The best Canadian fiction of 2017
2017 is coming to a close. So what were the best books published this year? Here are the top 10 best Canadian works of fiction that came out this year.
Brother by David Chariandy
Brother takes us inside the lives of two brothers, the mixed-heritage sons of Trinidadian immigrants. Their father has disappeared and their mother works double, sometimes triple, shifts so her boys might fulfil the elusive promise of their adopted home in the Toronto suburb of Scarborough. The story is rooted in Chariandy's own experience growing up as a person of colour in early 1990s Toronto and is a stunning literary accomplishment. Brother won the 2017 Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize.
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.
Sputnik's Children by Terri Favro
Terri Favro dreams up a genre-bending adventure in Sputnik's Children. Narrated by a successful, lorazepam-addicted comic artist, the novel jumps between two realities: the one we all know (Earth Standard Time) and another, which has been ravaged by nuclear war (Atomic Mean Time). Sputnik's Children is a delightful and original novel.
Little Sister by Barbara Gowdy
In Little Sister, 34-year-old Rose and her mother, Fiona, run a small theatre. Fiona, who is in the early stages of dementia, has been talking recently about Rose's little sister, Ava, who died when they were children. Soon, Rose finds that whenever there is a thunderstorm, she dreams of entering another woman's body — a woman who bears a striking resemblance to her sister. Little Sister is a surprising and beautiful work of fiction.
Scarborough by Catherine Hernandez
Scarborough, Catherine Hernandez's debut novel, is a moving multi-voiced story about a Toronto neighbourhood that refuses to fall apart in the face of poverty and crime. Weaving together the stories of three children growing up in difficult circumstances with the stories of three adults who are doing their best to help them out, Scarborough is a vibrant and emotional novel.
The Lonely Hearts Hotel by Heather O'Neill
The Lonely Hearts Hotel is a historical tragicomic love story about two orphans hustling in Montreal's underground who dream of opening a circus together. Despite it seeming like everything is against them, they eventually make their dreams come true — but at what cost? The Lonely Hearts Hotel is trademark O'Neill: equal parts funny and tragic, hopeful and dark, magical and real.
This Accident of Being Lost by Leanne Betasamosake Simpson
Drawing from her Nishnaabeg storytelling roots, Leanne Betasamosake Simpson has created a poignant collection of songs and stories in This Accident of Being Lost that explores the contemporary Indigenous identity and experience. This Accident of Being Lost, a riveting and moving work, was a finalist for the 2017 Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize.
Bellevue Square by Michael Redhill
Bellevue Square plays with literary tropes — specifically within the genres of psychological thriller, science fiction and historical narrative — to tell the story of Jean Mason, a woman who finds out that she may have a doppelgänger in the bohemian Toronto neighbourhood known as Kensington Market. Jean decides to investigate, setting off a chain of events that puts the protagonist through the proverbial emotional and mental wringer. Bellevue Square, which won the 2017 Scotiabank Giller Prize, is a mind-bending and eye-opening read.
Son of a Trickster by Eden Robinson
Son of a Trickster is about Jared, a compassionate 16-year-old, maker of famous weed cookies, the caretaker of his elderly neighbours, the son of an unreliable father and unhinged, though loving in her way, mother. As Jared ably cares for those around him, in between getting black-out drunk, he shrugs off the magical and strange happenings that follow him around. Son of a Trickster, a warm, funny and rich novel, was on the shortlist for the 2017 Scotiabank Giller Prize.
The Dark and Other Love Stories by Deborah Willis
The Dark and Other Love Stories is a collection of tales that explore the depths and fringes of human attachment and explores what it means to love and be loved. This short story collection, which was on the longlist for the 2017 Scotiabank Giller Prize, is smart, strange and utterly unique.