*FINALIST FOR THE 2019 SCOTIABANK GILLER PRIZE
*FINALIST FOR THE 2019 GOVERNOR GENERAL’S LITERARY AWARD
*FINALIST FOR THE 2019 ROGERS WRITERS’ TRUST FICTION PRIZE
*WINNER OF THE 2020 THOMAS RADDALL ATLANTIC FICTION AWARD*NATIONAL BESTSELLER
*NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF 2019 BY The Globe and Mail • CBC • Toronto Star • Maclean’s
A brother and sister are orphaned in an isolated cove on Newfoundland’s northern coastline. Their home is a stretch of rocky shore governed by the feral ocean, by a relentless pendulum of abundance and murderous scarcity. Still children with only the barest notion of the outside world, they have nothing but the family’s boat and the little knowledge passed on haphazardly by their mother and father to keep them.
As they fight for their own survival through years of meagre catches and storms and ravaging illness, it is their fierce loyalty to each other that motivates and sustains them. But as seasons pass and they wade deeper into the mystery of their own natures, even that loyalty will be tested.
The Innocents is richly imagined and compulsively readable, a riveting story of hardship and survival, and an unflinching exploration of the bond between brother and sister. By turns electrifying and heartbreaking, it is a testament to the bounty and barbarity of the world, to the wonders and strangeness of our individual selves.
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WINNER OF THE 2020 ROBERT KROETSCH CITY OF EDMONTON BOOK PRIZE
Marina Endicott allows her characters to exist without being afraid of their (and our) moral dilemmas and failures, or the gap between our intentions and our understanding. She also writes about goodness so well—so beautifully and joyfully. . . . I feel as if I could close my eyes and still be at sea with these characters. A wonderful, brilliant book. — Madeleine Thien, Giller Prize-winning author of Do Not Say We Have Nothing
The Difference is a breathtaking tour-de-force by one of Canada’s most celebrated authors, a writer with the astonishing ability to bring a past world to vivid life while revealing the moral complexity of our own. What is the difference between ourselves and other humans? Between human and animal? Where does that difference persist in our minds? These are the questions Marina Endicott explores in this sweeping novel set on the Morning Light, a ship from Nova Scotia sailing the South Pacific in 1912.
Thea and Kay are half-sisters, separated in age by more than a decade. After the death of their stern father, head of a residential school in western Canada, the elder sister, Thea, returns east for her long-awaited marriage to the captain of the ship. She cannot abandon her younger sister, so Kay joins her, and together they embark on fateful voyage around the world. Taking inspiration from the true story of a small boy who was brought on board a Canadian sailing ship in the South Seas, Endicott shows us a vanished world in all its wildness and wonder, and its darkness, prejudice, and difficulty too.
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Recommended by Michael Crummey
How quickly he’d forgotten a fundamental truth: the closer you got to the heart of a calamity, the more resilience there was to be found.
This is the story of a handful of people who find themselves living through an unfolding catastrophe.
Elliot is a first responder in New York, a man running from past failures and struggling to do the right thing. Emma is a pregnant singer preparing to headline a benefit concert for victims of the outbreak—all while questioning what kind of world her child is coming into. Owen is the author of a bestselling plague novel with eerie similarities to the real-life pandemic. As fact and fiction begin to blur, he must decide whether his lifelong instinct for self-preservation has been worth the cost.
As the novel moves back and forth in time, we discover these characters’ ties to one another—and to those whose lives intersect with theirs—in an extraordinary web of connection and community that reveals none of us is ever truly alone. Linking them all is the mystery of the so-called ARAMIS Girl, a woman at the first infection site whose unknown identity and whereabouts cause a furor.
Written and revised between 2013 and 2019, and brilliantly told by an unforgettable chorus of voices, Saleema Nawaz’s glittering novel is a moving and hopeful meditation on what we owe to ourselves and to each other. It reminds us that disaster can bring out the best in people–and that coming together may be what saves us in the end.
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Kara Davis is a girl caught in the middle — of her Canadian nationality and her desire to be a “true” Jamaican, of her mother and grandmother’s rages and life lessons, of having to avoid being thought of as too “faas” or too “quiet” or too “bold” or too “soft.” Set in “Little Jamaica,” Toronto’s Eglinton West neighbourhood, Kara moves from girlhood to the threshold of adulthood, from elementary school to high school graduation, in these twelve interconnected stories. We see her on a visit to Jamaica, startled by the sight of a severed pig’s head in her great aunt’s freezer; in junior high, the victim of a devastating prank by her closest friends; and as a teenager in and out of her grandmother’s house, trying to cope with the ongoing battles between her unyielding grandparents.
A rich and unforgettable portrait of growing up between worlds, Frying Plantain shows how, in one charged moment, friendship and love can turn to enmity and hate, well-meaning protection can become control, and teasing play can turn to something much darker. In her brilliantly incisive debut, Zalika Reid-Benta artfully depicts the tensions between mothers and daughters, second-generation Canadians and first-generation cultural expectations, and Black identity and predominately white society.
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Longlisted for the 2020 Scotiabank Giller Prize
A young man painting nails at the local salon. A woman plucking feathers at a chicken processing plant. A father who packs furniture to move into homes he’ll never afford. A housewife learning English from daytime soap operas. In her stunning debut book of fiction, O. Henry Award winner Souvankham Thammavongsa focuses on characters struggling to make a living, illuminating their hopes, disappointments, love affairs, acts of defiance, and above all their pursuit of a place to belong. In spare, intimate prose charged with emotional power and a sly wit, she paints an indelible portrait of watchful children, wounded men, and restless women caught between cultures, languages, and values. As one of Thammavongsa’s characters says, “All we wanted was to live.” And in these stories, they do—brightly, ferociously, unforgettably.
A daughter becomes an unwilling accomplice in her mother’s growing infatuation with country singer Randy Travis. A boxer finds an unexpected chance at redemption while working at his sister’s nail salon. An older woman finds her assumptions about the limits of love unravelling when she begins a relationship with her much younger neighbour. A school bus driver must grapple with how much he’s willing to give up in order to belong. And in the Commonwealth Short Story Prize-shortlisted title story, a young girl’s unconditional love for her father transcends language.
Unsentimental yet tender, and fiercely alive, How to Pronounce Knife announces Souvankham Thammavongsa as one of the most striking voices of her generation.
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