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Most Anticipated: Our 2023 Fall Fiction Preview

All the fiction you'll be falling in love with in the second half of 2023!

Book Cover Making Up the Gods

Empty Spaces (August), by Jordan Abel, the acclaimed, boundary-breaking author of NISHGA, is a hypnotic and mystifying exploration of land and legacy, a bold and profound new vision of history that de-centres human perception and forgoes Westernized ways of seeing. Marion Agnew's debut novel is Making Up the Gods (October), the story of a woman living alone—save for the ghosts of her family members—whose solitude is interrupted by the arrival of both a young boy and a supposed long-lost-cousin who might not have good intentions. And from the parking lot at Disney World to a Chinese restaurant in Halifax to an old-growth forest in BC, the stories in Cocktail (September), by Lisa Alward—whose work has appeared in The Journey Prize Anthology—explore life’s watershed moments.

Book Cover The Bliss House

Compelling, incisive, and resonant, Jennilee Austria-Bonifacio’s debut Reuniting With Strangers (September) opens a window into the homes and hearts of the Filipino-Canadian community. From Mona Awad, the critically acclaimed author of Bunny, comes Rouge (September), a horror-tinted, gothic fairy tale about a lonely dress shop clerk whose mother’s unexpected death sends her down a treacherous path in pursuit of youth and beauty. Two young men are bringing up a small child in the middle of nowhere, and everything could be fine, but strangers start to meddle in The Bliss House (September), a gruesomely funny novel by Jim Bartley. And Debbie Bateman takes a clear-eyed look at the largely unexplored private worlds of women at mid-life in the story collection Your Body Was Made for This (October).

Book Cover Yara

The latest from Giller Prize-winning novelist David Bergen is Away from the Dead (September), an electrifying novel set in Ukraine amidst the chaos of war and revolution. From Tamara Faith Berger, author of Maidenhead, Yara (October) is a reverse cautionary tale about a young woman exploring the boundaries of sex and belonging in the early 2000s. A genre-bending speculative look at a dark future, Valid (November), by Chris Bergeron and translated by Natalia Hero, shares the story of one trans woman leading a revolution. And Sarah Bernstein’s debut, Study for Obedience (August) is described as "for readers of Shirley Jackson, Iain Reid, and Claire-Louise Bennett, a haunting masterwork from an extraordinary new voice in Canadian fiction."

Book Cover This is How You Start to Disappear

An icon of queer literature, Marie-Claire Blais’ characters bring to life pivotal moments in the fight for queer rights in Nights Too Short to Dance (October), translated by Katia Grubisic. Tim Blackett's debut short story collection Grandview Drive (October), which placed second in the John V. Hicks Long Manuscript Award in 2019, investigates the strange and unexpected intersections of loneliness and connection. This Is How You Start to Disappear (August), by Astrid Blodgett, is a new collection of engaging, tension-filled stories interested in the ways we don’t understand each other and how we respond to each other, especially in the midst of change and uncertainty. From Gail Bowen, the Arthur Ellis Award–winning Grand Master of Crime Writers, comes The Legacy (October), the next instalment in the Joanne Kilbourn series. And set in the short window between the release of the movie Jaws and the first xi movie, Tim Bowling's The Marvels of Youth (October) is both a paean to the magic of a child’s imagination and a compelling mystery.

Book Cover In the Belly of the Sphinx

Karma Brown follows up smash hit Recipe for a Perfect Wife with What Wild Women Do (October), about a 1970s feminist facing the costs of loss and autonomy who strives to create a better future for women at her Adirondack camp. Meanwhile, an aspiring screenwriter makes a shocking discovery in the present that sets her on a course of rewriting her own story. Grant Buday’s new novel In the Belly of the Sphinx (October) is an eccentric coming-of-age story that captures the late-Victorian fascination with ancient Egypt, auras, and the afterlife. Comedian Brent Butt’s Huge (October) is an unexpectedly dark and twisted thriller about a comedy tour that turns deadly. And Between the Head and the Hands (September), by James Chaarani, is the candid story of a young man abandoned by his family and religion and left searching for identity in an unfamiliar world.

Book Cover An Oridnary Violence

An Ordinary Violence (October), by Adriana Chartrand, is a chilling horror novel about a young Indigenous woman haunted by the oppressive legacies of colonization. Love and Rain (September), by Carmela Circelli, is a novel exploring the nature of love, its pain, and the near impossibility of its enduring happiness. Ian Colford's Witness (August) offers readers a deeper look into the struggles of Kostandin Bitri, a refugee whose traumatic adolescence and solitary lifestyle have taught him to embrace the role of observer. In The Untimely Resurrection of John Alexander MacNeil (September), Lesley Choyce tackles topics like dementia, elder sexuality and assisted dying with humour and grace. And spanning Canada, Prague, and New Zealand, Catherine Cooper’s Lásko (September) explores what happens when one woman searches for meaning—and nearly loses herself.

Book Cover Once Upon an Effing Time

Buffy Cram's long-awaited follow-up to Radio Belly is Once Upon an Effing Time (September), a quirky, thrilling, darkly-funny page-turner that explores the fuzzy lines between sanity and insanity, magic and reality, love and duty. Bestseller Lesley Crewe's new novel, Recipe for a Good Life (July), follows a mystery author with writer's block from 1950s Montreal to rural Cape Breton, in search of much more than her next big story. A sexy, unforgettable story about love and longing in a time of chaos, Scotiabank Giller Prize-longlisted author Eva Crocker’s latest is the novel Back in the Land of Living (August). Michael Crummey’s new book is The Adversary (September), an enthralling novel about love and its limitations, the corruption of power and the power of corruption. And Sky Curtis is back with a new mystery, Power (October), in which journalist Robin MacFarland's investigation reveals that environmental racism not only created hydroelectric power in Ontario, but also harmed the environment and displaced a large population of Indigenous people. When the premier of Ontario dies at Robin's family cottage in Muskoka, Robin sets about proving that he was murdered.

Book Cover The Libarianist

As the Andes Disappeared (November), by Caroline Dawson, translated by Anita Anand, tenderly reflects the journey of millions and is a beautiful ode to family commitment and the importance of home—however layered that may be. Books 4 and 5 of B. Devakanthan's "Prison of Dreams Quintet," developing the context of Sri Lanka's tragic civil war, are Murmurs of Decline (November) and A New Arrangement (November), translated by Nedra Rodrigo. From bestselling and award-winning author Patrick deWitt comes The Librarianist (July), the story of Bob Comet, a man who has lived his life through and for literature, unaware that his own experience is a poignant and affecting narrative in itself. And Claudia Dey’s Daughter (September) is a searing and hypnotic tour de force about a woman, long caught in her charismatic father’s web, who strives to make a life—and art—of her own.

Book Cover The Abduction of Seven Forgers

The Abduction of Seven Forgers (September) brings together the artistic obsession of The Goldfinch and the stakes of Bel Canto, but with a flair that is all author Sean Dixon's own. The witty, queer accidental detective of the Epitome Apartments is back—while helping to solve a community murder, she also needs to convince police that she didn’t revenge-kill the man who took everything from her in He Wasn't There Again Today (October), by Candas Jane Dorsey. Lost & Found in Lunenburg (October) is a quirky, tender work of contemporary fiction about grief, love, and starting again at middle age from Jane Doucet, author of The Pregnant Pause and Fishnets & Fantasies. A promising audition, a lost promotion, intriguing strangers and clubbing hippies, a silent lover and a grieving neighbour—in rich, sensual scenes and moody brilliance, Nina Dunic’s The Clarion (September) explores rituals of connection and belonging, themes of intimacy and performance, and how far we wander to find, or lose, our sense of self.

Book Cover And the she fell

Combining the cerebral and the sensual, Sadie X (October), by Clara Dupuis-Morency, translated by Aimee Wall, explores humanity’s relationship to the rest of the world, and the role of rationale and its limits in our multilayered, regenerative existences. Celebrated writer Alicia Elliott’s fiction debut is And Then She Fell (September), a mind-bending, gripping novel about Native life, motherhood, and mental health that follows a young Mohawk woman who discovers that the picture-perfect life she always hoped for may have horrifying consequences. From the award-winning author of Good to a Fault and The Little Shadows comes The Observer (September), the novel Marina Endicott has waited to write for 20 years, based on her life-changing experience as the spouse of an RCMP officer. And The Syrian Ladies Benevolent Society (November), by Christine Estima, explores love and suspicion, trust and betrayal, faith and despair, war and displacement; it's a debut collection that pushes the expectations for Arab women beyond conventions, beliefs, and borders.

Book Cover Enough

Set amid the cubicles and courtyards of Toronto City Hall, Kimia Eslah’s third novel, Enough (October), centres on three women of colour navigating labyrinths at work, in love and in life. From bestselling author Terry Fallis comes A New Season (August), a novel unlike any of his others, and a thoughtful exploration of aging, loss, family, friendship, and love, all with his trademark humour and heart. The Red One (October), by Safia Fazlul, explores the topics of marriage, sexual abuse, and gender expectations in the setting of a tight-knit South Asian community in Canada. And Paola Ferrante, whose What to Wear When Surviving a Lion Attack was shortlisted for the Gerald Lampert Memorial Prize, makes her fiction debut with Her Body Among Animals (September), a genre-bending collection merging horror, fairy tales, pop culture and sci-fi.

Book Cover Soft Serve

Asking for Directions (October) is an open and accessible debut collection by Matthew Firth, who has run his own independent micro press, Black Bile Press, since 1993. Tong Ge's The House Filler (October) is a family saga set in China during the most tumultuous times of the 20th century, including the Japanese invasion, the civil war, and the communist takeover. Through vivid landscapes and complex characters, Rains, At Times Heavy (October), by Debi Goodwin, explores how one moment, chaotic and destructive as a storm, can spiral through the generations of a single family. In Soft Serve (September), Allison Graves’ edgy debut collection of short fiction, the extraordinary becomes the ordinary as people navigate the weird, the quirky, and the sad aspects of everyday life. And together, a mother and daughter must sift through their own versions of events to understand how a family secret has led to the unravelling of their lives in The Twistical Nature of Spoons (September), by Patti Grayson. 

Book Cover The Economy of Sparrows

Jawbone (October) is a passionate story about queer love and loneliness from debut author Meghan Greeley. Tales for Late Night Bonfires (September), by G.A. Grisenthwaite, is a collection of curious, uncanny tales blending Indigenous oral storytelling and meticulous style, from an electric voice in Canadian fiction. Chantel Guertin’s charming and rollicking holiday rom-com It Happened One Christmas (October) is about a big-city film director who must convince the dreamy, yet grumpy, mayor of a small town to give her the permit to shoot her Christmas movie. From Chris Hadfield, who’s not even best known as the author of the #1 bestselling thriller The Apollo Murders, comes the supersonic hunt for a shadowy Soviet defector in The Defector (October). And The Economy of Sparrows (September) is a debut novel about the heartbreak of habitat loss and family trauma by Trevor Herriot, one of Canada's most beloved writer-naturalists.

Book Cover Gun Turpentine Pennyrole Blue

Four working-class Vancouver sisters, still reeling from the impact of World War I and the pandemic that stole their only brother, are scraping by but attempting to make the most of the exciting 1920s in Christine Higdon's Gin, Turpentine, Pennyroyal, Rue (September), a novel that is a love story—but like all love stories, it’s complicated. Infused with keen insight and presented in startling prose, the stories in The Girl Who Cried Diamonds & Other Stories (October), a dark, magnetic debut, by Rebecca Hirsch Garcia, invite the reader into an uncanny world out of step with reality. In Ainslie Hogarth’s Normal Women (October), a darkly comic story about how we value female labour—and don’t—a new mother becomes embroiled in a dangerous mystery when her friend, a controversial entrepreneur, goes missing. And Deep Sea Feline (September), by musician Dave Hurlow, follows a failing musical artist living in Toronto as a mysterious creature from another world visits him in his deceased mother's painting, gifting him with a song that will turn his life and musical career upside down.

Book Cover Kukum

From bestsellers Uzma Jalalludin and Marissa Stapley comes Three Holidays and a Wedding (October), a multi-faith holiday rom-com about the delightful havoc that occurs when Christmas, Ramadan, and Hanukkah all fall at the same time, and two strangers-turned-friends are snowbound in a small, charming town along with the cast and crew of a holiday romance movie. Kukum (July) is a Quebec bestseller based on the life of Michel Jean’s great-grandmother that delivers an empathetic portrait of drastic change in an Innu community. When Cleo Best moves back in with her parents after the collapse of her relationship in Eyes in Front While Running (June), by Willow Keane, a series of bad decisions turn her life upside down, but somehow sets it right at the same time. Commune (October), by Des Kennedy, is the story of six young dreamers who set out from Vancouver in the seventies to haphazardly establish a back-to-the-land commune on a small island in the Salish Sea. And Sheila Kindellen-Sheehan's new Toni Damiano mystery is My Brother's Keeper (October).

Book Cover Far Creek Road

The latest instalment in Thomas King's DreadfulWater Mystery series is Double Eagle (September), with Buffalo Mountain set to host a gold coin exhibition with dealers coming from all over, and Thumps DreadfulWater winding up with the task of making sure the event goes off without a hitch. Innocence confronts suburban secrets during a modern witch hunt in Lesley Krueger's Far Creek Road (October), a novel that's bucolic at first, and then darkens as McCarthy-era paranoia infects the adults and spills over into the lives of the children. Weaving a silken web of Chinese myth, speculative fiction, and storytelling Lydia Kwa has brilliantly realized a future where questions of sentience, of personhood and of the truth of dreams wrap around a timeless quest for freedom and for love in A Dream Wants Waking (October). And South (August), by Babak Lakghomi, is a puzzle-like novel about totalitarianism, surveillance, alienation, and guilt that questions the forces that control us.

Book Cover The Future

Bestseller Shari Lapena’s latest is Everyone Here Is Lying (July), another gripping work of domestic suspense. Giller-nominated Catherine Leruoux returns with The Future (September), translated from French by Susan Ouriou, set in an alternate history where the French never surrendered the city of Detroit. The interconnected stories in The World Is But a Broken Heart (September), by Michael Maitland, follow the Fitzpatricks, a blue-collar family constantly followed by bad luck. Five for Forteau (October), the fifth book in Kevin Major's Sebastian Synard mystery series, takes our intrepid tour guide/private detective on a jaunt across Newfoundland and into Labrador, in pursuit of those towers of intrigue—lighthouses! And a work of historical fiction following the prized African elephant who stole the show of the Barnum & Bailey Circus—and the hearts of people around the world—Jumbo (September), by Stephens Gerard Malone, explores exploitation, unrequited love, and the unbreakable bond between living things.

Book Cover Joe Pete

The collection The Namasté Way (October), by Mehrnaz Massoudi, shows characters honouring the light, peace, and truth in oneself where the whole universe resides. Joe Pete (October), by Ian McCulloch, is a multi-generational account of loss, war, community, survival, perseverance, and renewal. In the sleepy village of Supino, Bianca stumbles into a job meant for someone else and a new advice column is born, but soon everyone is engaged in trying to discover the mystery columnist’s identity as well as the identity of her correspondents in Privacy Is a Foreign World in Supino (October), by Maria Coletta McLean. And A Season in Chezgh'un (October) is the subversive novel by acclaimed Cree author Darrel J. McLeod, infused with the contradictory triumph and pain of finding conventional success in a world that feels alien.

Book Cover Not That Kind of Place

Provocative and haunting, Michael Melgard’s first novel Not That Kind of Place (August) is a literary anti-mystery, a compelling exploration of our obsession with true-crime stories and the devastating effects of systemic violence on our most vulnerable populations. The latest from Anne Michaels, Held (November), is a deeply affecting and intensely beautiful novel, full of unforgettable characters and imagery, wisdom and compassion. And Scotiabank Giller Prize-winner Sean Michaels’ Do You Remember Being Born? (September)—both a love letter to and an aching examination of art-making, family, identity and belonging—takes readers on a lyrical joy ride though seven epic days in Silicon Valley with a tall, formidable poet (inspired by the real-life Marianne Moore) and her unusual new collaborator, a digital mind just one month old.

BooK Cover Anecdotes

After her marriage breaks up, a woman returns with her young son to the house in the countryside where her parents once lived in A Ramshackle Home (September), by Felicia Mihali, translated by Judith Weisz Woodsworth, the story unfolding against the backdrop of a country laid waste by a half century of communist rule. With dreamlike stories and dark humour, Anecdotes (September), by Kathryn Mockler, is a hybrid collection in four parts examining the pressing realities of sexual violence, abuse, and environmental collapse. The dramatic conclusion to Trudy Morgan-Cole's Cupids trilogy, A Company of Rogues (October), foregrounds the experiences of women settlers in North America as they grapple with notions of homeland, colonization, and sense of belonging. And at once the intimate tale of one man’s quest to discover the truth of his birth and a riveting account of a real-life Newfoundland tragedy from 1914, Rage the Night (August) is brilliantly and sensitively imagined by one of Canada’s most beloved and bestselling authors, Donna Morrissey.

Book Cover Sunshine Nails

In The Sum of One Man's Pleasure (September), Danial Neil questions the stories we tell of our own lives, the version of ourselves we show to those closest, and the ways in which we are able to find common ground. Sunshine Nails (July), by Mai Nguyen, is a tender and funny debut about a Vietnamese Canadian family who will do whatever it takes to keep their no-frills nail salon afloat after a multimillion-dollar chain opens across the street. Heather Nolan’s How to Be Alone (September) is a pair of novellas that depict the euphoric highs of a Queer awakening and the crushing lows of feeling Othered in a world that isn’t built for you. And in Half-Wild and Other Stories of Encounter (September), Emily Paskevics takes her characters—mothers, daughters, fathers, sisters—into the wilderness to lose themselves in their primal nature ... or to find what they've always been missing, as they struggle in a borderland between irrevocable environmental change and hope for ecological connection and healing.

Book Cover Uncontrolled Flight

Bounty (September), by Jason Pchajek, is a bold new vision of a world on the edge of disaster. In her second novel, Uncontrolled Flight (September), Frances Peck creates another explosive literary page-turner, this one set amidst wildfire season in the British Columbia Interior that probes love, loyalty, and the ways we try to conceal and redeem our lives. The Helsinki Affair (November), by Anna Pitoniak, is a riveting, globe-trotting spy thriller—but with a refreshing female-centric twist. Anna Porter's Gull Island (September) is a haunting psychological suspense novel about a young woman who visits her remote family cottage seeking answers to a murky past. Told through the eyes of two generations, Untethered (August), by Ruth Rakoff, provides context and insights into orthodoxy, post-war experience, mental illness, generational trauma, and grief while laying the foundations for understanding and a path towards healing.

Book Cover Semi-Detached

Imbued with passion, creativity and insight, Brandon Reid’s debut novel, Beautiful Beautiful (September), is a creative coming-of-age story exploring Indigeneity, masculinity, and cultural tradition. From Zalika Reid-Benta, the Giller-nominated author of Frying Plantain, comes River Mumma (August), an exhilarating magical realist novel about a millennial Black woman who navigates her quarter-life-crisis while embarking on a quest through the streets of Toronto. Waubgeshig Rice’s hotly anticipated sequel to the bestselling novel Moon of the Crusted Snow is Moon of the Turning Leaves (October), a brooding story of survival, resilience, Indigenous identity, and rebirth. From Roberta Rich, bestselling author of The Midwife of Venice, comes The Jazz Club Spy (November), an historical thriller about a Jewish cigarette girl in 1930s New York who finds the soldier who burned down her Russian village years earlier only to be swept up in a political conspiracy on the eve of World War 2. And acclaimed author Elizabeth Ruth explores what happens when hearts freeze and begin to thaw in her new novel Semi-Detached (September).

Book Cover the Cobra and the Key

Magnificat: Song of Justice (October) is based on author Kathleen S. Schmitt’s interest in the concept of a female Christ figure in the context of liberation theology, and her post-war volunteerism in El Salvador in the 1980s. Sharp and propulsive, Genevieve Scott’s The Damages (August) is an engrossing novel set in motion by the disappearance of a student during an ice storm, and explores themes of memory, trauma, friendship, and identity. Sam Shelstad’s brilliantly funny, slightly unhinged novel/creative writing guide The Cobra and the Key (October), is James Woods' How Fiction Works meets Nabokov's Pale Fire. Set in late 16th-century Africa, India, Portugal, and Japan, Craig Shreve's The African Samurai (August), is a powerful historical novel based on the true story of Yasuke, Japan’s first foreign-born samurai and the only samurai of African descent. And In the Frame (September), by Pat Sullivan, is a riotous workplace satire that toys with the machinations of a fictional Toronto gallery and reveals some awkward truths about the Canadian art world in the process. 

Book Cover Zulaikha

Zulaikha (October), by Niloufar-Lily Soltani, reveals a forty-year period of war and upheaval in the middle east, and specifically, in Zulaikha’s home territory of Khuzestan, which boasts the bulk of Iran’s oil reserves, a place of intense tension between Iran and the US still today. In the Country in the Dark (September), by Daryl Sneath, is a thrilling psychological exploration of the secrets we keep and why, the obsessions we live with, the love we all need, the family we sometimes find—and the lengths we might go to keep it. Moez Surani’s The Legend of Baraffo (September), a coming-of-age story of a boy and a town, asks prescient questions about the nature of social change: is it better accelerated by those who seek total transformation, or attained by those trying to work within the system? Weaving together observations on the entitlements of the wealthy, the monetization of water, and the politics of art, Wild Hope (September), by Governor-General's Award-winning Joan Thomas, is a layered, page-turning read about how far we will go to hold on to power and what we will do to avenge old wounds.

Book Cover Roar

Roar (October) is a novel inspired by the original screenplay for the award-winning feature film Dawn, Her Dad & the Tractor, about a young trans woman who returns to her family farm in the wake of her mother's death, written by celebrated actor and screenwriter Shelley Thompson. From two-time Giller Prize winner M.G. Vassanji comes Everything There Is (September), a new novel that vividly examines the seemingly incongruous worlds of science, religion, and desire. And beginning in Saigon during the Vietnam War and ending in present-day New York, Catinat Boulevard (October), by Caroline Vu, tells the story of two friends: while Mai flirts with American GIs in rowdy bars along Catinat Boulevard, Mai Ly joins the communist resistance in the jungle.

Book Cover Avalanche

In the year following her mother’s death, Sophie navigates a complicated love triangle between a new flame and a past partner in Mudflowers (September), by Aley Waterman. Jessica Westhead returns with a new collection of short fiction, Avalanche (September), with stories combining humour with an earnest examination and indictment of white entitlement, guilt, shame, and disorientation in the wake of waking up to the reality of racism. Told through multiple perspectives (including that of a very old dog), Lump (July), by Nathan Whitlock, is a dark comedy about marriage, motherhood, class, and cancer. And The B-Side of Daniel Garneau (October), by David Kingston Yeh, concludes a rollicking three-book series set in Toronto featuring the misadventures of boyfriends Daniel and David, their eccentric family and friends.

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