Fiction We Can't Wait to Read This Fall

In which we give you a list of amazing fall fiction along with the REAL reasons we're looking forward to these books in order to demonstrate that human-generated lists beat algorithm-generated lists any and every day. And we also liberally employ the royal we....

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Book Cover The Lightning of Possible Storms

The Lightning of Possible Storms, by Jonathan Ball

About the book: Aleya's world starts to unravel after a café customer leaves behind a collection of short stories. Surprised and disturbed to discover that it has been dedicated to her, Aleya delves into the strange book...

A mad scientist seeks to steal his son's dreams. A struggling writer, skilled only at destruction, finds himself courted by Hollywood. A woman seeks to escape her body and live inside her dreams. Citizens panic when a new city block manifests out of nowhere. The personification of capitalism strives to impress his cutthroat boss.

The more Aleya reads, the deeper she sinks into the mysterious writer's work, and the less real the world around her seems. Soon, she's overwhelmed as a new, more terrifying existence takes hold.

Jonathan Ball's first collection of short fiction blends humour and horror, doom and daylight, offering myriad possible storms.

Why we're taking notice: Because CanLit legend Gary Barwin writes that Ball is "not only a virtuoso of language and form, but a virtuoso of our present moment, exploring how we are entwined in words and history and how we find ourselves here and now, surrounded by ourselves and our words."

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Why Birds Sing, by Nina Berkhout

About the book: A charming, deeply felt novel about human connection and finding music between the notes.

When opera singer Dawn Woodward has an onstage flameout, all she wants is to be left alone. She’s soon faced with other complications the day her husband announces her estranged brother-in-law, Tariq, is undergoing cancer treatment and moving in, his temperamental parrot in tow. To make matters worse, though she can’t whistle herself, she has been tasked with teaching arias to an outspoken group of devoted siffleurs who call themselves the Warblers. Eventually, Tariq and his bird join the class, and Dawn forms unexpected friendships with her new companions. But when her marriage shows signs of trouble and Tariq’s health declines, she begins questioning her foundations, including the career that she has worked so hard to build and the true nature of love and song.

Why we're taking notice: Because when superstar novelist Amy Jones was approached about championing this novel as part of our Launchpad program, she responded, "What a great idea! I'm absolutely in; I will do anything I can to help promote this stunning book." This certainly piqued our interest.

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Always Brave, Sometimes Kind, by Katie Bickell

About the book: Set in the cities, reserves, and rural reaches of Alberta, Katie Bickell’s debut novel is told in a series of stories that span the years from 1990 to 2016, through cycles of boom and bust in the oil fields, government budget cuts and workers rights policies, the rising opioid crisis, and the intersecting lives of people whose communities sometimes stretch farther than they know.

We meet a teenage runaway who goes into labour at the West Edmonton Mall, a doctor managing hospital overflow in a time of healthcare cutbacks, a broke dad making extra pay through a phone sex line, a young musician who dreams of fame beyond the reserve, and a dedicated hockey mom grappling with sense of self when she’s no longer needed—or welcome—at the rink.

Always Brave, Sometimes Kind captures a network of friends, caregivers, in-laws, and near misses, with each character’s life coming into greater focus as we learn more about the people around them. Tracing alliances and betrayals from different perspectives over decades, Bickell writes an ode to home and community that is both warm and gritty, well-defined and utterly complicated.

Why we're taking notice: Because we've had a taste of her voice and perspective as part of the At Home With... series, published by Touchwood Editions last March. A sample, "Later, reading Chloe’s journal, I discovered she doesn’t know the word “enjoy” is a single word. For the eight years she’s spent on this planet, she’s believed it was customary to ask someone to experience a movie or meal “in joy.” As in: here is your meal: in joy, or please, in joy: the movie. Better yet, in joy yourself! (like, get yourself into joy!). I decide her way is better than ours and that I should in-joy these days as much as possible."

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A Family Affair, by Nadine Bismuth, translated by Russell Smith

About the book: A wry, savvy novel of untidy modern relationships, A Family Affair confirms award-winning author Nadine Bismuth’s place as a remarkable chronicler of contemporary middle-class mores in the manner of Jonathan Franzen, John Irving, and Lorrie Moore.

Award-winning novelist and screenwriter for film and television Nadine Bismuth has returned with an unsparing portrait of twenty-first century life. In A Family Affair, love is the first casualty and deceit—towards others, towards oneself—the norm.

Kitchen designer Magalie is being cheated upon and so cheats in turn, in the office and with a divorced policeman who has hired her. Her partner, Mathieu, has no idea how to be, and the policeman Guillaume no idea what he wants. So begins a story of messy relationships wrested against the odds from the detritus of failed marriages, the demands of professional lives, and the pull of the internet and its false messages of perfection. With an assiduous eye that is both clinical and sympathetic, Bismuth’s elegant and highly readable novel captures the alienating nature of contemporary life and sheds light on this, our strange new world full of unrequited yearning in a sea of seeming plenty.

Why we're taking notice: Because it won several awards when first published in Quebec, was nominated for a Governor General's Award, and now appears in English with translation by Russell Smith.

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The Good German, by Dennis Bock

About the book: In November 1939, a German anti-fascist named Georg Elser came as close to assassinating Adolf Hitler as anyone ever had. In this gripping novel of alternate history, he doesn’t just come close—he succeeds. But he could never have imagined the terrible consequences that would follow from this act of heroism. 

Hermann Göring, masterful political strategist, assumes the Chancellery and quickly signs a non-aggression treaty with the isolationist president Joseph Kennedy that will keep America out of the war that is about to engulf Europe. Göring rushes the German scientific community into developing the atomic bomb, and in August 1944, this devastating new weapon is tested on the English capital. 

London lies in ruins. The war is over, fascism prevails in Europe, and Canada, the Commonwealth holdout in the Americas, suffers on as a client state of the Soviet Union. Georg Elser, blinded in the A-bombing of London, is shipped to Canada and quarantined in a hospice near Toronto called Mercy House. Here we meet William Teufel, a German-Canadian boy who in the summer of 1960 devises a plan that he hopes will distance himself from his German heritage and, unwittingly, brings him face to face with the man whose astonishing act of heroism twenty-one years earlier set the world on its terrifying new path.

In this page-turning narrative, Bock has created an utterly compelling and original novel of historical speculation in the vein of Philip Roth’s The Plot Against America, John Wyndham’s The Chrysalids and Philip K. Dick’s cult classic The Man in the High Castle

Why we're taking notice: Because this book has received a lot of hype, and what better moment to imagine possibilities for a different world.

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Brighten the Corner Where You Are, by Carol Bruneau

About the book: A brilliant novel reimagining the life of internationally renowned folk artist Maud Lewis by an award-winning author.

But I had known since forever that it's colours that keep the world turning,
 that keep a person going.

One glimpse of the tiny painted house that folk art legend Maud Lewis shared with her husband, Everett, in Marshalltown, Nova Scotia, during the mid-twentieth century and the startling contrast between her joyful artwork and her life's deprivations is evident. One glimpse at her photo and you realize, for all her smile's shyness, she must've been one tough cookie. But, beneath her iconic resilience, who was Maud, really? How did she manage, holed up in that one-room house with no running water, married to a miserly man known for his drinking? Was she happy, or was she miserable? Did painting save or make her Everett's meal ticket? And then there are the darker secrets that haunt her story: the loss of her parents, her child, her first love.

Against all odds, Maud Lewis rose above these constraints—and this is where you'll find the Maud of Brighten the Corner Where You Are: speaking her mind from beyond the grave, freed of the stigmas of gender, poverty, and disability that marked her life and shaped her art. Unfettered and feisty as can be, she tells her story her way, illuminating the darkest corners of her life. In possession of a voice all her own, Maud demonstrates the agency that hovers within us all.

Why we're taking notice: Because this cover! Maud Lawis! And Carol Bruneau—we love her! (Read her recommended reading list to change your take on Nova Scotia.)

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Blaze Island, by Catherine Bush

About the book: For those who loved Barbara Kingsolver’s Flight Behavior comes a new climate-themed, Shakespeare-inspired novel from bestselling author Catherine Bush.

The time is now or an alternate near now, the world close to our own. A mammoth Category Five hurricane sweeps up the eastern seaboard of North America, leaving devastation in its wake, its outer wings brushing over tiny Blaze Island in the North Atlantic.

Just as the storm disrupts the present, it stirs up the past: Miranda’s memories of growing up in an isolated, wind-swept cove and the events of long ago that her father will not allow her to speak of. In the aftermath of the storm, she finds herself in a world altered so quickly and so radically that she hardly knows what has happened.

Why we're taking notice: Because Claudia Dey writes, "Catherine Bush writes like she is our last storm watcher, and Blaze Island, her urgent panorama of our fragile world. Every sentence has the lush exactitude of a poem, and the book, as it stuns and pivots, the stampeding heart of a thriller."

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Kinmount, by Rod Carley

About the book: Kinmount is the last place Dave Middleton wants to revisit. But Dave has taken the gig—directing an amateur production of Romeo and Juliet for an eccentric producer in farm country. And there his quixotic troubles begin. From cults to karaoke, anything that can go wrong does. In one hilarious chapter after another, Dave becomes the reluctant emissary of truth in a comic battle between artistic integrity and censorship. Add in a pesky ghost and a precocious parrot and the stage is set for a summer Kinmount won’t soon forget.”

Why we're taking notice: Because "Not since Robertson Davies' Tempest-Tost has a community Shakespeare production been so much fun," writes Terry Fallis. This book sounds terrific.

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One Madder Woman, by Dede Crane

About the book: A memorable and clandestine love story between two visionary artists in 19th-century Paris.

"These madmen—and one madder woman—paint as if suffering seizures! One cannot make heads or tails of the work without taking ten paces back."

In One Madder Woman, Dede Crane vividly recreates the life of Berthe Morisot, the sole female member of the renowned group of artists known as the Impressionists. Inspired by true events, One Madder Woman charts her complicated relationship with her sister and rival, Edma, and her tumultuous love affair with Édouard Manet, the charismatic enfant terrible of the Paris Salon, against a backdrop of upheaval and war in mid-19th-century Paris.

One Madder Woman illuminates the stories behind familiar masterpieces, and sketches a life teeming with obstacles defied and conquered by the genius of Morisot. At a time when art was a space completely dominated by men, Morisot upends all expectations of what a "proper woman" should be and manages to carve out her own place in the art world. Crane's rich prose and lyrical expression bring this revolutionary artistic period to life, in vivid and glorious colour.

Why we're taking notice: Because, as Pauline Holdstock explains, "In the brimming pages of Crane's novel centering on the only female painter of their group, the world of the French Impressionists is stirred into complex, nuanced, living, breathing existence." 

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Seven, by Farzana Doctor

About the book: A brave, soulfully written feminist novel about inheritance and resistance that tests the balance between kinship and the fight against customs that harm us.

When Sharifa accompanies her husband on a marriage-saving trip to India in 2016, she thinks that she’s going to research her great-great-grandfather, a wealthy business leader and philanthropist. What captures her imagination is not his rags-to-riches story, but the mystery of his four wives, missing from the family lore. She ends up excavating much more than she had imagined.

Sharifa’s trip coincides with a time of unrest within her insular and conservative religious community, and there is no escaping its politics. A group of feminists is speaking out against khatna, an age-old ritual they insist is female genital cutting. Sharifa’s two favourite cousins are on opposite sides of the debate and she seeks a middle ground. As the issue heats up, Sharifa discovers an unexpected truth and is forced to take a position.

Why we're taking notice: Because, okay, so we read it already (is that cheating?), and it's such a great novel. Get on it.

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Butter Honey Pig Bread, by Francesca Ekwuyasi

About the book: An intergenerational saga about three Nigerian women: a novel about food, family, and forgiveness.

Butter Honey Pig Bread is a story of choices and their consequences, of motherhood, of the malleable line between the spirit and the mind, of finding new homes and mending old ones, of voracious appetites, of queer love, of friendship, faith, and above all, family.

Francesca Ekwuyasi's debut novel tells the interwoven stories of twin sisters, Kehinde and Taiye, and their mother, Kambirinachi. Kambirinachi feels she was born an Ogbanje, a spirit that plagues families with misfortune by dying in childhood to cause its mother misery. She believes that she has made the unnatural choice of staying alive to love her human family and now lives in fear of the consequences of that decision.

Some of Kambirinachi's worst fears come true when her daughter, Kehinde, experiences a devasting childhood trauma that causes the family to fracture in seemingly irreversible ways. As soon as she's of age, Kehinde moves away and cuts contact with her twin sister and mother. Alone in Montreal, she struggles to find ways to heal while building a life of her own. Meanwhile, Taiye, plagued by guilt for what happened to her sister, flees to London and attempts to numb the loss of the relationship with her twin through reckless hedonism.

Now, after more than a decade of living apart, Taiye and Kehinde have returned home to Lagos to visit their mother. It is here that the three women must face each other and address the wounds of the past if they are to reconcile and move forward.

Why we're taking notice: Because it's been longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize! 

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Daughter of Here, by Ioana Georgescu, translated by Katia Grubisic

About the book: Daughter of Here is an experiment in memory, desire, and time. As she sifts through her international whirlwind romance with Célestin, her larger-than-life love for her daughter Mo, and her own childhood behind the Iron Curtain, Dolores's narrative shifts from Williamsburg, to Tokyo, to Bucharest before and after the fall, and to Cairo at the first spark of the Arab Spring. Filmic and thought-provoking, this novel straddles the political and the personal.

Why we're taking notice: Because books from Linda Leith Publishing are always interesting, and Grubisic is a celebrated translator. Plus the story sounds great.

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Happy Hour, by Marlowe Granados

About the book: With the verve and bite of My Year of Rest and Relaxation and the whip-smart, wisecracking sensibility of a golden-age Hollywood heroine, Marlowe Granados’s stunning début brilliantly captures a summer of striving in New York City. 

Refreshing and wry in equal measure, Happy Hour is an intoxicating novel of youth well spent. Isa Epley is all of twenty-one years old and already wise enough to understand that the purpose of life is the pursuit of pleasure. She arrives in New York City for a summer of adventure with her best friend, one newly blond Gala Novak. They have little money, but that’s hardly going to stop them from having a good time.

In her diary, Isa describes a sweltering summer in the glittering city. By day, the girls sell clothes in a market stall, pinching pennies for their Bed-Stuy sublet and bodega lunches. By night, they weave from Brooklyn to the Upper East Side to the Hamptons among a rotating cast of celebrities, artists, tech entrepreneurs, stuffy intellectuals, and bad-mannered grifters. Money runs ever tighter and the strain tests their friendship as they try to convert their social capital into something more lasting than precarious gigs as au pairs, nightclub hostesses, paid audience members, and aspiring foot-fetish models. Through it all, Isa’s bold, beguiling voice captures the precise thrill of cultivating a life of glamour and intrigue as she juggles paying her dues with skipping out on the bill.

Happy Hour announces a dazzling new talent in Marlowe Granados, whose exquisite wit recalls Anita Loos’s 1925 classic, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, updated to evoke a recent, golden period of hope and transformation—the summer of 2013. A cri de cœur for party girls and anyone who has ever felt entitled to an adventure of their own, Happy Hour is an effervescent tonic for the ails of contemporary life.

Why we're taking notice: So much buzz for this one, the first release from new publisher Flying Books. If you're tired of social distance, immersing yourself in Granados' story is the public-health approved antidote.

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Ties That Tether, by Jane Igharo

About the book: When a Nigerian woman falls for a man she knows will break her mother’s heart, she must choose between love and her family.

At twelve years old, Azere promised her dying father she would marry a Nigerian man and preserve her culture, even after immigrating to Canada. Her mother has been vigilant about helping—well forcing—her to stay within the Nigerian dating pool ever since. But when another match-made-by-mom goes wrong, Azere ends up at a bar, enjoying the company and later sharing the bed of Rafael Castellano, a man who is tall, handsome, and…white.

When their one-night stand unexpectedly evolves into something serious, Azere is caught between her feelings for Rafael and the compulsive need to please her mother. Soon, Azere can't help wondering if loving Rafael makes her any less of a Nigerian. Can she be with him without compromising her identity? The answer will either cause Azere to be audacious and fight for her happiness or continue as the compliant daughter.

Why we're taking notice: Because this one's a big deal, appearing on all kinds of must-read lists for the season, like Marie-Claire's. And then that stunning cover clinched it. 

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Indians on Vacation, by Thomas King

About the book: Meet Bird and Mimi in this brilliant new novel from one of Canada’s foremost authors. Inspired by a handful of old postcards sent by Uncle Leroy nearly a hundred years earlier, Bird and Mimi attempt to trace Mimi’s long-lost uncle and the family medicine bundle he took with him to Europe.

 “I’m sweaty and sticky. My ears are still popping from the descent into Vaclav Havel. My sinuses ache. My stomach is upset. My mouth is a sewer. I roll over and bury my face in a pillow. Mimi snuggles down beside me with no regard for my distress.

 ‘My god,’ she whispers, ‘can it get any better?’”

 By turns witty, sly and poignant, this is the unforgettable tale of one couple’s holiday trip to Europe, where their wanderings through its famous capitals reveal a complicated history, both personal and political.

Why we're taking notice: Because it's a new novel by Thomas King, and now it's a bestseller and appears on the Giller Longlist.

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Petra, by Shaena Lambert

About the book: Inspired by Petra Kelly, the original Green Party leader and political activist who fought for the planet in 1980s Germany, Shaena Lambert brings us a captivating new novel about a woman who changed history and transformed environmental politics—and who, like many history-changing women, has been largely erased. Award-winning novelist Madeleine Thien calls Petra "a masterpiece—a fierce, humane and powerful novel for our times."

January, 1980. At the height of the Cold War, Petra Kelly inspires hundreds of thousands to take to the streets to protest the placement of nuclear missiles on West German soil—including a NATO general named Emil Gerhardt, who shocks the establishment by converting to the cause. Petra and her general not only vault to fame as the stars of the Green Party, but they also fall in love. Then Manfred Schwartz, an ex-lover, urges Petra to draw back the curtain on Emil's war record, and they enter a world both complicated and threatening.

Told by Manfred Schwartz, from his place in a present world even more beset by existential threats, Petra is an exploration of love, jealousy, and the power of social change. A woman capable of founding a new and world-changing politics and taking on two superpowers, Petra still must grapple with her own complex nature and a singular and fatal love.

Why we're taking notice: Because we read Shaena Lambert's article in The Toronto Star about why Petra Kelly is the hero we need right now. 

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And This is the Cure, by Annette Lapointe

About the book: And This Is the Cure follows Allison Winter, public radio pop-culture journalist and former riot grrrrrl as she regains custody of her adolescent daughter, Hanna, following the murder of her ex-husband. She is unprepared to deal with either the demands of parenting or the fury of her ex-husband's religiously conservative, grieving family, so she pulls up roots and moves Hanna from Winnipeg to Toronto.

Allison's sweet-natured partner, Eden, struggles to take on the day-to-day parenting while Allison resumes her career and avoids the chaos building at home. Despite all efforts, tensions swell and Hanna's rage over her disrupted life eventually erupts in episodes of violence.

Allison's past histories—as a frontwoman for a riot grrrrrl band and her earlier history as a runaway from a conservative Christian family—return to haunt her present life. Her former bandmates want to reunite for a tour of Japan, and her sister demands help in caring for their difficult and aging mother. Allison decides it would be best for them all to return to Winnipeg, but this only sparks a whole new chapter of familial conflict, and precipitates a disastrous event that forces Allison to confront her estranged relationship with her mother and come to terms with her own troubled past.

And This Is the Cure is a novel about the weight of unresolved baggage – its pain and trauma – and working through the process of healing and moving on.

Why we're taking notice: Because Lapointe's first novel was longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, and we've been interested in everything she's been up to ever since. 

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Daniil and Vanya, by Marie-Hélène Larochelle, translated by Michelle Winters

About the book: Emma and Gregory have a perfect life—a gorgeous home, a successful design firm—except for their inability to start a family. Following a traumatic failed pregnancy, they decide to travel to Russia to adopt a pair of twin boys. From the moment they board the plane in St. Petersburg, the twins begin to demonstrate perverse behaviour that grows increasingly ominous, driving a wedge between Emma and Gregory, and alienating their friends and family. The two brothers show worrying signs of lack of empathy, and seem to leave behind a trail of disturbing incidents, and rumours persist as the boys grow into teenagers—even as Emma continues to cling to her dream of the perfect family. A dark, violent, and tense novel, Daniil and Vanya shows the bond between parent and child gone horribly awry.

Why we're taking notice: Because comparisons to Lionel Shriver's 2003 novel We Need to Talk About Kevin will get us every time!

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The Crooked Thing, by Mary MacDonald

About the book: The English poet, William Blake said, "joy and woe are woven fine." So it is in The Crooked Thing. A collection of intense and emotional stories, there are traumas and betrayals, loves and losses, missed opportunities and discoveries, and above all, hope. In tales delicate and steely, a troubled young ferryman finds himself with an unexpected passenger, a songbird finds its voice, a mother learns to let go of her son and, after a chance encounter, an aging ballerina dances again. In her debut story collection, Mary MacDonald brings each narrator to face their own existence, taking the reader into darkness, passing through fear and resistance, to seek redemption and freedom. At their core these are love stories; they move us, disturb us, and upend our beliefs, to show us characters not all that different from ourselves.

Why we're taking notice: Because the book is garnering a lot of praise from short story champions, including Sarah Selecky, who writes, "Mary MacDonald is an elegant writer. Her stories about love, desire, fear and longing are suffused with light. Magical, lyrical and mysterious—I lost myself in this collection." 

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Mexican Gothic, by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

About the book: After receiving a frantic letter from her newly-wed cousin begging for someone to save her from a mysterious doom, Noemí Taboada heads to High Place, a distant house in the Mexican countryside. She’s not sure what she will find—her cousin’s husband, a handsome Englishman, is a stranger, and Noemí knows little about the region.   
 
Noemí is also an unlikely rescuer: She’s a glamorous debutante, and her chic gowns and perfect red lipstick are more suited for cocktail parties than amateur sleuthing. But she’s also tough and smart, with an indomitable will, and she is not afraid: Not of her cousin’s new husband, who is both menacing and alluring; not of his father, the ancient patriarch who seems to be fascinated by Noemí; and not even of the house itself, which begins to invade Noemi’s dreams with visions of blood and doom.
 
Her only ally in this inhospitable abode is the family’s youngest son. Shy and gentle, he seems to want to help Noemí, but might also be hiding dark knowledge of his family’s past. For there are many secrets behind the walls of High Place. The family’s once colossal wealth and faded mining empire kept them from prying eyes, but as Noemí digs deeper she unearths stories of violence and madness. 
 
And Noemí, mesmerized by the terrifying yet seductive world of High Place, may soon find it impossible to ever leave this enigmatic house behind.

Why we're taking notice: Because Moreno-Garcia took part in our 2016 virtual roundtable on world-building, and we think she is fabulous. 

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Dirty Birds, by Morgan Murray

About the book: In late 2008, as the world’s economy crumbles and Barack Obama ascends to the White House, the remarkably unremarkable Milton Ontario—not to be confused with Milton, Ontario—leaves his parents’ basement in Middle-of-Nowhere, Saskatchewan, and sets forth to find fame, fortune, and love in the Euro-lite electric sexuality of Montreal; to bask in the endless twenty-something Millennial adolescence of the Plateau; to escape the infinite flatness of Saskatchewan and find his messiah—Leonard Cohen. Hilariously ironic and irreverent, in Dirty Birds, Morgan Murray generates a quest novel for the twenty-first 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.

Why we're taking notice: Because the cover is designed by Kate Beaton, and the interior rich with drawings by Morgan himself. Looks like a fantastic literary package. 

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The Residence, by Andrew Pyper

About the book: In this terrifying ghost story based on true events, the President’s late son haunts the White House, threatening all who live in it—and the divided America beyond its walls. From the bestselling author of The Homecoming.

The year is 1853. President-elect Franklin Pierce is traveling with his family to Washington, DC, when tragedy strikes. In an instant, their train runs off the rails, violently flinging passengers about the cabin. When the great iron machine finally comes to rest, the only casualty is the Pierces’ son, Bennie. The loss sends First Lady Jane Pierce into mourning, and casts Franklin’s presidency under a pall of sorrow and grief.

As the Pierces move into the White House, they are soon plagued by events both bizarre and disturbing. Strange sounds seem to come from the walls and ceiling, ghostly voices echo out of time itself, and visions of spirits crushed under the weight of American history pass through empty hallways. But when Jane orchestrates a séance with the infamous Fox Sisters—the most noted Spiritualists of the day—the barrier between this world and the next is torn asunder. Something horrific comes through and takes up residence alongside Franklin and Jane in the very walls of the mansion itself.

Only by overcoming their grief and confronting their darkest secrets can Jane and Franklin hope to rid themselves—and America—of the entity that seeks to make the White House its permanent home.

Why we're taking notice: Because new Andrew Pyper! New Andrew Pyper! Can't wait. 

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Tell Me My Name, by Erin Ruddy

About the book: Ellie and Neil Patterson are eager to enjoy some quality time at their new cottage. It’s the first time in ten years they’ve been alone … or are they?

When a friendly encounter leads to their violent kidnapping, they awaken to a living nightmare. Insisting he is Ellie’s soulmate, the kidnapper gives her three chances to say his name. If she guesses wrong, it’s Neil who will suffer the consequences. This propels Ellie into a desperate trip down memory lane to dredge up the dubious men of her past.

Only after discovering the man's true identity and sacrificing her own safety to save Neil does Ellie finally learn the truth — that everything she thinks she knows about her husband and their decade-long love story is a lie.

Why we're taking notice: Because, ah, the sweet comfort a domestic thriller. This one is getting excellent reviews. "Readers will cheer as Ellie faces her fears and takes decisive action to save herself and her family," writes Publishers Weekly. "Ruddy plays effectively with issues of identity, regret, and forgiveness in this suspenseful thriller."

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You Are Eating an Orange. You Are Naked, by Sheung-King

About the book: A young translator living in Toronto frequently travels abroad—to Hong Kong, Macau, Prague, Tokyo—often with his unnamed lover. In restaurants and hotel rooms, the couple begins telling folktales to each other, perhaps as a way to fill the undefined space between them. Theirs is a comic and enigmatic relationship in which emotions are often muted and sometimes masked by verbal play, philosophical questions, and further complicated by the woman's frequent unexplained disappearances.

You Are Eating an Orange. You Are Naked. is an intimate novel of memory and longing that challenges Western tropes and Orientalism. Embracing the playful surrealism of Haruki Murakami and the atmospheric narratives of filmmaker Wong Kar-wai, Sheung-King's debut is at once lyrical and punctuated, and wholly unique, and marks the arrival of a bold new voice in Asian-Canadian literature.

Why we're taking notice: Because, well, the title, to be honest. How could we not be taking notice? Kyo Maclear is calling the book "enchanting, funny, and a joy to read."

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Noopiming: The Cure for White Ladies, by Leanne Betasamosake Simpson

About the book: Award-winning Nishnaabeg storyteller and writer Leanne Betasamosake Simpson returns with a bold reimagination of the novel, one that combines narrative and poetic fragments through a careful and fierce reclamation of Anishinaabe aesthetics.

Mashkawaji (they/them) lies frozen in the ice, remembering a long-ago time of hopeless connection and now finding freedom and solace in isolated suspension. They introduce us to the seven main characters: Akiwenzii, the old man who represents the narrator’s will; Ninaatig, the maple tree who represents their lungs; Mindimooyenh, the old woman who represents their conscience; Sabe, the giant who represents their marrow; Adik, the caribou who represents their nervous system; Asin, the human who represents their eyes and ears; and Lucy, the human who represents their brain. Each attempts to commune with the unnatural urban-settler world, a world of SpongeBob Band-Aids, Ziploc baggies, Fjällräven Kånken backpacks, and coffee mugs emblazoned with institutional logos. And each searches out the natural world, only to discover those pockets that still exist are owned, contained, counted, and consumed. Cut off from nature, the characters are cut off from their natural selves.

Noopiming is Anishinaabemowin for “in the bush,” and the title is a response to English Canadian settler and author Susanna Moodie’s 1852 memoir Roughing It in the Bush. To read Simpson’s work is an act of decolonization, degentrification, and willful resistance to the perpetuation and dissemination of centuries-old colonial myth-making. It is a lived experience. It is a breaking open of the self to a world alive with people, animals, ancestors, and spirits, who are all busy with the daily labours of healing—healing not only themselves, but their individual pieces of the network, of the web that connects them all together. Enter and be changed.

Why we're taking notice: Because we adore Leanne Betasamosake Simpson. Don't miss her conversation with our own Trevor Corkum, where she explains, "The current world—so desecrated from the damage of capitalism, colonialism, and heteropatriarchy—is not the world my ancestors intended for me, nor is it the world I want to leave my descendants." 

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After Elias, by Eddy Boudel Tan

About the book: When the airplane piloted by Elias Santos crashes one week before their wedding day, Coen Caraway loses the man he loves and the illusion of happiness he has worked so hard to create. The only thing Elias leaves behind is a recording of his final words, and even Coen is baffled by the cryptic message.

Numb with grief, he takes refuge on the Mexican island that was meant to host their wedding. But as fragments of the past come to the surface in the aftermath of the tragedy, Coen is forced to question everything he thought he knew about Elias and their life together. Beneath his flawed memory lies the truth about Elias—and himself.

From the damp concrete of Vancouver to the spoiled shores of Mexico, After Elias weaves the past with the present to tell a story of doubt, regret, and the fear of losing everything.

Why we're taking notice: Because while this novel seems like a lot to handle, we keep hearing about readers who've connected with it so strongly. Foreward Reviews calls it, "Arresting... [a] deftly crafted novel."

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Aftershock, by Alison Taylor

About the book: Nightmares still haunt Chloe thirteen years after a fatal tragedy led to the disintegration of her family. Her mother, Jules, has a busy tech career, a long history of chronic pain—and little time for Chloe. After Chloe drops out of university to travel for a year, Jules’s OxyContin dependency quickly worsens. Aftershock follows their parallel journeys: Jules struggles to regain control of her life, while Chloe, after a rocky visit with her estranged father in New Zealand, resolves to go off the map and spend some time alone, travelling. When Jules suddenly can’t find her daughter, the feeling is all too familiar. Mother and daughter will need to address old secrets and the emotional impact they have wrought before they can reconcile with each other, and, finally, with themselves.

Why we're taking notice: Because one of our favourite people on Instagram wrote, "People of Earth! You need to read Aftershock by Alison Taylor. I finished it at 2:20 a.m. on a work night and it was worth it. Go read it. Come back and talk to me about it. Go tell everyone else to read it." Then she proceeded to buy four more copies to give to people she knows. 

*

If Sylvie Had Nine Lives, by Leona Theis

About the book: Meet Sylvie—funny, sly, sensual and flawed. She can't always count on herself to make good choices. She may or may not recognize a life-or-death moment, may or may not cancel her own wedding with a day to spare, might just try to walk past store security with a little something in her pocket. Like all of us, Sylvie must make decisions that have reverberations for years to come. Unlike the rest of us, Sylvie gets to live more than one life.

In airy prose imbued with humour, this novel asks the big questions: is there a right path and a wrong path, or does each possibility hold its share of pleasure and pain? Does a person have an immutable self, or is her essence dependent on circumstances? In this energetic and innovative book, Leona Theis creates a world without the usual limits and a protaganist who is conflicted, charismatic, brave, and full of curiosity. If Sylvie Had Nine Lives is for everyone who has ever asked, What if...?

Why we're taking notice: Because we trust writer Julie Paul, who says, "Sylvie, the engaging heart of this innovative novel-in-stories, is a woman who truly contains multitudes. With these tales of rash decisions, romance, mishaps and mistakes, Leona Theis delves deeply into the layers that make up a life, many times over. Readers will be surprised and entertained as they get to know a new Sylvie in each chapter, every one a gem."

*

Book Cover Hench

Hench, by Natalie Zina Walschots

About the book: The Boys meets My Year of Rest and Relaxation in this smart, imaginative, and evocative novel of love, betrayal, revenge, and redemption, told with razor-sharp wit and affection, in which a young woman discovers the greatest superpower—for good or ill—is a properly executed spreadsheet.

Anna does boring things for terrible people because even criminals need office help and she needs a job. Working for a monster lurking beneath the surface of the world isn’t glamorous. But is it really worse than working for an oil conglomerate or an insurance company? In this economy?

 As a temp, she’s just a cog in the machine. But when she finally gets a promising assignment, everything goes very wrong, and an encounter with the so-called “hero” leaves her badly injured.  And, to her horror, compared to the other bodies strewn about, she’s the lucky one.

So, of course, then she gets laid off.

With no money and no mobility, with only her anger and internet research acumen, she discovers her suffering at the hands of a hero is far from unique. When people start listening to the story that her data tells, she realizes she might not be as powerless as she thinks.

Because the key to everything is data: knowing how to collate it, how to manipulate it, and how to weaponize it. By tallying up the human cost these caped forces of nature wreak upon the world, she discovers that the line between good and evil is mostly marketing.  And with social media and viral videos, she can control that appearance.

It’s not too long before she’s employed once more, this time by one of the worst villains on earth. As she becomes an increasingly valuable lieutenant, she might just save the world.

A sharp, witty, modern debut, Hench explores the individual cost of justice through a fascinating mix of Millennial office politics, heroism measured through data science, body horror, and a profound misunderstanding of quantum mechanics.

Why we're taking notice: Because isn't it obvious???? This book sounds awesome. 

September 17, 2020
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