Hey, there Savvy Readers! I hope the last full week of September is treating you well! If you’re anything like me, chances are you love reading Canadian Literature, not just because it’s Canadian, but because you love supporting incredible local talent and reading stories about our wonderful country! Lucky for you, I’ve put together a list of our favourite new Canadian books that are sure to inspire your national pride.
Immigrant City by David Bezmozgis
Longlisted for the 2019 Scotiabank Giller Prize, Immigrant City is David Bezmozgis‘ first collection in more than a decade. Described by the Toronto Star as “intelligent, funny, unfailingly sympathetic”, in these deeply felt and slyly humorous stories, Bezmozgis pleads no special causes but presents immigrant characters with all their contradictions and complexities, their earnest and divided hearts.
The Wake by Linden MacIntyre
In the vein of Erik Larson’s Isaac’s Storm and Dead Wake comes an incredible true story of destruction and survival in Newfoundland. On November 18, 1929, a tsunami struck Newfoundland’s Burin Peninsula. Giant waves, up to three storeys high, hit the coast at a hundred kilometres per hour, flooding dozens of communities and washing entire houses out to sea. The most destructive earthquake-related event in Newfoundland’s history, the disaster killed twenty-eight people and left hundreds more homeless or destitute. It took days for the outside world to find out about the death and damage caused by the tsunami, which forever changed the lives of the inhabitants of the fishing outports along the Burin Peninsula. If you’re a fan of Canadian history, this non-fiction title is a must-read!
Crow Winter by Karen McBride
Since coming home to Spirit Bear Point First Nation, Hazel Ellis has been dreaming of an old crow. He tells her he’s here to help her, save her. From what, exactly? Sure, her dad’s been dead for almost two years and she hasn’t quite reconciled that grief, but is that worth the time of an Algonquin demigod? Soon Hazel learns that there’s more at play than just her own sadness and doubt. The quarry that’s been lying unsullied for over a century on her father’s property is stirring the old magic that crosses the boundaries between this world and the next. With the aid of Nanabush, Hazel must unravel a web of deceit that, if left untouched, could destroy her family and her home on both sides of the Medicine Wheel. An Algonquin Anishinaabe writer from the Timiskaming First Nation in the territory that is now Quebec, Crow Winter is McBride‘s first book and marks a truly incredible debut.
Five Wives by Joan Thomas
In 1956, a small group of evangelical Christian missionaries and their families journeyed to the rainforest in Ecuador intending to convert the Waorani, a people who had never had contact with the outside world. The plan was known as Operation Auca. After spending days dropping gifts from an aircraft, the five men in the party rashly entered the “intangible zone.” They were all killed, leaving their wives and children to fend for themselves. Based on shocking real-life events, Five Wives is the fictionalized account of the real-life women who were left behind, and their struggles – with grief, with doubt, and with each other – as they continued to pursue their evangelical mission in the face of the explosion of fame that followed their husbands’ deaths.
Break In Case of Emergency by Brian Francis
Life has been a struggle for Toby Goodman. Her mother died by suicide five years ago, and her father left their small town before Toby was born. Now a teenager living on her grandparents’ dairy farm, Toby has trouble letting people in. Convinced that she is destined to follow her mother’s path, Toby creates a plan to escape her pain. But with the news that her father is coming home and finally wants to meet her, Toby must face the truth of her family’s story. Not only is her father gay, but he’s also a world-famous female impersonator—and a self-absorbed, temperamental man-child who is ill-prepared to be a real parent. Billed as a Young Adult novel, in Break In Case of Emergency, Brian Francis tackles difficult topics including suicide and mental illness with a level of wit and emotion that makes this a fantastic read for all ages.
The North-West Is Our Mother by Jean Teillet
There is a missing chapter in the narrative of Canada’s Indigenous peoples—the story of the Métis Nation. Their story begins in the last decade of the eighteenth century in the Canadian North-West. Within twenty years the Métis proclaimed themselves a nation and won their first battle. Within forty years they were famous throughout North America for their military skills, their nomadic life and their buffalo hunts. In 1870 and 1885, led by the iconic Louis Riel, they fought back when Canada took their lands. These acts of resistance became defining moments in Canadian history, with implications that reverberate to this day: Western alienation, Indigenous rights and the French/English divide. Written by the great-grandniece of Louis Riel, this popular and engaging history of “forgotten people” tells the story up to the present era of national reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. An incredibly interesting and timely read, October 22, 2019 also marks the 175th anniversary of Louis Riel’s birthday.
Murdered Midas by Charlotte Gray
On an island paradise in 1943, Sir Harry Oakes, gold mining tycoon, philanthropist and “richest man in the Empire,” was murdered. The news of his death surged across the English-speaking world, from London, the Imperial centre, to the remote Canadian mining town of Kirkland Lake, in the Northern Ontario bush. The murder became celebrated as “the crime of the century.” But the layers of mystery deepened as the involvement of Oakes’ son-in-law, Count Alfred de Marigny, came quickly to be questioned, as did the odd machinations of the Governor of the Bahamas, the former King Edward VIII. Despite a sensational trial, no murderer was ever convicted. Rumours were unrelenting about Oakes’ missing fortune, and fascination with the Oakes story has persisted for decades. Brought to life by award-winning biographer and historian Charlotte Gray, Murdered Midas explores the life of the man behind the scandal, who, despite his wealth and position, was never able to have justice. A must-read for lovers of true-crime and the scandals of the exceptionally wealthy!
The Chai Factor by Farah Heron
Thirty-year-old engineer Amira Khan has set one rule for herself: no dating until her grad-school thesis is done. Nothing can distract her from completing a paper that is so good her boss will give her the promotion she deserves when she returns to work in the city. Amira leaves campus early, planning to work in the quiet basement apartment of her family’s house. But she arrives home to find that her grandmother has rented the basement to…a barbershop quartet. Seriously? The living situation is awkward: Amira needs silence; the quartet needs to rehearse for a competition; and Duncan, the small-town baritone with the flannel shirts, is driving her up the wall. As Amira and Duncan clash, she is surprised to feel a simmering attraction for him. How can she be interested in someone who doesn’t get her, or her family’s culture? But when intolerance rears its ugly head and people who are close to Amira get hurt, she learns that there is more to Duncan than meets the eye. Now she must decide what she is willing to fight for. In the end, it may be that this small-town singer is the only person who sees her at all.
77 Fragments of a Familiar Ruin by Thomas King
Described as timely, important, mischievous, powerful: in a word, exceptional. King‘s collection of seventy-seven poems is intended as a eulogy for what we have squandered, a reprimand for all we have allowed, a suggestion for what might still be salvaged, a poetic quarrel with our intolerant and greedy selves, a reflection on mortality and longing, as well as a long-running conversation with the mythological currents that flow throughout North America.
Well, Savvy Readers, I hope you’re as excited about these new Canadian books as I am! Which one do you most want to read? Tell me in the comments or tweet us @SavvyReader!
And as always, happy reading!
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