown, which is being redeveloped as a master-planned recreational townsite to complement a nearby First Nations casino. Safe As Houses (May) is the latest book for adults by Susan Glickman, about how a confrontation with murder in a genteel Toronto neighbourhood peels away its veneer of security and civility. James Grainger's first novel, Harmless (May) is set over the course of a single day and night, a tense and provocative story about a weekend reunion of old friends that takes a terrifying turn when two teenage girls go missing. Of Entropic (May), by RW Gray, Douglas Glover says that the author "writes like nobody else; risky, edgy, erotic, subversive, even macabre short stories, very contemporary, coded with solitude, but reaching for myth, always beautiful and astonishing.”
Cauchemar (March) by Alexandra Grigorescu is an eerie and romantic Southern gothic drama that takes place on the banks of a haunted Louisiana Swamp. At the Water’s Edge (March) is the latest by Sara Gruen, eagerly awaited by fans of her previous Water for Elephants. What Can’t Be Undone (March) is the first collection of short fiction by dee Hobsbawn-Smith, a collection anchored in the Western Canadian landscape, and the natural imagery which has become synonymous to the area reigns supreme. Annabel Lyon raves about Gracelessland (May), the debut novel by Adam Lindsay Honsinger: "The son of an 'alcoholic, taxi-driving, amateur astronomer and a disillusioned manicurist', Kepler Pressler—the anti-hero of Adam Honsinger's startlingly assured first novel—does for the family-disfunction novel what Elvis did for rock n roll: he makes it bluesier, edgier, funnier, better."
Etta and Otto and Russell and James (January), the debut novel by Emma Hooper, is the story of an 82-year-old woman who begins walk from Saskatchewan to the ocean in the company of a mystical coyote. Robert Hough follows up his acclaimed Dr. Brinkley's Tower with The Man Who Saved Henry Morgan (April), which is being called "The Sisters Brothers meets Master and Commander." Get ready for a new novel by Helen Humphreys, The Evening Chorus (February), about an English officer at a POW camp in Germany who incongruously starts studying a pair of birds, as his wife and sister back home in London begin to form a surprising friendship. Clifford Jackman's first novel is The Winter Family (April), a "a hyperkinetic Western noir" that traces a gang of ruthless outlaws from their beginnings during the American Civil War to a final bloody showdown in the Territory of Oklahoma.
Fans of the short story are not going to want to miss Knife Party at the Hotel Europa (March), by Mark Anthony Jarman, his first book since 2008's My White Planet. Sharon Johnston's first book is Matrons and Madams (April), historical fiction about the establishment of the first venereal disease clinic in Nova Scotia. A Desperate Fortune (April), by Susanna Kearsley, is the eagerly-awaited new title one of the country's best-loved romance authors. In Specimen (June), Irene Kovalyova gives us stories that are a unique exploration of science and the human heart—fitting for a writer with a doctoral degree in microbiology, in addition to her MFA in Creative Writing from UBC. And fans of Lori Lansens' previous novels will be looking forward to The Mountain Story (April), about a man finally telling a story of a tragic wilderness misadventure that has haunted him for decades.
The Outside Circle (May), by Patti LaBoucane-Benson, illustrated by Kelly Mellings, is a graphic novel about two Aboriginal brothers surrounded by poverty, drug abuse, and gang violence, who try to overcome centuries of historic trauma in very different ways to bring about positive change in their lives. The Thought House of Philippa (May), by Suzanne Leblanc, translation by Oana Avasilichioaei & Ingrid Pam Dick, is a novel whose chapters are set in the various rooms of the house Ludwig Wittgenstein designed for his sister in Vienna, and lays out one woman's intensely emotional and intellectually acute way of seeing the world and her place in it. With Lost Boi (March), Sassafras Lowrey has created a subversive queer punk novel that reimagines the classic Peter Pan story. The Sweetest One (May) by Melanie Mah is the story of a Chrysler Wong, a teenage girl growing up in central-western Alberta who uffers from debilitating fear brought on by belief in a family curse, whereby she and her siblings will each die at age 18 when they leave their small hometown. Three siblings have already died; the fourth, her favourite, has left town and is incommunicado.
Described as Stephen Marche's "break-out novel," The Hunger of the Wolf (February) begins with the heir to America's second-wealthiest business dynasty found dead and lying naked in the snow, and is an epic, genre-busting tale of money, morality, and the American Dream. Paul Nicholas Mason's third novel is Night Drummer (April), the story of two friends—one white middle class, and the other a native boy adopted by evangelical Christians—growing up together during the 1970s. The Breakwater Book of Contemporary Newfoundland Short Stories (June) is going to be a humdinger of an anthology, edited by Larry Mathews, with contributors including Michael Crummey, Jessica Grant, Lisa Moore, and Michael Winter. Alice in Plunderland (March), by Steve McCaffrey and Clelia Scala, is part of a larger project of McCaffrey "queering the classics"; in the rough-and-tumble world of Plunderland, where theft, drugs, and gangs hold sway, and nary a tea party is to be found, the Cheshire Cat is a junkie from the UK; the King and Queen hold court over the land of Cocaine; even Alice's adventures are transformed in her quest for a fix.
Don McLellan, whose previous book was nominated for the ReLit Award, releases Brunch With the Jackals (March), which explores the dark side of urban life through stories that combine black comedy, observational invective, and heart-wrenching irony in a collection of neo-noir fiction whose protagonists range from a young boy playing war games with toy soldiers to a junkie who can't control his aggressive impulses. Backspring (May) is the latest by Judith McCormack, whose short story collection, The Rule of Last Clear Chance, was nominated for the Commonwealth Writers' Prize and the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Award. And Leah McLaren's second novel is A Better Man (April), about a man whose cynical ruse to get a better divorce settlement teaches him the value of the family he's on the verge of losing.
Neil McKinnon, whose Tuckahoe Slidebottle was short-listed for the Stephen Leacock Award for humour and for the Alberta Book Award for short fiction, releases The Greatest Lover of Last Tuesday (March), a comical novel about sexuality, relationships, and aging. Tessa McWatt's new novel, Higher Ed (March), explores the ways in which people find love in desperately uncertain times. Award-winner Pamela Mordecai's latest is Red Jacket (February), about a young woman growing up on the Caribbean island of St. Chris who is plagued by the mystery surrounding her birth and a yearning to understand her heritage and who she truly is. Fresh on the success of her second novel, The Girl Who Was Saturday Night, Heather O'Neill has a new short story collection out, The Daydreams of Angels (April). Set in 1600s New England, Beth Powning's A Measure of Light (March) tells the story of Mary Dyer, a Puritan who flees persecution in Elizabethan England only to find the Puritan establishment in Massachusetts every bit as vicious as the one she has left behind.
Andrew Pyper, master of the thrills, terrifies us once again with a new novel, The Damned (February), about a survivor of a near-death experience haunted by his beautiful, vindictive twin sister. In quirky, imaginative stories about writing and writers, Bartleby, scrivener (a.k.a. Meredith Quartermain), goes her stubborn way haunted by Pauline Johnson, Malcolm Lowry, Robin Blaser, Daphne Marlatt, and other forebears with I, Bartleby (April). Nothing Like Love (April) is Sabrina Ramnanan's debut novel, about a complicated love in 1974 Trinidad. Twenty One Cardinals (June) sees Jocelyn Saucier's award-winning novel, Il pleuvait des oiseaux, translated into English by Rhonda Mullins. Mark Sampson's third book is the short story collection, The Secrets Men Keep (April), about the comic possibilities that arise from our shifting sense of what it means to be a man. Sigal Samuel's debut novel, The Mystics of Mile End (May), is the story of a not-so-typical family in Montreal's Mile End, home to a mashup of hipsters and Hasidic Jews, where around the corner crazy Mr. Katz is trying to recreate the Biblical Tree of Knowledge out of plucked leaves, toilet paper rolls, and dental floss.
The Pain Tree (April) is a new short story collection by Olive Senior (April), whose Dancing Lessons was a finalist for the 2012 Amazon.ca First Novel Award and for the 2012 Commonwealth Writers Prize. Gisela Sherman's The Farmerettes (March) is like TV's Bomb Girls, but set on the farm, as a group of young women in small town Ontario come together for a summer of farm work as part of the war effort during World War Two. One Night in Mississippi (February), by Craig Shreve, is the story of a young activist brutally murdered in Civil Rights–era Mississippi whose brother years later becomes determined to bring his killers to justice. In Andy Sinclair's debut novel, Breathing Lessons (February), a homosexual everyman wonders if he can he find the lasting intimacy he craves in his life amidst the equal-opportunity freedom afforded by his generation's openness. Boo (February) is the debut novel by Neil Smith, whose Bang Crunch made waves a few years back, about a 13-year-old boy who wakes up in a strange kind of heaven. And Confidence (April) is a new collection by Russell Smith, his first since Young Men in 1999.
Of Giving Up (May) by Mike Steeves, Pasha Malla notes, "Somehow Mike Steeves has written a page-turner about stray cats and trips to the bank, and a story that treads through the banalities of everyday life with such precision to cast each detail, every gesture and object and silence, with great meaning." The Video Watcher (May) is Shawn Curtis Stibbards' first book, "an American Psycho for the age of social disaffection." Boring Girls (April), by Sara Taylor, is about anything but, a mash-up of heavy metal, murder and female friendship. The Guy Who Pumps Your Gas Hates You (March), by Sean Trinder, is a comic novel about one man's attempt to get his life back on track after working so long pumping gas that he's actually good at it. And Priscila Uppal follows the success of her memoir, Projection: Encounters With My Runaway Mother, with a short story collection, Cover Before Striking (January).
Jane Urquhart's new novel is The Night Stages (April), set mainly in a remote area of County Kerry in the ’40s and ’50s. Daddy Lenin and Other Stories (April), by Guy Vanderhaeghe, is a brand new short story collection to follow his bestselling epic frontier trilogy. In The Capacity for Infinite Happiness (April), by Alexis von Konigslow, a young mathematician conducting research for a graduate thesis on measuring the influence of interpersonal relationships unearths a long-buried secret about her family history (in which Harpo Marx is implicated). Ledger of the Open Hand (May), by Leslie Vryenhoek, is about an optimistic teen who leaves her small prairie town and spends the next decade of her life trapped in the orbit of her charismatic college roommate. The city in Jo Walton's latest, The Just City (January), was created as an experiment by the time-traveling goddess Pallas Athene, a planned community populated by over ten thousand children and a few hundred adult teachers from all eras of history, along with some handy robots from the far human future—all set down together on a Mediterranean island in the distant past. A sequel, The Philosopher Kings, is out in June. And Street Symphony (May) is a short story collection by the amazing Rachel Wyatt who has been publishing books for five decades, a collection of stories that are songs of people—many of them seniors—sidelined and dismissed, but refusing to go gently into that good night.
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