Quill and Quire

Books of the Year

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Books of the year 2013: Review editor Steven W. Beattie makes his picks

For CanLit aficionados, 2013 has been an embarrassment of riches. Major new works from Margaret Atwood, Joseph Boyden, Colin McAdam, Wayne Johnston, Douglas Coupland, Lynn Coady, Lisa Moore, Michael Winter, and Eleanor Catton abutted strong new titles from the likes of Craig Davidson, Elizabeth Ruth, Nicole Lundrigan, Shaena Lambert, Elizabeth Bachinsky, Michael Crummey, Sara Peters, Kelli Deeth, Andrew F. Sullivan, and Douglas Glover. A reader could suffer whiplash bouncing from one book to the next.

Alice Munro won the Nobel and Lynn Coady took the Giller, signalling (hopefully) a renewed interest in the Canadian short story. Elsewhere, maximalism was back in a big way (see what I did there?). In addition to Catton’s 850-page sophomore novel, The Luminaries (the longest novel ever to nab the coveted Man Booker Prize), there were hefty entries from Kenneth Bonert (whose debut, The Lion Seeker, was one of the most overlooked novels of the year, its GG nomination notwithstanding) and Norm Sibum (whose decidedly ambitious monolith, The Traymore Rooms, was iconoclastic and absorbing, if not altogether successful).

Narrowing down my favourites to a clutch of five was extraordinarily difficult, and the books on this list could easily have been substituted for any number of those alluded to above. Once again, I haven’t read everything published this year, so this is not a list of best books, but a highly personal selection of five titles that made an impact on me as a reader over the past 12 months.