Canada has a solid reputation for producing some of the best wordsmiths in the world. Is it our seemingly year-long winter? An excess of maple syrup? Access to free healthcare? A neverending ode to JT? Whatever it is, cozy up with one of these books new on the literary scene. They’ll make you proud to be Canadian (and grateful for your access to JT, maple syrup and healthcare.)
The Sun and her Flowers by Rupi Kaur
Following her incredibly successful debut Milk and Honey, Rupi Kaur released her second book of poetry, The Sun and her Flowers. Touching upon themes of loss, love, loneliness and identity, Kaur’s ability to underline the universality of her pain, yet make it so distinctly personal to the reader, has made her work beloved.
American War by Omar El Akkad
American War is a near-dystopian future realized: limited fossil fuels has ravaged society – America is now engulfed by war and climate change, a second civil war brews by the Southern states, and most of the population now resides in a refugee camp.
The terror in Akkad’s work that lingers is that all of these thoughts are so familiar yet unfathomable. By setting this apocalyptic future in North America, it confronts the reader with the limit of our imagination and whether or not our grief can stretch across the globe for people who suffer this experience every day.
Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien
Chronicling one the most violent political events of the 20th century, Madeleine Thien interlaces the lives of multiple generations to weave a beautiful and pained fabric of inter-generational trauma. Thien imagines characters’ responses to the questions at the forefront of the Chinese Cultural Revolution: how does one cope with the suspicion, the brutality, the sense of loss of individuality and expression?
Stories by multiple generations span across two continents to produce a novel that culminates in the protests at Tiananmen Square. The flow of Thien’s words are beautiful; she is a deft conductor of words, producing beauty out of political and familial vicissitudes.
Brother by David Chariandy
Brother is a chronicle of two brothers of Trinidadian heritage growing up in Scarborough. Exploring the intricacies of two brothers’ lives, Chariandy inscribes ‘Scarberia’ on the literary map. As Chariandy said, “[Brother is] about the intimacy within the family, and about kinship…so, if the world presents us with politics and political situations that are difficult – and sometimes outright brutal – how do we then understand a different space or a different way of relating to others?” (NOW Toronto). Chariandy’s illustrative portraits of the inhabitants of Scarborough and its culture immerses you in the Scarborough of his childhood— one replete with nostalgia and growing pains.
The Break by Katherena Vermette
The legacy of a story: how it imprints us and shapes us. Ten points of view circle the death of a 13 year old Métis girl in Winnipeg. By shifting perspectives from four generations of an indigenous family, Vermette paints the complexities of all these women, young and old, to produce a novel that captures the inherent contradictions and instincts within human nature. Though poised as a classic mystery novel, right beneath the surface Vermette’s novel is an ode to the resilience of girls and women who inherit pain and forge it into identity.