Most Anticipated: Our Spring 2016 Fiction Preview
“Really?” some sad cynic somewhere might be saying as he contemplates just how many books appear on our Most Anticipated lists. “How can anybody possibly be that excited about so many books?” To which we’d reply, “But have you met the people behind 49th Shelf? Have you met our community members, the most avid supporters of Canadian literature?” If you have, you’ll know that CanLit enthusiasm, as ever, abounds, and we’re so pleased to be part of the movement. So here are some of the best books you’re going to be reading this spring.
In Cathy Ace’s latest Cait Morgan book, The Corpse With the Garnet Face (April), the foodie sleuth accompanies her husband to Amsterdam to solve a mystery in his family tree. Tears in the Grass (March), by Lynda A. Archer, is set in Saskatchewan and it confronts a history of trauma, racism, love, and cultural survival. There’s lots of buzz already for Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl (February), by Mona Awad, which is a novel that hilariously skewers our body-obsessed culture. The latest by Todd Babiak is Son of France (March), the sequel to Come Barbarians. The Pharos Gate: Griffin and Sabine’s Missing Correspondence(March), by Nick Bantock, is the final volume in a love story that’s been celebrated by readers for 25 years.
The latest from Linwood Barclay is Far From True (March), another thriller set in the troubled town of Pleasant Falls. In Middenrammers (May), by John Bart—who is a family physician as well as a writer—a young doctor working during the 1970s in a UK town that doesn’t permit contraceptives or abortion must face the terrible repercussions of these policies. Yiddish for Pirates(April), by Gary Barwin, is a swashbuckling yet powerful tale of pirates, buried treasure, and a search for the Fountain of Youth; it’s told in the ribald, philosophical voice of a 500-year-old Jewish parrot—of course! Keeper of the Flame (April) is the latest Crang mystery by Jack Batten. And Carry Me (February), by Peter Behrens, is an historical epic by the author of the Governor General’s Literary Award–winning novel, The Law of Dreams.
The short story collection Bad Things Happen (February) debuts Kris Bertin, two-time winner of the Jack Hodgins’ Founders’ Award for Fiction whose work has been anthologized in the Journey Prize Anthology. The Acacia Gardens (June), by Marie Claire Blais, translated by Nigel Spencer, is the latest by one of Quebec’s most celebrated authors. In Mister Nightingale (April), by Paul Bowdring, whose The Strangers’ Gallery won the 2013 BMO Winterset Award, a writer who returns home to Newfoundland to receive an honorary degree from his alma mater must brave the obstacles of artistic and domestic uncertainty, as well as his neglected family obligations. And the latest installment in Gail Bowen’s Joanne Kilbourn crime series is What’s Left Behind (March).
Thirteen Shells(May), by Nadia Bozak, is a novel-in-stories about a young girl coming of age in the 1980s. The Goddaughter Caper (January), by Melodie Campbell, is the latest in the Gina Gallo mystery series about a bumbling mob family that never gets it right. A recently deceased grieving spirit decides to rid the world of violent crime, and becomes the most notorious killer in history in Stopgap(March), by Liam Card. A post-apocalypse set 30 years in the future is the scene of The Mercy Journals (April), by Claudia Casper, a previous nominee for the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize. Short story collection The Light that Remains (April), by Lyse Champagne, chronicles experiences of refugees over the years and across continents. And don’t miss Tumbled Graves (February), a new Stonechild and Rouleau mystery by Brenda Chapman, whose previous novel, Cold Mourning, was nominated for the Arthur Ellis Award for Best Novel in 2015.
Owl and the City of Angels (March), by Kristi Charish, is the second in this series about a modern-day Indiana-Jane navigating the supernatural world. Charish also launches a new Urban Fantasy series with The Voodoo Killings (May), introducing Kincaid Strange who is not your average voodoo practitioner. A coming-of-age novel set in the Korean community in Toronto in the 1980s, Kay’s Lucky Coin Variety (May) is Ann YK Choi’s debut. Award-winner George Elliott Clarke’s latest is The Motorcyclist (February), the story of a black working-class man caught between the expectations of his times and gleaming possibilities of the open road. And Perfect World(May), by award-winning writer Ian Colford, is a novella about how mental illness can shatter a seemingly perfect life.
The Memento(April), by Christy-Ann Conlin, is the long-awaited follow-up to Heave, a tale of madness, murder and dark secrets set on the rugged Bay of Fundy. Catherine Cooper’s debut novel is White Elephant (May), about a dysfunctional Canadian family that finds their personal problems eclipsed by the onset of civil war in their new home in Sierra Leone. Becoming Lin (March), by Tricia Dower, follows a character from her first novel, Stony River, through the turbulent era of Freedom Riders for civil rights, Vietnam war resistance, the US government’s war against the resisters, sisterhood, and the push for equal rights for women, new-age metaphysics, motivational psychology and the unravelling of the traditional marriage contract. And She’s Not There (February), the latest by domestic crime-master Joy Fielding, sounds fantastic: What happens when a woman receives a phone call from a daughter who was kidnapped years ago?
Fire in the Firefly (February) is a “a wicked Richleresque satire” about an ad executive, and the women who turn his life upside down; it’s by Scott Gardiner, whose first novel was the acclaimed The Dominion of Wyley McFadden. I Carried You Home (April), by Alan Gibney, is about a boy’s love for his grieving mother and his determination to bring her back from despair. The latest from Canadian Jewish Book Award-winner Nora Gold is The Dead Man (May), a novel about music and obsession. It is an Honest Ghost (April), by John Goldbach, collects short stories that explore the different ways that all of us are haunted. And get ready for The Three Sisters Bar and Hotel (March), a novel about the opening of the Canadian West by Katherine Govier, one of Canada’s most celebrated writers.
In Cold Girl: West Coast Crime(March), by R.M. Greenaway, winner of the 2014 Unhanged Arthur Award for Best Unpublished Novel, RCMP investigator David Leith and his team investigate the disappearance of a popular rockabilly singer in Northern BC. Award-winner Darren Greer’s new novel is Advocate(April), about a man called home by his dying grandmother where he must face memories of his uncle who’d been shunned decades before suffering from AIDs. Running on Fumes (June), by Christian Guay-Poliquin, translated by Jacob Homel, is about what happens when the electricity inexplicably goes out nationwide and an unnamed mechanic jumps into his beat-up car and journeys 4,736 kilometres to reach his dying father. More than two decades in the making, The Dancehall Years (June), by Joan Haggerty, centres on a summer getaway on Bowen Island during the Great Depression, and moves through the attack on Pearl Harbour and Canada’s evacuation of its Japanese citizens, right up to the 1980s. And This Marlowe (March), by Michelle Butler Hallett, is a historical novel that brings playwright Christopher Marlowe to life, involving him in a scheme to control secession upon the death of Queen Elizabeth I.
Weekend (April), the ninth book by award-winner Jane Eaton Hamilton, is an intimate, sexy queer romance about the true nature of love on the cusp of middle age. The debut novel by Jack Hannon, who shortlisted for the A.M. Klein Prize for Poetry in 2011, is The Poet is a Radio (April). Wigford Remembers (May), by Kyp Harness, tells the stories of a small town in rural Southern Ontario through a series of vignettes. In the wordless novel, Metamorphadox (April), wood engravings tell of the perils of technological mediation to the ever-evolving human experience. In Shade (May), Mia Herrera chronicles the journey of a second-generation Canadian to her parents’ native Philippines only to discover that questions of identity and nationality are complicated ones to answer. And Café Babanussa (February) is a posthumous novel by Karen Hill, informed by the author’s own experiences, the story of a young mixed-race woman who travels from Canada to Germany to start her life anew and throws herself into the shifting world of 1980s-era West Berlin.
We’re all so excited about We’re All In This Together (June), by Amy Jones, the much anticipated follow-up to her award-winning debut collection, What Boys Like. In his latest book, Children of Earth and Sky (May), Guy Gabriel Kay evokes a world inspired by the conflicts and dramas of Renaissance Europe. A new mystery, The Language of Secrets (February), by Ausma Zehanat Khan, follows up her acclaimed first novel, The Unquiet Dead. Kalyana (March), by Rajni Mala Khelawan, is a novel about sisterhood and what it means to be a woman in a society where choices are limited. Set in post-WW2 Japan, The Translation of Love (April), by Lynn Kutsukake, is a New Face of Fiction selection for 2016. And The Party Wall (April), by Catherine Leroux, translated by Lazer Lederhendler, is described as “reminiscent of the novels of Tom Robbins and David Mitchell, with perhaps a dash of Thomas Pynchon.”
Alberta political writer Mark Lisac turns his pen to fiction in Where the Bodies Lie (April), an absorbing political thriller. In The Crooked Heart of Mercy (January), Billie Livingston tells the story of a family rebuilding after tragedy. Found Far and Wide (March), by Kevin Major, is an epic tale of Newfoundland and New York City during the early 20th century. In her debut novel, The Heaviness of Things That Float (March), Jennifer Manuel depicts the lonely world of Bernadette, a woman who has spent the last 40 years living alone on the periphery of a remote West Coast First Nations reserve, serving as a nurse for the community. A new book by Yann Martel is always an event: The High Mountains of Portugal (February) explores the lives of three different people and their families, and taking readers on an extraordinary journey through the last century.
The Alchemist’s Council (May) is the first book in a new fantasy trilogy by Cynthea Masson, whose previous work includes the academic book, Reading Joss Whedon. Green River Falling (May) is by R.J. McMillen’s latest Dan Connor mystery. Torp (April), by Michael Mirolla, is a sexually-charged tale bubbling with lust, suspected murder, and the twilight of the flower children—all set against the backdrop of martial law in 1970s Vancouver. A coming-of-age tale set in an Ontario trailer park, The Company of Crows (April), by Karen Molson, is about a young girl who finds herself falling in love for the first time with another girl and inevitably learning about love’s disappointments. A New Wave, Cold War crime novel (who knew there was such a genre?) Straight to the Head (April), is the latest by Fraser Nixon, whose The Man Who Killed was shortlisted for the Amazon.ca first novel award.
With All My Fallen Angelas (May), Gianni Patriarcha (previously nominated for the Milton Acorn People’s Poetry Award) continues telling stories of Italian-Canadian women. Chad Pelley’s award-winning stories are collected in his latest book, Four Letter Words(March). In Death Valley (May), Susan Perly tells a story of legendary war photographer Vivienne Pink and five days in Las Vegas in a novel described as “part Pynchon, part Tarantino and so radioactive you’ll need a Geiger counter.” All That Sang (April) is the second novel by Lambda Literary Award finalist Lydia Perović. Worldly Goods (May), by Alice Petersen, following up her acclaimed short story collection,All the Voices Cry. Quebec bestseller, The Goddess of Fireflies(March), a coming-of-age novel set in the 1990s, by Geneviève Pettersen, finally appears in English, translated from French by Neil Smith. Dark Territory (January), by Susan Philpott, is the second novel in the Signy Shepherd series, about about an underground railroad that rescues women in peril.
The Angel’s Jig (April), by Daniel Poliquin, translated by Wayne Grady, is a new novel by one of Canada’s leading French writers, and was a French language finalist for the 2015 Trillium Book Award. Readers are looking forward to Willem de Kooning’s Paintbrush(March), by Kerry Lee Powell, the debut short fiction collection by a much celebrated writer who was a nominee for the 2015 Pushcart Prize. Memoirist Iain Reid turns to fiction and takes a very different tone from his previous work with the suspense novel, I’m Thinking of Ending Things (June). Today I Learned It Was You (April), by Edward Riche, is a send-up of the drama and dysfunction of local politics, overzealous rights activists, and the perils of contemporary social media. And in Fabulous Fictions and Peculiar Practices (April), CanLit icon Leon Rooke collaborates in a “literary experiment” with artist Tony Calzetta.
Indiana Pulcinella(May) is a new Detective Lane novel by Gerry Ryan. Hugo and Nebula Award-winning author Robert J. Sawyer’s latest is a novel, Quantum Night(March). The debut novel, Scattered Bones (May), by celebrated non-fiction writer Maggie Siggins, is a story of the complicated, fragile and some- times fatal relations between Indigenous people and settlers in Northern Saskatchewan in the 1920s. This Poem is a House (March), is a novel-in-verse by Ken Sparling, whose previous work has been nominated for a Trillium Award. And On the Shores of Darkness, There is Light (April) is eagerly awaited by fans of Cordelia Strube, author of the much-acclaimed Lemon and eight other books.
Amy Stuart’s debut is Still Mine (April), a psychological thriller billed as “The Girl on the Train meets The Silent Wife“—sounds good to us! Set amidst economic collapse and social chaos, and involving an unlikely collision with a lion, Waste (March) is the first novel by Andrew Sullivan, whose debut story collection, All We Want is Everything, was one of the Globe and Mail’s Best Books of 2013. Tamara Faith Berger (Maidenhead) calls Job Shadowing (May), by Malcolm Sutton, “A smooth art thriller in the tradition of Bolaño.” And Mysterious Fragrance of the Yellow Mountains (April), by Journey Prize winner Yasuo Thanh, transports her reader into historical Vietnam.
Do Not Say We Have Nothing (May), by award-winner Madeline Thien, brings its reader along on a journey with two generations of an extended family in China. Double Dutch (March) is the debut short story collection by National Magazine Award nominated writer Laura Trunkey. Saints, Unexpected (April), by Brent van Staalduinen is intriguingly described as, “Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore meets A Ring of Endless Light.” A new stratum of Alberta is unearthed in Cretacea & Other Stories from the Badlands (May), by Martin West, whose stories have twice been included in the Journey Prize Anthology.
In Congratulations on Everything(May), Nathan Whitlock turns his sardonic view on city life and the restaurant industry. Invisible Dead (June) is the latest by Sam Wiebe, whose previous novel won the Arthur Ellis Prize and a Kobo Award for Emerging Novelist. Rich and Poor (April) is “a novel for the 99%,” written by Jacob Wren, whose previous novel was one of The Globe and Mail’s best books of 2014. A new novel about first loves, love-after-love, and the end of things, set during summer in Quebec City, Nightfall (May) is eagerly awaited by fans of Richard B. Wright, acclaimed author of Clara Callan. And The Naturalist (April), by Alissa York (acclaimed author of Mercy, Effigy, and Fauna), is the story of a nineteenth century journey up the Amazon.