Monday, December 14, 2015 |
As 2015 draws to a close, we asked some of Canada's most distinguished authors to share their favourite Canadian book from the year. Their answers ran the gamut from Scotiabank Giller Prize-nominated titles to debut novels. Check out the list below:
1. Heather O'Neill picks: Pauls by Jess TaylorHeather O'Neill at the 2015 Scotiabank Giller Prize ceremony. (Chris Young/Canadian Press)
The two-time Scotiabank Giller Prize finalist and Canada Reads winner (Daydreams of Angels, The Girl Who Was Saturday Night, Lullabies for Little Criminals) on why Pauls is her favourite book of the year:
"I really enjoyed Jess Taylor's debut collection, Pauls. These stories offer portraits of a twentysomething brain: one that is trying to figure out how on earth to deal with all the feelings that come with being an adult. The wisdom in these stories is so hard come by, and is at once so beautiful, so tiny, so terrifying. Like all talented writers, Taylor makes you long for what she will do next."
2. Marina Endicott picks: A Beauty by Connie Gault
"My favourite Canadian novel of 2015 was Connie Gault's A Beauty, the story of a young girl left to fend for herself in a dusty 1930s summer, and how she fends. A Beauty's dazzling lightness soaks across the unfolding map of Saskatchewan, town by town, as Elena travels, until the whole prairie is laid out naked in the shining air. Gault's clear-eyed intelligence also undresses the human soul - but it's all right, she finds us beautiful even in our underclothes."
3. Kamal Al-Solaylee picks: Trees on Mars by Hal Niedzviecki
Canada Reads 2015 finalist and Ryerson University journalism professor Kamal Al-Solaylee (Intolerable) explains why Trees on Mars: Our Obsession with the Future by Hal Niedzviecki is his favourite book of the year:
"Every once in a while I read a book that puts into elegant words and strong arguments the jumble of thoughts and feelings I've been entertaining about a subject. Niedzviecki captures my own skepticism (and despair) over contemporary culture's investment into what the future may bring at the expense of living in the moment or helping those falling behind right now. The billions of dollars going to such ill-defined concepts as 'innovation' or 'disruption' benefit the few and add little to the masses. It takes courage to stop and reflect - and, if necessary, place yourself on what others may describe as the wrong side of history. Or is it the wrong side of the future? At a time when governments, universities and public institutions mindlessly repeat the corporate spiel of a revolutionary future, the deep thinking in Trees on Mars comes as a wakeup call (and an intellectual treat)."
4. Terry Fallis picks: All Inclusive by Farzana Doctor
"It made me ache, made me laugh and made me think. It's the story of a young woman finding herself and finding her way in the world against a backdrop of familial loss she can't quite grasp. Powerfully written, this story takes you on a wild, erotic, sometimes heartbreaking ride that leaves you uplifted when it's all over. Do yourself a favour over the holidays and read this book."
"When Lynette Loeppky moved to a farm in southern Alberta with her partner, Ceci, it seemed like the start of an extended romantic idyll. But as her relationship with Ceci slowly began to grind her down, Loeppky resolved to leave - only to learn that her partner had terminal cancer. The author suddenly found herself as the primary caregiver in a dying relationship. A heartbreaking debut, at turns poetic and reflective, brutal and honest, Cease packs a real emotional wallop."
Schofield's breakout second novel, Martin John, earned her a spot on the 2015 Scotiabank Giller Prize shortlist and the CBC Best Books of 2015 list. Here's why she chose both Close to Hugh by Marina Endicott and No Work Finished Here by Liz Worth (and a couple more):
"I started 2015 reading Balzac and spent much of it in a boxing match with Henry James. Anyone who had the sincere good fortune, as I did, to hear Marina Endicott read from her playful novel Close to Hugh will have wished to get close to it. Endicott's readings are nothing short of a one-woman show. With Woolfian overtures, Close to Hugh is an intriguing addition to her already highly accomplished body of work. This tableau vivant freeze frames on the humane, while gathering its britches in the innovative syncopation of its sentences. Supple meets subtle.
I also much admired the ambitious starting point of Liz Worth's poetry collection No Work Finished Here. Worth remixes the text of Andy Warhol's A, a Novel into a series of poems. Another ongoing delight is Ryszard's Kapuściński I Wrote Stone in his first 'Canadian' translation by Diana Kuprel and Marek Kusiba, published by Biblioasis' translation series."
7. Andrew Pyper picks: Arvida by Samuel Archibald, translated by Donald Winkler
Horror novelist Andrew Pyper has six critically acclaimed books under his belt, including the instantly optioned-for-film The Damned. He explains why he loved 2015 Scotiabank Giller Prize-shortlisted title Arvida by Samuel Archibald:
"It's a strange world, even if we do our best to remain blind to its strangeness. Samuel Archibald's stories make this point by way of a tasty mash-up of genres and tropes, from horror cinema to domestic drama to schoolyard mythology. This is fiction that taps a Jungian vein instead of delivering rational 'understanding,' and is all the richer for it."
8. Nino Ricci picks: Martin John by Anakana Schofield
Governor General's Literary Award winner Nino Ricci (The Origin of Species, Sleep) plucks out Anakana Schofield's Martin John from the 2015 Scotiabank Giller Prize shortlist and CBC Books' Best of 2015 list:
"Language aside, innovation aside, what makes this book so compelling is the utterly convincing portrait of its troubled and troubling protagonist, Martin John. You might not like Martin John or want to run into him on the subway, but he will stay with you long after you have put the novel down, not least because of those uncomfortable bits of him that you'll recognize in yourself. Schofield has found in Martin John a language and a method for getting deep into the gritty corners of the human psyche, which is ultimately where fiction does its best work."