Homegrown: Locally Produced Reads (September 21)

We’ve picked some of the highlights and best of the fall season and recently released with weekly batches of fresh new books. Equally stoked to spotlight some of the Canadian indie publishers we know and love—all with their own unique identities—we’ve chosen one exciting book each from over 40 indies.

Today’s picks include literary thrillers, fiction, poetry, and a queer YA romance. Read on for more and peek authors showing off their books in their local communities!

Locally Produced Reads: Homegrown


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Uncontrolled Flight by Frances Peck (NeWest Press)

Fiction / thriller

Why it’s on our list: Frances Peck is one of those authors who can make a terrifying scenario so enjoyable to read. Just like in her debut novel The Broken Places (also published by NeWest Press), she masterfully creates a cast of characters brought together by a tragedy. After an experienced firefighting pilot loses control and plummets to his death during a routine drop, three people’s lives come into focus as they’re drawn into an intricate, emotional ride. Beautifully paced and intensely readable, this is a literary page-turner you won’t want to put down.

A five-time recipient of Publisher of the Year at the Alberta Book Publishing Awards, NeWest Press publishes literary fiction and non-fiction, poetry, and drama with a particular interest in books by Western Canadian authors. This is the press for readers of both literary works and genre books (they have a line of very good mystery novels!) who appreciate rad covers.


Click here for more about Uncontrolled Flight + purchasing options.

Ari and the Barley Queen by Pan Bouyoucas,

translated by Sheila Fischman (Guernica Editions)


Why it’s on our list: Montreal writer Pan Bouyoucas’s latest novel Ari and the Barley Queen sounds intriguing in both concept and character. The titular character Ari is straight out of a traditional folk tale in present day. His mother is immoral, his father is faint-hearted, and he’s getting a glimpse of how his life might turn out. If that sounds mysterious, it’s because it is. Translated by award-winning translator Sheila Fischman, Ari and the Barley Queen is high on our list this season.

With a small, but mighty staff, Guernica Editions publishes dozens of books every season from fiction, to poetry, to literary and cultural essays. This is the press for readers with diverse tastes.

Click here for more about Ari and the Barley Queen + purchasing options. 

In the Country in the Dark by Daryl Sneath (Signature Editions)

Fiction / thriller

Why it’s on our list: In the vein of Iain Reid’s I’m Thinking of Ending Things and set in a remote, idyllic property called The Hart Farm, Daryl Sneath’s new psychological thriller explores secrets, obsessions, love, and the tension between seclusion and companionship. After a new couple buys a farmhouse in a secluded location, they begin to uncover things about themselves and each other, and about the house they now call home. This is a literary page-turner that will keep you intrigued to the end.

Located in Winnipeg, on Treaty 1 territory, Signature Editions publishes a mix of genres by all kinds of writers, both established and emerging. Unabashedly literary, this is the press for readers with eclectic tastes—from fiction and non-fiction, to poetry and drama, to cozy cat mysteries, there’s something for every readerly appetite.

Click here for more about In the Country in the Dark + purchasing options.

North of Middle Island by D.A. Lockhart (Kegedonce Press)


Why it’s on our list: A new offering from D.A. Lockhart, North of Middle Island has a fascinating structure: the first half is a collection of poems about the landscape, history, and culture in and around Pelee Island where the author lives part time; and the second half is an epic poem inspired by the format and style of Beowulf. There are some really great pop culture references and some thoughtful poems that tie in Lenape culture and language. This one’s an interesting read, in the best way possible.

Based at Neyaashiinigmiing, on the traditional territory of the Chippewas of Nawash First Nation, Kegedonce Press has been crafting beautiful books that involve Indigenous Peoples at all levels of production since 1993. This is a press with a stellar list of award-winning and notable books by Indigenous writers, like Cherie Dimaline, Louise Bernice Halfe – Sky Dancer, and Richard Van Camp to name a few.

Click here for more about North of Middle Island + purchasing options.

Burning Sage by Meghan Fandrich (Caitlin Press)


Why it’s on our list: This is a deeply personal poetry collection from Meghan Fandrich who witnessed Lytton, BC burn to the ground in 2021. Miraculously her house, on the edge of the fire, was saved but her community and small business weren’t spared. Burning Sage is a collection of poems about the fire and trauma that followed it, about loneliness and single parenting after a disaster, and about building back and healing.

BC-publisher Caitlin Press is a fiercely independent press with a commitment to feminist books, LGBTQ+ authors, and works by and about BC women. This is the press for readers of culturally significant fiction, poetry, and non-fiction, and who especially value LGBTQ+ voices.  

Click here for more about Burning Sage + purchasing options.

Crushing It by Jen Desmarais (Renaissance Press)


Why it’s on our list: A queer YA romance, Crushing It is the first book in the Lucky in Love series by Ottawa-writer Jen Desmarais. High schoolers Tommy and Carter find chemistry isn’t just for the classroom when they both compete in an Ontario-wide STEM competition in Toronto. This is a fun book with teen romance, self-discovery, and plenty of hijinks.

Founded in 2013, Renaissance Press publishes books that don’t fit neatly in a genre or demographic and uplifts marginalized voices. Self-described as panbibliophiles, this is the press for readers of speculative fiction, mysteries, and off-kilter reads that cross genres and are always unique.

Click here to read more about Crushing It + purchasing options.

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Join us here every Tuesday and Thursday until October 12 for a roundup of fresh new books. Books can be purchased on All Lit Up (with free shipping Canada-wide), or from your local indie bookstore (try our Shop Local button located on every book listing to find copies at your local indie).

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