The best Canadian fiction of 2021
Here are the CBC Books picks for the top Canadian fiction of the year
Here are the picks by CBC Books for the top Canadian fiction of 2021.
What Strange Paradise by Omar El Akkad
What Strange Paradise is a novel that tells the story of a global refugee crisis through the eyes of a child. Nine-year-old Amir is the only survivor from a ship full of refugees coming to a small island nation. He ends up with a teenage girl named Vanna, who lives on the island. Even though they don't share a common language or culture, Vanna becomes determined to keep Amir safe. What Strange Paradise tells both their stories and how they each reached this moment, while asking the questions, "How did we get here?" and "What are we going to do about it?"
What Strange Paradise won the 2021 Scotiabank Giller Prize.
Omar El Akkad is a Canadian journalist and author who currently lives in Portland. He is also the author of the novel American War, which was defended on Canada Reads 2018 by actor Tahmoh Penikett.
The Listeners by Jordan Tannahill
In the novel The Listeners, Claire Devon is one of a disparate group of people who can hear a low hum. No one in her house can hear it, and this sound has no obvious source or medical cause, but it starts upsetting the balance of Claire's life. She strikes up a friendship with one of her students who can also hear the hum. Feeling more and more isolated from their families and colleagues, they join a neighbourhood self-help group of people who can also hear the hum, which gradually transforms into something much more extreme, with far-reaching and devastating consequences.
The Listeners was on the 2021 Scotiabank Giller Prize shortlist.
Jordan Tannahill's latest novel The Listeners traces one woman's destructive journey in search for truth
Tannahill is a playwright, filmmaker, author and theatre director. He has twice won the Governor General's Literary Award for drama: in 2014 for Age of Minority and in 2018 for Botticelli in the Fire & Sunday in Sodom. He is also the author of the novel Liminal.
The Son of the House by Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia
The Son of the House is the story of two Nigerian women, the housemaid Nwabulu and the wealthy Julie. The two live very different lives, but when both are kidnapped and forced to spend days together in a dark, tiny room, they keep hope alive by sharing stories and discovering common ground.
The Son of the House was on the shortlist for the 2021 Scotiabank Giller Prize.
- Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia's debut novel The Son of the House is a story about gender, trauma & patriarchy
Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia is a lawyer, academic and writer who divides her time between Lagos and Halifax. The Son of the House is her first novel. It won the SprinNG Women Authors Prize in 2020.
Glorious Frazzled Beings by Angélique Lalonde
In the short story collection Glorious Frazzled Beings, human and more-than-human worlds come together in places we call home. Among other tales, a ghost tends to the family garden, a shape-shifting mother deals with the complexities of love when one son is born with beautiful fox ears and another is not and a daughter tries to make sense of her dating profile after her mom dies.
Glorious Frazzled Beings was on the shortlist for the 2021 Scotiabank Giller Prize.
Angélique Lalonde explores the complexities of love in short story collection Glorious Frazzled Beings
Angélique Lalonde is a B.C.-based writer whose work has been featured in PRISM International, the Journey Prize Anthology, Room and the Malahat Review, among other publications. She received the 2019 Writers' Trust Journey Prize and was nominated for a National Magazine Award. She was awarded an emerging writer's residency at the Banff Centre. She lives in Northern B.C. and holds a PhD in anthropology from the University of Victoria.
Out of Mind by David Bergen
Out of Mind is a novel about Lucille Black, a mother, grandmother, lover, psychiatrist and analyst of self. While she's fantastic at probing the lives of others, her own life has become untethered. Her ex-husband betrays her by publishing a memoir about the aftermath of their son's death in Afghanistan. She then travels to Thailand to try and free her daughter from the clutches of a cult leader. She's also invited to attend the wedding of a man whom she rejected a year earlier. While Black circles the globe, she's on a quest to reform her identity.
David Bergen is the author of 10 novels and two collections of stories. His work includes The Time in Between, which won the Scotiabank Giller Prize and the McNally Robinson Book of the Year Award, The Matter with Morris and The Age of Hope, which was championed by Ron MacLean on Canada Reads 2013. He currently lives in Winnipeg.
Tainna: The Unseen Ones by Norma Dunning
Tainna: The Unseen Ones is a collection of six stories from Inuk writer Norma Dunning. Each of the stories focuses on a contemporary Inuk character, and explores themes such as homelessness, spirituality, death, displacement, loneliness, alienation and community connection.
Tainna won the 2021 Governor General's Literary Award for fiction.
Dunning is an Inuk writer who currently lives in Edmonton. She is also the author of the short story collection Annie Muktuk and Other Stories and the poetry collection Eskimo Pie: A Poetics of Inuit Identity. Annie Muktuk and Other Stories won the 2018 Danuta Gleed Literary Award, which recognizes the best debut short story collection of the year.
Second Place by Rachel Cusk
Second Place is a novel about a woman who invites a famous artist to her remote coastal town. She hopes that his vision and talent will change her life, and her perspective on things. What unfolds is a study of humanity, beauty and connection, as the novel explores how our internal and external lives are connected.
Rachel Cusk is a Canadian-born novelist who lives in the U.K. She is best known for her Outline trilogy, which is comprised of the novels Outline, Transit and Kudos. Both Outline and Transit were shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, in 2015 and 2017, respectively.
Find You First by Linwood Barclay
Find You First is the latest thriller from bestselling author Linwood Barclay. Miles Cookson is a millionaire who has been told he only has a short time left to live. He decides it's time to connect with the children that were born with sperm he donated decades before. But as his search unfolds, his offspring vanish, one by one. What is happening? Who is behind it? And can Miles figure it out before it's too late?
Barclay is an American Canadian thriller writer, with almost 20 books to his credit. His books include the adult thrillers Broken Promise, A Noise Downstairs, Elevator Pitch and the middle-grade novels Escape and Chase.
The Strangers by Katherena Vermette
In The Strangers, readers are brought into the dynamic world of the Stranger family, the shared pain of their past and the light that shines from the horizon. After spending time in foster homes, Cedar goes to live with her estranged father. Being separated from her mother, Elsie, and her sister, Phoenix, is painful, but she's hoping for a new chapter in life. The three women diverge, reconnect and fight to survive in a system that expects them to fail.
The Strangers won the 2021 Atwood Gibson Writers' Trust Fiction Prize and was longlisted for the 2021 Scotiabank Giller Prize.
Vermette is a Red River Métis writer from Winnipeg. Her debut poetry collection, North End Love Songs, won the 2013 Governor General's Literary Award for poetry. Her first novel, The Break, won the Amazon First Novel Award, Margaret Laurence Award for Fiction, Carol Shields Winnipeg Book Prize and McNally Robinson Book of the Year. It was championed on Canada Reads 2017 by comedian and broadcaster Candy Palmater. Vermette's other works include the poetry book river woman and the graphic novel series A Girl Called Echo.
Ring by André Alexis
Ring completes the quincunx of Scotiabank Giller Prize-winning writer André Alexis. When Helen Odhiambo Lloyd sensed that her daughter Gwenhwfar is in love, Helen gives her a ring that has been passed down through endless generations. The ring lets the bearer change three things about her beloved. It's a blessing, but may also be a curse.
The other titles in the quincunx are Pastoral, The Hidden Keys, Fifteen Dogs and Days by Moonlight. The novels in the quincunx each explore one of faith, place, love, power and hatred. Ring focuses on love.
Alexis was born in Trinidad and grew up in Canada. His novel Fifteen Dogs received the 2015 Scotiabank Giller Prize, the Writers' Trust Fiction Prize and won Canada Reads 2017, when it was defended by Humble the Poet. His other books include Childhood, Pastoral, Asylum, The Hidden Keys and Days by Moonlight.
Everyone Knows Your Mother Is a Witch by Rivka Galchen
Everyone Knows Your Mother Is a Witch takes place in a small German town in 1618, where an elderly widow is accused of witchcraft. In the German duchy of Württemberg, fear is palpable — the plague is spreading, and The Thirty Years' War has begun. So when a woman named Ursula Reinbold accuses widow Katharina of offering her a witchy drink that has made her ill, Katharina is in trouble.
Everyone Knows Your Mother Is a Witch was shortlisted for the 2021 Atwood Gibson Writers' Trust Fiction Prize.
Rivka Galchen's Everyone Knows Your Mother Is a Witch reimagines a real-life witch hunt — read an excerpt now
Galchen is a Canadian American writer. She is also the author of the novel Atmospheric Disturbances. She lives in New York City.
We Want What We Want by Alix Ohlin
We Want What We Want is a short story collection by Alix Ohlin. These stories explore parenthood, lost loves, wasted potential and more, showcasing life's humour, discomfort and beauty.
Ohlin is a writer from Vancouver and the current chair of the creative writing program at the University of British Columbia. Her books include the novels Inside, Dual Citizens and the short story collection Signs and Wonders. Both Inside and Dual Citizens were finalists for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, in 2012 and 2019, respectively.
A Dream of a Woman by Casey Plett
A Dream of a Woman is a collection of short stories revolving around transgender women who are looking for stable, adult lives. Taking place in Prairie high-rises and New York warehouses, during freezing Canadian winters and drizzly Oregon days, these stories explore partnership, sex, addiction, romance, groundedness and love.
A Dream of a Woman was on the 2021 Scotiabank Giller Prize longlist.
Casey Plett is a Windsor-based writer who was born in Manitoba and has lived in Oregon and New York. Her novel Little Fish won the Lambda Literary Award, Amazon First Novel Award and the Firecracker Award for Fiction. Her first collection of short stories, A Safe Girl to Love, was published in 2014.
Fight Night by Miriam Toews
In Fight Night, nine-year-old Swiv lives in Toronto with her pregnant mother, who is raising Swiv while caring for her own elderly mother. When Swiv is expelled from school, Grandma gives Swiv the task of writing to her absent father about what life is like in the house during her mother's final trimester. In turn, Swiv tells Grandma, who knows what it costs to survive the world, to write a letter to her unborn grandchild.
Fight Night was on the shortlist for the 2021 Scotiabank Giller Prize and the 2021 Atwood Gibson Writers' Trust Fiction Prize.
Miriam Toews is the author of seven novels, including Women Talking, All My Puny Sorrows, A Complicated Kindness and The Flying Troutmans. She has won the Governor General's Literary Award for fiction, the Libris Award for Fiction Book of the Year, the Writers' Trust Fiction Prize and the Writers' Trust Engel Findley Award. A Complicated Kindness won Canada Reads in 2006, when it was defended by John K. Samson. Toews lives in Toronto.
Lost Immunity by Daniel Kalla
In the novel Lost Immunity, a dangerous bacteria has caused local outbreaks around the world. When it hits Seattle, the local public health officer asks a pharmaceutical company working on the vaccine to release it to the city early. At first, the controversial plan works. But when people start dying from an even more terrible and more mysterious illness, the vaccine gets blamed. Can they figure out what's really happening before it's too late?
Daniel Kalla is an emergency room doctor, as well as an international bestselling author of 10 books, including We All Fall Down and The Last High.
We, Jane by Aimee Wall
We, Jane is about a young woman named Marthe, who ends up befriending an older woman while living in Montreal. She learns about how the woman used to help young women in rural Newfoundland get abortions, and the two return to the island to continue this cause. But over time, things become more difficult, and more complicated, than Marthe ever imagined.
- Aimee Wall explores care for women by women and rural access to abortion in her debut novel We, Jane
Aimee Wall is a writer and translator from Newfoundland who now lives in Montreal. Her translations include Vickie Gendreau's novels Testament and Drama Queens. We, Jane is her first novel.
All's Well by Mona Awad
In the novel All's Well, the accident that ended Miranda Fitch's acting career has made her life a living nightmare. She has excruciating, chronic pain, a failed marriage, a dependence on painkillers and she's on the verge of losing her job as college theatre director. She's still determined to put on Shakespeare's All's Well That Ends Well, even though her cast wants Macbeth. She meets three strange benefactors who know a little too much about her past and are promising her the future she wants.
Mona Awad's latest novel All's Well explores personal pain, suffering and self-doubt set to Shakespeare
Mona Awad is the author of 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl, which won the Amazon Canada First Novel Award, the Colorado Book Award and was shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize. She currently lives in Boston.
Probably Ruby by Lisa Bird-Wilson
The novel Probably Ruby is about the life of Ruby, a young girl who grows up knowing very little about her Indigenous heritage. Her parents' separation sparks a chain reaction of events — and her life is beset by alcohol, drugs and bad relationships. Left with no support network, Ruby searches for her unknown roots in the most destructive of places.
Kinship is one of the most important things': Lisa Bird-Wilson's Probably Ruby is about the power of heritage
Lisa Bird-Wilson is a Saskatchewan Métis and nêhiyaw writer. Her book Just Pretending won four Saskatchewan Book Awards. She is also the author of the poetry collection The Red Files.
The Spectacular by Zoe Whittall
In The Spectacular, it's 1997 and Missy's band is touring across America. Every night, she plays the song about her absent mother that made the band famous. As the only girl in the band, she wants to party just as hard as everyone else, but a forgotten party favour strands her at the border. Carola is just surfacing from a sex scandal when she sees her daughter Missy for the first time in 10 years — on the cover of a music magazine. Ruth plans on returning to the Turkish seaside but then her granddaughter Missy crashes at her house. Ruth decides it's time the women in her family try to understand each other again.
Zoe Whittall's three novels have won her a Lambda Literary Award, the Dayne Ogilvie Prize and was shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize. Her novel The Best Kind of People is currently being adapted for a limited series by Sarah Polley. Her other novels are Holding Still for as Long as Possible and Bottle Rocket Hearts. She has also written for Schitt's Creek and the Baroness Von Sketch Show.
Red X by David Demchuk
In the novel Red X, men are disappearing from the gay village in Toronto. Their disappearances are ignored by the police and media, but they rock the community — the same community dealing with the HIV/AIDS crisis, police brutality and homophobia. This story unfolds alongside author David Demchuk's own story, as he explores the relationship between queerness and horror and how the scariest monsters that move through his community aren't imaginary.
Demchuk is a writer and a CBC communications officer. His first book, The Bone Mother, was longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize.
Operation Angus by Terry Fallis
A follow-up to the comedic novels The Best Laid Plans and The High Road, Operation Angus continues to follow the adventures of Angus McLintock, accidental member of Parliament and now the newly appointed junior global affairs minister. After his chief of staff, Daniel Addison, receives a cryptic late-night text and goes to a secret meeting at a pub, the two of them are thrown into a race against the clock to save the Russian president.
Terry Fallis is the author of several novels, including One Brother Shy, The Best Laid Plans, The High Road and Up and Down. He has won the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour twice, in 2008 for The Best Laid Plans, and in 2015 for No Relation. The Best Laid Plans won Canada Reads in 2011, when it was defended by journalist Ali Velshi.
The Good Father by Wayne Grady
The Good Father is about a divorced man, Harry, and his daughter, Daphne. Harry is living a quiet life in Toronto with his second wife, while Daphne is a volatile teenager growing up in Vancouver. But when a terrible event takes place, both Harry and Daphne are forced to re-examine their lives, and their relationship to each other.
Wayne Grady is a writer and translator from Kingston, Ont. His other books include the nonfiction books The Quiet Limit of the World, Bringing Back the Dodo and Tree: A Life Story, co-written with David Suzuki, and the novels Emancipation Day and Up From Freedom. Emancipation Day won the 2013 Amazon Canada First Novel Award.
Hana Khan Carries On by Uzma Jalaluddin
Hana Khan Carries On is a romantic comedy from Uzma Jalaluddin. Hana is an aspiring radio host who is working at her family's halal restaurant. When her aunt and a cousin come to town, and a rival restaurant opens in their neighbourhood, Hana's life is upended and family secrets are revealed. Fighting for her family is a big battle, one that will put all of Hana's skills to the test. It's a battle that gets more complicated by Hana's growing attraction to the rival restaurant's attractive owner, Aydin.
Uzma Jalaluddin's novel Hana Khan Carries On is a modern day meet-cute inspired by a love of rom-coms
Jalaluddin is a teacher, parenting columnist and author based in Ontario. She is also the author of the novel Ayesha At Last.
Manikanetish by Naomi Fontaine
In Manikanetish, a young Innu woman, Yammie, returns to her home in the Uashat nation on Quebec's North Shore after 15 years of exile. She plans to teach language and drama at the local school, but finds a community steeped in despair. When she accepts a position directing the school play, she sees an opportunity for her students to take charge of themselves.
Naomi Fontaine is a member of the Innu Nation of Uashat. Her debut novel, Kuessipan, was made into a film that was featured at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival. The French-language edition of Manikanetish was a finalist for a Governor General's Literary Award for French-language fiction and Radio Canada's Combat des livres 2019.
A Town Called Solace by Mary Lawson
A Town Called Solace is a novel told from three different perspectives: Clara, a young woman who sits at her window, waiting for her missing sister to return home, Liam, Clara's new neighbour who Clara watches with suspicion, and Mrs. Orchard, the old woman who owns the house Liam is staying in. As their stories unfold, so does the mystery of what happened to Clara's sister and how Mrs. Orchard and Liam are connected.
Mary Lawson is an acclaimed novelist who grew up in Ontario and now lives in the U.K. Her other novels include Crow Lake, The Other Side of the Bridge and Road Ends. Crow Lake won the Amazon Canada First Novel Award.
Return of the Trickster by Eden Robinson
Return of the Trickster is the third book in celebrated writer Eden Robinson's Trickster trilogy, after Son of a Trickster and Trickster Drift. In Return of the Trickster, Jared is coming to terms with his trickster powers — and with the havoc they create for him and everyone he loves. His mom, Maggie, is coming to terms with them as well. But when his power-hungry Aunt Georgina comes to town, it's the beginning of a magical war — with Jared in the middle of it all.
Robinson is an award-winning writer from Kitamaat, B.C. She is also the author of the novels Monkey Beach, Son of a Trickster and Trickster Drift. Son of a Trickster was a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and was championed on Canada Reads 2020 by actor Kaniehtiio Horn.
Gutter Child by Jael Richardson
Gutter Child is about a young girl growing up in a world divided: the Mainland, where people of privilege live, and the Gutter, a police state where the most vulnerable reside. A social experiment results in 100 babies born in the Gutter being raised in the Mainland. One of those babies is Elimina Dubois. But when Elimina's Mainland mother dies, she is sent to an academy with rules and a way of life Elimina doesn't understand.
Jael Richardson is the founder and the artistic director of the Festival for Literary Diversity (FOLD) and the books columnist for Q on CBC Radio. She is also the author of the nonfiction book The Stone Thrower, which was adapted into a picture book of the same name. Gutter Child is her first work of fiction.
Velvet Was the Night by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Set in the 1970s in Mexico City, Velvet Was the Night follows a secretary named Maite who lives to read the latest issue of Secret Romance. She escapes into stories of passion and danger, ignoring the student protests and political unrest that consume the city. When her next-door neighbour, Leonora, a beautiful art student, disappears under suspicious circumstances, Maite searches for her and uncovers her secret life as a student radical and dissident. Eccentric criminal Elvis, at the request of his boss, is also looking for Leonora. As Maite and Elvis come closer to finding out the truth behind Leonora's disappearance, they can no longer escape the danger that threatens to consume their lives.
Silvia Moreno-Garcia is a Canadian writer born and raised in Mexico. She's the author of novels Mexican Gothic, Gods of Jade and Shadow, Signal to Noise, Certain Dark Things and The Beautiful Ones. She has previously won the Goodreads Readers Choice Award, the Copper Cylinder Award and Aurora Award.
Swimming Back to Trout River by Linda Rui Feng
In Swimming Back to Trout River, Junie is a 10-year-old living in a village in China with her grandparents. Her parents left for America several years before. Her father has written her a letter saying that he will come back to get her before she turns 12. But Junie doesn't want to go and she doesn't know how much her parents have changed. They have broken up, and are dealing with trauma from their past. But Junie's father is determined to make things right, and make sure Junie's future is brighter than his ever was.
Swimming Back to Trout River was on the 2021 Scotiabank Giller Prize longlist.
Linda Rui Feng is an academic and writer, who is currently a professor of Chinese cultural history at the University of Toronto. Swimming Back to Trout River is her first novel.
The Book of Form and Emptiness by Ruth Ozeki
The Book of Form and Emptiness is about a young boy dealing with the aftermath of his father's death. A year after his musician father dies, 13-year-old Benny Oh begins to hear voices in the random household objects around him. Some are pleasant, while others are angry and full of pain. When his mother starts hoarding things, the voices grow more intense. To keep the voices from following him everywhere, he seeks refuge in a public library, where objects are well-behaved. Oh meets mesmerizing new faces, and he discovers his own book, who narrates his life and teaches him to listen to the things that truly matter.
Ruth Ozeki is a novelist, filmmaker and Zen Buddhist priest. She is the author of My Year of Meats, All Over Creation and A Tale for the Time Being, which was shortlisted for the 2013 Booker Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction. Ozeki teaches creative writing at Smith College.
Ghost Forest by Pik-Shuen Fung
The unnamed protagonist of Ghost Forest struggles to process the death of her father, in the face of her family's silence. Her father was one of Hong Kong's "astronaut fathers," a man who worked in Hong Kong while his family started a new life in Vancouver.
Pik-Shuen Fung is a Canadian novelist based in New York City. Ghost Forest is her debut book.
The Snow Line by Tessa McWatt
In the novel The Snow Line, a wedding in India brings four unlikely people together: a yoga instructor named Yosh, a cousin of the bride named Monica, a childhood friend of the bride named Reema and an elderly guest named Jackson, who has brought his wife's ashes with him. As the wedding festivities unfold, the characters come together in unexpected and moving ways. They end up travelling together to scatter the ashes, complicating the dynamics and revealing even more secrets.
Tessa McWatt's novel The Snow Line captures how the 2008 financial crisis forever changed who we are
Tessa McWatt is the author of several works of fiction. Her novels include Dragons Cry, Vital Signs and Higher Ed. She is also the co-editor of the anthology Luminous Ink: Writers on Writing in Canada and is the author of the memoir Shame on Me.
State of Terror by Louise Penny & Hillary Rodham Clinton
State of Terror is a thriller co-written by Canadian writer Louise Penny and former U.S. secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton. The president of a newly sworn in administration has chosen Ellen Adams, a political enemy, as his secretary of state, effectively silenced one of his harshest critics. As the new president addresses Congress for the first time, with the secretary in attendance, a young foreign service officer receives a baffling text. The terrorist attacks that follows is revealed to involve the volatile politics of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran, the Russian mob and an American government weakened on the world stage. Now, it's up to Adams and her team to defeat it.
'This is a cautionary tale': Hillary Rodham Clinton & Louise Penny on writing an international thriller
Penny is the author of the bestselling series of Chief Inspector Armand Gamache novels. She's won numerous prestigious literary awards focused on mystery fiction. In 2017, she received the Order of Canada for her contributions to Canadian culture.
Clinton served as the 67th U.S. secretary of state and was the first woman in United States history to become the presidential nominee of a major political party. She has been in public service for nearly four decades advocating for children and families as an attorney, first lady and senator.
Astra by Cedar Bowers
Born and raised on a remote British Columbia commune, Astra Brine has long struggled to find her way in the world. As her path intersects with others over the years, she uncovers difficult truths about who they are and what they yearn for. Astra explores what we're willing to give and receive from others — and how well we ever really know the people we love the most. It reminds us of the profound impact that a woman can have on those around her and the power struggles at play in all our relationships.
- What would your life look like through the eyes of others? That's the question in Cedar Bowers' novel Astra
Bowers is a B.C.-based author. Her fiction has been published in Joyland and Taddle Creek. Astra is her first novel. Bowers divides her time between Victoria and Galiano Island.
The Push by Ashley Audrain
The Push is a thriller about a woman who is experiencing motherhood for the first time, but it's not like anything she expected — in fact, it's everything she was terrified it would be. When Blythe's first child, Violet, is born, she feels no connection to the baby — and Violet isn't anything like other babies. But Blythe's husband is convinced it's all in her head, and everything will be fine if she just relaxes. But what if he's wrong? And if he's right, what does that say about Blythe?
Ashley Audrain is a writer living in Toronto and the former publicity director of Penguin Canada. The Push is her first novel.
Accidentally Engaged by Farah Heron
In Accidentally Engaged, Reena Manji refuses to be attracted to the man her parents have set her up with — the charming and attractive Nadim. But when Reena gets the opportunity to enter a cooking competition, she will do anything to win — including pretending to be engaged to Nadim.
Farah Heron is a writer from Toronto. She is also the author of the romantic comedy The Chai Factor.
Em by Kim Thúy, translated by Sheila Fischman
Em follows the story of a young boy named Louis, the child of an American soldier, who takes care of an abandoned baby. Louis calls the baby em Hồng, em meaning "little sister" or "beloved." Although Louis lives on the streets of Saigon and holds the baby in a cardboard box, em Hồng's life opens a realm of possibilities. The novel is inspired by historical events, including Operation Babylift, which evacuated thousands of orphans from Saigon in April 1975.
Em was on the 2021 Scotiabank Giller Prize longlist.
Born in Saigon, Kim Thúy left Vietnam in a boat at 10 years old and settled with her family in Quebec. Her other novels include Vi, Man and Ru. Ru won the Governor General's Literary Award for French-language fiction and was a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize in 2002. It also won Canada Reads 2015, when it was championed by Cameron Bailey. Her books have been translated into 29 languages and are available in 40 countries and territories.
The Apollo Murders by Chris Hadfield
The Apollo Murders is a thriller about the Cold War and the space race between Russia and America. Three astronauts aboard Apollo 18 are miles away from home, on a top-secret mission to the Moon. As political stakes are stretched thin, Houston flight controller Kazimieras Zemeckis must do everything to keep the NASA crew together, while staying ahead of the Soviets. But not everyone on Apollo 18 is who they seem.
Chris Hadfield is one of the most accomplished astronauts in the world, serving as NASA's director of operations in Russia and commander of the international space station. He gained worldwide acclaim for his photographs and educational videos about life in space. His other books include An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth, You Are Here and the picture book The Darkest Dark.
The Octopus Has Three Hearts by Rachel Rose
From a goat farmer to a suburban adulterer, a violent child to a polyamorous marine biologist, the diverse characters in Rachel Rose's The Octopus Has Three Hearts have little in common except a life-sustaining connection to the animal world. The octopus, dogs, pigs, chameleons, bats, parrots, rats and sugar gliders in their lives extend a measure of compassion and solace that their human communities lack.
The Octopus Has Three Hearts was longlisted for the 2021 Scotiabank Giller Prize.
- Rachel Rose grapples with redemption and forgiveness in short story collection The Octopus Has Three Hearts
Rose is the author of four poetry collections and a memoir called The Dog Lover Unit. She is the poet laureate emerita of Vancouver and a poetry editor at Cascadia Magaz.
What Storm, What Thunder by Myriam J.A. Chancy
What Storm, What Thunder is a novel that delves into the lives of characters affected by the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. As markets and businesses begin to close down after a long, sweltering day, an earthquake of 7.0 magnitude hits the capital of Haiti, Port-au-Prince. Survivors and victims of the tragedy share their stories of heartbreak, trauma and resilience.
Myriam J.A. Chancy is the author of four novels and four books of literary criticism. Her novel The Loneliness of Angels won the Guyana Prize for Literature Caribbean Award in 2011 and was shortlisted for the 2011 OCM Bocas Prize in Carribbean Literature for fiction. Chancy was raised in Haiti and Canada and now resides in the U.S.
Dark Roads by Chevy Stevens
Dark Roads is a thriller novel by Canadian author Chevy Stevens. Set in the wilds of British Columbia, Dark Roads is about a an isolated and vast stretch of road called the Cold Creek Highway which has earned a reputation for crime and malicious activity. A killer has silently gone undetected for years — but tragic events involving protagonists Hailey and Beth take them on a journal of survival and vengeance.
Stevens is the author of eight novels, which combine her interest in family dynamics with her love of her home on Vancouver Island. Her books include the novels Still Missing and Never Let You Go.
Sufferance by Thomas King
Sufferance is about Jeremiah Camp, a man who can look into the "heart of humanity" and see what's really causing society's biggest problems. But when he's seen one too many problems, he decides to go into hiding. But he can't escape his past — he once made a list of 12 billionaires for a past job. When the men on this list start dying, one by one, people want to know why.
King is a Canadian American writer of Cherokee and Greek ancestry. He delivered the 2003 Massey Lectures, The Truth about Stories. His other books include Green Grass, Running Water, Truth & Bright Water, The Inconvenient Indian and The Back of the Turtle. He also writes the DreadfulWater mystery series. Green Grass, Running Water was defended by Glen Murray on Canada Reads 2004 and The Inconvenient Indian was defended by Craig Kielburger on Canada Reads 2015.
August into Winter by Guy Vanderhaeghe
The first novel in nearly a decade from Guy Vanderhaeghe, August into Winter takes place in 1939 in a world right before a global war. After Constable Hotchkiss confronts the spoiled, narcissistic Ernie Sickert about the disturbing pranks in their small Prairie town, Ernie commits an act of unspeakable violence. What follows is a course of events that will change many lives forever.
August into Winter was on the shortlist for the 2021 Atwood Gibson Writers' Trust Fiction Prize.
A sordid crime in Guy Vanderhaeghe's hometown inspired August into Winter — his first novel in nine years
Vanderhaeghe is a novelist, short story writer and playwright. His debut short story collection, Man Descending, published in 1982, earned him the Governor General's Literary Award for fiction and later Faber Prize in Britain. He would go on to win two more Governor General's Literary Awards: in 1996, for the novel The Englishman's Boy, and in 2015, for the short story collection Daddy Lenin and Other Stories.