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Spring preview 2019: Short fiction, poetry, and novels in translation

SHORT FICTION


Immigrant City
David Bezmozgis
HarperCollins, March

After forays into novel writing and filmmaking, the newly minted director of the Humber School for Writers returns to the form that first established his name. The stories in Bezmozgis’s sophomore collection examine the immigrant experience in all its complexity and contradiction, and vary stylistically from works of naturalism to romance to noir.

 

This Wicked Tongue
Elise Levine
Biblioasis, May

Baltimore resident Elise Levine once again takes up the mantle of short fiction with her first collection since her 1995 debut, Driving Men Mad. The stories in This Wicked Tongue, which run the gamut from gritty to exalted, are being compared to the work of Joy Williams and Karen Russell.

 

Name That Means Spirit
Kris Bertin
Vagrant Press/Nimbus Publishing, June

Kris Bertin’s debut collection, 2016’s Bad Things Happen, won both the Danuta Gleed Literary Award and a ReLit Award. His follow-up collection contains a half-dozen long stories about the commingled truth and deception that make up an individual’s personal mythology. These tonally disparate pieces are about the stories we tell ourselves about our own lives.

 

 

Shut Up You’re Pretty
Téa Mutonji
VS. Books/Arsenal Pulp Press, April

The inaugural title in Vivek Shraya’s Arsenal Pulp imprint showcasing work by upcoming BIPOC writers is the debut story collection by Téa Mutonji. The stories interrogate notions of identity, family, and tradition, and examine femininity in all its guises.

 

Coconut Dreams
Derek Mascarenhas
Book*hug, April

The debut collection from Toronto author Mascarenhas is a series of linked stories that traverses settings from Goa, India, to Hamilton, Ontario.

 

Lands and Forests
Andrew Forbes
Invisible Publishing, May

Peterborough, Ontario, resident Andrew Forbes follows his love letter to baseball – The Utility of Boredom – with a second collection of short stories. In Lands and Forests, floods, wildfires, drones, and death impinge on the lives of characters whose roots in their community are tested by forces both external and internal.

 

 

Winning Chance
Katherine Koller
Enfield & Wizenty/Great Plains Publications, April

Edmonton author Katherine Koller has had short fiction appear in literary magazines such as Room, Prairie Journal, and Grain. Sixteen of her stories are collected in Winning Chance, which focuses an empathetic gaze on the subject of second chances.

 

Season of Fury and Wonder
Sharon Butala
Coteau Books, May

The title of Sharon Butala’s latest collection of short stories refers to women in old age – a time of past experience and accumulated wisdom. The stories riff on those of earlier writers such as James Joyce, Flannery O’Connor, and others.


POETRY

The Caiplie Caves
Karen Solie
House of Anansi Press, April

Karen Solie won the Trillium Book Award for Poetry, the Pat Lowther Memorial Award, and the Griffin Poetry Prize for her third collection, Pigeon. Her fifth book takes its title from a series of Scottish caves in the coastal Fife region and contains poems that focus on the tension between remaining engaged in a world of strife and deciding to absent oneself through indecision or inaction.

 

breth: selektid rare n nu pomes
bill bissett
Talonbooks, April

The iconic Canadian sound poet bill bissett presents a collection of poetry both old and new in a volume sure to delight long-time readers and introduce a new generation to one of the country’s most iconoclastic and singular literary voices.

 


Disintegrate/Dissociate
Arielle Twist
Arsenal Pulp Press, March

Originally from Saskatchewan’s George Gordon First Nation and now a resident of Halifax, Arielle Twist identifies as a Cree, Two-Spirit, trans femme. Her debut work of poetry explores issues of identity and trauma in language that is infused with anger and tenderness. Twist offers a howl of defiance at the constraints of the past and a paean to the possibilities of a multitudinous future.

 

Cluster
Souvankham Thammavongsa
McClelland & Stewart, March

Toronto poet Souvankham Thammavongsa won the Trillium Book Award for Poetry for her third collection, 2013’s Light. She follows that up with Cluster, which appears on the inaugural M&S list under Dionne Brand’s editorship. The book is a collection about meaning: what it is, how it operates, and how even its absence can be telling.

 

Braille Rainbow
Mike Barnes
Biblioasis, April

The poems in Mike Barnes’s new collection arise out of his own experience with mental illness and his experience dealing with his mother’s dementia (also the subject of the recent non-fiction work, Be With: Letters to a Caregiver). In Braille Rainbow, Barnes investigates the vagaries of memory, from childhood all the way through the end of life.

 

TREATY#
Armand Garnet Ruffo
Buckrider Books/Wolsak & Wynn, March

Multi-genre Ojibwe writer Armand Garnet Ruffo examines relationships – between nations, between people, and between species – through the prism of the historically fraught titular concept. TREATY# becomes, in the words of its publisher, “a palimpsest over past representations of Indigenous bodies and beliefs.”

 

Motel of the Opposable Thumbs
Stuart Ross
Anvil Press, April

The protean and ever-playful Stuart Ross returns with another collection that flies in the face of poetic pieties and gleefully mashes up genres and approaches. Running from surrealism to lyricism, from hilarity to heartbreak, these poems take pleasure in poking tradition in the eyes, all while paying structural homage to the work of Béla Bartók.

 

Bite Me!
Joe Rosenblatt
The Porcupine’s Quill, March

Joe Rosenblatt offers a phantasmagoria of “the bizarre side of Mother Nature’s handiwork” in a collection of poetry that showcases creatures and beasts from reality and the farthest reaches of the imagination. Domesticated felines and the denizens of the tropical rainforest are here, as are bioluminescent fish from the bottom of the ocean and “flesh-liquefying stomach acid.”

 

 

Hymnswitch
Ali Blythe
Goose Lane Editions, March

Ali Blythe follows his critically acclaimed debut, Twoism, with another collection that examines the fluidity of gender identities and the complexity of finding one’s own path. In language that is tough and tensile, Blythe casts his glance backward and forward, immersing readers in the emotionally charged journey of gender transition and its interconnected hope and vulnerability.

 


All Day I Dream About Sirens
Domenica Martinello
Coach House Books, April

The debut collection from Montreal’s Domenica Martinello takes a feminist approach to the male tradition of the hero’s journey, upending and subverting traditions established by writers such as Homer and Joyce. And she puts a sly new spin on the cheeky 1980s era acronym ADIDAS (not to be confused with the brand of athletic wear).


IN TRANSLATION


The Weight of Snow
Christian Guay-Poliquin; David Homel, trans.
Talonbooks, March

Acclaimed Québécois novelist Christian Guay-Poliquin won the 2017 Governor General’s Literary Award for French-language Fiction for his book Le Poids de la niege. This spring, Vancouver publisher Talonbooks brings the work to an English-language readership courtesy of veteran translator Homel.

 

Mama’s Boy Behind Bars
David Goudreault; J.C. Sutcliffe, trans.
Book*hug, June

The second volume in Quebec author and poet Goudreault’s “bête” trilogy (Book*hug published the English-language edition of Mama’s Boy in 2018) finds the titular anti-hero in prison, where he aspires to join the ranks of the hardcore convicts and simultaneously finds himself falling for a guard.

 

The Dishwasher
Stéphane Larue; Pablo Strauss, trans.
Biblioasis, May

Set in 2002 Montreal, Stéphane Larue’s heavy metal–infused novel focuses on a graphic designer with a gambling addiction whose mounting debts force him to take a job as a dishwasher in a high-end restaurant.

 

In the End They Told Them All to Get Lost
Laurence Leduc-Primeau; Natalia Hero, trans.
QC Fiction, April

In the English translation of Leduc-Primeau’s debut novel, a depressive woman named Chloé lives in exile in an anonymous South American country following a suicide attempt. Told in vignettes, the novel examines Chloé’s mental illness in a tone that ranges from biting and sarcastic to lyrical. This is a novel about the confluence of loneliness and the need for human connection.


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.