The CBC Books spring reading list: 50 great books to read this season – CBC.ca

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Looking for a good read? Check out this CBC Books list of the buzzworthy Canadian and international fiction, nonfiction and poetry books out right now.

Watch Out for Her is a thriller by Samantha M. Bailey.
Watch Out for Her is a thriller by Samantha M. Bailey. (Dahlia Katz, Simon & Schuster)

Watch Out for Her is a novel about a young mother named Sarah who thinks her problems are solved when she hires a young babysitter, Holly, for her six-year-old son. Her son adores Holly and Holly adores Sarah. But when Sarah sees something that she can’t unsee, she uproots her family to start over. Her past follows her to this new life, raising paranoid questions of who is watching Sarah now? And what do they want?

Samantha M. Bailey is a journalist and editor in Toronto. Her first thriller, Woman on the Edgewas released in 2019.

The Next Chapter2:41Samantha M. Bailey on Watch Out for Her

Samantha M. Bailey on what inspired her latest novel, Watch Out for Her.

Kim Fu is the author of Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century. (L D’Alessandro, Coach House Books)

In this collection of stories, Kim Fu turns the familiar on its head to weave tales of new worlds where strange happenings, like a girl growing wings on her legs or toy boxes that control the passage of time, are the ordinary trappings of everyday life. The stories deal with themes of death, technological consequence, guilt and sexuality and unmask the contradictions within humanity. 

Kim Fu is a Seattle-based, Vancouver-born fiction writer and poet. Fu has published two other works of fiction, For Today I Am a Boy and The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore, and a book of poetry called How Festive the Ambulance.

The Next Chapter17:43Kim Fu on Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century

Kim Fu talks to Shelagh Rogers about her short story collection, Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century.

Mindful of Murder is a novel by Susan Juby. (Delgado Photography, HarperCollins Canada)

Helen Thorpe is a smart, calm, deeply insightful and newly trained butler. On the day she is supposed to start her career professionally serving one of the world’s wealthiest families, she gets a call from her former employer. Her old boss Edna has died, leaving Helen to settle her affairs and execute her particularly detailed will. As Helen carries out the will’s instructions, she begins to think that someone had reason to want Edna dead and enlists the help of her fellow butlers to solve the mystery. 

Susan Juby is a Nanaimo, B.C.-based writer. Her other books include the YA novel Alice, I Think, memoir Nice Recovery and novel Republic of Dirt, which won the Leacock Medal for Humour.

The Next Chapter18:32Susan Juby on Mindful Murder

Susan Juby talks to Shelagh Rogers about her novel, Mindful of Murder.

Each One a Furnace is a book by Tolu Oloruntoba. (Penguin Random House)

Tolu Oloruntoba explores the behaviour of finches and finds themes of migration, diaspora and restlessness in his poetry. The migrations of these diverse birds — traversing urban and rural landscapes, historical and contemporary contexts — add layers to the experience of what it means to live within, outside and between cultures.

Oloruntoba is a writer from Nigeria who now lives in B.C. His first full-length poetry collection, The Junta of Happenstancewon the 2021 Governor General’s Literary Award for poetry. He is the founder of the literary magazine Klorofyl and author of the chapbook Manubrium, which was shortlisted for the 2020 bpNichol Chapbook Award. Oloruntoba was named a “writer to watch” by CBC Books.

Q12:36Tolu Oloruntoba on his new poetry collection and what it means to migrate

Tolu Oloruntoba is an award-winning poet who received the Governor General’s Award for English-language poetry — one of the top literary awards in Canada — just a few months ago. But before that prize and before he moved to Canada, Oloruntoba was a practicing doctor in Nigeria where he was born and raised. His education meant he had to move around a lot, first to different cities in Nigeria and then eventually across an ocean. He joined Tom Power to discuss his new collection of poems, Each One a Furnace, which is inspired by that journey and what it means to migrate.

Kiss the Red Stairs is a book by Marsha Lederman. (McClelland & Stewart, Ben Nelms)

Kiss the Red Stairs is a memoir of survival, intergenerational trauma and discovery. Marsha Lederman delves into her parents’ Holocaust stories in the wake of her own divorce, investigating how trauma moves through generations and how history has shaped her own life. 

Lederman is the Western Arts Correspondent for the Globe and Mail. She previously worked for CBC Radio. Born in Toronto, Lederman lives in Vancouver. 

On The Coast12:15Marsha Lederman about her new memoir “Kiss The Red Stairs: The Holocaust Once Removed”

Talking to Globe and Mail Arts Correspondent and author Marsha Lederman about her new memoir “Kiss The Red Stairs: The Holocaust Once Removed”

Lost in the Valley of Death is a book by Harley Rustad. (Michelle Proctor, Knopf Canada)

Justin Alexander Shetler was an American who was trained in wilderness survival. He traveled across America by motorcycle and then made his way to the Philippines, Thailand and Nepal, in search of authentic and meaningful experiences. After several weeks of training, Justin embarked on a journey through the Parvati Valley, a remote and rugged corner of the Indian Himalayas, never to return.

Lost in the Valley of Death is about Shetler’s disappearance and presumed death — and the many ways we seek fulfilment in life.

Harley Rustad is a writer, journalist and editor from Salt Spring Island, B.C. He is the author of Big Lonely Doug which was shortlisted for the Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing. Lost in the Valley of Death is his second book. 

Shine Bright is a book by Danyel Smith. (Roc Lit 101, Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Gilt Groupe)

Shine Bright is a nonfiction book that celebrates Black women and their contributions to popular music over the decades. Through original reporting and analysis by music critic and author Danyel Smith, Shine Bright explores the interconnected history of American race, gender and class through the lens of personal history and love of music by Black artists such as Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Beyoncé and Rihanna.

Smith is an American media creative, television producer and author. She’s the creator and host of the Black Girl Songbook, a music and talk podcast that centres black women in music. Smith has served as editor of Billboard and as editor-in-chief of Vibe. She is the author of two novels, More Like Wrestling and Bliss

Run Towards the Danger is by Sarah Polley (George Pimentel/WIREIMAGE/Getty Images, Penguin Random House)

In this collection of essays, actor, screenwriter and director Sarah Polley reflects on the pieces of her life and the fallibility of memory. From stage fright to high risk childbirth, Polly contemplates these events and how she remembers them. In struggling with the aftermath of a concussion, she must retrain her mind to find a new path forward.

Run Towards the Danger is a book about learning, changing and what it’s like to live in one’s body.

Polley is an Oscar-nominated Canadian actor, screenwriter and director. Her first feature-length film, Away from Her, was adapted from the Alice Munro story The Bear Came Over the Mountain and was nominated for the Academy Award for best adapted screenplay. Her other films include Stories We Tell and Take This Waltz. 

Writers and Company1:14:23From child actor to award-winning filmmaker: Sarah Polley tells her own story in her powerful new book

From her beginnings as a young performer, to becoming an internationally acclaimed filmmaker herself, Sarah Polley has made bold, unusual choices in her work. Her first feature film, Away from Her, won multiple awards, while her personal documentary, Stories We Tell, was included in the Top Ten Canadian Films of All Time. Now she’s published a powerful collection of personal essays called Run Towards the Danger. They probe some of the most difficult experiences she has faced.

The Candy House is a novel by Jennifer Egan. (Scribner, Pieter M. Van Hattem)

Featuring characters from American author Jennifer Egan’s previous novel A Visit from the Goon Squad, The Candy House is about a tech maven named Bix Bouton who, despite having a thriving business, is on the hunt for the next big thing in technology. Bouton ends up creating a social media tool that enables people to access memories on-demand — but it comes at a price. The Candy House is a novel that highlights the interconnectedness of modern technology, privacy and what it means to be human.

Jennifer Egan is an American novelist and short story writer. Egan’s novel A Visit from the Goon Squad won the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction. 

The Sunday Magazine17:37Jennifer Egan on the value of storytelling in a data-driven world

The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of A Visit from the Goon Squad revisits characters from that book in her new novel, The Candy House. In it, Egan imagines a near-future in which people can upload their memories to the cloud and search around in other people’s experiences. What could go wrong? What could go right?And who gets to interpret what it all means?

Dandelion is a book by Jamie Chai Yun Liew. (Kenya-Jade Pinto, Arsenal Pulp Press)

When Lily was a child, her mother, Swee Hua, walked away from the family and was never heard from again. After becoming a new mother herself, Lily is obsessed with discovering what happened to Swee Hua. She recalls growing up in a British Columbia mining town where there were only a handful of Asian families and how Swee Hua longed to return to Brunei. Eventually, a clue leads Lily to southeast Asia to find out the truth about her mother. Dandelion is a novel about family secrets, migration, isolation, motherhood and mental illness. 

Jamie Chai Yun Liew is a lawyer and law professor based in Ottawa. Dandelion is her first novel and won her the Jim Wong-Chu Emerging Writers Award from the Asian Canadian Writers’ Workshop. 

Animal Person is a short story collection by Alexander MacLeod. (Animal Person by Alexander MacLeod, Penguin Random House)

The stories in Alexander MacLeod’s latest collection explore the struggle for meaning and connection in an age where many of us feel cut off from so much, including ourselves. From two sisters having a petty argument to a family on the brink of a new life, these stories pick at the complexity of our shared human experience.

Alexander MacLeod is a short story writer and academic from Cape Breton and raised in Windsor, Ont. MacLeod’s debut short story collection Light Lifting was shortlisted for the 2010 Scotiabank Giller Prize, the 2011 Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award and the Commonwealth Prize. It won the Atlantic Book Award. In 2019, he won an O. Henry Award for his short story Lagomorph. He currently lives in Dartmouth, N.S.

The Next Chapter17:00Alexander MacLeod on Animal Person

Alexander MacLeod talks to Shelagh Rogers about his new collection of short stories, Animal Person.

Stories I Might Regret Telling You is a book by Martha Wainwright. (Flatiron Books, Cathy Irving/CBC)

In her memoir, Martha Wainwright reflects on her tumultuous public life, her competitive relationship with her brother and the loss of her mother. She writes about finding her voice as an artist, becoming a mother herself and making peace with the past.

Stories I Might Regret Telling You offers a thoughtful and deeply personal look into the life of one of the most talented singer-songwriters in music today.

Wainwright is a Canadian musician and artist. She is the daughter of folk legends Kate McGarrigle and Loudon Wainwright III and sister of singer Rufus Wainwright. She lives in Montreal.

The Sunday Magazine28:56Martha Wainwright is turning the page on her family’s story

Singer-songwriter Martha Wainwright isn’t afraid to go there. In her new memoir, Stories I Might Regret Telling You, Wainwright – the daughter of folk musicians Kate McGarrigle and Loudon Wainwright III – offers a candid look at her life growing up in a family full of famous musicians and making her own path in the business. In The Sunday Magazine’s first in-studio interview, Wainwright opens up about things that she says don’t get talked about enough, from abortion and divorce to motherhood and living with grief. She tells Piya Chattopadhyay why she’s compelled to share so much of herself – and treats listeners to a pair of musical performances.

Heather O’Neill is a Canadian novelist, poet, short story writer, screenwriter and journalist. (HarperCollins Canada, J Artacho)

When Marie, the spoiled daughter of a sugar baron living in 19th-century Montreal, meets the brilliant Sadie, the two are immediately inseparable. Marie has bubbly charm and sees the pleasure of the world, whereas Sadie’s obsession with darkness is all-consuming. Class and circumstance lead them down different paths, while each woman plays an unexpected role in the events that upend their city.

When We Lost Our Heads is a story that explores gender, power, sex, desire, class and status.

Heather O’Neill is a writer and author from Montreal. O’Neill’s debut novel, Lullabies for Little Criminals, was a finalist for a Governor General’s Literary Award and won Canada Reads 2007. The Montreal-based writer was the first back-to-back finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize: her novel The Girl Who Was Saturday Night was a finalist in 2014 and her short story collection Daydreams of Angels was a finalist in 2015. Her latest books are the novel The Lonely Hearts Hotel and the nonfiction book Wisdom in Nonsense

Daybreak Montreal10:36Heather O’Neill’s essays on beauty

A new book of essays – called “11 brefs essais sur La Beauté” – wants to challenge some of our preconceived ideas about beauty. It takes a hard look at what society defines as being beautiful, especially for women. And the often negative impact that can have on so many aspects of our lives. We spoke with author Heather O’Neill, who wrote one of the essays in the book.

Time Is a Mother is a poetry collection by Ocean Vuong. (Mattias Lundblad, Penguin Press)

When Ocean Vuong’s mother died, it prompted a search for meaning while coping with grief. Time is a Mother, his second poetry collection, plays with form and language to reflect on themes of loss, death and life as an immigrant in America. 

Ocean Vuong is a Vietnamese American poet, essayist and novelist. Vuong is a recipient of the 2014 Ruth Lilly/Sargent Rosenberg fellowship from the Poetry Foundation, a 2016 Whiting Award, and the 2017 T.S. Eliot Prize for his poetry. His debut novel, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, was published in 2019.

Writers and Company54:42Ocean Vuong embraces life after loss in his new book of poems, Time Is a Mother

In this Canadian exclusive interview, Vietnamese-American poet and novelist Ocean Vuong talks to Eleanor Wachtel about his highly anticipated new collection, a meditation on love, grief, and finding a way forward after the death of his mother.

Bluebird is an historical fiction novel by Genevieve Graham. (Simon & Schuster, Nicola Davison)

Bluebird is a novel that takes place during the First World War and tells the story of a young nurse named Adele who forms a strong bond with Jeremiah, a wounded soldier under her care. Jeremiah returns to the front — but when the war is over, the two cross paths in their hometown of Windsor, Ont., and see it as a second chance. Prohibition brings new danger to the city and it threatens to tear them apart.

Graham is a bestselling writer from Nova Scotia who has written several novels that highlight Canadian history. Her other books include At the Mountain’s EdgeLetters Across the SeaCome From Away and The Forgotten Home Child.

1:57DOG EARED: Andrew Furey and Genevieve Graham

Canadian writers Andrew Furey and Genevieve Graham reveal their touchstone books.

Moon Witch, Spider King is a book by Marlon James. (Bond Street Books, Mark Seliger)

In this follow-up to Black Leopard, Red Wolf, Marlon James’s Moon Witch, Spider King further develops the fantasy worldbuilding of its mythical African landscape that features characters such as Tracker and Sogolon the Moon Witch. Told from the perspective of Sogolon, Moon Witch, Spider King explores themes of war, class and revenge as seen through the eyes of the 117-year-old witch.

Marlon James is a Jamaican writer based in New York City. He is the author of five novels: John Crow’s DevilThe Book of Night WomenA Brief History of Seven Killings, which won him the 2015 Man Booker Prize, Black LeopardRed Wolf, and Moon Witch, Spider King.

The Swimmers is a book by Julie Otsuka. (Jean-Luc Bertini, Penguin Random House)

The Swimmers is a novel about a community swimming pool and the people who visit it. The swimmers each take solace in their daily morning or afternoon laps. But when a crack appears at the bottom of the pool, their regular routines are disrupted to devastating effect. The Swimmers takes a look at community, mortality and the impact of emotional and psychological trauma 

Julie Otsuka is an American author born and raised in California. She is a recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and her first novel, When the Emperor Was Divine won the 2003 Asian American Literary Award and the 2003 American Library Association’s Alex Award. Her second novel, The Buddha in the Attic, was a finalist for the National Book Award in 2011 and won the 2012 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction and the 2011 Langum Prize in American Historical Fiction. 

Q8:25Jael Richardson’s book pick: The Swimmers by Julie Otsuka

Our books columnist Jael Richardson joined guest host Talia Schlanger to fill us in on her latest recommendation, The Swimmers by Julie Otsuka.

Hotline by is a book by Dimitri Nasrallah. (Vehicule Press, Bruno Destombes)

It’s 1986 and Muna Heddad has left behind a civil war in Lebanon and is living in Montreal. The only work she can find is as a hotline operator at a weight-loss centre where she fields calls from people responding to ads in magazines or on TV. These strangers have so much to say about their challenges, from marriages gone bad to personal inadequacies. Although her life in Canada is filled with invisible barriers, Muna is privy to her clients’ deepest secrets.

Dimitri Nasrallah is a writer from Lebanon. He is the author of novels The BleedsNiko, which won the 2011 Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction, and Blackbodying, winner of Quebec’s McAuslan First Book Prize. Nasrallah lives in Montreal and is the fiction editor at Esplanade Books.

The Next Chapter2:17Dimitri Nasrallah on The Bleeds

Dimitri Nasrallah on his latest book, The Bleeds.

Looking for Jane is a book by Heather Marshall. (Simon & Schuster Canada, Amanda Kopcic)

In 2017, Angela Creighton discovers a mysterious letter containing a confession in an old stack of mail. Determined to find the recipient, Angela’s search takes her back to the 1970s when a group of women operated an underground abortion network in Toronto known by the code name: Jane. 

Weaving together the lives of three women, Looking for Jane is a story about the devastating consequences that come from a lack of choice and the enduring power of a mother’s love.

Heather Marshall is a writer from Toronto. Before turning her attention to storytelling, Marshall worked in politics and communications. Looking for Jane is her first novel.

10:30Wendy McLeod MacKnight recommends three favourite historical novels

The author and Next Chapter columnist Wendy McLeod MacKnight reviews Looking for Jane by Heather Marshall, The Perishing by Natashia Deon and The Singing Forest by Judith McCormack.

Bloomsbury Girls is a book by Natalie Jenner. (Sarah Sims, St. Martin’s Press)

Bloomsbury Girls tells the story of Vivien Lowry, Grace Perkins and Evie Stone — three women with a complex web of relationships, goals and dreams — as they interact with famous literary figures. The novel is set in the 1950s world of publishing and the women work in an old-fashioned bookstore, run by men, called Bloomsbury Books. As they juggle their lives, the women work toward a future that is richer and more rewarding than anything society will allow. 

Natalie Jenner is the bestselling author of The Jane Austen Society, which was the 2020 Goodreads Choice Award runner-up for historical fiction. Jenner is a former lawyer and independent bookshop owner. She was born in England and now lives in Oakville, Ont. 

Hanya Yanagihara is the author of To Paradise. (Jacopo Raule, McClelland & Stewart)

To Paradise is a novel set in an alternate version of 19th century America, one where New York is part of the Free States and where people may live and love whomever they please. Spanning three centuries and three different versions of the American experiment, To Paradise is a look at the rise and fall of societies and the gender and identity politics that potentially restrict and restrain us.

Hanya Yanagihara is an American novelist, editor and travel writer based in New York City. Her previous books include the novels The People in the Trees and her breakout book A Little Life.

The Sunday Magazine23:37Hanya Yanagihara interrogates the promise of the United States as paradise

After the feverish fanfare around her 2015 breakout novel A Little Life, writer Hanya Yanagihara is back with a new book, To Paradise. She speaks with Piya Chattopadhyay about the themes she explores in her new work: freedom, utopia, borders, and disease over the span of three centuries, and through three different versions of the American experiment.

Activist and author Maude Barlow’s latest book is called Still Hopeful: Lessons from a Lifetime of Activism. (ECW Press, Michelle Valberg)

Maude Barlow counters the prevailing atmosphere of pessimism and offers lessons of hope that she has learned from a lifetime of activism. Barlow has been involved in three major movements: second-wave feminism, the battle against free trade and globalization and the fight for water justice. She emphasizes that effective activism is about building a movement and finding like-minded people rather than making the goal the focus.

Maude Barlow is a Canadian activist and writer. She is the bestselling author of 20 books and served as the senior water advisor to the UN General Assembly. Barlow was a leader in the campaign to have water recognized as a human right. She lives in Ottawa.

The Sunday Magazine24:05Maude Barlow reflects on a lifetime of activism and the keys to not giving up

As a leader in Canada’s women’s movement, Maude Barlow helped score victory after victory. But when her activism moved to combating globalization and the dominant economic narratives of our time, she had to dig deep to find hope. The author and activist joins Piya Chattopadhyay to discuss her new book Still Hopeful: Lessons from a Lifetime of Activism. She shares her insights on how to build an activist movement for the long haul, and reacts to the latest damning report from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which was released earlier this week.

Rave is a book by Jessica Campbell. (Submitted by Jessica Campbell, Drawn & Quarterly)

This graphic novel follows a 15-year-old girl named Lauren, who is a faithful member of an evangelical church. After her devout parents banish evolution textbooks from the house, Lauren goes to study and sleeps over at her classmate Mariah’s house. The evening develops into something Lauren never expected, and she’s left to sort out a lifetime’s worth of internalized homophobia and Christian guilt.

Jessica Campbell is an artist, originally from Victoria, whose work has been exhibited across the U.S. and Canada. Her previous books include Hot or Not: 20th Century Male Artists and XTC69.

Q14:39Jessica Campbell’s new graphic novel is an ‘autobifictionalography’ inspired by her crisis of faith

Jessica Campbell is a graphic novelist from B.C., who grew up in a strict religious community. But as she got older, she started to question her faith. Her latest book, Rave, is loosely inspired by her journey of figuring out who she is and what she believes in. Campbell joined Tom Power to tell us more.

Be a Triangle is a book by Lilly Singh. (Frazer Harrison/Getty Images, Doubleday Canada)

Actor, author and creator Lilly Singh explores how to create inner peace in the face of adversity. From Singh’s personal struggles with identity, success and self-doubt, she teaches readers to “unsubscribe” from cookie-cutter ideals.

Be a Triangle is an uplifting guide to befriending yourself.

Lilly Singh is a Toronto-born entertainer, author, YouTuber and former late-night talk show host. She gained international popularity through her YouTube channel, Superwoman. Her debut book, How to Be a Bawsewon a 2017 Goodreads Choice Awards.

The Sunday Magazine21:35Life after late night with Lilly Singh

In 2019, Canada’s Lilly Singh was celebrated as the first LGBTQ+ woman of Indian descent to host a late night talk show on a major American television network. Two years and one ongoing pandemic later, NBC cancelled the show, leaving Singh to figure out her next move, while trying to conquer her feelings of failure. Singh, who rose to fame as a YouTube sensation, shares how she worked her way out of a slump in her new book Be a Triangle: How I Went from Being Lost to Getting My Life Into Shape. She speaks with Piya Chattopadhyay about how she regained her happiness by finding her foundation, the barriers she came up against in the late-night arena, and what it means to be a leader as a person of Indian heritage in North American culture.

Sheila Heti is the author of Pure Colour. (Margaux Williamson, Knopf Random Vintage Canada)

Pure Colour follows a woman named Mira, who leaves home for school and meets a person named Annie. Annie has this power over Mira and opens her chest like a portal. Many years later when Mira is older, her father dies and his spirit passes into her. Together, they become a leaf on a tree. But when photosynthesis gets boring, Mira must choose whether or not to return to Annie and the human world she has left behind.

Pure Colour is a funny exploration of the wonderful and terrible aspects of being alive.

Sheila Heti is a Canadian playwright and author whose work has been translated in over a dozen languages. Her novel Motherhood was on the shortlist for the 2018 Scotiabank Giller Prize. She is also the author of the novels Ticknor and How Should a Person Be? and the self-help book The Chairs Are Where the People Go.

6:01Sheila Heti answers our Proust questionnaire

Sheila Heti on her favourite character in fiction, her greatest regret and more.

Sea of Tranquility is a book by Emily St. John Mandel. (Sarah Shatz, HarperCollins Canada)

From Vancouver Island in 1912 to a colony on the moon 500 years later, Sea of Tranquility is a novel about time travel and metaphysics. 

When detective Gaspery-Jacques Roberts is hired to investigate an anomaly in the North American wilderness, he uncovers a series of lives upended — from an exiled son driven mad by beauty and mystery in a Canadian forest to a writer living in a colony on the moon as a pandemic ravages Earth. Through his work, Gaspery has the chance to do something extraordinary that will disrupt the timeline of the universe.

Sea of Tranquility unfurls a story about humanity across centuries and space.

Emily St. John Mandel is a bestselling author currently based in New York. Her other novels include The Glass Hotelwhich was a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and selected by President Barack Obama as a favourite book of 2020; and Station Elevena bestseller adapted for HBO and a finalist for a National Book Award and the PEN/Faulkner Award.

The Sunday Magazine22:53Emily St. John Mandel’s visionary new novel is a journey through time, space and speculative simulation

Canadian writer Emily St. John Mandel was described as a prophetic visionary during the pandemic, for writing about a flu-like illness that shut down the world in her 2014 novel Station Eleven. The book surged in popularity during the actual pandemic and was adapted into an acclaimed television series. Her 2020 book, The Glass Hotel, also earned raves – Barack Obama listed it as one of his favourites of the year. In her much-anticipated follow-up, Sea of Tranquility, Mandel is once again revisiting life during global crisis – and yes, that includes pandemics. She sits down with Piya Chattopadhyay to talk about the new book, which takes readers on a journey through time travel, moon colonies, and big questions like whether we’re all living in one big simulation.

I Was the President’s Mistress!! is a book by Miguel Syjuco. (Rennell Salumbre, Hamish Hamilton)

Vita Nova, the Philippines’ most famous movie star, shares her story for the first time ever in a tell-all memoir. The actress was caught up in a political typhoon after having an affair with the country’s most powerful man. From drug wars to a government on the brink, Vita’s sensational story is one of a complicated society. 

I Was the President’s Mistress!! is a novel about love, politics, faith, history, memory and what we know as truth.

Miguel Syjuco is a Filipino Canadian writer. His debut novel, Ilustrado, was a New York Times Notable Book of 2010, and the winner of the Man Asian Literary Prize, the Hugh MacLennan Prize, the Palanca Award, and the Filipino Readers’ Choice Award.

Secrets of the Sprakkar is a book by Eliza Reid. (Kristín Bogadóttir)

Eliza Reid, the Canadian-born first lady of Iceland, looks at the country’s success with gender equality. Sprakkar, an ancient Icelandic word, means extraordinary or outstanding women and this notion permeates the country’s attitude towards women. 

Through interviews and stories of her own experiences, Reid explores what it means to move through the world as a woman and how the rules of society play more of a role in who we view as equal than we may understand. 

Eliza Reid is the Canadian-born first lady of Iceland. She has been first lady for the past five years, after her husband Guðni Thorlacius Jóhannesson was elected to the role of President and head of state in 2016. Reid has been a champion for gender equality, tourism, sustainability and literature during her tenure as first lady.

The Sunday Magazine22:03Iceland’s Canadian first lady on why her adopted country leads the world in gender equality

Eliza Reid grew up on a hobby farm in Ontario’s Ottawa Valley. Now she lives in Iceland’s presidential residence. As the Nordic country’s first lady, she knows what the nation’s commitment to gender equality can mean for the lives of women and girls – and the work left to be done. Reid joins David Common to discuss her new book Secrets of the Sprakkar: Iceland’s Extraordinary Women and How They Are Changing the World.

The School for Good Mothers is a book by Jessamine Chan. (Beowulf Sheehan, Simon & Schuster)

The School for Good Mothers is a novel about love, violence and the nature of parenting. When an immigrant named Frida Liu makes a fateful mistake one day, she loses custody of her child to an insidious government reform program. Frida’s worth as a mother and a person is tested as the novel explores the power of love and dangers of a dystopian society.

Jessamine Chan is an American author and editor based in Chicago. Chan’s short stories have appeared in Tin House and Epoch. The School for Good Mothers is her debut novel.

Q8:59Jael Richardson’s book pick: The School for Good Mothers by Jessamine Chan

Our books columnist Jael Richardson joined Tom Power to fill us in on Jessamine Chan’s debut novel, The School for Good Mothers — a dystopian drama about a state-run reeducation camp for bad moms.

Chidiogo Akunyili-Parr is the author of I Am Because We Are. (chidiogo.org, House of Anansi Press)

I Am Because We Are documents how Chidiogo Akunyili-Parr’s late mother, Dora Akunyili, faced down misogyny and corruption in Nigeria. The nonfiction book is a look at how Dora Akunyili took on fraudulent drug manufacturers after their products killed millions, including her sister. And when Akunyili becomes an elected official, she faced death threats and an assassination attempt. Akunyili-Parr’s mother suffered for her beliefs, as did her marriage and six children.

I Am Because We Are explores the importance of community over the individual and the power of kinship.

Chidiogo Akunyili-Parr is a Nigerian Canadian writer, speaker and the founder of She ROARs, a global community empowering women. She was included in The Guardian’s list of the 100 most inspiring women in Nigeria. I Am Because We Are is her first book. 

The Maid is a book by Nita Prose. (Viking, Dahlia Katz)

Molly Gray relies on her gran to interpret the world for her, as she struggles with social skills and misreads the intentions of others. When her gran dies, Molly is left to navigate life’s complexities all by herself and dives deep into her work as a hotel maid. But her orderly life is upended when she enters the suite of the infamous and wealthy Charles Black, only to find him dead. Caught up in a web of deception and suspicion, Molly unites with her friends to find out what really happened to Mr. Black. 

Nita Prose is a Toronto author and editor. She is currently the Canadian vice president and editorial director for publishing company Simon & Schuster. The Maid is her debut novel.

2:41Nita Prose on The Maid

Nita Prose on what inspired her novel, The Maid.

How High We Go in the Dark is a book by Sequoia Nagamatsu. (William Morrow)

How High We Go in the Dark is a centuries-spanning sci-fi epic that unpacks themes of climate change and the lasting effects of a global pandemic. Set in 2030, an archaeologist travels to the Arctic Circle to conduct research on melting permafrost. When the perfectly preserved remains of a girl is retrieved from the ice, the event unleashes an ancient virus that quickly infects large parts of society. The various storylines in How High We Go in the Dark examine the power of the human spirit, imagination and how we are all connected.

Jeremy “Sequoia” Nagamatsu is an American novelist and short story writer based in California. His debut book was the short story collection Where We Go When All We Were Is Gone. How High We Go in the Dark is his debut novel.

The Paris Apartment is a book by Lucy Foley. (William Morrow)

The Paris Apartment is a thriller novel where everyone is a potential suspect. When a woman named Jess travels to Paris seeking to reinvent herself, she stays with her half-brother Ben in his swanky apartment. But Jess learns there is more to her sibling than meets the eye and when Ben goes missing she gets caught up in a world of secrets and lies.

Lucy Foley is a British author of contemporary, historical fiction and mystery novels. Her novels The Paris Apartment and The Guest List are New York Times bestsellers.

Deep House is a mystery novel by Thomas King. (HarperCollins, Sinisa Jolic/CBC)

In the latest installment of the DreadfulWater Mystery series, Thumps DreadfulWater has finally found some peace in small-town Chinook. Although his beloved cat is still missing and his relationship with Claire is uncertain, Thumps can at least relax in the comfort of his home. But when he unintentionally discovers a body at the bottom of a canyon, the reluctant investigator becomes entangled in yet another inexplicable mystery and begins to question who he can really trust. 

Thomas King was the first Indigenous person to deliver a CBC Massey Lecture in 2003. His bestselling books include Truth & Bright WaterThe Inconvenient IndianGreen Grass, Running WaterThe Back of the Turtle and the DreadfulWater mystery series. He has also written a poetry collection, 77 Fragments of a Familiar Ruin.

9:08Thomas King joins book club

Thomas King is the focus of the latest meeting of the Whitehorse Public Library’s Indigenous Book Club

Margaret Atwood is the author of Burning Questions (Aaron Vincent Elkaim/Canadian Press, McClelland & Stewart)

Margaret Atwood seeks to answer burning questions like: Why do people tell stories? How can we live on our planet? What do zombies have to do with authoritarianism? 

In over 50 essays written between 2004 to 2021, Atwood reflects on a financial crash, the rise of Trump and a pandemic. Burning Questions covers topics like debt, tech and climate change, as Atwood ponders the many mysteries of our universe. 

Atwood is the celebrated Canadian writer who has published fiction, nonfiction, poetry and comics. Her acclaimed books include The Handmaid’s TaleAlias GraceOryx and Crake and The Edible Woman. She has won several awards for her work including the Governor General’s Literary Award, the Scotiabank Giller Prize and the Man Booker Prize. She is also a founder of the Griffin Poetry Prize and the Writers’ Trust of Canada.

The Sunday Magazine20:21Burning Questions with Margaret Atwood

Author Margaret Atwood’s new collection of essays Burning Questions: Essays and Occasional Pieces, 2004 -2021 covers close to two decades of her thoughts during a period of tumultuous change — a period that included a financial crisis, the rise of Trump, the continuing climate crisis, and the #Metoo movement. She sits down with Piya to talk about her new non-fiction book — which is a window into her thinking on where we are culturally today.

Azar Nafisi’s new collection of essays is called Read Dangerously: The Subversive Power of Literature in Troubled Times. (Stanley Staniski)

Read Dangerously is a nonfiction book that examines the intersecting roles of literary, politics and media. Structured as a series of letters to her father, Read Dangerously looks at her own experience with books, growing up in Islamic Republic of Iran and living as an immigrant in the United States. It asks questions around the power of literature in a troubled world.

Azar Nafisi is an academic and author based in Washington, D.C. Her work includes the New York Times bestseller Reading Lolita in Tehran, as well as Things I’ve Been Silent About, The Republic of Imagination and That Other World.

The Sunday Magazine23:15Azar Nafisi on the power of literature to fight authoritarianism

Between international conflicts, political division, misinformation, rising anti-democratic forces and a pandemic, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed by the latest news headlines. But the antidote to that hopelessness may be as close as your bookshelf or local library. So says Azar Nafisi, the acclaimed author who’s perhaps best-known for her memoir Reading Lolita in Tehran. Her new collection of essays Read Dangerously: The Subversive Power of Literature in Troubled Times is a reading list of sorts, written in the form of letters to her late father about the work of writers from Plato and Salman Rushdie, to Margaret Atwood and Ta-Nehisi Coates. Nafisi tells Piya Chattopadhyay why she turned to them for inspiration, as she struggled to make sense of the rise of authoritarianism around the world.

Danielle Daniel is the author of Daughters of the Deer. (danielledaniel.com, Random House Canada)

Daughters of the Deer tells the story of a mother named Marie and her daughter Jeanne. Marie, a gifted healer of the Deer Clan, is forced to marry a white soldier from France. The chief begs Marie to accept his proposal, as her people are threatened by disease, starvation and violence. Jeanne, Marie’s oldest child, is then caught between worlds. In love with a girl named Josephine, Jeanne is considered unnatural by her father, while her mother’s people see her two-spirited nature as a sign of special wisdom.   

Danielle Daniel is a writer and artist of settler and Indigenous ancestry living in the traditional territory of the Atikameksheng Anishnawbek (Sudbury, Ont.). Her other books include The Dependent, which was shortlisted for the 2017 Northern Lit Award, and the picture books Once in a Blue Moon and Sometimes I Feel Like a Fox, which won the Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award and was a finalist for the Blue Spruce Award and First Nation Communities Read Awards. She also illustrated the 2018 Marilyn Baillie Award-shortlisted picture book You Hold Me Up, written by Monique Gray Smith.

Jameela Green Ruins Everything is the debut novel by Little Mosque on the Prairie creator Zarqa Nawaz. (Simon & Shuster, Peter Scoular)

Jameela Green Ruins Everything is a satirical novel about a young woman named Jameela Green, whose biggest dream is to see her novel become a bestseller. When that dream doesn’t come true, she becomes involved in her local mosque, which inadvertently leads her to infiltrating an international terrorist organization. Jameela Green Ruins Everything explores success, searching for meaning and community, and the failures of American foreign policy.

Zarqa Nawaz is a film and TV producer, writer and former broadcaster based in Regina. She is best known for being the creator of the hit CBC comedy series Little Mosque on the Prairie. She is also the author of the memoir Laughing All the Way to the Mosquewhich was shortlisted for the 2015 Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour. Nawaz is also working on a new CBC TV series called Zarqa, which is set to premiere in 2022.

13:13Zarqa Nawaz on Jameela Green Ruins Everything

Zarqa Nawaz talks to Shelagh Rogers about her first novel, Jameela Green Ruins Everything

How to Take Over the World is a book by Ryan North. (Connie Tsang, Riverhead Books)

How to Take Over the World is a guide for supervillains with a keen interest in world domination. In this introduction to the science of comic-book supervillainy, Ryan North details various evil schemes that harness the potential of today’s most advanced technologies. The book also considers how one might save the world from some of its greatest threats by exploring emerging techniques to combat cyberterrorism, communicate across millennia and extend human life spans.

North is a writer and comics creator from Toronto. North’s work on the comics Adventure Time, Jughead and The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, have received three Eisner AwardsHe has also written two “choose-your-own-path” books, To Be Or Not To Be and Romeo and/or Julietparodying Shakespeare’s famous tragedies. His recent book How to Invent Everythingis a guide on how to rebuild modern civilization for lost time travellers.

The Next Civil War is a book by Stephen Marche. (Simon & Schuster, Dave Gillespie)

Drawing upon sophisticated predictive models and nearly 200 interviews with scholars, military leaders, law enforcement officials and political scientists, Edmonton-born author Stephen Marche predicts the future collapse of America. 

The Next Civil War is a researched work of speculative nonfiction that breaks down the possible scenarios and looming threats for America’s people, land and government. 

Marche is a Canadian novelist, essayist and cultural commentator. He is the author of several books including The Unmade Bed and The Hunger of the Wolf. His writing has appeared in the New Yorker, The New York Times, The Atlantic, Esquire and The Walrus.

Sarah Weinman is the author of Scoundrel (Nina Subin, Knopf Canada)

Scoundrel tells the true story of Edgar Smith, a convicted murderer who was saved from Death Row via an unlikely friendship with a famous figure in the neo-conservative movement. After Smith killed a 15-year-old girl in 1957, he was set to be executed. But when he struck up a friendship with the conservative William F. Buckley Jr., who hired lawyers to fight for a new trial. Smith also enlisted the help of Sophie Wilkins, a book editor he would go on to have an affair with, and would be released from prison to become a bestselling author.

Sarah Weinman is a journalist and author based in New York City. Her other novels include The Real Lolita, which tells the tale of the life of 11-year-old Sally Horner, who was abducted in 1948 and whose story inspired Vladimir Nabokov’s seminal novel Lolita. The Real Lolita won the Arthur Ellis Award for best nonfiction crime book.

21:43Sarah Weinman on Scoundrel

Sarah Weinman on her true-crime thriller Scoundrel, about a convicted killer who conned his way to freedom from Death Row.

Sheila North is a CBC journalist and author of the memoir My Privilege, My Responsibility. (Trisha Sadie North)

In her memoir, Sheila North shares the stories of the moments that shaped her and the violence that nearly stood in the way of her achieving her dreams. From her advocacy work in journalism, communications and economic development to creating the widely used hashtag #MMIW, North reflects on her experiences and the systemic racism faced by Indigenous women and girls.

North is the former Grand Chief of the Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak. She worked as a broadcast journalist and won a Radio Television Digital News Association Award. She is a Gemini Award nominee and was featured in Chatelaine Magazine’s list of the Top 30 Women of 2015. North is a member of the Bunibonibee Cree Nation.

The Circus Train is a book by Amita Parikh. (amitaparikh.com, HarperCollins Canada)

Although the daughter of an extraordinary illusionist, Lena Papadopoulos has never quite found her place within the circus. Her father, Theo, is overprotective and limits her world because she is disabled. When Lena rescues Alexandre, an orphan with a mysterious past, their friendship flourishes over the years and Alexandre trains to join the circus. Eventually, Alexandre and Theo are contracted to perform in a model town for Jews set up by the Nazis and Lena becomes separated from everything she knows, forced to make her own way.

Amita Parikh is a writer from Toronto. She works in the tech industry and produces and hosts a podcast dedicated to women in sports. The Circus Train is her first novel. 

Good Mom on Paper is a book edited by by Stacey May Fowles, middle, and Jen Sookfong Lee, right. (Book*Hug Press, N. Maxwell, Kyrani Kanavaro)

Good Mom on Paper is a collection of 20 essays from writers like Heather O’Neill, Lee Maracle, Jael Richardson, Alison Pick and more. The collection is an honest and intimate exploration of the complicated relationship between motherhood and creativity. These essays pick at the often-invisible challenges of literary life as a parent and celebrate the systems that nurture writers who are mothers.

Stacey May Fowles is a Canadian journalist, essayist and the author of four books. Her writing has appeared in the Globe and Mail, The National Post, Elle Canada, The Walrus and elsewhere. Fowles lives in Toronto, where she is working on a children’s book and her fourth novel.

Jen Sookfong Lee is a writer from Vancouver. Her books include The Conjoined, which was nominated for the International Dublin Literary Award and was a finalist for the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize, The Better Mother, which was a finalist for the City of Vancouver Book Award, The End of EastThe Shadow List and Finding Home.

On The Coast6:37Good Mom on Paper

How does being a mother impact creativity? Or society’s perception of how creatively productive you can be? We’ll talk to Jen Sookfong Lee one of the editors of a new collection called ‘Good Mom on Paper’.

 

Toronto-based author Shyam Selvadurai’s latest novel is Mansions of the Moon. (Kevin Kelly, Knopf Canada)

Mansions of the Moon traces the life of Siddhartha Gautama, otherwise known as the Buddha, and his marriage to the intelligent and spirited Yasodhara. From their early life together to their crumbling partnership as Siddhartha’s spiritual calling takes over, Mansions of the Moon paints a rich portrait of a marriage and illuminates a woman who has remained in the shadows of history.

Shyam Selvadurai is an award-winning Sri Lankan Canadian novelist. His books include Funny Boywhich won the 1995 Books in Canada First Novel Award, now known as the Amazon Canada First Novel Award. It was also adapted into a film by Indian Canadian filmmaker Deepa Mehta, which is available on CBC Gem. His other books include The Hungry Ghosts and Swimming in the Monsoon Sea.

The Current25:54Novelist Shyam Selvadurai reimagines ancient India through the wife of the man who became the Buddha

In his new book, Sri Lankan-Canadian novelist Shyam Selvadurai reimagines ancient India through the life of Yasodhara, the wife of the man who became the Buddha. He talks about the book and the role of Buddhism in his own life.

Quiet Night Think is a book by Gillian Sze. (ECW Press, Nadia Zheng)

Composed of personal essays and poems, Gillian Sze reflects on her familial and artistic origins in Quiet Night Think. This collection takes its name from a direct translation of an eighth-century Chinese poem by Li Bai, the subject of the opening essay. As Sze moves between poetry and prose, mother and writer, she meditates on ideas of emergence and transformation.

Gillian Sze is a poet from Winnipeg. She is the author of multiple poetry collections, as well as the 2021 children’s book The Night is Deep and Wide. Sze lives in Montreal.

The Day-Breakers is a book by Michael Fraser. (Biblioasis)

The Day-Breakers is an homage to the sacrifice of the Black Canadian soldiers who fought for the Union during the American Civil War. The poetry collection captures their voices and the era in which they lived, providing a new perspective on Black history.

Michael Fraser is a Toronto poet and writer. He has been published in several anthologies and his books include To Greet Yourself Arriving and The Serenity of Stone. His poem African Canadian in Union Blue won the 2016 CBC Poetry Prize

The Girl in the Middle is a book by Anais Granofsky. (HarperCollins, Justin Aranha)

Anais Granofsky is a Canadian woman of mixed Black American and Jewish heritage. Her parents met in the early 1970s: her father is the son of a very wealthy Toronto Jewish family; her mother is one of fifteen children from a poor Black Methodist family. The Girl in the Middle reveals how Granofsky is forced to navigate her way through issues of race, class and social standing. When she became a star on the TV series Degrassi Junior High, she came to a better understanding of her place in the world.

Granofsky is an actor, director, producer and writer. Best known for her role as Lucy Fernandez on Degrassi Junior High and Degrassi High, she has directed and starred in a number of films. She is also developing a fictional TV series loosely based on her childhood. The Girl in the Middle is Granofsky’s first book.

Q23:28Degrassi’s Anais Granofsky describes her childhood growing up between two worlds

When she was a teenager, Anais Granofsky played Lucy Fernandez on the groundbreaking TV series Degrassi Junior High. In her new memoir, The Girl in the Middle: Growing Up Between Black and White, Rich and Poor, she describes her childhood split between two very different worlds. Granofsky lived in social housing with her mom — a Black woman — who raised her mostly alone. But on weekends, the actor would visit her dad’s parents — one of the wealthiest Jewish families in Toronto — at their mansion. Granofsky joined Tom Power to share her story and how acting helped her feel like she finally belonged.

Bless the Daughter Raised by a Voice in Her Head is a book by Warsan Shire. (Penguin Random House, Leyla Jeyte)

With her first full-length poetry collection, author Warsan Shire explores womanhood, identity and belonging. Steeped in current events and pop culture, the collection peers into the experience of refugees and immigrants, mothers and daughters, Black women and teenage girls.

Shire is a Somali-British writer and poet born in Nairobi and raised in London. She has written two chapbooks, Teaching My Mother How To Give Birth and Her Blue Body. She was awarded the inaugural Brunel International African Poetry Prize and served as the first Young Poet Laureate of London.

Q24:56Poet and Beyoncé collaborator Warsan Shire on her debut collection

Award-winning writer Warsan Shire joined Tom Power to discuss her first full collection of poetry, Bless the Daughter Raised by a Voice in Her Head, about migration, womanhood, trauma and resilience. It’s based on her difficult childhood caring for her younger sisters.

The Quiet in Me is a book by Patrick Lane. (Harbour Publishing, Chris Hancock Donaldson)

In this final poetry collection, Patrick Lane contemplates the quiet of living in a body amongst so many other bodies. From the trout in the lake to geese arriving with the wind and a raccoon fishing in a river, Lane reveals a web of life filled with beauty and pain. 

Lane was a Canadian poet and novelist. He was the author of several books of poetry, along with works of fiction and nonfiction. Lane won many awards including the Governor General’s Literary Award for Poetry, the Canadian Authors Association Award and three National Magazine Awards. In 2014, he was made an officer of the Order of Canada. Lane died at the age of 79 in March 2019.

On The Island10:04A new collection of poems is out this month, from the late Patrick Lane. His wife, and editor, Lorna Crozier

Gregor Craigie spoke with poet Lorna Crozier, and the final collection of her late husband Patrick Lane’s poetry. The Quiet in Me is out now.

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