We asked a number of publishers from across the country to weigh in with their choices for our Top 40 essential Canadian novels of the past decade. You can also find more in the upcoming weeks at the Canada Reads: Publishers Corner, a Posterous blog set up for publishers to have their say during the span of the entire Canada Reads campaign.
Penguin Canada recommends: Under This Unbroken Sky by Shandi Mitchell
Set in the Prairies of the 1930s, Under This Unbroken Sky is by turns bucolic and gripping, light-hearted and harrowing, and conjures comparisons to the work of David Adams Richards and W.O. Mitchell. It's the story of the Mykolayenkos, an unforgettable family of fathers, mothers, husbands, wives, sisters, and brothers who are new to Canada and struggling not to be beaten by its harsh and unforgiving land. We meet them in their final year together as they desperately till the land and preserve food but also plot to rob one another of their meager holdings, both real and intangible. Soon, a brother is pitted against a sister, a mother against her newborn, and by the end of the year, three are dead. Yet this is not a story of defeat; badly battered, the remaining Mykolayenkos continue on, determined to make Canada home — and in the final, utterly redemptive pages of this novel one is reminded of the resiliency and grace of the human spirit. A spellbinding, cinematic read.
Shandi Mitchell spent her childhood on a military base in the Prairies and now makes her home on the East Coast as a filmmaker. Filmmaking has been the perfect training ground for Mitchell; each page of her novel is infused with the visceral, visual characterization and narrative that could make an equally remarkable film. Under This Unbroken Sky marks the emergence of one of Canada's best new storytellers.
Cory Beatty of HarperCollins Canada recommends: Room by Emma Donoghue
Emma Donoghue's Room has already become a Globe and Mail bestseller, been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, the Governor General's Award and the Writers' Trust Award. Watch the trailer and meet five-year-old Jack.