Best Canadian books of 2012

Each year, numerous publications and book sites offer their picks for the best books of 2012. In an effort to highlight the most buzzed-about Canadian books of the past year, we looked at five different "best of the year" lists posted by the Globe and Mail, Amazon.ca, Quill & Quire, Kobo and Chapters Indigo. The nine books featured below were mentioned in three out of the five lists, making them among the most recommended reads of 2012. Below you'll find interviews with the authors, multimedia clips and more!

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419

Written by: Will Ferguson

Year-end lists: Globe 100, Amazon.ca, Kobo

About the book: Ferguson is known for his comedic chops, which has led to several awards including three Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour wins. But in the Scotiabank Giller Prize-winning 419, Ferguson presents a dark thriller that spans several continents as his characters explore the criminal underworld behind the famous Nigerian internet scams. The perspectives of the victims, the perpetrators, and the gang bosses that run the scammers all weave together in this book.

Q&A with Will Ferguson

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A Geography of Blood

Written by: Candace Savage

Year-end lists: Globe 100, Amazon.ca, Kobo

About the book: Candace Savage is no stranger to the prairie -- she was almost born in a pickup truck in the middle of the flatlands of Canada. Savage is a well-known nature writer who has written books on a variety of topics from bees to crows to the northern lights. Her passion for the prairie landscape in particular has resulted in two books, 2004's Prairie: A Natural History, and this year's Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction winning A Geography of Blood, in which she explores the dark history of the mysterious Cypress Hills of Saskatchewan.

Q&A with Candace Savage

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Dear Life

Written by: Alice Munro

Year-end lists: Globe 100, Quill & Quire, Amazon.ca

About the book:  Each story revolves around a character whose entire path in life is changed by a moment in time -- a chance encounter, an opportunity not taken. Munro is well-known for her intricately constructed narratives, but reveals less details and back story for her characters in this book. "By actively suppressing so many chronological and biographical markers, these new works capture qualities of memory and consciousness that, in Munro's earlier stories, were embedded in larger, detailed narratives," wrote James Grainger for Quill & Quire. "The result is a less complete but more startling accounting of character types familiar to Munro's readers. We've encountered these people before, the reader thinks, but not with such stark, almost surreal insight."



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The Headmaster's Wager

Written by: Vincent Lam

Year-end lists: Kobo, Chapters Indigo, Amazon.ca

About the book: The Headmaster's Wager is a historical novel about a charismatic ethnic Chinese schoolmaster named Percival Chen living in Saigon during the Vietnam War. Lam based the character somewhat on his own late grandfather, William Lin, who did in fact start a school in Cholon, the largest Chinatown in Vietnam, decades ago. While the book uses the backdrop of war and the impending fall of Saigon to build suspense, at its heart, the story is about Chen, a womanizing, gambling bon vivant struggling to keep his fractured family together.

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The Imposter Bride

Written by: Nancy Richler

Year-end lists: Globe 100, Kobo, Amazon.ca

About the book: Nancy Richler's latest novel, a finalist for this year's Scotiabank Giller Prize, is set in Montreal (her hometown) in the years immediately following the Second World War. At the centre of the story is Lily Azerov, a Jewish refugee who arrives in Canada because she was selected by a matchmaker to marry a Montreal man. Only it turns out that the bride is an imposter. "I wanted to explore the many crosscurrents operating in the Montreal Jewish community at that time and the many issues raised by a young woman arriving after the war who had stolen someone else's identity as a way to begin anew," Richler said.

Q&A with Nancy Richler

Canada Writes: Nancy Richler takes the Magic 8

Video: Giller Prize finalist The Imposter Bride

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The Purchase

Written by: Linda Spalding

Year-end lists: Globe 100, Amazon.ca, Kobo

About the book: In The Purchase, Spalding's Governor General's Literary Award for Fiction-winning novel, she takes readers back to pioneer-era America. Daniel Dickinson, a young Quaker, finds himself exiled from his devout community in Pennsylvania. With his family in tow, Daniel vows to start a new life in the Virginia frontier. But he quickly finds the wildly different environment and slave-owning culture tests his sense of morality, his character, and his religious conviction.

Q&A with Linda Spalding

Canada Writes: Linda Spalding takes the Magic 8

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Siege 13

Written by: Tamas Dobozy

Year-end lists: Quill & Quire, Amazon.ca, Kobo

About the book: Dobozy's Siege 13, is a collection of linked short stories about the Second World War siege of Budapest and its legacy for survivors. The book won the 2012 Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize. "From the dark cityscapes of besieged Hungary to the émigré cafés of contemporary North America, Siege 13 spans continents and decades, and in doing so illustrates once again that old maxim: the short story can be both as broad and as deep as a novel," the jury said in its citation.

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Waging Heavy Peace

Written by: Neil Young

Year-end lists: Quill & Quire, Amazon.ca, Kobo

About the book: The only non-fiction book in this list, the legendary songwriter shares his own journey for the first time in this memoir. From his childhood in rural Ontario through to his early days struggling to make rent as a young musician to his historic collaborations with David Crosby and Stephen Stills and leaving his mark as one this country's musical heroes, Young's recollection is witty and candid.

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Y

Written by: Marjorie Celona

Year-end lists: Globe 100, Amazon.ca, Kobo

About the book: Celona's debut novel, longlisted for this year's Scotiabank Giller Prize, follows the complicated life of Shannon, a girl who left at the doors at the YMCA as a newborn baby. She later finds some stability and acceptance with loving single mother Miranda, but as she grows up, Shannon's questions about her birth parents and why they abandoned her become too overwhelming to keep buried inside. Eventually, Shannon's story and the tragic tale of her mother Yula converge, and the portrait of a family touched by hardship and sacrifice emerges.

Q&A with Marjorie Celona

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