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Books of the Year

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Books of the Year 2018: Critics’ corner

French Exit
Patrick DeWitt
House of Anansi Press

It’s hard to imagine a contemporary author more equipped to skewer high society than Patrick DeWitt. His exemplary wordplay, sly social commentary, dark humour, and skill with dialogue imbue French Exit with a satirical edge that is razor sharp, while introducing characters who are entirely horrible yet oddly sympathetic. It’s a completely satisfying read, and quite possibly his best book to date. –Dory Cerny


Kudos
Rachel Cusk
HarperCollins

The last novel in Rachel Cusk’s transfixing trilogy finds Faye, the author’s surrogate and a magnet for garrulous interlocutors, attending a literary festival in a European city. At once intimate and mysterious, Kudos is part comedy of echo chambers – of people ostensibly seeking knowledge while reiterating their own platitudes – part portrait of a woman navigating a world in which she is simultaneously omnipresent and in exile. –José Teodoro


Chicken
Lynn Crosbie

House of Anansi Press

Lynn Crosbie’s Chicken portrays the relationship between an aging actor who played a rapist in a cult movie and a young fan, a filmmaker who wants to cast him in her latest project. It is unlike any novel this year: disturbing and perverse, but also tender and nuanced. –Shazia Hafiz Ramji


Dear Evelyn
Kathy Page
Biblioasis

Kathy Page’s Dear Evelyn, a beautifully crafted portrait of a marriage, is definitely one of my books of the year. The novel depicts its characters’ journey from love to alienation with ruthless clarity, but it also fosters the kind of tenderness toward them that we all hope to find in our own imperfect lives. –Rohan Maitzen


Why Indigenous Literatures Matter
Daniel Heath Justice

Wilfrid Laurier University Press

Why Indigenous Literatures Matter is the book that needs to be on every reader’s, writer’s, and educator’s shelf. Replete with historical and cultural context, contemporary analysis, and lived experience, this volume both critically examines and pays glorious tribute to Indigenous literary traditions. Justice’s voice is generous, inclusive, and knowledgeable. –Carleigh Baker