Books·Books of the Year

The best books of 2017

2017 is coming to a close. Here are the best books of the year!

2017 is coming to a close. Here are the best books of the year!

Canadian fiction

American War is Omar El Akkad's debut novel. (Michael Lionstar/McClelland & Stewart)

Our top pick: American War by Omar El Akkad

Set 50 years from now, Omar El Akkad's debut novel American War envisions a future where government restrictions on fossil fuels have sparked a second Civil War in the U.S. Sarat Chestnut, who is a young child when the war begins, gets caught up in the violent political and cultural upheaval. American War, which was a finalist for the 2017 Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize, is an original, powerful story that is as relevant today as it is entertaining.

Canadian nonfiction

Tanya Talaga highlights the lives of seven Indigenous teachers in Seven Fallen Feathers. (Steve Russell/Toronto Star/House of Anansi)

Our top pick: Seven Fallen Feathers by Tanya Talaga

In Seven Fallen Feathers, Tanya Talaga honours the lives of seven Indigenous students who died between 2000 and 2011. Jordan Wabasse, Kyle Morrisseau, Curran Strang, Robyn Harper, Paul Panacheese, Reggie Bushie and Jethro Anderson were all forced to live hundreds of kilometres away from their families to attend school. Talaga investigates the history of racism in this northern Ontario town and tries to understand what happened to the seven teenagers who lost their lives there.

Canadian poetry

Billy-Ray Belcourt is the author of the poetry collection This Wound Is A World. (Frontenac House)

Our top pick: This Wound is a World by Billy-Ray Belcourt

​Rhodes Scholar and PhD student Billy-Ray Belcourt hails from Driftpile Cree Nation in Alberta. His debut collection of poetry, This Wound is a World, merges the personal with the academic, envisioning, in his own words, a "decolonial kind of heaven that is searchable, findable." It is memoiristic in approach, perspicuous in style and exacting in its determination to upend genre and form.

Canadian comics & graphica

Jillian Tamaki is the author of the comics collection Boundless. (Reynard Li/Drawn & Quarterly)

Our top pick: Boundless by Jillian Tamaki

In this collection of comics, Jillian Tamaki disrupts the drowsiness of contemporary life with touches of the fantastic. Tamaki explores what happens to the individual when society incorporates technology's weird new trends — like the rise of a mirror Facebook that shows us our better alternate selves. Humour and emotion tie the shifting aesthetics of this beautifully drawn collection together.

Canadian young adult & kids

Cherie Dimaline is the author of The Marrow Thieves. (Cormorant Books / Dancing Cat Books Publishers (DCB))

Our top pick: The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline

​In the dystopian world of Cherie Dimaline's award-winning The Marrow Thieves, climate change has ravaged the Earth and a continent-wide hunt and slaughter of Indigenous people is underway. Wanted for their bone marrow, which contains the lost ability to dream, a group of Indigenous people seek refuge in the old lands. The Marrow Thieves won the Governor General's Literary Award for children's text in 2017 and is a captivating, original read. 

International fiction

Lincoln in the Bardo is the first novel from acclaimed American author George Saunders. (Penguin Random House/David Crosby)

Our top pick: Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

​George Saunders is the winner of the 2017 Man Booker Prize for his novel Lincoln in the Bardo. This experimental fiction around the American Civil War, Abraham Lincoln's presidency and the afterlife of Lincoln's young son is steeped in meaning and explores empathy, legacy, faith and sacrifice. 

International nonfiction

Sherman Alexie began writing his memoir after the death of his mother in 2015. (Lee Towndrow)

Our top pick: You Don't Have to Say You Love Me by Sherman Alexie

Sherman Alexie's memoir You Don't Have to Say You Love Me focuses on his complicated relationship to his mother Lillian, who died in 2015. Alexie moves between grief and anger throughout the book; anger over her abusive behaviour and coldness as a mother, and grief over her death and the violence she experienced early in life. Anchored by Alexie's beautiful writing, this memoir is a masterful exploration of a family's many emotional layers.