I chose ten books by writers who I consider my peers. These are the people writing books from or about the place that inspires me. They not only set the bar, but they also deserve more recognition for their excellent work. This is the present and the future of writing in Newfoundland, and I am humbled to consider myself among this crew.
Album Rock, by Matthew Hollett
How lucky are we to have a writer like Matthew Hollett, who is willing to take his curiosity to its utmost extremes? Here is a thoughtful, picturesque excavation of a little-known Newfoundland mystery, told by a writer whose inquisitiveness and way of seeing makes the journey unforgettable.
Boom Time, by Lindsay Bird
The contrast between the beauty of these poems and the ugliness of their setting is remarkable. Working on construction sites was a formative experience for me and for my writing; this book allows me not only to re-live those times, but also marvel at Bird’s capacity to make lemonade.
Crow Gulch, by Douglas Walbourne-Gough
Deeply personal poems that not only strike at the heart with ferocity and compassion, but also excavate a local history, demanding the reader acknowledge what has been almost forgotten. Crow Gulch is a debut that achieves something writers often spend their entire careers striving for.
Melt, by Heidi Wicks
A tender examination of a life-long friendship, mixed with just the right heaping of 90’s nostalgia and topical Newfoundlandia. There is a lot to love about Melt.
Some People’s Children, by Bridget Canning
There are many books written about small town Newfoundland, but none I can recall that capture the rumours, gossip, politics, and claustrophobia quite like Canning’s second novel. This province is bursting with storytellers, and Bridget Canning is among our best.
Send More Tourists… the Last Ones Were Delicious, by Tracey Waddleton
An absolutely singular collection by a writer whose instincts are sharp and true. The range in this collection is awe inspiring, conjuring dread, hilarity, and heartache in equal measures. Waddleton has a gift and we are its grateful recipients.
Skeet Love, by Craig Francis Power
A drug-fuelled, dystopian road trip of epic, paranoid proportions. The imaginative power behind Power’s short novel is its engine—driven by a maniac, his vices, his delusions, and a willingness to push boundaries. There’s no other book like Skeet Love.
This is Agatha Falling, by Heather Nolan
In her debut novella, Heather Nolan’s prose dances between memory and dream and back again, unsettling the reader while holding them captive. The daring, lyrical journey to discover what is real and what is not is somehow contained in a book shorter than seems possible, yet it fits together like a fresh pack of cigarettes.
Congratulations, Rhododendrons, by Mary Germaine
In Congratulations, Rhododendrons Mary Germaine has given the world a book that traverses hope, humour, sincerity and skepticism. I've had the privilege of hearing Mary read from these poems and it was a reminder of just what heights poems can achieve.
We, Jane, by Aimee Wall
How do you write a novel about a gigantic, stigmatized topic like abortion without alienating or preaching to the reader? Ask Aimee Wall. The construction of, and the understatement in We, Jane is to be marvelled at. The propulsion of the prose, the subtle denial of the characters’ desires, and the tension Wall crafts make a reader question how this could possibly be her first book.
The Wards are a working-class Newfoundland family on the cusp of upheaval. The children are becoming adults, the adults are growing old, and the new dog was probably stolen. When a sudden illness forces the Wards together, can they finally learn to be close-knit?
This unsettling, at times hilarious novel explores the instability of nuclear families and the depths of dysfunction.
Family is family—you don’t get to choose.
So what, exactly, do you get to choose?
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