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Browse a selection of groundbreaking, notable fiction from Canadian independent literary publishers.
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Award recognition for book one of the Cupids trilogy, A Roll of the Bones
***CANADA BOOK AWARD WINNER***
***SILVER, THE MIRAMICHI READER‘S THE VERY BEST! COVER ART/DESIGN AWARD***
This dramatic conclusion to a trilogy foregrounds the experiences of women settlers in North America as they grapple with notions of homeland, colonization, and sense of belonging.
A Company of Rogues completes the Cupids trilogy, moving the action back to the New Found Land seven years after John Guy’s colonists first settled Cupids Cove. After their wanderings across the ocean, Ned and Nancy are united—but will the shores of New Found Land provide a permanent home? Kathryn and Nicholas Guy join the effort to found a second colony at Bristol’s Hope, but their work is threatened by a shadowy enemy who holds a dangerous power over Kathryn. And a newcomer to the colony, the Wampanoag traveller Tisquantum, settles among the English colonists, challenging their beliefs about the New World they have come to settle and the people who call it home.
In 2219 CE Luoyang, a city patched together after the Great Catastrophe, the half-human, half-fox spirit Yinhe moves through her most recent incarnation. The city is watched over by No. 1, an artificial intelligence housed in a giant brain created by the scientists of Central Government, which entertains and monitors all the inhabitants of the city, both human and chimerical. But No. 1 is starting to behave erratically and the power of the Spirit Supreme Assembly, with its demand for pure bloodlines, is growing. Yinhe is summoned to the Dream Zone, where the chimerical creatures formed by the scientists are contained to do the most dangerous jobs of the city. There Yinhe is given information that will give her the chance to create great change in the city, to stave off an ancient enemy and, perhaps, to reunite with her soulmate, lost many lives before.
Weaving a silken web of Chinese myth, speculative fiction and storytelling Lydia Kwa has brilliantly realized a future where questions of sentience, of personhood and of the truth of dreams wrap around a timeless quest for freedom and for love.
Winner of the Crime Writers of Canada Best Crime Novel Set in Canada 2023-It is the summer of 1971 and Liz takes care of her four sisters while waiting to meet the fifth Murphy child: a boy. And yet, something is not right. Adults tensely whisper in small groups, heads shaking. Her younger sister, Rose seems more annoying, always flashing her camera and jotting notes in her her notepad. The truth is worse than anyone could imagine: an entire family slaughtered in their home nearby, even the children. The small rural community reels in the aftermath. No one seems to know who did it or why. For Liz, these events complicate her already tiring life. Keeping Rose in line already feels like a full time job, and if Rose gets it in her head that she can solve a murder… The killer must be someone just passing through, a random horror. It almost begs the question: where do murderers live?
Winner of the 2021 Alberta Literary Awards’ George Bugnet Award for Fiction
Winner of the 2021 Indie Author Project Award for Alberta
Shortlisted for the 2021 ReLit Award for Fiction
A Casual Optimist Book Cover of Note
An exciting debut novel told in connected short stories that captures the diverse and complicated networks of people who stretch our communities—sometimes farther than we know.
Set in the cities, reserves, and rural reaches of Alberta, Katie Bickell’s debut novel is told in a series of stories that span the years from 1990 to 2016, through cycles of boom and bust in the oil fields, government budget cuts and workers rights policies, the rising opioid crisis, and the intersecting lives of people whose communities sometimes stretch farther than they know.
We meet a teenage runaway who goes into labour at the West Edmonton Mall, a doctor managing hospital overflow in a time of healthcare cutbacks, a broke dad making extra pay through a phone sex line, a young musician who dreams of fame beyond the reserve, and a dedicated hockey mom grappling with sense of self when she’s no longer needed—or welcome—at the rink.
Always Brave, Sometimes Kind captures a network of friends, caregivers, in-laws, and near misses, with each character’s life coming into greater focus as we learn more about the people around them. Tracing alliances and betrayals from different perspectives over decades, Bickell writes an ode to home and community that is both warm and gritty, well-defined and utterly complicated.
An Unruly Little Animal unfolds on the most stressful of February days for young worrier Darby Tamm. In the morning, the fifth grader must deliver a pair-presentation with classmate Jennie Phelps-Christianson, and in the afternoon, he must endure a class visit and career-talk on mechanical engineering from his recently estranged father. Additionally, other stressors complicate his day: a) Darby’s original fifth grade teacher Mr. Henderson, who had a car-accident-of-unknown-origins back in November, has died that night before, b) the class’s substitute teacher Monsieur Substitute has been having an affair with his classmate Jennie’s mother Vice Principal Phelps-Christianson, a secret Darby shares with former-friends-turned-dangers Alexander and Them and a secret he must hide from Jennie, and c) throughout the day, Alexander and Them threaten to beat the snot-stuffing-piss-puke out of him and threaten to expose the fact that Darby has stolen from his father’s collection of vintage pornography magazines. The complications confounding Darby intensify throughout his day, culminate in a classroom scuffle, and result in a better understanding of his mom, mechanical engineering, sex, and violence.
Comic, circadian, and literary, the novel’s structure alternates between chapter and composition sections: single-day chapters that trace the increasing complications of Darby’s day are interspersed with composition sections that reflect and riff on Darby’s worried state of mind. Taken altogether, An Unruly Little Animal offers readers a poignant and humorous coming-of-age story.
Caroline is seven years old when her family flees Pinochet’s regime, leaving Chile for Montreal on Christmas Eve, 1986. She fears Santa won’t find them on the plane but wakes to find a new doll at her side, her mother preserving the holiday even amidst persecution and turmoil. This symbol of care is repeated throughout their relocation as her parents work tirelessly to provide the family with a new vision of the future.
Once in Canada, Caroline accompanies her parents as they clean banks at night. She experiences racist microaggressions at school, discovers Québécois popular culture, and explores her love of reading and writing in French. Slowly, the Andean peaks disappear from Caroline’s drawings and a fracture between her parents’ identity and her own begins to grow.
This expansive coming-of-age autobiographical novel probes the plurality of identity, elucidating the interwoven complexities of immigrating to a new country. As the Andes Disappeared tenderly reflects the journey of millions and is a beautiful ode to family commitment and the importance of home—however layered that may be.
Longlisted, Scotiabank Giller Prize
Violence is the domain of both the rich and poor. Or so it seems in early 20th-century Ukraine during the tumult of the Russian Revolution.
As anarchists, Bolsheviks, and the White Army all come and go, each claiming freedom and justice, David Bergen embeds his readers into the lives of characters connected through love, family, and loyalty. Lehn, a bookseller south of Kiev, deserts the army and writes poetry to his love back home; Sablin, an adopted Mennonite-Ukrainian stableboy, runs with the anarchists only to discover that love and the planting of crops is preferable to killing; Inna, a beautiful young peasant, tries to stop a Mennonite landowner from stealing her child. In a world of violence, Sablin, Lehn, and Inna learn to love and hate and love again, hoping, against all odds, that one can turn away from the dead.
In this beautifully crafted novel, David Bergen takes us to a place where chaos reigns, where answers come from everywhere and nowhere, and where both the beauty and horror of humanity are on full display.
How much grief is too much? How far should we go to avoid pain? From the author of the international bestselling novel Agatha comes a literary medical thriller about grief, love, science, and societal norms.
A Danish university research group is finishing its study of a new medicine, Callocain: the world’s first pill for grief. But psychology professor Thorsten Gjeldsted suspects that someone has manipulated the numbers to hide a disturbing side effect. When no one believes him, he teams up with two young students to investigate: Anna, who has recently experienced traumatic grief herself, and Shadi, whose statistical skills might prevent her from living a quiet life in the shadows. Together, these sleuthing academics try to discover what’s really happening before the drug is released to the entire population.
Blue Notes is brimming with ethical and existential ideas about the search for identity and one’s place in the world, while offering a highly original literary adventure that ultimately underscores the healing power of love.
“Articulate, riveting, deftly crafted, and thought-provoking, Children of Tomorrow is especially and unreservedly recommended for both community and college/university library fiction collections.” – Midwest Book Review
Children of Tomorrow
is a history of family and friendship that spans generations and geographies over a century of escalating climate change.
In 2016, Arne Bakker is working on a reforestation project in Tasmania shortly before bushfires sweep across the ancient wilderness. Elsewhere, London-born freedriver Evie Weatherall witnesses extreme climate events in her travels. Arne’s close friend and Evie’s Canadian cousin Wally, influencer, journalist, and musician, also sees a dangerous future forming. Meanwhile, Arne’s brother Freddie, “a shredded poster boy for global environmental activism,” is mobilizing his followers. When their paths collide, the group is set on course to witness and struggle together against the coming century.
Decades later, a new generation is living with the havoc wreaked by their parents and grandparents and they too must find ways to find hope for the future in an increasingly difficult present.
“Luminous, thoughtful, unflinching – there’s a breathless relentlessness to the increasing carbon dioxide numbers that kept me flipping pages as if it were a thriller. But even as it portrays the disasters and collapses, it also portrays what’s best about humanity: our capacity to hope, love, change, and forgive. A stunning and necessary addition to the existing oeuvre of climate change fiction.” – Premee Mohamed, The Annual Migration of Clouds
The first book in the Shanghai Quartet – City Rising – starts on the Hua Shan (the Holy Mountain) 250 years before Christ where the FIRST EMPEROR the most powerful man the world to that time had ever known bequeaths a talisman to his three trusted followers: the BodyGuard, his favorite Courtesan and his Head Confucian – a narwhal tusk with carvings depicting the growth for the next 2500 years of a city at the Bend in the River – Shanghai. The warning from the First Emperor before he commits suicide is to watch for the White Ships on Water – and so the progeny of the three who are entrusted with the Tusk do – and then – in 1841 – they arrive. British Men of War ships – and Opium.
City Rising tells the story of two destitute Baghdadi boys who become opium lords – and the battles against the powerful British Opium companies – and the boys’ eventual love of the City at the Bend in the River – Shanghai.
When the time comes for humanity to be its own salvation, will we rise to the occasion? Or let greed and selfishness stand in our way?
Deep Sea Feline follows Charlie Potichny, a failing musical artist living in Toronto, when a mysterious creature from another world visits him in his deceased mother’s painting, gifting him with a song that will turn his life and musical career upside down. Charlie, not understanding the power and implications of the other world, upsets the delicate balance between ancient forces. Slowly, Toronto falls into chaos: the seasons go through drastic change, people are disappearing, and birds threaten to overtake the city.
To restore equilibrium and save their city, Charlie and a colourful cast of artists and musicians must uncover the mystery of Charlie’s mothers mysterious suicide at her Cabin in Algonquin park, face their darkest fears, stage an epic opera, and navigate the strange and wondrous realms of the ancient gods.
Patsy Keane survived her childhood, and some days that’s all that matters. As the child of an alcoholic mother, Patsy is not prone to nostalgia. She lives in a world of her own creation, where Beverly Keane’s maternal shortcomings are just a bad memory. It would be a perfect world if Patsy wasn’t eternally haunted by the memory of what really happened on the day her sister Kathleen went missing-and by the foolish lie she told that day. She’s lived with it for forty-two years.
Since that terrible time, Patsy has distanced herself from everyone and everything in her past. She is now a well-respected teacher in Calgary, the proud owner of a vintage home, and the occasional companion of a lovely man who seems content to keep their relationship casual. It’s a stable life-until a mysterious woman shows up at her door claiming to be Nora Stone, a childhood friend of Kathleen’s. Nora further claims to have information about Kathleen’s fate, facts she acquired in a manner that defies belief. As Patsy tries to figure out whether Nora is real, real but crazy, or something even more sinister, the rest of her carefully compartmentalized life begins to come apart, one well built piece at a time.
End Times is an astounding debut collection of stories about evangelical culture, ideological polarization, and the messiness and mysteries of humanity.
A Vancouver mother convinces her opioid-addicted son to attend church, and sparks her own personal emergency. A jet-setting consultant tries to help a rural fundamentalist teen, while her own secular life unravels in Toronto, Davos, and beyond. An atheist doctor attempts to expose a hipster megachurch pastor as a closeted hypocrite.
At a time when the end feels nigh for many, End Times brings together an expansive cast of the devout and the dissenting, the elderly and the young, immigrants, elites, the burned-out, and the lonely, exploring our hidden anxieties and longings.
You can’t win a race you’re kept from running.
Set amid the cubicles and courtyards of Toronto City Hall, Kimia Eslah’s third novel centres on three women of colour navigating labyrinths at work, in love and in life. Faiza Hosseini is a cutthroat executive with a proven record — she knows she’s enough, but can she circumvent the old boys’ club? Sameera Jahani is passionate about equity but her girlfriend isn’t — can she bridge this gap, or has she had enough? Goldie Sheer has triumphantly landed her first job, but unexpected work drama makes her question — is she really enough? With grace and insight, Eslah bares three women’s experiences of structural discrimination, from microagressions to corruption.
Enough is an empathetic missive to anyone working on equity, diversity and inclusion — in cubicles, courtyards and countless other spaces.
***2023 IPPY AWARDS: CANADA EAST FICTION – BRONZE MEDAL***
***2022 FOREWORD INDIES BOOK AWARD – FINALIST***
Steinbeck meets Miriam Toews in this insightful and illuminating debut about the decline of rural Canada and the meaning of community.
Welcome to Fearnoch, an undistinguished Ottawa Valley farming hamlet in its twilight. The deterioration of the once fruitful way of life in this small town is explored through the lives and trajectories of its inhabitants. The narration winds into and over the characters to sow differing viewpoints on the death of the family farm, incarcerated youths, falling in love at the town dump, and the coming storm. The novel is a plea for its characters to remember humility, honesty, and to see themselves in their neighbour, before it’s all gone.
In this genre-bending debut collection merging horror, fairy tales, pop culture, and sci-fi, women challenge the boundaries placed on their bodies while living in a world “among animals,” where violence is intertwined with bizarre ecological disruptions.
A sentient sex robot goes against her programming; a grad student living with depression is weighed down by an ever-present albatross; an unhappy wife turns into a spider; a boy with a dark secret is haunted by dolls; a couple bound for a colony on Mars take a road trip through Texas; a girl fights to save her sister from growing a mermaid tail like their absent mother.
Magical yet human, haunted and haunting, these stories act as a surreal documentation of the mistakes in systems of the past that remain very much in the present. Ferrante investigates toxic masculinity and the devastation it enacts upon women and our planet, delving into the universal undercurrent of ecological anxiety in the face of such toxicity, and the personal experience of being a new mother concerned about the future her child will face.
Through these confrontations of the complexity of living in a woman’s body, Her Body Among Animals moves us from hopelessness to a future of resilience and possibility.