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Spring preview 2015: novels

TEN FIRST-TIME NOVELISTS

1. A middle-school outcast wakes up from a tragic accident to find himself in a town populated exclusively by 13-year-olds. Boo (Knopf Canada) is the highly anticipated first novel from Bang Crunch author Neil Smith.

2. Harmless (McClelland & Stewart), by Q&Q feature reviewer James Grainger, tells the story of a weekend in the country that goes horribly awry when a teenage girl disappears.

3. The violent underworld of Alberta’s Chinese rap gangs forms the backdrop for Jon Chan Simpson’s provocatively titled Chinkstar (Coach House Books).

4. A comedy about grief, office politics, and alcohol-fuelled revenge, Hollie Adams’s Things You’ve Inherited from Your Mother (NeWest Press) takes an ice pick to the notion of what constitutes a “likeable” female protagonist.

5. In Toronto-based Alexis von Konigslow’s The Capacity for Infinite Happiness (Buckrider Books), a woman distracts herself from her thesis by researching her family history, which features a cameo by Harpo Marx and his brothers.

6. The spirits that haunt a Louisiana swamp comingle with the return of a 20-year-old woman’s birth mother – a reputed witch – in Cauchemar (ECW Press), by Alexandra Grigorescu.

7. When the endless stream of parties and anonymous hook-ups begins to feel empty, a middle-aged man starts to crave more intimacy in his life. Breathing Lessons (Véhicule Press) is the first novel from Andy Sinclair, a searing new voice in gay fiction.

8. The title of Sean Trinder’s debut – The Guy Who Pumps Your Gas Hates You (NeWest) – provides a pretty clear idea about its twentysomething protagonist’s mindset.

9. After an adverse medical diagnosis, the patriarch of a Jewish family in Montreal’s Mile End neighbourhood becomes convinced that he is receiving messages from God in Sigal Samuel’s The Mystics of Mile End (Freehand Books).

10. A cultural cross-section of voices, perspectives, and backgrounds collides on Toronto’s Queen Street West in Danila Botha’s Too Much on the Inside (Quattro Books).