Celebrate Canadian authors. Featuring titles from the 2023 Scotiabank Giller Prize longlist.
All the colour in the world : a novel
Richardson, C. S., author.
Born in 1916, Henry, thin-as-sticks and nearsighted, is an obsessive doodler who shamelessly copies illustrations from his Boys Own magazines. Left in the care of a nurturing, no-nonsense, Shakespeare-quoting, cardsharp grandmother, Henry receives as a gift a pristine set of Faber-Castell colouring pencils (and a pocket knife for the sharpening). He immediately commits each colour to memory--cadmium yellow; light ultramarine; burst ochre; deep scarlet red--and a passion for colour, art, and stories and techniques of the great artists is lit. It will sustain him, and obsess him, on his life's journey through the joys and sorrows of the twentieth century: from a boyhood spent dreaming of adventure, to the hothouse world of artistic academia, a first love cut short by tragedy, the brutality and lingering wounds of World War II, and, in the final chapters of life, the grace of unexpected love.
Away from the dead
Bergen, David, 1957-, author
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. Bergen takes readers 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.
Birnam Wood : a novel
Catton, Eleanor, 1985- author
Birnam Wood is on the move... A landslide has closed the Korowai Pass on New Zealand's South Island, cutting off the town of Thorndike and leaving a sizable farm abandoned. The disaster has created an opportunity for Birnam Wood, an unregulated, sometimes-criminal, sometimes-philanthropic guerrilla gardening collective that plants crops wherever no one will notice. For years, the group has struggled to break even. Then Mira, Birnam Wood's founder, stumbles on an answer: occupying the farm at Thorndike would mean a shot at solvency at last. But Mira is not the only one interested in Thorndike. The enigmatic American billionaire Robert Lemoine has snatched it up to build his end-times bunker, or so he tells Mira when he catches her on the property. Intrigued by Mira and Birnam Wood, he makes them an offer that would set them up for the long term. But can they trust him? And, as their ideals and ideologies are tested, can they trust one another?
The double life of Benson Yu : a novel
Chong, Kevin, author
A unique work of metafiction follows Benson Yu, a writer, who loses control of his own narrative when he attempts to write the story of his fraught upbringing in 1980s Chinatown.
Girlfriend on Mars : a novel
Willis, Deborah (Deborah M.), author
Kevin, a hydroponic marijuana grower in Vancouver, watches his girlfriend of fourteen years participate in MarsNow, a reality TV show where a collection of science nerds and wannabe influencers compete for two seats on the first human-led mission to Mars.
The rooftop garden
Raman-Wilms, Menaka, author
"The Rooftop Garden is a novel about Nabila, a researcher who studies seaweed in warming oceans, and her childhood friend Matthew. Now both in their twenties, Matthew has disappeared from his Toronto home, and Nabila travels to Berlin to find him and try to bring him back. The story is interspersed with scenes from their childhood, when Nabila, obsessed with how the climate crisis will cause oceans to rise, created an elaborate imaginary world where much of the land has flooded. She and Matthew would play their game on her rooftop garden, the only oasis in an abandoned city being claimed by water. Their childhood experiences reveal how their lives are on different trajectories, even at an early stage: Nabila comes from an educated, middle-class family, while Matthew had been abandoned by his father and was often left to deal with things on his own. As an adult, Matthew's dissatisfaction with life leads him to join a group of young men who are angry at society. He eventually finds himself on a violent suicide mission, but Nabila isn't aware of the extent of his radicalization until they finally meet on a street in Berlin."
Study for obedience
Bernstein, Sarah (Literature teacher), author
A young woman moves from the place of her birth to the remote northern country of her forebears to be housekeeper to her brother, whose wife has recently left him. Soon after her arrival, a series of inexplicable events occurs - collective bovine hysteria; the demise of a ewe and her nearly born lamb; a local dog's phantom pregnancy; a potato blight. She notices that the local suspicion about incomers in general seems to be directed with some intensity at her and she senses a mounting threat that lies 'just beyond the garden gate.' And as she feels the hostility growing, pressing at the edges of her brother's property, she fears that, should the rumblings in the town gather themselves into a more defined shape, who knows what might happen, what one might be capable of doing. With a sharp, lyrical voice, Sarah Bernstein powerfully explores questions of complicity and power, displacement and inheritance. Study for Obedience is a finely tuned, unsettling novel that confirms Bernstein as one of the most exciting voices of her generation.
We have never lived on Earth : stories
Van Schaik, Kasia, author
Love in the age of microplastics.' Kasia Van Schaik's debut story collection follows the journey of Charlotte Ferrier, a child of divorce raised by a single mother in a small town in British Columbia after moving from South Africa. The stories traverse the most intimate, violent, and transforming moments of female experience in a world threatened by ecological crisis. Charlotte navigates relationships--with lovers, parents, friends, and environments--as they form and fray. Mother and daughter wait out the end of a bad year in a Mexican hotel; a friendship is tested as forest fires demolish Charlotte's town; a childhood friend disappears while travelling through Europe; and a girl on the beach examines the memories of dying jellyfish. Each story asks: how do we find connection in a world shaped by isolation? How do we accept the new? Written in startling, poetic prose, We Have Never Lived On Earth captures the feelings and experiences of being a woman: physical and psychological threat, creativity, disappointment, objectification, and desire. Calling to mind Alice Munro's precocious Del Jordan and Rachel Cusk's Faye, these powerful portraits of female interiority balance nostalgia, fear, and hope for the future as they tell of the struggle to understand what it means to live on earth.