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Spring preview 2019: Novels and graphica


Bina: A Novel in Warnings
Anakana Schofield
Knopf Canada, May

One of Canada’s most stylistically provocative and innovative wordsmiths, Irish-born Anakana Schofield returns in May with her third novel (a follow-up to the 2015 Scotiabank Giller Prize–shortlisted Martin John). In Bina (“That’s Bye-na, not Beena”), Schofield presents the story of a straightforward Irish woman who has come under suspicion for a crime so serious she cannot even talk about it directly.

 

The Western Alienation Merit Badge
Nancy Jo Cullen
Buckrider Books/Wolsak & Wynn, May

“Let the Eastern bastards freeze in the dark” was the pointed response from Alberta to Pierre Elliott Trudeau’s National Energy Program in the 1980s. Poet and Dayne Ogilvie Prize winner Nancy Jo Cullen’s debut novel travels back to that period in Canadian history to tell the story of a queer daughter who returns home to her family in Calgary as the 1982 recession sets in.

 


Fog
Rana Bose
Baraka Books, June

Poet, playwright, and novelist Rana Bose returns with a novel about a Montreal man who is killed by a drone in Afghanistan. The overseas killing revives interest in a cold-case plane crash, the cause of which has been covered up. Bose’s book is being billed as a “thriller of ideas.”

 

Provisionally Yours
Antanas Sileika
Biblioasis, March

Former director of the Humber School for Writers Antanas Sileika returns this season with a historical novel set during the emergence of the Lithuanian state. Former counter-intelligence officer Justas Adamonis returns to his hometown to find his parents dead and the political situation fragmented. In no time, he is recruited back into his old profession by an emerging governmental administration.

 


The Student
Cary Fagan
Freehand Books, May

Prolific writer for adults and children Cary Fagan is back this spring with a novel described as “a portrait of a life in two snapshots.” The first part takes place in the fall of 1957 and traces the life of Miriam Moscowitz. The second part flashes forward to the year 2005 and illustrates how the events of the past inform and alter Miriam’s life.

 

Every Little Piece of Me
Amy Jones
McClelland & Stewart, June

Toronto author Amy Jones follows up her debut novel, We’re All in This Together, with a book about two women struggling to define themselves against the demands and constraints placed upon them. One is a cast member on a popular reality TV program; the other is the lead singer of a Halifax rock band trying to break out while also battling the pervasive sexism of the music industry.

 


The Dead Celebrities Club
Susan Swan
Cormorant Books, April

Masculinity, finance, and celebrity collide in the timely new novel from Toronto writer Susan Swan. After a disgraced hedge fund manager is imprisoned in the U.S. for gambling away military pensions, he comes up with a scheme to make back some of the money: he institutes an ad hoc celebrity dead pool among his fellow inmates.

 

Dual Citizens
Alix Ohlin
House of Anansi Press, June

The last novel by Vancouver’s Alix Ohlin, Inside, was shortlisted for the 2012 Giller Prize. Her follow-up focuses on Lark Brossard, a woman who has lived her life in the shadow of others. As she begins to take control of her own destiny, she reckons with what it means to be a sister, a mother, and a self-sufficient individual in her own right.

 


Fatboy Fall Down
Rabindranath Maharaj
ECW Press, April

From the author of last year’s Adjacentland comes a new novel about a man trying to outrun past tragedy while fulfilling his life’s dream of staking out a place of his own in the country. Maharaj jettisons the dystopia of his previous fiction for a novel that examines sadness while never losing sight of human resilience.

 


A Palace in Paradise
Mehri Yalfani
Inanna Publications, May

Veteran Iranian-Canadian author Mehri Yalfani’s latest novel is set in Toronto’s Iranian immigrant community. Among a group of people who share a culture, heritage, and history, one woman’s death has ripple effects throughout their shared lives and experiences.


Dark matter

Two Canadian masters of horror and dark fantasy have new books coming out this season.

 


World Fantasy Award winner Helen Marshall lands at Random House Canada for her debut novel, The Migration (March). A strange plague is affecting young people in Toronto; when Sophie Perella’s sister comes down with the disease, the siblings are spirited off to Oxford. As Sophie tries to comprehend the nature of her sister’s illness, it becomes apparent that people who succumb to the sickness don’t stay dead. Marshall’s novel is being compared by its publisher to Stephen King’s classic chiller Pet Sematary.


Andrew Pyper, the bestselling author of The Demonologist and The Only Child, returns in February with a new psychological thriller from Simon & Schuster Canada. In The Homecoming, two siblings travel to a sprawling house in the Pacific Northwest to attend the reading of their late father’s will. The will stipulates that, in order to claim their inheritance, they must remain isolated in the house for a period of 30 days. Creepiness and psychological torment ensue.


GRAPHICA

Death Threat
Vivek Shraya; Ness Lee, ill.
Arsenal Pulp Press, April

Multidisciplinary artist Vivek Shraya follows her acclaimed non-fiction work I’m Afraid of Men with a graphic novel detailing her own experience receiving transphobic hate messages from a complete stranger. Shraya reclaims control over this material by reworking it into a brave act of resistance and defiance. Toronto illustrator Ness Lee brings Shraya’s harrowing tale to vivid life.



OTHER NOVELS OF NOTE

  • The Teardown, David Homel (Véhicule Press, March)
    The eighth novel from the acclaimed writer and translator involves a journalist who travels to Europe to cover the refugee crisis.
  • Skin House, Mike Blouin (Anvil Press, Feb.)
    This novel, about two down-on-their-luck dudes, is another stylistically adventurous fictional turn from the author of Chase & Haven and I Don’t Know How to Behave.
  • A Joy to Be Hidden, Ariela Freedman (Linda Leith Publishing, March)
    The Montreal-based author of Arabic for Beginners sets her sophomore novel in 1990s New York City.
  • Rue des Rosiers, Rhea Tregebov (Coteau Books, May)
    In the new novel from Vancouver’s Tregebov, a 25-year-old woman flees to Paris in 1982, where she inadvertently becomes embroiled in the Abu Nidal terrorist attack.
  • 26 Knots, Bindu Suresh (Invisible Publishing, May)
    The debut novel from pediatrician and short-story writer Suresh is a series of vignettes that examine the nature of love and the consequences of betrayal.
  • Crow, Amy Spurway (Goose Lane Editions, March)
    The aptly named Stacey Fortune is at the centre of this novel about a woman who flees home to Cape Breton – and her supposedly cursed family – after being diagnosed with three brain tumours.

FINE PRINT: Q&Q’s Spring Preview covers books published between Jan. 1 and June 30, 2019. All information (titles, publication dates) was supplied by publishers and may have been tentative at press time. Titles that have been listed in previous previews do not appear here.