Fall books are the only truly good thing about summer's end. This year, we can look forward to a fine selection of new fiction by award winners, anticipated titles by CanLit favourites, and some truly promising debuts. So it's time to make lists! Some of these titles are going to be the best books you read all year.
Cathy Ace's sleuth Cait Morgan is back in The Corpse With the Diamond Hand (October), in which a Hawaiian honeymoon cruise turns murderous (of course!). Grand Menteur (October), by Jean Marc Ah-Sen, explores the secret world of Mauritian street-gangs in a style that will appeal to readers of diasporic fiction, adventure, and travelogue writing, and "lock, stock and barrel" British crime fiction. The Book of Sands (September), by Karim Alrawi, is the inaugural winner of the Harpercollins/UBC Prize for Best New Fiction and a love story set against the upheaval of the Arab spring. And Margaret Atwood's first stand-alone novel in years is The Heart Goes Last (September); it imagines a future world (but one not so far away) in which citizens take turns as prisoners and jailers.
Pillow (September), the first novel by Andrew Battershill, is pitched as "Elmore Leonard–style noir meets Surrealism," a bizarre caper involving stolen coins and giraffes. Megs Beach's debut is Go Home Lake (September), a heart-wrenching story of sexual abuse in a "normal" family. In Not a Clue (October), Janet Bron's RCMP Inspector Liz Forsyth digs into the murder of a Chechen immigrant while still feeling the pull of her connection to Scotland Yard Detective Chief Inspector Stephen Hay in London, who is searching for the killer of a Canadian traveller. John Brooke, Journey Prize-winner and Arthur Ellis nominee, releases his latest Aliette Nouvelle mystery, While the Music Lasts (September), about a rock star who has served a sentence for murder and returns to his country retreat in a quiet community, creating outrage that leads to another death. Fans of Robert J. Wiersema's absorbing and fantastic novels are looking forward to his latest, Black Feathers (August), about a young runaway who, under the spectre of a serial killer and questioning her own violent nature, spirals into complex dream worlds where her past blurs with her present.
Ten Women (September) is the latest short story collection by George Bowering, each story offering a portrait of a woman with whom the author may or may not have had a relationship. Filmmaker Erna Buffie's first novel is Let Us Be True (September), whose story stretches from the killing fields of Europe to the merciless beauty of the Canadian prairies. Pontypool (October) is Tony Burgess's screenplay for the film adaption of his novel, Pontypool Changes Everything. Sharon Butala's first novel in over a decade is Wild Rose, an epic story of The West. Matt Cahill's debut novel is The Society of Experience (October), in which a young man's participation in an time-travel experiment turns into a nightmare. Rhonda Mullins translates Louis Carmain's novel, Guano (September), winner of the prestigious Prix des Collégiens. And Trevor Cole applies his award-winning comic touch to Hope Makes Love (September), a novel about a wayward former ball player who attempts to put his life back on track via a radical life experiment overseen by a neuroscience researcher.
Joey Comeau follows up his 2007 collection of cover letters with more of the same in Overqualifieder (October), each letter "an angry, funny, sad, clever story masquerading as a cry for help or an indictment of twenty-first century life." The World, the Lizard and Me (October), by the late journalist and bestselling author Gil Courtemanche, tells the story of a political analyst at the International Criminal Court in The Hague who resigns his post when a Congolese warlord is released due to a procedural error, and then follows the accused back to his home country in search of justice. The latest book by Daniel Allen Cox, whose previous novels have included Lambda Literary Award finalists, is Mouthquake (September), set in 1979 Montreal as a boy's speech begins to fracture along with the cement of le Stade olympique.Fans of Libby Crewman's work are excited about her new novel, Split (September), a story that takes place in a rural Massachusetts town in the mid-1970s and on the eve of the 2008 election that sweeps Barack Obama into the White House.
Lesley Crewe's latest is Amazing Grace (September), in which a woman's contented life in Beddeck, Cape Breton, is rudely interrupted by the arrival of her self-absorbed, city-slicker granddaughter. Bearskin Diary (September), by Carol Daniels—Canada's first Aboriginal woman to anchor a national newscast when she joined CBC Newsworld in 1989—is about a woman who emerges strong from the tragedy of the Sixties Scoop. Patrick Dewitt follows up his smash hit, The Sisters Brothers, with Undermajordomo Minor (September). Lambda Literary Award-winner Farzana Doctor's new novel is All Inclusive (October), about an resort employee in paradise who runs a sideline swinging with tourist couples, and who has a family secret of her own. Howard Engel's new Benny Cooperman mystery is Over the River (October). And Terry Fallis's latest is Poles Apart (October), about a feminist blogging sensation who turns out to be a guy writing from a laptop at his kitchen table.
In Here Comes the Dreamer (August), Carole Giangrande tells a story of the 1950s' suburbia set against a political background. Award-winner Chadwick Ginther's new book is Too Far Gone (September), in which his hero must slay the monster and save the world—but he has no idea how to do it. Legendary playwright Linda Griffiths' Games: Who Wants to Play? (September) is set in the aftermath of a high-school boy's mysterious death as a couple fears for their own son who is retreating into a virtual world. Celebrated actor Paul Gross's first novel is Hyena Road (September), based on the feature film, reminiscent of American Sniper and the Academy Award–winning The Hurt Locker. Ian Hamilton's Ava Lee returns with The Princeling of Nanjing (December).
The debut by Kevin Hardcastle, whose work has been widely celebrated and shortlisted for the Journey Prize, is Debris (September). R.J. Harlick's latest Meg Harris mystery is A Cold White Fear (November). Stella Leventoyannis Harvey's new novel is The Brink of Freedom (October), about how worlds collide when a young boy goes missing from a refugee camp in Athens. Bill Haugland's new Ty Davis mystery is The Informants (October), in which Davis is embroiled in a bloody battle between rival motorcycle gangs. A new Elizabeth Hay is forthcoming in August! It's His Whole Life, about a family coming apart in the mid-1990s as Quebec is on the verge of leaving Canada. Kate Henning's new play is The Last Wife (July), a contemporary take on the last wife of Henry VIII. Anticipation is huge for Lawrence Hill's first novel since The Book of Negroes; The Illegal (September) is a literary thriller about the fate of refugees. And award-winning Pauline Holdstock's latest novel is The Hunter and the Wild Girl (September), about a feral girl in the wilds of nineteenth-century France who finds sanctuary at the isolated estate of a man who is suffering from trauma of his own.
The Governor-General's Award-winning Greg Hollingshead's new book is Act Normal (August), a collection of comic stories about sex, art, and the daily risk of having accidents. Poet and novelist Catherine Hunter releases After Light (October), spanning four generations of a family over the twentieth century. The new novel by June Hutton, whose first novel was shortlisted for the 2010 OLA Evergreen Award, is Two Gun & Sun (October), part historical novel, part steampunk opera, and part otherworldly Western about a woman who arrives in a filthy frontier mining town to resurrect her uncle's newspaper. David Homel has translated a new edition of Irene Nemirovsky's novel, a graphic version called Suite Francaise: Storm in June (October), illustrated by Emmanuel Moynot. And Open Season (September) is Peter Kirby's third Luc Vanier novel, a harrowing journey through the sordid world of human trafficking, the secretive underbelly of a multinational mining corporation, and into the hiding places of desperate refugees.
Theresa Kishkan's latest book is the novella Patrin (September), about a young woman living in Victoria BC in the 1970s who restores an ancient quilt and travels to Czechoslovakia to trace her Roma history. Perrine Leblanc, whose first novel won the Governor General’s Literary Award for French Fiction and other prizes, has had her second book translated into English by Lazer Lederhendler; The Lake is a story about the disappearance of three young women and a deeply disturbing portrait of a small town gone bad. Poet Shawna Lemay publishes a novel, Rumi and the Red Handbag (October), a novel about two employees of a second-hand clothing store that is a journey to the Museum of Purses and Handbags in Amsterdam, a journey to find Rumi, the soul, and the secrets hidden in a red handbag. And John McFetridge's new Eddie Doughtery Mystery is A Little More Free (September), set in Montreal in 1972 as the city gets ready to host the first game in the legendary Summit Series between Canada and the USSR.
Janice MacDonald's new Randy Craig Mystery is Another Margaret (August), in which our heroine must contend with her school reunion as well as resolve a 20-year-old CanLit scandal and catch a ruthless killer. In Try (November), three plays by award-winning author Daniel MacIvor feature generations of women as they come to terms with themselves and each other in the face of death, new life, and the small things. In The Swallows Uncaged (September), Elizabeth McLean paints a sweeping yet intimate panorama of Vietnam in the style of a Vietnamese eight-panel screen, eight narratives each capturing a moment in time and yet speaking to one another, interweaving historical and fictional characters over ten centuries. Melanie Mah's debut novel is The Sweetest One (October), about cosmopolitan and curious seventeen-year-old Chrysler Wong who suffers 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.
Set in the near future in the mountainous and fielded cusp between BC and Alberta, The Plotline Bomber of Innisfree (September), by Josh Massey, is the story of an ex-hipster-turned elk farmer whose goal to live peacefully with his elk, harvesting their antlers, is challenged when he becomes embroiled in the political violence of oil-pipeline expansion. Donna Milner's (After River) new novel is A Place Called Sorry (October). In Racket (September), Lisa Moore has edited a collection of stories by ten of Newfoundland's best new writers. Colleen Murphy's Pig Girl (November) is a play inspired by the Robert Pickton murders, telling the devastating parallel stories of women who suffered at the hands of a killer, and of the loved ones who never stopped searching for them. God In Pink (October), the debut novel by Hasan Namir, is a revelatory novel about being queer and Muslim, set in war-torn Iraq in 2003. And award-winning writer Elaine Kalman Naves's first novel is The Book of Faith (September), a comedic send-up of politics at a Montreal synagogue.
The first book by Josip Novakovich since he won the 2013 Man Booker International Prize is Ex-Yu (September), a collection of stories exploring the major themes of war and exile, of religiosity and existentialism, themes that have defined Novakovich's fiction and earned him a place among the pantheon of international writers addressing contemporary literature's most pressing questions. Christina Park's debut novel is The Homes We Build on Ashes (September), set against an historical backdrop when Korea was a colony and citizenry was rendered impotent. Amity (September) is the debut novel by Nasreen Pejvack, about an unlikely connection between refugees from Yugoslavia and Iran. Lana Pesch's first book is the collection, Moving Parts (October), described as "Darkly off-kilter stories about the moving parts to being human." Award-winning poet Elizabeth Phillips's first novel is The Afterlife of Birds, a book about obsession, loneliness, and the surprising ways we find to connect with each other. Loaded with grit, heart, murder, and desire, Marie Helene Poitras's Griffintown (September—winner of Prix littéraire France-Québec and finalist for Le prix Ringuet), translated by Sheila Fischman, harnesses the style of a Spaghetti Western to tell the exhilarating story of the coachmen of old Montreal, the city’s urban cowboys.
The new book by bestselling Quebec author and Canada Reads finalist Jacques Poulin is English is Not a Magic Language (September), translated by Sheila Fischman, in which we meet reader-for-hire Francis, the little brother of novelist Jack Waterman, whom longtime Poulin fans will remember from previous works as the author's loose alter ego. Sistering (August) is the second novel by Jennifer Quist, whose first book, Love Letters of the Angels of Death, was nominated for a 2015 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. Nino Ricci follows up The Origin of Species with Sleep (September), a story of suspense about one man's terrifying struggle with sleeplessness.
Brent Leo Robillard's latest novel is The Road to Atlantis (September), about a family in the wake of tragedy. Zoë S. Roy's new book is Calls Across the Pacific (October), about a woman who flees China's Cultural Revolution to build a life as a journalist in Canada, and dares to travel back to China to find out how things are evolving in the lives of her contemporaries there. The latest book in the Ricochet Series of reprints of vintage Canadian noir novels is Blondes are My Trouble (September), by Douglas Sanderson. Anakana Schofield explores the troubling and disturbing life of a minor character from her award-winning Malarky in her darkly funny and powerful new novel, Martin John (September). Written by critically acclaimed author Nazneen Sheikh, The Place of Shining Light (September) is the story of three men in pursuit of a stolen Buddhist statue. And M is Dead (November) is a collaborative novel by Michael V. Smith, Madeline Sonik, Annette Lapointe, and Brian Kaufman, about a FTM (female to male) transsexual performance artist known only as "M."
In Late Company (September), a new play by Jordan Tannahill, a couple sits down with their son's bully and his parents a year after the son's suicide. Drew Hayden Taylor's Cerulean Blue (September) is a comedic play about a struggling blues band invited to participate in a benefit concert for a First Nation community in conflict with governmental authorities. The title story for Jess Taylor's debut collection, Pauls (October), won Gold at the 2013 National Magazine Awards. Priscila Uppal's acclaimed memoir, Projection, has been adapted into the play, 6 Essential Questions (October). Richard Van Camp's Night Moves (October) is a new collection from a writer Tomson Highway has called "An original voice from the true north strong and free." And Teri Vlassopoulos's releases her debut novel, Escape Plans (October), following up her award-nominated short story collection, Bats or Swallows.
In One Hit Wonders (October), award-winner Patrick Warner weaves an energetic tale that is part caper and part murder mystery. Dianne Warren follows her Governor General's Award-winning Cool Water with Liberty Street (September). Helen Weinzweig's lost feminist classic, Basic Black With Pearls (August), heads back into print via House of Anansi's A-List series. Armin's Shorts (September) showcases a selection of stories from Armin Wiebe's 30-year writing career. The no longer pseudonymous Inger Ashe Wolfe (because he's Michael Redhill) releases his latest Hazel Micallef novel, The Night Bell (December). And Paul Yee's first novel for adults is A Superior Man (September), an historical account of a Chinese man on a journey to find the mother of his son.
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