In the July/August issue, Q&Q looks ahead at fall’s most anticipated Canadian fiction.
The fall features a bumper crop of intriguing short fiction, starting with a new collection from Giller winner Austin Clarke. Now 80, the Barbadian-born author shows no signs of slowing down. This spring, he published his first book of poetry. They Never Told Me and Other Stories (Exile Editions, $17.95 pa., Oct.) is his first collection of all-new short fiction since 1993. ¢ Patrick Roscoe released seven fiction titles between 1990 and 2001, and earned a reputation as a hugely talented literary bad-boy. Then he went silent. This season, Roscoe returns with his first new work in 12 years. The Laboratory of Love (Arsenal Pulp, $18.95 pa., Oct.) collects material from his earlier books, Birthmarks and The Truth about Love, along with never-before-published stories. ¢ Arsenal Pulp is also set to release the new collection from Kelli Deeth, her first since 2001’s The Girl Without Anyone. Deeth’s sophomore collection, The Other Side of Youth ($15.95 pa. Oct.), features female protagonists struggling with emotionally charged subjects such as abortion, adoption, and familial strife.
Edmonton-based author Thea Bowering makes her short-fiction debut with a suite of stories that takes up such diverse subjects as postmodernism, Russian literature, and the Canadian music scene. Love at Last Sight ($17.95 pa.) is due out from NeWest in August. ¢ Jerry Levy is also making a short-fiction debut this fall. Urban Legend (Thistledown Press, $18.95 pa., Sept.) is a collection of gritty urban stories about characters from different classes struggling to cope when they find themselves pushed out of their respective comfort zones.
Conventional wisdom has it that collections of stories are tough sells. Edited anthologies are even tougher. And edited anthologies from a specific geographical region ¦ Goose Lane may be able to overcome the challenges, however, thanks to contributions from David Adams Richards, Lynn Coady, Michael Winter, Michael Crummey, Kathleen Winter, and Ann-Marie MacDonald. These are among the writers featured in Running the Whale’s Back: Stories of Faith and Doubt from Atlantic Canada ($19.95 pa., Sept.), edited by Andrew Atkinson and Mark Harris.
Shaena Lambert‘s debut novel, Radiance, was shortlisted for both the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize and the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize. Her new collection of stories, Oh, My Darling (HarperCollins Canada, $24.99 cl., Sept.), features environmental protestors, drug dealers, Nazi fathers, and one story narrated by a woman’s breast cancer. ¢ If a story told in the voice of a malignant tumour isn’t creepy enough for you, noted horrormeister Susie Moloney has a new collection forthcoming from ChiZine that might be up your alley. In her short-fiction debut, which sports the brilliant title Things Withered ($18.95 pa.), Moloney continues to examine the dreadful happenings that go on behind the demurely closed curtains of suburban homes.
A 90-year-old woman recalls growing up during the Depression and a man from rural Newfoundland struggles to acclimatize to life in the big city in two of the stories from Ed Kavanagh‘s new collection, Strays (Creative Book Publishing, $19.95 pa., Sept.). ¢ An almost Cronenbergian approach to the human body seems to be at work in the debut collection from Christine Miscione. Auxiliary Skins (Exile, $16.95 pa., Oct.) is described as chock-full of razor blades masquerading as lemon tarts. ¢ Spirituality and belief are the driving forces in Audrey Whitson‘s collection, The Glorious Mysteries ($18.95 pa.,), due out in August from Thistledown.
Perennial bestseller Peter Robinson returns with a new book in the Inspector Banks series. In the 21st series outing for the popular police investigator, an erstwhile college professor bounced out of his job following a sex scandal is found murdered, and the victim appears to have inconvenient ties to a titled woman who may have been involved in political activism in the 1970s. Children of the Revolution (M&S, $29.95 cl.) is out in September. ¢ Genre favourite Linwood Barclay also has a new novel. In A Tap on the Window (Doubleday Canada, $22.95 pa., Aug.), a private investigator mourning his son’s drug-related death picks up a teenage hitchhiker against his better judgment.
Anne Emery returns this fall with the seventh book in her popular series featuring Father Brennan Burke. A woman claims to have seen the Virgin Mary in Father Burke’s churchyard, spurring a public fury that only gets worse when a body is discovered. Blood on a Saint ($24.95 cl.) is out from ECW in November. ¢ Louise Penny returns to the small Quebec town of Three Pines for another outing with her detectives, Chief Inspector Armand Gamache and lieutenant Jean-Guy Beauvoir. In the ninth series instalment, Gamache comes to the aid of an old friend to investigate the disappearance of a world-famous poet. How the Light Gets In (Minotaur/Raincoast, $29.99 cl.) is due out in August.
The second instalment of Peter Kirby‘s Luc Vanier mystery series is forthcoming from Linda Leith Publishing in October. In Vigilante Season ($14.95 pa.), Vanier investigates the disappearances of prostitutes, drug dealers, and other ne’er-do-wells in a gentrifying Montreal neighbourhood. ¢ In a plot sure to send chills down the spines of industry insiders, a literary agent is attacked in her home and left for dead. The suspects include four disgruntled authors who recently received rejection letters. The Courier Wore Shorts (Véhicule Press, $20 pa.) by Sheila Kindellan-Sheehan is out in September.
Brick Books has a trio of strong names on its fall list, beginning with the ninth volume from Halifax-based poet Don Domanski. Bite Down Little Whisper ($20 pa., Aug.) sees the Governor General’s Literary Award winner mix science and myth in a collection that focuses on the interconnectedness of life. ¢ GG nominee Barry Dempster returns with his 14th collection, a meditation for those moments when it hurts so bad you hope you’ll die and are afraid you won’t. Invisible Dogs (Brick, $20 pa.) is out in September. ¢ Also in September, Brick is publishing the sophomore collection from Victoria poet Catherine Greenwood. The Lost Letters ($20 pa.) is a group of poems, written in radically diverse styles, that extrapolates from the classic story of Heloise and Abelard.
Born in Melbourne, Australia, Niki Koulouris has been compared to Gwendolyn MacEwan, Margaret Atwood, and Pat Lowther. The Toronto-based poet’s debut collection draws on her Greek heritage and the disorienting powers of the ocean. The sea with no one in it (The Porcupine’s Quill, $14.95 pa.) is out in October. ¢ Catherine Graham follows her acclaimed trilogy “ Pupa, The Red Element, and Winterkill “ with a new collection that pays tribute to two of the author’s influences: Canadian poet P.K. Page and Irish poet Dorothy Molloy. Her Red Hair Rises with the Wings of Insects ($17 pa.) appears from Wolsak and Wynn in September.
Souvankham Thammavongsa won the ReLit Award for her 2004 debut collection, Small Arguments. She returns with a third collection, Light (Pedlar Press, $20 pa., Sept.), that focuses precise, concentrated language on the element in the title. ¢ Author of the acclaimed 2008 collection Reading the Bible Backwards, Robert Priest may be best known as the poet who wrote Song Instead of a Kiss (which, when set to music, became a minor hit for Canadian singer-songwriter Alannah Myles). Priest returns this fall with a new collection, Previously Feared Darkness (ECW, $18.95 pa., Sept.). ¢ ECW can boast the best titles on its poetry this season. Knife Throwing Through Self-Hypnosis ($18.95 pa., Sept.) is the new collection from Robin Richardson, featuring [l]ovesick Stormtroopers, dowsing Girl Guides, movie stars, pool hustlers, and the mad queen Ranavalona.
Alexandra Oliver follows up her 2007 debut, Where the English Housewife Shines, with a new book of metrical poems called Meeting the Tormentors in Safeway (Biblioasis, $17.95 pa., Sept.). Oliver tests the elasticity of formal constraints in a series of poems she calls text-based home movies.
Montreal’s Drawn & Quarterly continues its association with noted cartoonist Seth, this fall bringing out the 21st volume in the Palookaville series. Palookaville Number Twenty-one ($24.95 cl., Aug.) features two semi-autobiographical comics, and entries from the author’s rubber stamp diary.