4 Canadian books on Time's 100 'must-read' books of 2020 list

Books by Souvankham Thammavongsa, William Gibson, Eva Holland and Emily St. John Mandel made the wide-ranging list.
Books by Souvankham Thammavongsa, William Gibson, Eva Holland and Emily St. John Mandel named among best reads of 2020 (Sarah Bodri, Sinisa Jolic/CBC, Penguin Random House CanadaHarper, Sarah Shatz, HarperCollins Canada)

Four Canadian books — two novels, one short story collection and one memoir — have been named among the 100 must-read books of 2020 by Time. 

The list spans various genres — from fiction, nonfiction and poetry — highlighting books that "deepened our understanding, ignited our curiosity and helped us escape."

The novels The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel and Agency by William Gibson have made the list.

The Glass Hotel weaves together several narratives that revolve around a financial collapse. Inspired by the Bernie Madoff financial fraud scandal, the novel is a character study of people who profit and the lives that are compromised as a result. It made the shortlist for the 2020 Scotiabank Giller Prize

St. John Mandel is a Canadian writer currently living in New York. Her 2014 bestselling novel Station Eleven was a finalist for a National Book Award and the PEN/Faulkner Award. It won the 2015 Toronto Book Award. 

Emily St John Mandel on The Glass Hotel, her follow-up to her breakout novel Station Eleven.

In William Gibson's Agency, a gifted app tester meets her match when she is commissioned to beta test a highly social, and combat-savvy, "digital assistant." In an alternate timeline, in 2017 Hillary Clinton has won the presidential election over Donald Trump. Meanwhile, in London in the 22nd century, disastrous events have led to 80 per cent of humanity being wiped out. 

Gibson is a legendary Vancouver science-fiction writer. His classic 1984 novel Neuromancer, a thriller about hacking and artificial intelligence, won sci-fi's three biggest prizes: the Nebula Award, the Philip K. Dick Award and the Hugo Award.

Fun, ferocious moments at centre of Giller Prize-winning book

2 years ago
Duration 9:16
Giller Prize winner Souvankham Thammavongsa says she wanted to have fun again while writing and that her short story collection is 'built out' from her many years of writing poetry.  

How to Pronounce Knife, the award-winning short story collection by Souvankham Thammavongsa, has also made the list. 

How to Pronounce Knife's idiosyncratic and diverse stories capture the daily lives of immigrants, from a young man painting nails in a salon, to a housewife learning English from soap-operas. Through capturing their experiences, Thammavongsa shines a light on their hopes, disappointments, trauma and acts of defiance. How to Pronounce Knife won the 2020 Scotiabank Giller Prize.

Thammavongsa is an Ontario writer and poet. Her stories have won an O. Henry Award and appeared in Harper's, Granta, The Paris Review and NOON. She has published four books of poetry, including 2019's Cluster. How to Pronounce Knife is her first work of fiction.

Eva Holland's memoir, Nerve, a scientific and personal exploration of the psychology of fear, was also among the selections. Nerve chronicles Holland's journey from 2015 when her mother died suddenly of a stroke to the meetings she had with scientists working to eliminate phobias with a single pill.

Holland is a writer and editor based in Whitehorse. Her work has appeared in Outside, Wired, the Walrus and Canadian Geographic.

You can see the full list on the TIME website.

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