Homegrown: Locally Produced Reads (September 26)

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 a Giller-nominated novel, an arresting poetry collection that takes on the carceral system, and the follow-up to a bestselling YA Indigenous book: read on to discover them all!

Locally Produced Reads: Homegrown


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Away from the Dead by David Bergen (Goose Lane Editions)

Literary Fiction

Why it’s on our list: The phrase “history is doomed to repeat itself” is never far from our minds these days, and David Bergen’s beautifully-crafted thirteenth novel Away from the Dead lends itself well to the old adage. The book follows three Ukrainian characters and how their lives and desires intersect against the violent backdrop of the 20th Century Bolshevik revolution. Also repeating itself: Bergen’s Giller longlist nomination for the book, after winning for The Time In Between in 2005.

Away from the Dead comes from storied publisher Goose Lane Editions, who have been releasing bestselling, award-winning, and critically-acclaimed books from Fredericton, New Brunswick since 1954. In addition to their well-known fiction, nonfiction, and Icehouse Poetry offerings, Goose Lane publishes beautiful art books in partnership with some of Canada’s best-known galleries.

Click here for more about Away from the Dead + purchasing options.

Children of Tomorrow by J.R. Burgmann (Great Plains Press)

Climate Fiction

Why it’s on our list: “Cli fi” or climate fiction has seen a huge surge in popularity. And understandably so: it’s been the hottest year on record, with damaging wildfires and storms occuring around most of the planet as the unfortunate side-effects of climate change. J.R. Burgmann’s novel Children of Tomorrow starts in a familiar time and place – Tasmania, Australia, in 2016 – and spans multiple generations as it hurtles towards a future that is horrifying: both in its grim reality and its increasing likelihood of taking place, unless we change course.

Great Plains Press is an independent publisher based in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and committed to bringing to market the very best books from the Prairies – a region with an abundance of quality writers. They also publish fiction from authors across the country and around the world in their imprints Enfield & Wizenty and Yellow Dog.

Click here for more about Children of Tomorrow + purchasing options.

Sonnets from a Cell by Bradley Peters (Brick Books)


Why it’s on our list: As more and more people wake up to the reality that the carceral system harms many, and helps few, Bradley Peters’ debut collection Sonnets from a Cell provides an introspective look at life behind bars. While chronicling his own incarceration and meditating on the system as a whole, Peters employs prison and skatepark slang in this wholly original condemnation of carceral culture in North America.

As one of the few poetry-only publishers in the world and a long-venerated member of Canada’s publishing industry, Brick Books is a hub and a home for poets and lovers of poetry. Their guiding goal is to listen to and amplify urgent voices in poetry, and to do so with kindness and rigour. They commit to each book by pouring all of their resources into it because poetry is their thing — not a side project to other genres — but the genre of import.

Click here for more about Sonnets from a Cell + purchasing options.

Fordmates by Ivo Moravec (Porcupine’s Quill)

Short Stories

Why it’s on our list: In addition to being an economic analyst and literary writer, Ivo Moravec spent 21 years on the assembly line at the St. Thomas Ford plant. His short story collection Fordmates captures not just the day-to-day intricacies of life on the line, but the deep and shared humanity of the workers who build the things we all use. Moravec shows, through humorous – and sometimes tragic – episodes in his characters’ lives, how tedium can be overcome by creativity, and how life happens outside of work.

Founded in 1974, The Porcupine’s Quill’s mandate has always been to publish contemporary Canadian literature. They are dedicated to discovering talented new writers and to reprinting exceptional Canadian literature from the past. They publish ten to twelve titles annually, ranging from fiction, to poetry, to literary criticism, and art. The Porcupine’s Quill is one of only a few Canadian presses that completes most of its production in-house, and their books have won many awards for their beauty and quality.

Click here for more about Fordmates + purchasing options.

Suliewey by Saqamaw Mi’sel Joe and Sheila O’Neill

(Breakwater Books)

YA Fiction

Why it’s on our list: On the heels of their 2021 book, the multi-award winning My Indian, Suliewey is a sequel revisiting the story of Sylvester Joe, a Mi’kmaw guide to explorer William Cormack. Sylvester’s traditional name was Suliewey, and this YA novel based on true events imagines his life after parting ways with Cormack, where he searches for the remaining Beothuk people. Suliewey is an important piece of literature that recasts relations between Mi’kmaw and Beothuk peoples as friendly – settler accounts incorrectly made them out to be enemies. With Suliewey, Mi’kmaw writers Mi’sel Joe and Sheila O’Neill continue their important work in educating and entertaining young readers with well-researched Indigenous stories.

Publisher Breakwater Books was founded in 1973 to showcase the high quality writing and storytelling that exists in Newfoundland and Labrador. Since their founding, their focus has broadened to include outstanding authors from across Canada, publishing high quality literature in all genres — literary and commercial fiction, non-fiction, plays, poetry, and children’s books, as well as educational curricula — while continuing to promote culturally significant backlist titles.

Click here for more about Suliewey + purchasing options.

The Heathens and the Dragon by Kate Boorman

(Thistledown Press)

Middle-Grade Fiction

Why it’s on our list: Already an award-winning author for adults, Kate Boorman tries her hand – and succeeds – at middle-grade historical fiction with The Heathens and the Dragon: A 13th Century Adventure. The story follows orphaned siblings and the troubadour they meet while fleeing religious persecution, and the magic act they create to earn money, food, and lodgings. Older sister Elodie anchors the book with her torn position between protecting her younger brother and honouring the pagan beliefs her mother imparted before her death. Publisher’s Weekly called the book “a densely layered and immaculately paced escapade.”

Thistledown Press is a literary book publisher located in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Established in 1975, it has built its reputation on its commitment to quality and its willingness to embrace books as cultural artifacts in both content and form. Thistledown publishes poetry and fiction for adults and young adults to a national and international audience.

Click here for more about The Heathens and the Dragon + 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).

Click here for more Homegrown picks.