What We'll Be Reading This Fall: Editors' Picks
Manhattan Beach, by Jennifer Egan
Simon & Schuster Canada, October 2017
"Anna Kerrigan, nearly twelve years old, accompanies her father to visit Dexter Styles, a man who, she gleans, is crucial to the survival of her father and her family. She is mesmerized by the sea beyond the house and by some charged mystery between the two men.
Years later, her father has disappeared and the country is at war. Anna works at the Brooklyn Naval Yard, where women are allowed to hold jobs that once belonged to men, now soldiers abroad. She becomes the first female diver, the most dangerous and exclusive of occupations, repairing the ships that will help America win the war. One evening at a nightclub, she meets Dexter Styles again, and begins to understand the complexity of her father’s life, the reasons he might have vanished.
With the atmosphere of a noir thriller, Egan’s first historical novel follows Anna and Styles into a world populated by gangsters, sailors, divers, bankers, and union men. Manhattan Beach is a deft, dazzling, propulsive exploration of a transformative moment in the lives and identities of women and men, of America and the world. It is a magnificent novel by the author of A Visit from the Goon Squad, one of the great writers of our time."
Bookshops: A Reader's History, by Jorge Carrion
Biblioasis, October 2017
"Jorge Carrión collects bookshops: from Gotham Book Mart and the Strand Bookstore in New York City to City Lights Bookshop and Green Apple Books in San Francisco and all the bright spots in between (Prairie Lights, Tattered Cover, and countless others). In this thought-provoking, vivid, and entertaining essay, Carrión meditates on the importance of the bookshop as a cultural and intellectual space. Filled with anecdotes from the histories of some of the famous (and not-so-famous) shops he visits on his travels, thoughtful considerations of challenges faced by bookstores, and fascinating digressions on their political and social impact, Bookshops is both a manifesto and a love letter to these spaces that transform readers’ lives."
Collected Tarts & Other Indelicacies, by Tabatha Southey
Douglas & McIntyre, September 2017
"Tabatha Southey is possessed of the wisdom of the ages. She understands the psychological struggles of shadowy Russian pee traffickers. She recognizes the PR benefits of puppy-throwing. She has deeply considered the moral quandaries presented by sea-slug penises. She even knows her own bra size (really, please stop asking).
Collected Tarts and Other Indelicacies showcases the many lessons learned from over a decade of column writing. For example, you don't want to piss off the jazz enthusiasts. And you really, reallydon't want to piss off the homeopaths. Along with these thorny issues, Southey has covered the most pressing topics of our times, from the struggles of having an unusually handsome prime minister to the impending dystopic future faced by the Trump United States and Casino Resort.
Between her takedowns of all forms of bigotry, ignorance, laziness and poor writing by those in power, and glimpses into the equal parts bizarre and touching moments of her personal life, it is clear why Southey's columns have endeared her to readers of Elle Canada, The Globe and Mail and Maclean's among other publications. Sure to delight loyal readers and win over new ones, Collected Tarts and Other Indelicacies offers the perfect balance of light and darkness, frivolity and knife-sharp wit."
Don't Tell Me What to Do, by Dina Del Bucchia
Arsenal Pulp Press, September 2017
"In poet Dina Del Bucchia's debut story collection, an older woman becomes obsessed with the state of her lawn, a pet architect jeopardizes her relationship with her wife over a wild bird, a cement mixer helps a woman fulfill her dreams, a former model becomes a cult leader through social media, a teenaged girl is preoccupied with making shopping-haul videos, and a young woman goes on a crime spree thanks to a basement containing $35,000 in coins.
These funny and strange stories are populated by weirdos and misfits trying out new ways of being in the world; sometimes they succeed and sometimes they fail, and sometimes they end up in a slapstick sex scene that culminates with broken furniture. Disarming and bittersweet, Don’t Tell Me What to Do isn't scared to tell the truth about those of us who are emotional, who care too much about things that might seem ridiculous, and who are beautifully, perfectly flawed."
Dunbar, by Edward St. Aubyn
Knopf Canada, October 2017
"Henry Dunbar, the once all-powerful head of a global media corporation, is not having a good day. In his dotage he hands over care of the corporation to his two eldest daughters, Abby and Megan, but as relations sour he starts to doubt the wisdom of past decisions . . .
Now imprisoned in a care home in the Lake District with only a demented alcoholic comedian as company, Dunbar starts planning his escape. As he flees into the hills, his family is hot on his heels. But who will find him first, his beloved youngest daughter, Florence, or the tigresses Abby and Megan, so keen to divest him of his estate?
Edward St. Aubyn is renowned for his masterwork, the five Melrose novels, which dissect with savage and beautiful precision the agonies of family life. Dunbar is a devastating family story and an excoriating novel for and of our times—an examination of power, money and the value of forgiveness."
Pemmican Wars: A Girl Called Echo, Vol. 1, by Katherena Vermette| Illustrated by Scott B. Henderson| colour by Donovan Yaciuk
HighWater Press, November 2017
"Echo Desjardins, a 13 year-old Métis girl, is struggling with her feelings of loneliness while adjusting to a new school and foster family. Then an ordinary day in Mr. Bee’s history class turns extraordinary, and Echo’s life will never be the same. During Mr. Bee’s lecture, Echo finds herself transported to another time and place—a bison hunt on the Saskatchewan prairie—and back again to the present. In the following weeks, Echo slips back and forth in time. She visits a Métis camp, travels the old fur-trade routes, and experiences the perilous and bygone era of the Pemmican War.
Pemmican Wars is the first graphic novel in A Girl Called Echo, a series by Katherena Vermette, Governor General Award–winning writer and author of HighWater Press’ The Seven Teaching Stories."
The Inner Life of Animals: Love, Grief, and Compassion - Surprising Observations of a Hidden World, by Peter Wohlleben
Greystone Books, November 2017
"Through vivid stories of devoted pigs, two-timing magpies, and scheming roosters, The Inner Life of Animals weaves the latest scientific research into how animals interact with the world with Peter Wohlleben's personal experiences in forests and fields.
Horses feel shame, deer grieve, and goats discipline their kids. Ravens call their friends by name, rats regret bad choices, and butterflies choose the very best places for their children to grow up.
In this, his latest book, Peter Wohlleben follows the hugely successful The Hidden Life of Trees with insightful stories into the emotions, feelings, and intelligence of animals around us. Animals are different from us in ways that amaze us—and they are also much closer to us than we ever would have thought."
The Golden House, by Salman Rushdie
Knopf Canada, September 2017
"When powerful real-estate tycoon Nero Golden immigrates to the States under mysterious circumstances, he and his three adult children assume new identities, reinventing themselves as emperors living in a lavish house in downtown Manhattan. Arriving shortly after the inauguration of Barack Obama, he and his sons, each extraordinary in his own right, quickly establish themselves at the apex of New York society, even as Nero Golden continues to raise huge buildings carrying his name in gold letters.
The story of the powerful Golden family is told from the point of view of their Manhattanite neighbour and confidant, René, an aspiring filmmaker who finds in the Goldens the perfect subject. René chronicles the undoing of the house of Golden: the high life of money, of art and fashion, a sibling quarrel, an unexpected metamorphosis, the arrival of a beautiful former model, betrayal and murder, and far away, in their abandoned homeland, some decent intelligence work that could ruin Nero Golden forever.
Invoking literature, pop culture and the cinema, Rushdie spins the story of the American zeitgeist over the last eight years, hitting every beat: the rise of the birther movement, the Tea Party, and identity politics; Gamergate; the backlash against political correctness; the ascendancy of Superman and Batwoman and the superhero movie; and, of course, the insurgence of a ruthlessly ambitious, narcissistic villain with painted skin and coloured hair."
All is Beauty Now, by Sarah Faber
McClelland & Stewart, August 2017
"Brazil, 1962: A young woman walks into the waters off a crowded beach and vanishes. A year later, her family - the once-golden family of their privileged little community - prepares to leave behind the seeming paradise of Brazil in the wake of their eldest daughter's presumed drowning. As they attend a series of goodbye parties and count down the days to their departure, we are taken into the heart of a family whose many charms belie more troubling truths.
There is the family's charismatic father, whose emotional extremes are becoming increasingly disturbing; his long-suffering wife, who made a mistake that has shattering consequences for the family she meant to protect; and their two remaining daughters, both on the precipice of joining the adult world with all its secrets and lies. Then there is the lost daughter herself, a woman undone by her attempts to grasp at happiness.
With settings ranging from the opulence of the legendary Copacabana Club to the poverty of Rio's fishing villages, this sensual and beautifully written novel reveals the soul of a family living in the shadow of tragedy, one poised on the brink of a new life, if only they could make peace with the past."
Granta 141: Canada, by Catherine Leroux & Madeleine Thien (Editors)
Granta Books, October 2017
"This special issue unravels the idea of Canada, a young nation settled on land that carries 14,000 years of Indigenous history. From its global cities to the Arctic Circle, from the ongoing story of Indigenous civil rights movements to the state of languages under pressure, the writers in Granta 141 upend the ways we imagine land, reconciliation, truth and belonging, revealing the histories of a nation's future.
One hundred and fifty years after its confederation, Canada, spanning six time zones and a vast geography dramatically impacted by climate change, is embarking on a charged conversation to uncover what has been, and what begins."