If there’s one thing the long weekend is good for, it’s taking off for the beach with a good read. And so, in honour of Canada Day, we’re suggesting 15 titles (in no particular order) that are written by Canadian authors or are about Canada. Happy Canada D'eh!
The Orenda by Joseph Boyden: Winner of CBC’s Canada Reads 2014 award and longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize in 2013; History reveals itself when, in the seventeenth century, a Jesuit missionary ventures into the Canadian wilderness in search of converts-the defining moment of first contact between radically different worlds. What unfolds over the next several years is truly epic, constantly illuminating and surprising, sometimes comic, always entrancing and ultimately all too human in its tragic grandeur.
The Illegal by Lawrence Hill:
Keita Ali has nothing: no bank account, no papers, no legal identity. A runner, he has fled home-- a brutal dictatorship that produces the world' s fastest marathoners-- to live as an illegal refugee in a wealthy western nation, surviving on winnings from local races. But the government is cracking down on illegal immigrants, so Keita-- who will be executed if he is deported to his homeland-- goes underground.
All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews: Elf and Yoli are sisters. While on the surface Elfrieda's life is enviable (she's a world-renowned pianist, glamorous, wealthy, and happily married) and Yolandi's a mess (she's divorced and broke, with two teenagers growing up too quickly), they are fiercely close - raised in a Mennonite household and sharing the hardship of Elf's desire to end her life. After Elf's latest attempt, Yoli must quickly determine how to keep her family from falling apart, how to keep her own heart from breaking, and what it means to love someone who wants to die.
419 by Will Ferguson: Winner of the 2012 Giller Prize; A car tumbles through darkness down a snowy ravine. A woman without a name walks out of a dust storm in sub-Saharan Africa. And in the seething heat of Lagos City, a criminal cartel scours the Internet, looking for victims. Lives intersect. Worlds collide. And it all begins with a single email: " Dear Sir, I am the daughter of a Nigerian diplomat, and I need your help".
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood: This novel has been described as "a women's 1984." As with Orwell's futuristic thriller, The Handmaid's Tale is well-written, politically astute, and contains enough reality mixed in with the fantastic to compel and horrify. Although the novel has a feminist perspective, it addresses the universal issues of individual autonomy and freedom.
Slacker by Gordon Korman: Cameron Boxer is very happy to spend his life avoiding homework, hanging out with his friends, and gaming for hours in his basement. It's not too hard for him to get away with it . . . until he gets so caught up in one game that he almost lets his house burn down around him. Oops. It's time for some serious damage control--so Cameron and his friends invent a fake school club that will make it seem like they're doing good deeds instead of slacking off.
The Gathering by Kelley Armstrong: From the #1 New York Times best-selling author of the Darkest Powers novels comes the first book in a thrilling supernatural series. Teenaged Maya lives in a medical research town on a claustrophobic island of about 200 people. Suddenly, strange things start happening. The swim team captain drowns in a calm lake. Mountain lions linger around Maya's house and won't leave. And a new bad boy has appeared in town, showing a keen interest in Maya's paw-print birthmark.
Quartet for the End of Time by Johanna Skibsrud: The author's debut novel The Sentimentalists won the 2010 Scotiabank Giller Prize; Inspired by and structured around the chamber piece of the same title by the French composer Olivier Messiaen, Quartet for the End of Time is a mesmerizing story of four lives irrevocably linked in a single act of betrayal.
The Communist's Daughter by Dennis Bock: The Communist's Daughter is a sweeping novel of love and betrayal spanning the trenches of the Great War to the horrors of Spain and China.
Waiting for the Man by Arjun Basu: Joe, a 35-year-old advertising copywriter for a slick New York company, feels disillusioned with his life. Soon he starts dreaming of a mysterious man and, not long after, begins seeing him on the street and hearing his voice. When the voice tells him to "go West," he does, all the while searching for this Man, this mysterious voice that won't leave him alone. Until it does. Waiting for the Man is a compelling and viscerally emotional story about the struggle to find something more in life.
Between by Angie Abdou: The author's first novel, The Bone Cage, was a finalist in CBC's Canada Reads competition. Between offers readers an intriguing, searing portrait of two women from two different cultures. At the same time, it satirizes contemporary love, marriage, and parenthood by exposing the sense of entitlement and superiority at the heart of upper-middle-class North American existence through a ubiquitous presence in it: the foreign nanny.
Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery: A best-seller from the moment it was published, Anne of Green Gables is a joyful tale that is guaranteed to capture the hearts of today's young listeners. For over 75 years, this delightful story of a spirited, mischievous girl living in turn-of-the-century Canada has charmed girls around the world.
Canada by Richard Ford: Canada follows the trajectory of a 16-year-old boy whose life takes a dark turn. When the youth's parents are jailed for robbing a bank, he is spirited away from his home in Great Falls, Montana, to a small town in Saskatchewan. Completely out of his element and reeling from this sudden twist of fate, the boy struggles to adjust-even as he faces unexpected violence.
Dream Wheels by Richard Wagamese: Winner of the Canadian Authors Association Award for Fiction; After rodeo cowboy Joe Willie Wolfchild has a career-ending accident, he returns to his family’s ranch and meets a troubled kid whose journey echoes his own.
Cataract City by Craig Davidson: Shortlisted for 2013 Giller Prize; Owen and Duncan are childhood friends who've grown up in picturesque Niagara Falls--known to them by the grittier name Cataract City. But in adulthood their paths diverge, and as Duncan, the less privileged, falls deep into the town's underworld, he and Owen become reluctant adversaries at opposite ends of the law. At stake is not only survival and escape, but a lifelong friendship that can only be broken at an unthinkable price.