Most Anticipated: Our 2018 Spring Fiction Preview

It's here, it's here! Our preview of the forthcoming books we can't wait to be reading, starting with fiction. Here are the books that will be rocking CanLit in the first half of 2018. 

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In Rona Altrows’ At This Juncture (April), a woman plots to save Canada Post by inspiring people to start writing and mailing letters again. Bestselling nonfiction writer Katherine Ashenburg turns her hand to fiction with Sofie and Cecilia (March), a story of women’s friendship. Inspired by a true story, award-winner Sharon Bala’s first novel is The Boat People (January), which explores what it means to leave behind everything you have ever known to seek out a better life in a strange land. In Jackie Bateman’s Straight Circles (March), the final chapter of The Lizzy Trilogy, domestic satire meets gripping suspense. Andrew Batterhill’s debut, Pillow, was nominated for numerous prizes, the Scotiabank Giller among them, and he follows it up with Marry, Bang, Kill (March), a revisionist crime thriller hybrid of literary and genre fiction for fans of Elmore Leonard and Patrick deWitt. 

Laure Baudot’s This One Because of the Dead (April) is a collection of stories about the power of what goes unsaid, and about the truths people keep hidden from each other. Jennifer Ilse Black combines prose, lists, and structural experimentation in Small Predators (June), which follows a collective of student activists as they cope with the aftermath of a violent political demonstration. And François Blais’ first novel to be translated into English is Document I (March), translated by JC Sutcliffe, a tragicomic tale of two dreamers and their quest for adventure, as well as a satirical take on the world of arts and letters.

A genre-bending retelling of The Odyssey, Alex Boyd’s Army of the Brave and Accidental (April) is a modern fable: a story about relationships, parenthood, and trying to have an impact on the world. When Centipedes Dream (June) is Sue Bracken's debut, a collection of bizarre and beautiful sightings. Alan Bradley’s latest tale centering on the adventures of Flavia de Leuce is The Grave’s a Fine and Private Place (January). Bestselling superstar Karma Brown's new novel is The Life Lucy Knew (June). Ali Bryan follows up her hilarious first novel, Roost, with The Figgs (May), which features a family matriarch whose empty-nesting dreams keep not coming true. And Grant Buday’s Atomic Road (February) is described as “an absurdist romp that charts its course between historical veracity, fictional invention, and the unfettered egotism of two mad intellectuals.”

Sharon Butala’s latest is a mystery novel: Zara’s Dead (May); it is the fictional retelling of the story that inspired Butala’s bestselling memoir, The Girl in Saskatoon. Heather Chisvin’s first novel is A Fist Around the Heart (April), in which two sisters are forever impacted by their events of their childhood in Russia in the late 19th century. Kevin Chong’s new novel, The Plague (March) is a modern retelling of the Camus classic that posits its story of infectious disease and quarantine in our contemporary age of social justice and rising inequity. And in the unique literary collection Finding Home (February), George Elliott Clarke—the pioneering scholar of African-Canadian literature—anthologizes the field's first collections of poetry and the first novel. 

Kim Clark’s A One-Handed Novel (January) challenges expectations and assumptions about women's sexuality and living with disability. What happens when two differently gendered playwrights from distinct cultures investigate racism, misogyny, and miscegenation in a small 1960s mill town? Talker's Town and The Girl Who Swam Forever (April), by Nelson Gray and Marie Clements, are two one-act plays that portray identical characters and action, but from entirely different perspectives. Tish Cohen's latest novel is Little Green (June), about a marriage put under extraordinary pressure. And Paige Cooper, whose work has been anthologized in Best Canadian Stories and the Journey Prize Anthology, releases her first book, Zolitude (February). 

Award-winning poet Jen Currin’s fiction debut is Hider/Seeker (March), a collection of stories about addiction and meditation, relationships, solitude, and sexuality. Celebrated Quebec writer Martine Desjardins’ latest novel in English is The Green Chamber (March), translated by David Homel and Fred A. Reed. Amber Dawn’s second novel is Sodom Road Exit (March), a compelling family melodrama and a lesbian supernatural thriller. In Elisabeth de Mariaffi’s latest,  Hysteria (March), a woman whose son goes missing is told that her worries are all in her head. And comedian Charles Demers’ Property Values (April) explodes the crime novel trope while exploring the comic lengths a man will go to become a homeowner in today's market.

Sam Wiebe calls A.J. Devlin’s Cobra Clutch (April) “[a debut that] ingeniously merges the worlds of pro-wrestling and private eyes into a breakneck adventure.” A new novel by Claudia Dey! Heartbreaker (April) is described as “a storytelling tour de force about what it means to love, no matter the consequences.” Dian Dey’s second novel, The Madrigal (May), features an unlikely child prodigy who has to come to terms with his failure to live up to his potential. Paulette Dubé’s latest is Autant (May), a tale told to explain the disappearance of bees in northern Alberta and an exploration of how old and young, male and female, humans and non-humans perceive love. The Marmalade Murders (April) is the latest book in Elizabeth J. Duncan’s award-winning mystery series, celebrated for its small-town charm and picturesque Welsh setting, starring amateur sleuth Penny Brannigan. Loren Edizel’s Adrift was longlisted for the ReLit Award in 2011; her latest is the novel Days of Moonlight (May), which takes place in Turkey and Toronto from 1924 to 2011 and spans three generations. 

Phillip Ernest lived down and out in Toronto until the age of 28, when he learned Sanskrit from the book Teach Yourself Sanskrit and then went on to earn a BA in South Asian studies from the University of Toronto and a PhD in Sanskrit from Cambridge University. He now lives in Bengaluru, India, and his first novel is The Vetala (March), a Sanskrit vampire novel. Vanessa Farnsworth’s fiction debut is The Things She’ll Be Leaving Behind (May), short stories about what it means to be a woman in the modern world. In Jennifer Dawn Farquhar’s debut novel, Watermark (May), a woman works to uncover the truth about both the tragedy from her past and the creature that dwells in the cold, dark waters of Lake Huron.

Catherine Fatima’s debut novel is Sludge Utopia (June), “a kind of Catherine Millet meets Roland Barthes baring of life with hints of the work of Chris Kraus.” What first appears to be a random home invasion reveals a family’s dark secrets in Joy Fielding’s The Bad Daughter (February). Erin Frances Fisher, who won the Writers’ Trust Bronwen Wallace Emerging Writers Award, has a new short story collection, That Tiny Life (March); its settings range from the old American West to pre-revolutionary France, from a present-day dig site in the high tablelands of South America to deep space. And Elinor Florence follows up her bestselling Bird’s Eye View with Wildwood (February), in which a single mother sets out to spend a year in an abandoned farmhouse in the remote backwoods of northern Alberta. 

Cecelia Frey’s Lovers Fall Back to Earth (May) is a novel about three sisters, the men they fall in love with, and the other plans time has for them. Michele Archenti, publisher, former priest, and current confidant to the mysterious skeleton-bearer Rodolpho, finds himself swept up in eighteenth-century Venice politics, ambition, and lust in award-winner Mark Frutkin’s latest, The Rising Tide (April). Kim Fu follows up For Today I Am a Boy with The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore (February), which centres on a group of girls stranded on an island during a kayak trip with no adults to help them survive or guide them home. In Bruce Geddes’ The Higher the Monkey Climbs (April), a man has to decide whether or not to avenge the death of his father, a prominent union leader. And in Winnipeg’s underworld, every mortician is on the take and every revenant of myth waits to claw their way out of their tombs in Chadwick Ginther's latest, Graveyard Mind (July). 

Award-winning Quebec writer David Goudreault’s Mama’s Boy (June), translated into English by JC Sutcliffe, is a family drama in which a young man sets out in search of his mother after a childhood spent shuffling from one foster home to another. Genevieve Graham, bestselling author of Tides of Honour and Promises to Keep, returns with Come From Away (April), in which a young couple is caught on opposite sides of the Second World War. R.M. Greenaway, whose first novel, Cold Girl, won the Unhanged Arthur Ellis Award, releases the latest in his B.C. Blues Clues Crime series, Creep (April). 

In A Season Among Psychics (May), Elizabeth Greene’s debut novel, an English professor who feels stuck in a rut finds direction through a course in psychic healing. Into the Deep Dark (April) is the second in Brit Griffin's eco-catastrophic adventure series The Wintermen, where the north is full of ancient legends of violence, fear, and madness that descend on isolated communities in the darkness of winter. Liz Harmer’s first novel is The Amateurs (April), a post-apocalyptic examination of nostalgia, loss and the possibility of starting over. Kate Heartfield's debut is Armed in Her Fashion (May), set in 1328 with Bruges under siege with Margriet de Vos learning she’s a widow when her good-for-nothing husband comes home dead from the war. And Rebecca Hendry’s second novel is One Good Thing (April), set in Yellowknife's historic Old Town in the ‘70s. 

Stephen Henighan’s latest is the wide-ranging (both in terms of setting and historical period) short story collection, Blue River and Red Earth (March). A smart, dark, and take-no-prisoners look at rape culture and the extremes to which ideology can go, Sarah Henstra’s The Red Word (March) is a campus novel like no other. Jason Heroux’s latest novel is Amusement Park of Constant Sorrow (April), in which a man living an enjoyable life with his wife in the suburbs comes to discover that he was once a dog named Scooter and that his previous owners have arrived in town to reclaim him. Based on historical record, Anna, Like Thunder (April), by Peggy Herring, blends fact and fiction to explore the early days of contact between Indigenous people and Europeans off the west coast of North America

The Very Marrow of Our Bones (April), by Christine Higdon, explores the isolated landscapes and thorny attachments bred by childhood loss and buried secrets. Zoe Whittall calls Djamila Ibrahim's debut, Things Are Good Now (February) "an insightful and imaginative debut." Ann Ireland’s new novel is Where’s Bob? (April), a story of a Mexican getaway that turns out to reveal a world of cartels and corruption. Uzma Jalaluddin's debut novel is Ayesha At Last (June), a modern twist on the classic story of finding love where you least expect it. Equal parts Quentin Tarantino and Elmore Leonard, Shilo Jones’ On the Up (May) charts the journey of three players caught in the corrupt world of high-stakes property development. Poet Shawn Arthur Joyce’s fiction debut is Mountain Blues (May), set in the Kootenays in the vein of Leacock’s Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town. Bestseller Susanna Kearsley’s latest is Bellewether (April), a novel of love, war, and historical intrigue. Ellen Keith's first novel is The Dutch Wife (April), with settings ranging from the Netherlands to Germany to Argentina, braiding together the stories of three individuals who share a dark secret and are entangled in two of the most oppressive reigns of terror in modern history. In Cold Skies, the sly, wry, reluctant investigator of DreadfulWater and The Red Power Murders returns for another irresistible mystery that only Thomas King could tell. And the latest book in Ausma Zehanat Khan’s Detective Esa Khattak mystery series is A Dangerous Crossing (February), in which the Syrian refugee crisis becomes personal.

Deep River Night (February), by Patrick Lane, bestselling author of Red Dog, Red Dog, is set over the course of 48 hours in a remote sawmill community where violence, complicity, and inaction run deep, and explores the burden of bearing witness to a terrible crime. The suburbs of the 1970s promise to be heaven on earth in That Time I Loved You (March), Carrieanne Leung’s follow-up to her acclaimed first novel The Wondrous Woo—but in a Scarborough subdivision populated by newcomers from all over the world, a series of sudden catastrophic events reveals that not everyone’s dreams come true. Anita Anand translates Juliana Léveillé-Trudel’s debut, Nirliit (April), a story of the Inuit North and a deeply-felt witnessing of contemporary Indigenous life, as shaped by decades of colonial rule and government neglect. And Thea Lim's An Ocean of Minutes (June) is being compared to The Time Traveller's Wife and Station Eleven, "a love story about two people who are at once mere weeks and many years apart.

Harriet Alida Lye's first novel is The Honey Farm (April), billed as "Vintage Margaret Atwood meets Patricia Highsmith, set on an eerily beautiful farm teeming with secrets." From Jeanette Lynes, the Giller-longlisted author of The Factory Voice comes a new novel in a similar vein, The Small Things That End the World (May), the story of three resilient women, moving from Hurricane Hazel in Toronto in 1956 to Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans in 2005. Rabindranath Maharaj, who won the Trillium Award in 2010 for The Incredible Absorbing Boy, releases a new novel, Adjacentland (May), about a man who wakes up in a strange institution with no memory of his past, and has to put the pieces back together again. And Leila Marshy’s first novel is The Philistine (March), about a woman who discovers her roots, her language and her ambitions when she travels to Egypt and reconnects with her estranged Palestinian father.

Lisa Maas’s debut is Forward (March), a moving and intimate LGBTQ graphic novel about two women, both of whom are trying to put the pieces of their lives back together. Shannon Maguire, whose first book was shortlisted for the Robert Kroetsch Award for Innovative Poetry, releases Zip’s File: A Romance of Silence (May), the third book in a trilogy, an epic romance told in fragments of journals, performance texts, interviews, short prose, drama, imagist-inspired poetry and other documents. The first novel in Cynthea Masson’s Alchemists’ Council series was shortlisted for the Kobo Emerging Writer Prize and won the Gold Medal for Fantasy in the 2017 Independent Publisher Book Awards; Masson follows it with The Flaw in the Stone (March). And Maureen Medved, whose debut novel was The Tracey Fragments, releases Black Star (February), a dark comedy that explores the female experience and the machinations of power that play through the lens of academia.

Natalie Morrill's first novel is The Ghost Keeper (May), Winner of the HarperCollins/UBC Prize for Best New Fiction, a sweeping novel set in Vienna during the 1930s and ’40s. Governor General’s Award-winner Rhonda Mullins translates Julie Demers’ first novel, Little Beast (April), a contemporary fairy tale in which a little girl with a beard must find herself a home. Shifting across three continents, Pamela Mulloy’s The Deserters (April) explores themes of trust, isolation, abandonment, and emotional disconnection in a world dramatically altered by the experience of war. Maria Mutch follows up her Governor General’s Award-nominated memoir Know the Night with her fiction debut, When We Were Birds (April), a collection of dark and evocative stories that navigate the space where perception and reality blur. And Dimitri Nasrallah’s new novel is The Bleeds (February), a fresh take on the political thriller and an allegory of power and privilege resurrected from the thwarted ideals of the Arab Spring.

Bronwen Wallace Award-winning Jen Neale’s first novel is Land Mammals and Sea Creatures (May), an exploration of love and grief and magic realism by the seaside. Lambda Literary Award winner Casey Plett's latest is Little Fish (April), in which a trans woman learns her Mennonite grandfather may have been trans himself. Laurie Petrou’s Sister of Mine (April) is the story of two sisters in a small town, bound tight to the point of knots, who share a secret they cannot escape. Jennifer Quist’s third novel is a courtroom drama, The Apocalypse of Morgan Turner (March), about a woman whose sister's brutal murder has turned everyday life into a horror. And Tom Rachman’s (The Imperfectionists) latest is The Italian Teacher (March), about a young man trying to burn brightly in his artist-father’s shadow.

In Almost True (May), Jan Rehmer tells the story of an extraordinary friendship between four women in a small village in occupied Burgundy during World War Two. David Adams Richards’ latest is Mary Cyr (April), which begins in Mexico just as disaster strikes a small town with the collapse of a mine, and shortly after a boy is discovered dead in the hotel room of a Canadian heiress. In Find You in the Dark (March), the fiction debut of Nathan Ripley, a family man obsessed with digging up the undiscovered remains of serial killer victims catches the attention of a murderer prowling the streets of Seattle. And 1979 (March), by Ray Robertson, set against newspaper headlines telling of the rise of Reagan and North America’s hard turn to the right, is a novel of innocence not so much lost as smashed.

Award-winner Kelly Robson’s Gods, Monsters and the Lucky Peach (March) is a mind-bending science fiction adventure that uses time travel to merge climate fiction with historical fantasy. Crow Jazz (May) is the long-awaited short fiction debut by accomplished poet Linda Rogers, author of 29 previous books. Claire Holden Rothman's Lear's Shadow (Kerri Sakamoto’s new novel is Floating City (April), a Citizen Kane reimagined, a novel about ambition and the relentless desire to belong. Genevieve Scott’s debut is Catch My Drift (April), which follows a mother and daughter through life changes both big and small. Sarah Selecky follows up her Scotiabank Giller-nominated debut This Cake is For the Party with Radiant Shimmering Light (April). Before publication, Susan Sinnott's Catching the Light (April) was awarded the Percy Janes First Novel Award. Giller winner Johanna Skibsrud’s latest book is Tiger Tiger (April), a story collection that takes readers from the Paradise Valley Senior Centre parking lot all the way to Mars. And structured as a series of interconnected galleries, The Fairy Tale Museum (May), by Susannah Smith, is a curiosity-cabinet-as-novel that showcases the original, spectacular, grotesque, endearing, and otherworldly. 

Heidi Sopinka’s debut is The Dictionary of Animal Languages (February), a novel of love, longing, and art set in interwar Paris. Marissa Stapley’s second novel, Things to Do When It’s Raining (February), is a poignant generational story about family and secrets. D.K. Stone’s The Dark Divide (April—from the award-winning Stonehouse Publishing) is set in a lonely border town with a new danger: a murderer willing to do anything to protect a web of secrets. Award-winner Claire Tacon’s second novel is In Search of the Perfect Singing Flamingo (May), the story of a father struggling to let his daughters grow up and of a family struggling against hard odds, taking care of each other when the world lets them down. And Kimberly Tait’s debut novel is Fake Plastic Love (May), the transporting story of bright young things tested by the unsentimental realities of post- graduate life.

Part ontological thriller, part millennial saga, Liminal (January), by award-winning Jordan Tannahill, is a riotous and moving portrait of a young man in volatile times, a generation caught in suspended animation, and a son’s enduring love for his mother. Dania Tomlinson’s first novel is Animal Hearts (May), set in a small village deep in British Columbia perched on a lake made famous by the monster said to haunt its depths. The perfect complement to Canada Reads winner Kim Thúy's exquisitely wrought novels Ru and Mãn is Vi (April), translated by Sheila Fischman, which explores the lives, loves, and struggles of Vietnamese refugees as they reinvent themselves in new lands. 

Aaron Tucker writes the life, the loves, and the conscience of J. Robert Oppenheimer in Y (April), a novel about the man who invented the atomic bomb. The fourth book in The Lane Winslow mystery series, by Iona Whishaw (the daughter and granddaughter of spies!), is It Begins in Betrayal (April). Joshua Whitehead follows the poetry collection, full-metal indigiqueer, with a novel, Jonny Appleseed (April), about a Two-Spirit Indigiqueer young man and proud NDN glitter princess who must reckon with his past when he returns home to his reserve. And Ethel Whitty’s The Light a Body Radiates (February) explores the 1980s’ AIDS epidemic and its devastating toll on one Cape Breton family.

January 8, 2018
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