Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Fall 2010 Preview: Canlit to Get Your Hands and Holds On. . .

A number of book blogs have been listing some upcoming fall releases ( see here and here and here for example) and there is some great reading to look forward to (some of these are already Dewey picks). However, these are all American sites and while many highlight some great American and international books, there isn't a single Canadian author among them. But even just from the publishers that I represent, I can tell you there's a ton of really exciting books coming in the next few months. Note:  August is the new September - fall starts early in the publishing world and some of these titles will be pubbing very soon.  I've already read a number of these and can thoroughly recommend them; others are definitely on the to-be-read soon pile. If you're heading to the library to stock up on reading for this long weekend, you might want to start getting your advance holds in. At any rate, in alphabetical order, here are some of the Canadian books I'm most excited about this fall:


Practical Jean by Trevor Cole
A black comedy about a woman who decides to give her long-time friends a last moment of happiness - and then kill them.  It's out of love though, she just can't bear to see them get old, sick and filled with regrets. A bizarre and oddly moving mediation on the tensions, slights and challenges of friendship.

Apocalypse For Beginners by Nicolas Dickner, translated by Lazer Lederhendler
If you loved Nikolski, the recent Canada Reads winner, here's another quirky novel from my new favourite Quebec author. It's a romantic comedy set in 1989, with a bunch of characters all convinced they know the impending date of the Apocalypse.

Tales From An Uncertain Country by Jacques Ferron, translated by Betty Bednarski
It's been a while since a "new" classic has appeared in the New Canadian Library and this collection of comic metaphysical tales looks like fun. I'm particularly looking forward to reading the short story of an Alberta cow's ghost who longs for Quebec.

The Proper Use of Stars by Dominique Fortier, translated by Sheila Fischman
Some of the most interesting Canlit is coming out of Quebec and this is definitely a writer to watch. Everyone thinks they know the story of the doomed Franklin expedition, but it's never been told with so much charm and with so many interesting cultural, historical and poetical digressions. Told mostly from the point of view of Franklin's second-in-command, Francis Crozier, and his wife Lady Jane, this puts a whole new imaginative spin on the Canadian historical novel. Just have plenty of cups of tea at hand while reading. A film is alreaady in the works.

The Beauty of the Humanity Movement by Camilla Gibb
A novel set in contemporary Vietnam involving a young tour guide who takes American vets on "war tours" and a young woman searching for clues about her father's disappearance in the war.

A Man in Uniform by Kate Taylor
I loved Taylor's first novel Madame Proust and the Kosher Kitchen. In this new book, she returns to the same historical period (and a preoccupation of Proust) and weaves an historical novel around the complicated Dreyfus case that rocked France at the turn of the 20th century.

Sanctuary Line by Jane UrquhartOne of Canada's favourite novelists is back with a multi-generational tale that incorporates three very different love stories, lighthouse keepers, a woman soldier;s experience in Afghanistan and the long migratory flight of the Monarch butterfly.

The Frumkiss Family Business by Michael Wex
There's a lot of humour in Canlit this season which is freshing to see, and this comic family saga seems the perfect example. Any book that bills itself as Thomas Mann's Buddenbrooks without the stodgy Germans or The Brothers Karamazov with only one brother, is worth a look. It's also set not far from my own Toronto neighbourhood and many of my colleagues are raving about it.

Bedtime Story by Robert J. Wiersma
A midlife crisis meets the supernatural, as a father with plenty of problems of his own,  has to rescue his child who is quite literally lost in the pages of his favourite book. Sounds like Cornelia Funke for adults, but looks entertaining all the same.

Fauna by Alissa York
Set in Toronto's Rosedale Valley Ravine, this novel is set around a sanctuary to help heal the urban wildlife that no one cares about. And in turn, many broken humans are also encountered. Some of the characters like to quote from Watership Down which has already endeared them to me.


They Fight Like Soldiers, They Die Like Children by Romeo Dallaire
Dallaire is fully committed to eradicating the use of child soldiers worldwide and this book should be extremely powerful and moving.

Mordecai: The Life and Times by Charles Foran
The big literary biography of the season. With the film of Barney's Version also coming out this fall, look for a lovely Mordecai revival everywhere.

The Paper Garden: Mrs. Delany  Begins Her Life's Work at 72 by Molly Peacock
I've been a fan of Peacock ever since reading her memoir Paradise, Piece by Piece a number of years ago. This biography of an 18th century widow who at the age of 72 pioneered a new art form - mixed-media collage - and  created over 900 botanically correct collages of cut-paper flowers sounds absolutely fascinating. Peacock writes lustily with a lot of passion and wit and the book itself is gorgeous with many full colour illustrations of Delany's work, now housed in the British Museum.

Arrival City by Doug Saunders
A look at the huge migrations of people worldwide from rural to urban centers and the political, social and economical challenges they are causing for this century.  I read Saunders regularly in the Globe and Mail and think this will be a very intelligent, thought-provoking book.

1 comment:

Lisa said...

Best time of the year!
The all sound good but always look forward to Jane Urquhart.