"As an already devoted fan of Boyden, I was so very hungry for this book. Once finished, I had the feeling that this was another instant Canadian classic. Never have I been so immersed in the geography of setting. The writing is again incredibly assured and magnificent."
2. The Misfortunates by Dimitri Verhulst (Portobello Books Ltd)
"A Belgian Dutch writer recounts the lives of a family of brothers who drink, watch TV, carouse, fight, sleep and then drink some more and the one son who sees the possibility of a world outside his uncles' influence. For those who love the gritty realistic humour of Roddy Doyle. And amazing insights into human nature."
3. The Dinner by Herman Koch (Hogarth)
"A small story in terms of locales and the characters' physical movement but huge in it's discussion of responsibility and parenting. The central mystery of the novel, largely revealed as two couples meet in a high end restaurant, has a very sad connection to an actual recent event in my province of Nova Scotia. For this reason among many others, The Dinner has resonated greatly with me this year."
4. A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra (Hogarth)
"War-time atrocities are uncovered in a ravaged Chechnya as an urban doctor and small town widower take on the care of a frightened young girl. The subject matter is dark and emotionally challenging but this is a writer of singular talent. There are paragraphs that stopped me in my tracks. I let them wash over me and then I reread them. At times like these, I marvelled at the terrible beauty of Marra's words."
5. The Universe Versus Alex Woods by Gavin Extence (Redhook)
"For those of you who adore Mark Haddon and enjoyed The Unlikely Pilgrimage Of Harold Fry, this is the book for you. A meteorite crashes through the roof of young Alex's house, he suffers a resultant coma but ends up gaining the friendship of a crotchety yet caring elderly man. Through Alex's encounters with bullying, euthanasia and a Kurt Vonnegut bookclub, this book's sheer magic shines through. And who can deny the literary greatness of this author's name!"