Book Reviews

  • ‘Shot-Blue’ by Jesse Ruddock

    41eEt1ObKPL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Reviewed by Ben Wood

    A lot of young Canadian writers are loath to include in their stories themes that are (rightly or wrongly) associated with CanLit. They have been brandished for so long that we recoil when we see them, plastered on course syllabi and jacket covers like a marquee announcing a title fight: Urban vs. Rural. Humans vs. Nature. MORE >

  • ‘All the Things We Leave Behind’ by Riel Nason

    51CeXAQSQ6L._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_Reviewed by Clarissa Fortin

    Antiques, drownings, and the ghostly pull of memory: these are the themes that seem to fascinate Riel Nason. MORE >

  • ‘The Two of Us’ by Kathy Page

    414AEqy4q2L._SX317_BO1,204,203,200_Reviewed by Jason Marcus-Freeman

    British-Canadian author Kathy Page’s career has spanned thirty-plus years, and in that period she’s written seven novels, many short- or longlisted for various writing prizes (the Orange Prize for Fiction, the Governor General’s Literary Award, the ReLit award). It’s interesting that at this point in her career, her last two books have been short story collections: the well-received Paradise & Elsewhere, and now The Two of Us, both of which have been longlisted for the Giller. MORE >

  • ‘A Desolate Splendor’ by John Jantunen

    desolatesplendorReviewed by Justin Andrews

    John Jantunen’s second novel is a post-apocalyptic western that some are comparing to Cormac McCarthy’s The Road and Blood Meridian. MORE >

  • ‘Border Markers’ by Jenny Ferguson

    51qR58PNZYL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Reviewed by Will J. Fawley

    Jenny Ferguson’s literary debut, Border Markers, is a novel in stories. But it is at once something bigger and briefer than that. Bigger because it is more than a single plot or point of view, and briefer because it’s actually closer to novella length. MORE >

  • ‘The Witches of New York’ by Ami McKay

    witchesnewyorkReviewed by Alison Gillmor

    At a time when “nasty women” really need to make their voices heard, this new novel by Indiana-born, Nova Scotia-based Ami McKay (The Birth House, The Virgin Cure) takes on the social forces that conspire to diminish and silence outspoken or unorthodox females. MORE >

  • ‘A Plea for Constant Motion’ by Paul Carlucci

    a-plea-for-constant-motionBy Brett Josef Grubisic

    At a glance, A Plea For Constant Motion, Paul Carlucci’s compelling second collection of short fiction—the follow-up to his award-winning The Secret Life of Fission (2013)—looks standard-issue. With twelve stories in just under 300 pages, it might be a tad thicker than average; girth aside, the volume seems conventional. MORE >

  • ‘Advocate’ by Darren Greer

    advocateReviewed by Andrew Woodrow-Butcher

    Underneath the surface of Darren Greer’s latest novel lies the outline of a work that could have been great. Advocate entwines an account of the AIDS epidemic and its attendant hysteria with the story of an adult’s homecoming to the small town of his childhood, where he will encounter troubling memories of his past. MORE >

  • ‘Everything Life Has to Offer’ by Shari Kasman

    everythingReviewed by Noah Cain 

    There is a certain magic or alchemy required for strange stories to work. Miranda July and George Saunders are two contemporary writers who have discovered this alchemy. They write surreal and strange stories that illuminate the elemental parts of our humanity. They make us feel, not just think. MORE >

  • ‘Under the Stone’ by Karoline Georges

    51SR-Z6JYxL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_Reviewed by David McGregor

    Under the Stone (Sous Beton) is the first novel by Montreal-based author and artist Karoline Georges to be published in English translation. The novel (or novella, depending on your distinction between the two) follows in the long tradition of stories about the philosophical crises of a dystopian future. MORE >

  • ‘Brothers’ by David Clerson

    brothersReviewed by Dan Twerdochlib

    There is a moment in the Iliad where Achilles has clogged the river Xanthus with so many corpses that the god of the river rises against him in protest. Achilles responds by attacking the river itself. This is the spirit in which the term mythical should be understood when describing David Clerson’s Brothers. MORE >

  • ‘Involuntary Bliss’ by Devon Code

    involuntaryReviewed by André Forget 

    On a purely narrative level, there is nothing remarkable about the story Devon Code tells in Involuntary Bliss. MORE >

  • ‘Fierce Femmes and Notorious Liars’ by Kai Cheng Thom

    fierce-femmes-finalReviewed by jia qing wilson-yang

    When I was a teenager, a close friend bought me a switchblade. When the blade flicked out, you could see the word “stiletto” written delicately on its edge. MORE >

  • ‘For All the Men (and Some of the Women) I’ve Known’ by Danila Botha

    for-all-the-men-jpg-size-custom-crop-450x650Reviewed by Jonathan Valelly

    Longing, disappointment and a stubborn hope wear away at the characters in For All the Men (And Some of the Women) I’ve Known, stretching them thin across time. In her second collection of short stories, South African-born Danila Botha again assumes her role as a sullen songstress for Toronto twenty- and thirty-somethings. MORE >