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Books of the Year

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2017 Books of the Year: award nominees share their picks

Some of this year’s Canadian award nominees share their favourite books of the year.

 

The Reconciliation Manifesto: Recovering the Land, Rebuilding the Economy
Arthur Manuel and Grand Chief Ronald Derrickson
Lorimer
Reconciliation is becoming a buzzword with little meaning, but the fight for Indigenous self-determination goes on. This may be the most important book on Indigenous self-determination ever written: concise, methodical, and accessible for all readers. –Carleigh Baker, Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize finalist for Bad Endings

 

Son of a Trickster
Eden Robinson
Knopf Canada
I chose Eden Robinson’s Son of a Trickster because (full disclosure) I love Eden as a human: her infectious laugh, her spirit, and her love of family, which I share. But back to the book. It has it all: tragedy, gore, humour, life, magic, and horror. All in a very accessible and readable story. I just loved it and I am so very glad to see it getting the recognition and accolades that it deserves. –Ivan Coyote, Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction finalist for Tomboy Survival Guide

 

Arrival: The Story of CanLit
Nick Mount
House of Anansi Press
Nick Mount’s Arrival is an exhaustive account of the development of what we (now sort of cringingly) call CanLit. Even from its very beginnings, literary production in Canada has always been strange, inventive, and trail-blazing. Canadian authors of all backgrounds and interests have been playing with what “CanLit” means from the very beginning, and the disparate energies that brought poets, novelists, playwrights, and short-story writers together in the 1960s has blown up into a era of CanLit, CouldLit, and WillLit. –Michael Redhill, Scotiabank Giller Prize winner for Bellevue Square

 

When We Were Alone
David A. Robertson; Julie Flett, ill.
Portage and Main Press
This gentle story is rare air. It speaks to the residential school legacy in the most tender-fierce way. There is alchemy and resistance and – buoying all – the magic of Julie Flett’s deeply soulful art. –Kyo Maclear, Weston prize finalist for Birds Art Life

 

The Lonely Hearts Hotel
Heather O’Neill
HarperCollins
Reading this novel is like watching a back handspring that turns into a twisting layout back flip. It’s about two kids who have a hard start in a Montreal orphanage, and O’Neill fills them with love, despair, and hope. The end is especially satisfying – she sticks the landing. –Claire Cameron, Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize finalist for The Last Neanderthal

 

The Marrow Thieves
Cherie Dimaline
Dancing Cat Books
Cherie Dimaline places Inuit, Métis, and First Nations people at the centre of a chilling dystopian narrative, one in which they are dreamers, survivors, and saviours, but also, cruelly, resources to be recruited, exploited, and harvested by those in power. –David Demchuk, Giller Prize longist for The Bone Mother

 

The Handover: How Bigwigs and Bureaucrats Transferred Canada’s Best Publisher and the Best Part of Our Literary Heritage to a Foreign Multinational
Elaine Dewar
Biblioasis
The revelations about how book publishing in Canada works, and its ties to government, shocked and dismayed me. I felt a good deal wiser by the time I finished this book. Elaine Dewar has the tenacity and belief in her work that takes her about as far as a writer can go in pursuing her specific interests. She writes in lucid, graceful prose. I am filled with admiration. –Sharon Butala, Governor General’s Literary Award for non-fiction finalist for Where I Live Now: A Journey through Love and Loss to Healing and Hope

 

This Accident of Being Lost
Leanne Betasamosake Simpson
House of Anansi Press
A beautiful fistfight of a book, honest and fearless and funny as hell. One of the most moving meditations I’ve read in years on the overwhelming fullness and emptiness of love. –Omar El Akkad, Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize finalist for American War

It’s funny, it pushes limits, it is escapist in short bursts and many of her passages leave me wanting more. –Tanya Talaga, Weston Prize finalist for Seven Fallen Feathers: Racism, Death, and Hard Truths in a Northern City

 

I Am a Truck
Michelle Winters
Invisible Publishing
Funny, whimsical, and sad. –Ed O’Loughlin, Giller Prize finalist for Minds of Winter

 

The Doll’s Alphabet
Camilla Grudova
Coach House Books
Grudova’s story collection contains such translucent prose, allowing readers a glimpse of the puppeteering, the craft, and the magic-making behind the curtain, even while it holds us rapt in the worlds and stories she creates. Her writing is polished, promising, and the best kind of weird. –Katia Grubisic, Governor General’s Literary Award finalist for French-to-English translation for Brothers (by David Clerson)