A Crash Course in Canadian Genre

August 23, 2022 by Tan Light

School's almost back in session, and even if you've left your studying days behind you, it can never hurt to get back to the books - genre books, that is. Our Tan Light teaches this crash course on genre using recommendations from across the ALU-niverse.

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The cover of Nic Brewer's Suture.

Whether you are looking for a creature feature or body horror, we've got books to creep you out. Books like Suture, by Nic Brewer (Book*hug). "Suture is a daring, visceral debut that examines the painful side of the creative process. Blending body horror with meditations on love, art, and forgiveness, this novel will startle and captivate you. " —Catriona Wright, author of Difficult People

See also: Sanskrit Vampires | Indigenous Monsters




The cover of Andre Alexis' Ring. A moebius-strip type ring stands huge in the centre of the cover, and reflected in one of its sides is a Black couple with their eyes closed, about to kiss.

In love with Love? We've got budding romance, like the one that blooms between Tancred and Gwen in Ring (Coach House Books). Complete with a long narrative poem about Aphrodite, Ring turns the literary romance upside down and shakes out its pockets as it meditates on the past, on magic, on honour, on faith, and yes, on love.

See also: Indigenous Love Poems | Lust in Translation




The cover of A.M. Todd's City of Sensors.

Got your eyes set on future horizons? Explore our possible future with thoughtful and eerily prophetic novels like, City of Sensors (Now or Never), which shines a light on a digital future rapidly becoming our reality: a city where everything is recorded--from the coffee you drink to your most intimate secrets. Data Detective Frank Southwood is down on his luck and saddled with a gambling addiction, pushing the limits of morality in a world in which justice can seem preordained.

See also: Graphic Shorts | Lost in Space



Paranormal Fiction

The cover of Kate Story's Urchin, which looks like a queen playing card, with a raven under the card-woman's arm.

Looking for a closed encounter with the dark? Check out books like Urchin (Running the Goat), a tale of Dor and her cursed family. The house her great-great grandfather built on the Southside of St. John's has never been at peace; the old people think it lies on a fairy path. No one believes them, until the "Little Strangers" kidnap her mother.

See also: Shapeshifters | The rise of an Elder in Hamilton




The cover of Tyler Enfield

We'll take you to new frontiers, with off-beat Westerns such as Like Rum-Drunk Angels (Goose Lane Editions), an offbeat, slightly magical, entirely original retelling of Aladdin as an American western that is at once a tribute to boyhood enthusiasm and the heroes of classical quests.

See also: A Queer Western | A Spaghetti Western



True Crime


Armchair investigators can dig cases from across Canada, like The Castleton Massacre (Dundurn Press). Through extensive oral histories, Cook and Carson painstakingly trace the causes of one bloody evening in which four women - two of them pregnant - were murdered.

See also: Ontario's .22 Calibre Killer | BC's Lower East Side




The bright yellow book cover of The Best of the Bonnet: featuring an illustration of a mennonite woman wearing a bonnet in profile.

Teasing out the humour of life in Canada, we've got the books that will have you laughing and leave you thinking. Like  The Best of the Bonnet (Turnstone Press), which brings together some of the funniest, most loved posts from The Daily Bonnet. "fantastic" and "hilarious", says Miriam Toews.

See also: Mischief Among the Metis | A Quest for the 21st Century



Cozy Mystery

The cover of Catherine Macdonald's So Many Windings.

Grab your tea and blankets and settle in with one a great caper like So Many Windings (At Bay). In it, reluctant amateur detective, Reverend Charles Lauchlan departs the prairie city of Winnipeg and travels abroad to Scotland with his fiancé Maggie on a bicycle tour of the highlands... only to find a body.

See also: This cozy cat mystery series | A cottage country murder



Travel Writing

The cover of A Gelato a Day. It's bright yellow and inviting, and has a tall ice cream cone with a pink scoop of ice cream on top.

Ready to hit the road or take to the skies again? Get inspired by books like A Gelato A Day (Guernica Editions), a collection of travel tales that highlights the good, the bad and the not-really-that-ugly of the family travel experience.

See also: More Family Trips | Travel as Tribute



Historical Fiction

The cover of Shola von Reinhold's LOTE.

Rooted in time and place, novels like LOTE (Metonymy Press) bring the past to life. Shola von Reinhold's lavish debut novel lays bare, through ornate, layered prose, the gaps and fault lines in the archive. Through obsessive research on an overlooked Black modernist poet, the narrator buckles under the vacuousness of the art world and also curates a queer historical scene, breaking it open and reveling in it.

See also: World War I in Southwestern Ontario | War in the Balkans



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