Guide to Alligator by Lisa Moore

Lisa Moore’s Alligator moves with the swiftness of a gator in attack mode through the lives of a group of brilliantly rendered characters in contemporary St. John’s, Newfoundland — a city whose spiritual location is somewhere in Flannery O’Connor country. Its denizens jostle each other in uneasy arabesques of desire, greed, lust, and ambition, while yearning [...]

Guide to Cockroach by Rawi Hage

One of the most highly anticipated novels of the year, Cockroach is as urgent, unsettling, and brilliant as Rawi Hage’s bestselling and critically acclaimed first book, De Niro’s Game. The novel takes place during one month of a bitterly cold winter in Montreal’s restless immigrant community, where a self-described “thief” has just tried but failed to commit [...]

Guide to Die With Me by Elena Forbes

Somewhere in London, a lonely young woman is reaching out to the wrong man. It’s up to Detective Inspector Mark Tartaglia and the rest of the local murder squad to find her before it’s too late. When fourteen-year-old Gemma Kramer’s broken body is found on the floor of St. Sebastian’s Church, the official ruling is [...]

Guide to Madame Zee by Pearl Luke

It starts with a strange tightness in her chest, followed by a vision. A boy she doesn’t recognize. A man falling through ice. And finally the serene face of Honora, her dead sister. Mabel doesn’t know why she has these “daydreams.” As a young English girl at the dawn of the 20th century, all Mabel [...]

Guide to Penny Loves Wade, Wade Love Penny by Caroline Woodward

Penny Loves Wade, Wade Loves Penny (Oolichan Books: 2010): Background information Several decades ago in a writing workshop discussion about heroes in literature, I blurted out that Penelope, of Odysseus and Penelope, was, in fact, a hero. The rest of the class paused briefly (why is she bringing Homer Simpson into the discussion when she [...]

Guide to Sitting Practice by Caroline Adderson

It only takes a moment for your life to be changed forever—as the characters of this darkly comic novel discover early on. The fateful moment for the newlyweds Ross and Iliana comes with the freak automobile accident that leaves Iliana paralyzed, Ross grief-stricken, and both of them struggling to come to terms with a married [...]

Guide to The Big Why by Michael Winter

The Big Why is both Michael Winter’s dazzling reinvention of the historical novel and a passionate and witty faux memoir of Rockwell Kent, the famous illustrator of Moby Dick. Focusing on the year Kent and his family spent in Brigus, Newfoundland on the eve of the First World War, Winter offers up the private emotions [...]

Guide to The Find by Kathy Page

A  day’s prospecting leads paleontologist Anna Silowski to make an extraordinary discovery in a remote part of British Columbia,  but at the same time,  tensions below the surface of her successful career are exposed.  Pushed towards breakdown, Anna finds herself unexpectedly dependent on high-school drop-out Scott Macleod, and recruits him to help on the excavation [...]

Guide to The Great Karoo by Fred Stenson

The Great Karoo begins in 1899, as the British are trying to wrest control of the riches of South Africa from the Boers, the Dutch farmers who claimed the land. The Boers have turned out to be more resilient than expected, so the British have sent a call to arms to their colonies — and [...]

Guide to The In-Between World of Vikram Lall by MG Vassanji

In his fifth novel, Kenya-born Vassanji, who holds the distinction of being the only author to win the prestigious Giller Prize twice, writes eloquently about love, betrayal, politics, and racial tension in his father’s homeland. The In-Between World of Vikram Lall opens memorably with the fiftyish narrator claiming from his home in Toronto, “I have [...]

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