Get ready to have your TBR lists grow! These are the novels, story collections, and drama that readers will be loving in the second half of 2019.
Nur Abdi's first novel is The Somali Camel Boy (September), which is about a young man who tries to escape Somalia's clan culture by fleeing to Toronto. Night of Power (August), by Anar Ali, is a portrait of a Muslim family—from the heady days in Uganda to hard times in a new country and the tragic accident that forces them to confront the ghosts of the past. Wayne Arthurson's new mystery is The Red Chesterfield (October), a novel that upends the tropes and traditions of crime fiction while asking how far one person is willing to go to solve a crime, be it murder or the abandonment of a piece of furniture. Samantha Bailey's debut novel is Woman on the Edge (November), about a moment on the subway platform that changes two women’s lives forever. In Elevator Pitch (September), a chilling new thriller from blockbuster author Linwood Barclay, one too many freak “accidents” force residents in New York to wonder if they’re being targeted—and by whom. Set in the throes of a bone-chilling Edmonton winter, comedian Carolyn Bennett's Please Stand By (October) lays to waste CanCon, the east-west divide, and secrets that can kill. Sharon Berg's collection Naming the Shadows (September) focuses on relationships between generations, acknowledging the prevalence of the shadows that are everywhere—but also celebrating the light.
Virginia Pesemapeo Bordeleau's novel Blue Bear Woman (October), the story of a young Cree woman's search for her roots and identity, is translated into English by Christelle Morelli & Susan Ouriou. Honey (October), by Brenda Brooks (whose novel, Gotta Find Me an Angel, was a finalist for the Amazon.ca First Novel Award) is a thrilling modern noir novel with a classic refrain: Nothing is more dangerous than love. Crocuses Hatch from Snow (September), by Jaime Burnet, is a powerful work of queer literary fiction from a lyrical new voice that explores Halifax’s north end community from diverse perspectives. In Dave Butler’s new Jenny Willson mystery, In Rhino We Trust (September), Jenny finds more than she bargains for when she travels to Namibia to save local wildlife from poachers. Each of the stories in Darci Bysouth’s debut collection, Lost Boys (September), documents a world in the process of unravelling, as the inhabitants of these richly drawn narratives face losing what they hold most dear. And the past haunts the characters in The Eater of Dreams, 15 interconnected stories by Kat Cameron.
This Has Nothing to Do With You (September), by Lauren Carter, is a novel about two siblings coming to terms with a murder committed by their mother. Lesley Choyce’s Broken Man on an a Halifax Pier (October) is the tale of one man’s shipwrecked life and an unlikely crew of rescuers. From Michael Christie, the award-winning author of If I Fall, If I Die, comes Greenwood (September), a propulsive, multigenerational family story, in which the unexpected legacies of a remote island off the coast of British Columbia link the fates of five people over a hundred years. In Watching You Without Me (September), Scotiabank Giller Prize-winning author Lynn Coady delivers a creepy and wholly compelling novel about the complex relationship between mothers and daughters and sisters, women and men, and who to trust and how to trust in a world where the supposedly selfless act of caregiving can camouflage a sinister self-interest. And highlighting the tension between insiders and outsiders, and set against a sinister backdrop, Fireweed and Bracken (October), by Jennifer Coffey, follows the life of Effie Cambridge who, awkward and searching, leaves her complicated life in Ontario for a new start in Charlottetown, PEI.
A vivid reimagining of settler life in the early seventeenth century, A Roll of the Bones (September), by Trudy J. Morgan Cole, is the first in a trilogy of novels wrestling with the realities of colonization. A Dark House and Other Stories (September) is a dark and incisive short story collection from Ian Colford, Thomas Head Raddall Award-winning author of Evidence and The Crimes of Hector Tomás. The latest from celebrated author Christy Ann Conlin is Watermark (August), a collection whose characters include an insomniac on Halifax’s moonlit streets, a runaway bride, a young woman accused of a brutal murder, and a woman coming to terms with her eccentric childhood in a cult on the Bay of Fundy shore. And the stories and experiences of three imprisoned women and a guard intertwine in dramatic and dangerous ways, as the psychological destruction that is solitary confinement taunts each of their lives in Guarded Girls (September), by the Governor General’s Award-nominated Charlotte Corbeil-Coleman.
The latest from award-winner Michael Crummey is The Innocents (August), a sweeping, deeply immersive novel about a brother and sister alone in a small world. Similar to “Hansel and Gretel” and the northwest First Nations story “The Wild Woman of the Woods,” Joseph A. Dandurand’s Th’owxiya (September)—which integrates masks, song, and dance—is a tale of understanding boundaries, being responsible for one’s actions, forgiving mistakes, and finding the courage to stand up for what’s right. A small town tabloid is airing everyone’s dirty laundry in Jaclyn Dawn’s debut, The Inquirer (October), an incisive look at the lingering consequences of past relationships and the price of both staying silent and speaking up.The toughest case of Beauchamp’s brilliant career features sex, slander, and dirty politics in William Deverell’s latest, Whipped (October). Cherie Dimaline's much-anticipated follow-up to The Marrow Thieves is Empire of Wild (September), "a messed-up, grown-up, Little Red Riding Hood." And a retired New York professor’s life is thrown into chaos when he takes his great-nephew to the French Riviera in hopes of uncovering his own mother's wartime secrets in Akin (August), Emma Donoghue’s first contemporary novel since Room.
Award-winner Dora Dueck’s new novel is All That Belongs (September), the story of an archivist who has spent decades committed to conserving the pasts of others, only to find her own history resurfacing on the eve of her retirement. In Benediction (September), translated by Pablo Strauss, Olivier Dufault recreates the true story of his distant relative Ernest Dufault—his incarceration in a Nevada prison for rustling cattle and his subsequent reinvention of himself as “Will James”—to create a posthumous benediction of an exceptional American life in which truth and lies walk side by side. Don Easton’s latest Jack Taggart novel is The Grey Zone (October), pitting Jack against a group of ruthless kidnappers. Chris Eaton’s novel Symphony No. 3 (October) follows the life of renowned French composer Camille Saint-Saëns as he ascends from child prodigy to worldwide fame. The latest from Marina Endicott is The Difference (September), about two sisters who live aboard a merchant ship on a fateful voyage through the South Pacific. And in Philip Ernest’s The Far Himalaya (September), young and homeless Benjamin Doheney is sustained by his devotion to Sanskrit and his vision of a future in India, a land which he has never seen.
From two-time Leacock Medal winner Terry Fallis comes Albatross (August), a funny and smart new novel about destiny—and what it means to forge your own path. Rebecca Fisseha’s debut novel is Daughters of Silence (September), about a woman forced to return to her birthplace of Addis Ababa and confront the double trauma of her mother’s death and painful secrets from the past. Viaticum (October), by Natelle Fitzgerald, is a taut psychological drama about two people fighting to maintain their dignity in a world that objectifies them. Diane Flacks’ new play Unholy (September) delves into the biblical struggles that tear us apart and make us who we are. Paper Houses (October), by Dominique Fortier, translated by Rhonda Mullins, is a whimsical and misanthropic imagining of Emily Dickinson’s life. And in You’ve’ Been Volunteered (July), the eagerly anticipated follow-up to Laurie Gelman's “irreverent and hilarious" (The New York Post) hit Class Mom, brash, lovable Jen Dixon is back with a new class and her work cut out for her.
Published posthumously after Vickie Gendreau's death in 2013 at age 24, Drama Queens (October), translated by Aimee Wall, continues her exploration of illness and death that began in Testament, but with even greater urgency and audacity. Debut author Jennifer Giesbrecht paints a darkly compelling fantasy of revenge in The Monster of Elendhaven (September), a dark fantasy about murder, a monster, and the magician who loves both. The second novel by Carol Rose GoldenEagle (following Bearskin Diary) is Bone Black (September), about an Indigenous woman who decides to take justice into her own hands when her sister goes missing. The highly anticipated debut short story collection by Journey Prize finalist Seyward Goodhand is Even That Wildest Hope (October), a chaotic but always satisfying fabulist journey in the baroque tradition of Angela Carter. And from Shilpi Somaya Gowda, the international bestselling author of Secret Daughter and The Golden Son, comes The Shape of a Family (October), a poignant, unforgettable novel about a family's growing apart and coming back together in the wake of tragedy.
From Andrea Gunraj, the author of The Sudden Disappearance of Seetha comes The Lost Sister (September), a heartrending novel about the fraught relationship of sisters, partially set at the Nova Scotia Home for Colored Children. Journey Prize winner Melissa Hardy’s The Oracle of Cumae (October)—“One of the funniest novels I’ve read in a long time,” according to Catherine Leggett—is about a most unconventional oracle, and a mother-daughter duo out to rescue it. Kim Senklip Harvey’s play Kamloopa is a boundary-blurring adventure exploring the fearless love and passion of two Indigenous women reconnecting with their homelands. And in the play Mother’s Daughter (June), the third part of Kate Hennig’s Queenmaker series, England’s first queen regant finds herself fighting xenophobia, religious nationalism, and strained familial bonds in the power struggle that dubs her Bloody Mary.
An elegant and sweeping story of a Chinese family’s history, trace (October), a new play by Jeff Ho—who has twice been nominated for a Dora Mavor Moore Award—follows the footsteps of four generations as their homes and identities are challenged. When Frankie’s mother dies, the six-year-old comes up with a plan: go to France, find a police station, and ask the officers to ring his father—and so begins Here I Am! (September), the eighth novel by Giller-nominated Pauline Holdstock. Nazanine Hozar's debut, Aria (June), is a rags-to-riches-to-revolution tale about an orphan girl's coming of age in Iran. Don Hunter follows up his 1989 bestseller with Return to Spinner’s Inlet (October), a collection of connected short stories set in a fictional town in BC’s Gulf Islands. The stories in Anosh Irani's Translated From the Gibberish (August) show, through a prism of unforgettable characters, what it means to live between two worlds: India and Canada. And Joanne Jackson’s debut novel is The Wheaton (November), about a widower who begins to make amends with his past after taking a job at a seniors’ residence and reconsidering his choices.
The fourth book in Michael Januska’s Border City Blues series is St. Luke Road (October), and the town of Ford is quickly becoming the main junction in the trafficking of illegal liquor. Embracing the anxieties of contemporary urban life, Michelle Kaeser’s The Towers of Babylon (September) tracks a group of hapless millennials trying to find meaning in a world that constantly rejects them. Desperate times call for desperate measures in Dietrich Kalteis’s latest lightning-fast crime caper story Call Down the Thunder (October). Tender and brutal, optimistic and despairing, The Ticking Heart (September), a modern fable by Andrew Kaufman, author of the cult hit All My Friends Are Superheroes, takes a fresh look at what it means to fall into, and out of, love. And in Travellers May Return (September), by Michael Kenyon (whose The Beautiful Children won the 2010 ReLit Award for best novel), the collection’s obsessions are Darwinian diversity read into human inner life; what happens when diversity is lost to homogeneity?
For readers of Brother by David Chariandy and Scarborough by Catherine Hernandez, Adnan Khan's blistering debut novel, There Has to Be a Knife (October) investigates themes of race, class, masculinity and contemporary relationships. Sheila Kindellan-Sheehan’s latest mystery is The Gang of Four (September), about a missing child, the detective who discovers the cold case, and a mother who never gave looking for her child. Cheap Thrills (October), by David Kloepfer, is about Vancouver, weed, lust, crime stories, a missing bag of money, an American conspiracy to invade Canada, and the death of a drug smuggler. The third and final installment of Bob Kroll’s T.J. Peterson mystery series is Fire Trap (October). Of Vengeance (September), by J.D. Kurtness, translated by Pablo Strauss, won the 2018 Indigenous Voices Award for Prose.
This Little Light (August), by Lori Lansens (The Girls) is an urgent bulletin from an all-too-believable near future in which the religious right has come out on top and where a smart young girl who questions the new order is suddenly a terrorist. The latest from bestseller Shari Lapena is Someone We Know (July), about a neighbourhood where everyone has something to hide. Agnes, Murderess (September), a graphic novel by award-winner Sarah Leavitt, is inspired by the bloody legend of Agnes McVee, a roadhouse owner, madam and serial killer in the Cariboo region of British Columbia in the mid-nineteenth century. Jeff Lemire's Frogcatchers (September) is a surreal descent into one man’s psychosis. A Golden Grave (September), the follow-up to Murder on Millionaires' Row and Erin Lindsey's second historical mystery, follows Rose Gallagher as she tracks a killer with shocking abilities through Gilded Age Manhattan. And Nicole Lundrigan's Hideaway (July) asks the question: What if home is the most dangerous place you can be?
From Bianca Marais, the author of Hum If You Don't Know the Words, comes If You Want to Make God Laugh (July), a rich, unforgettable story of three unique women in post-Apartheid South Africa who are brought together in their darkest time. Crow Winter (September) is the debut novel by Karen McBride, a book that Katherena Vermette calls, “Full of spirit, love, mystery and good medicine.” The subjects of sex, passion, and confidence, in JoAnn McCaig’s An Honest Woman (September), are played out against society’s stereotypes of women as they age and as they confront the truths of themselves outside the societal frameworks in which they have been boxed. The twelve stories in JR McConvey’s Different Beasts (September) ask what it means to be both human and monster. Broke City (September), the final book in Wendy McGrath's Santa Rosa trilogy, follows young Christine as she edges into self-awareness in the now-vanished Edmonton neighbourhood of Santa Rosa. And Maria Meindl’s debut novel is The Work (November), a deep dive into Toronto’s theatre scene in the 1980s and a charismatic director who thrives on pushing people’s limits—or is he abusing his own power?
In the random and weaved stories of Swallows Playing Chicken (October), David Menear surveys the world around him with an eye for the selfish motivations of the people near and dear to us. Sean Michaels follows up his Giller-winning Us Conductors with The Wagars (September), a story of long odds, magical heists and the dizzying gamble of life. Butterflies, Zebra, Moonbeams (October), by Ceilidh Michelle, is a semi-autobiographical story of B, a young non-binary woman coming of age in the Montreal music scene. Having fled from an authoritarian regime, and now living in a North America panic-stricken by global terrorism, Yalda is obsessed with all the forms and aspects of violence in Feratesh Molavi's Thirty Shadow Birds (October).
A dizzying display of literary opulence and allusion, Yams Do Not Exist (September), by Garry Thomas Morse, finds footholds in Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy, footnoting a twisting, prairie roadmap to romance, by turns hellish and sublime.Ironic and irreverent, Dirty Birds (October), by Morgan Murray, generates a quest novel for the 21st century—a coming-of-age, rom-com, crime-farce thriller—where a hero’s greatest foe is his own crippling mediocrity as he seeks purpose in art, money, power, crime, and sleeping in all day. And Louise Penny’s new novel is A Better Man (August), in which catastrophic spring flooding, blistering attacks in the media, and a mysterious disappearance greet Chief Inspector Armand Gamache as he returns to the Surete du Quebec
Susan Perly follows her acclaimed novel Death Valley with Stella Atlantis (October), a continuation of the story in which celebrated novelist Johnny Coma must contend with the death of his daughter. The playful and poignant Little Blue Encyclopedia (for Vivian) (September), by Hazel Jane Plante, sifts through a queer trans woman's unrequited love for her straight trans friend who died. In the tradition of Jeffery Deaver's Lincoln Rhyme and David Baldacci's Amos Decker, Robert Pobi's City of Windows (August) introduces Lucas Page, a brilliant, reluctant investigator, matching wits with a skilled, invisible killer. Laurie Petrou follows up her novel Sister of Mine with Love, Heather (September), a YA/thriller crossover about an act of revenge against high school bullies that goes too far. Steven Price’s new novel, Lampedusa (August), is an intensely moving story of one man’s awakening to the possibilities of life, intimately woven against the transformative power of a great work of art. And a moving story of love and mourning, elegantly translated by Lazer Lederhendler, If You Hear Me, by Pascale Quiviger, asks what it means to be alive and how we learn to accept the unacceptable.
Norman Ravvin’s The Girl Who Stole Everything (September) is a fresh portrait of the relationship between prewar Polish shtetl life and Jewish lives today. From Bill Richardson comes I Saw Three Ships (September), a story collection set around Christmas time in Vancouver’s West End neighbourhood. Award-winning poet Laisha Rosnau’s second novel is Little Fortress (October), a story of a shifting world, with the death of its age-old nobility, and of the intricacies of the lives of women caught up in these grand changes. Randy Nikkel Schroeder's Arctic Smoke (September) combines coked-up magic realism with a wound-up cyberpunk style. Family secrets surface when two sisters travel to Hong Kong to care for their ill father in Leslie Shimotakahara’s second novel Red Oblivion (September). And a novel about silence, The Country Will Bring Us No Peace (September)—by Matthieu Simard, translated by Pablo Strauss—sneaks the brutality of grief into the reader's imagination.
From Johanna Skibsrud, the Scotiabank Giller Prize-winning author of The Sentimentalists, comes Island (September), the story of a revolution on an imaginary island, a book that asks how we can imagine a future that does not run along the exact same lines as the past. Sherri Smith illuminates the dark side of the self-care and wellness industry in a thrilling ride of revenge, The Retreat (August). The latest from David Szalay, Man Booker Prize-shortlisted author of All That Man Is, is Turbulence, a virtuosic novel about twelve people, mostly strangers, and the surprising ripple effect each one has on the life of the next as they cross paths while in transit around the world. In Jess Taylor's sophomore story collection Just Pervs (October), contemporary views of female sexuality are subverted, and women are given agency over their desires and bodies. An Irish Country Family (November) is another charming entry in Patrick Taylor's beloved internationally bestselling Irish Country series. And in Pugwash (November), a fictionalized story based on true events, award-winning playwright Vern Thiessen shows how an inspiring part of history made a local impact and established an internationally renowned legacy.
Based on real-life events, Joan Thomas’s latest, Five Wives (August)—in the tradition of The Poisonwood Bible and State of Wonder—is a novel set in the rainforest of Ecuador about five women left behind when their missionary husbands are killed. Set against the backdrop of the Great Depression, a young horse thief and his unlikely accomplice are pursued through the forbidding landscape of the BC interior in Nick Tooke's debut, The Ballad of Samuel Hewitt. Rites of Passage (October) is the fourth instalment in Michel Tremblay’s Desrosiers Diaspora series of novels, translated from French by the critically acclaimed and long-time Tremblay specialist Linda Gaboriau. Deborah-Anne Tunney's second book is the novel Winter Willow (November), about a graduate student's experience living as a personal assistant at a mansion in her neighbourhood. Erin Vance’s Advice for Taxidermists and Amateur Beekeepers (November) is the story of the death of a woman and her daughters in a house fire, and speculation as to whether it was an accident or murder. And two-time Giller Prize winner M.G. Vassanji returns with A Delhi Obsession (September), a powerful new novel about grief and second chances, tradition and rebellion, set in vibrant present-day Delhi.
Award-winning filmmaker Wiebke von Carolsfeld’s first novel is Claremont (September), the story of a young boy who must learn to survive the unthinkable after witnessing the murder/suicide of his parents. Leslie Vryenhoek follows up her Ledger of the Open Hand (shortlisted for Newfoundland and Labrador’s Winterset Award and longlisted for the international Dublin Literary Award) with We Will All Be Received (October), a novel that asks whether anyone can find peace or atonement in a contemporary world where technology makes the past ever present. People Live Here (October) is a brand-new collection of three exciting new plays by George F. Walker, Canada’s king of black comedy and a winner of two Governor General’s Literary Awards for Drama. And CanLit star Jessica Westhead returns with Worry, a riveting novel about a mother’s all-consuming worry for her child over 48 hours at a remote cottage with old friends and a mysterious neighbour, for fans of Little Fires Everywhere and Truly Madly Guilty.
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