Happy Canada Day, everyone!
You may remember how I used to think Canadian literature was “uncool” and how over the past few years I’ve been trying to catch up and keep up on all of the amazing books Canada has to offer. Well, as you may have guessed, there’s a lot that I haven’t read yet, so I thought I’d share with you a portion of my CanLit TBR. (Of course, after I took the picture for this post, I realized I forgot to include Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood, which is definitely something I’ve been meaning to check out.) If, after reading this post, you’re looking for even more Canadian reads to add to your list, here are 10 books that I’d recommend! Now, on to my (incomplete) list:
A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toews
One of my favourite books from last year was Miriam Toews’ All My Puny Sorrows. It was heart-wrenching, beautifully written, and helped shape my worldview. I’ve heard many great things about A Complicated Kindness, so I’m looking forward to being immersed in Toews’ beautiful words and thoughts again. (Fun fact: I didn’t know how to pronounce “Toews” until last year when I finally heard someone say it out loud. I used to pronounce it as “toes.” It’s pronounced “tay-ves.”)
The Inconvenient Indian by Thomas King
Canada has a deep (and dark) history with its Native peoples, and Thomas King’s The Inconvenient Indian aims to shed some light on the relationship between Natives and non-Native peoples in North America. As someone who would love to be more aware of issues like these, The Inconvenient Indian, which was one of the selections for Canada Reads 2015, has made it to the top of my Can Lit TBR. (Fun fact: Thomas King has been nominated for the Governor General’s Award for both fiction and non-fiction.)
Chez L’Arabe by Mireille Silcoff
This collection of linked short stories centres around a woman in Montreal who is suffering from a chronic illness. I’ve actually read the first story from this collection and it is beautifully written. I can’t wait to read more. (Little known fact: Chez L’Arabe was inspired by Silcoff’s own medical struggles.)
Fifteen Dogs by André Alexis
I picked this up at Coach House Books‘ spring launch and have been meaning to get to it since. Set in Toronto, this book imagines what it would be like if dogs had human intelligence. Need I say more? (Fun fact: To get into the heads of the dogs he was writing about, Alexis went around Toronto to try to imagine how different neighbourhoods would smell like to a dog. “In some ways that’s disgusting because you have to have shades of urine or shades of merde,” he writes in this article on the CBC website.)
Undermajordomo Minor by Patrick deWitt
This is actually an upcoming title from House of Anansi Press, but I’m extremely excited to dive in because I’ve heard great things about deWitt’s writing, especially in his previous book The Sisters Brothers. The back of the book describes Undermajordomo Minor as “a triumphant ink-black comedy,” which has me intrigued to say the least. (Fun fact: 2011 was a huge year for deWitt as The Sisters Brothers was nominated for the Man Booker Prize, Scotiabank Giller Prize, Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, and Governor General’s Award for English language fiction alongside fellow Canadian writer Esi Edugyan.)
Have you read any of the books on my list? Is there anything that I missed and should read ASAP? If you’re in Canada, how are you spending your Canada Day?
12 thoughts on “A #CanLit TBR”
My husband is reading the Inconvenient Indian. He finds that it has a lot of lists! I’m hoping to read it myself when he is done. I’m not sure if they are on the list or not, but I’ve recently read 2 really great books by Canadian authors: When The Saints, and And The Birds Rained Down. I definitely recommend!
The Inconvenient Indian and Fifteen Dogs are on my TBR list too! If you liked All My Puny Sorrows, I’d like to suggest Swing Low, Miriam Toews’ biography of her father. I just finished it, and found it absolutely wonderful. It reads like a novel (she decided to write it in the first person, as her father) and in my opinion, it’s even stronger and emotionally involving than All My Puny Sorrows!
I need to read more Canadian lit. None of these are familiar to me (but I love Atwood!). Thanks for sharing!
Omg! The Inconvenient Indian is easily the best non-fiction book I’m ever read, and A Complicated Kindness is SUCH a treat. If you catch the Miriam Toews bug, I suggest you immediately move on to Summer of My Amazing Luck, which carries the same poignancy as her more serious books but also works as a beach read—it’s just so much FUN.
There has been some buzz around Fifteen Dogs lately, and I would really like to get to it! Also, confession time… I’ve never read Atwood! Shock! Horror! I hope to get to The Handmaid’s Tale sometime this year 🙂
You and I share a similar history with CanLit. But we’re both working on it – you’re way ahead of me though. I still haven’t read any Margaret Atwood.
The Sisters Brothers was actually fantastic. And this from someone who a) has an aversion to CanLit and b) doesn’t like Westerns. It was super sharp, funny, and it totally had me hooked. I’m kind of excited he has a new book coming out!
UM. When Everything Feels Like the Movies!!!!
I’m looking forward to deWitt’s new book!
I loved The Inconvenient Indian and Fifteen Dogs, and read A Complicated Kindness quite a long time ago, but I remember liking it.
Most recent recommendation – Do You Think This is Strange? by Aaron Cully Drake
Happy (belated) Canada Day!
The Inconvenient Indian souds like a good book, about a tough topic that most tend to avoid. I have added it to my ever growing list of books to read. Thanks for the suggestion!
I feel I need to revisit A Complicated Kindness; I read it years ago when I was slowly starting to read more CanLit but found it, errr, rather boring. Maybe the years might give me a different perspective on it 🙂
I’ve been slowly trying to read more CanLit in the last year or so, namely Alice Munro, haha. I read deWitt’s The Sisters Brothers a few years ago and quite enjoyed it; curious to check out his forthcoming book 🙂 Happy reading! Hope you had a good Canada Day 🙂
I love this list! I’ve been on the hunt for some Canadian authors to read, so thanks for filling up my TBR. 🙂
P.S. The only reason I know how to say “Toews” is because it’s the last name of a (very, very beautiful) hockey player for the Chicago Blackhawks. 😉