Book Reviews

  • ‘The Original Face’ by Guillaume Morissette

    Reviewed by Ben Wood

    A quick Google search for “koan” yields as the top result a Wiki page in the series on Zen Buddhism. This is a good starting point for Guillaume Morissette’s second novel, The Original Face, about an Internet artist named Daniel whose problems of love, work and art resemble the kind of deferred adulthood that is symptomatic of his generation (yes, this is a novel for millennials). MORE >

  • ‘Things Not to Do’ by Jessica Westhead

    Reviewed by Erica Lenti

    There are little things we are all guilty of doing though we know we shouldn’t have. They are humanizing and show humility; they build character. But they simultaneously cause discomfort, a sense of second-hand embarrassment from the outside looking in. MORE >

  • ‘Once More with Feeling’ by Méira Cook

    Reviewed by Charlene Van Buekenhout

    Méira Cook’s new novel follows one family, and an impressive number of minor characters, through the seasons of a city and the minutiae and maxima of life. MORE >

  • ‘The Third Person’ by Emily Anglin

    Reviewed by Andrew Woodrow-Butcher

    Toronto writer Emily Anglin’s short-fiction debut showcases a strong and distinctive voice in nine quiet, perfectly strange stories. Straddling the line between realism and uncanny dreamscape, The Third Person has a tone that is singular, consistent, and very involving. MORE >

  • ‘If Clara’ by Martha Baillie

    Reviewed by Domenica Martinello

    The first time we meet Clara, she begins with an if: “If you want to have any kind of relationship with me, never mention the following subjects: politics, movies, or eyes.” When we meet her well-intentioned sister Julia, the first of four alternating narrators in Martha Baillie’s If Clara, she has already trespassed, ruminating on Clara’s “astute eye” drawn to “the overlooked.” MORE >

  • ‘Brother’ by David Chariandy

    Reviewed by Derek Eidse 

    I’ve heard that the best place to begin with a new book is with its physicality: how it sits in space, how it feels in your hands, how its cover art and typeface draw you in. Contrary to a popular idiom regarding books and covers, many a novel does not make it past this critical stage. For me, this one did. MORE >

  • ‘Tarry This Night’ by Kristyn Dunnion

    Reviewed by Jonathan Valelly

    The phrase “world-building” has come in and out of vogue for years. In short, it describes the creative process behind those highly detailed typologies and maps that serve as the foundation of fantasy novels like Tolkien’s, the endless trivia of the Star Wars universe, or the core principle of popular video games like Minecraft. MORE >

  • ‘Winter Child’ by Virginia Pésémapéo Bordeleau, Trans. by Susan Ouriou and Christelle Morelli

    Reviewed by Patricia Robertson

    Winter Child is the first book by Québec writer Virginia Pésémapéo Bordeleau, who is of Cree and Algonquin origin, to be translated to English. Winter Child is not so much a novel as a long prose poem, by turns dreamy and matter-of-fact, in which a mother addresses her long-dead father, telling him of the death of her adult son. MORE >

  • ‘Fugue States’ by Pasha Malla

    Reviewed by Dan Twerdochlib

    Pasha Malla’s second novel Fugue States is about friendship, masculinity and dealing with heavy emotions…but let’s not call it bro-lit. MORE >

  • ‘What Can You Do’ by Cynthia Flood

    Reviewed by Joanna Graham

    As the fifth collection of short stories from an award-winning author, it’s no surprise that What Can You Do is an exceptionally written and thought-provoking read. The twelve stories make up just under 150 pages, and in each one Flood does a masterful job creating a sense of existence for her characters that extends beyond the pages of their story. Whether a story takes place over a few hours, like the brief period of quiet escape in “Calm,” or bridges several decades, as in the narrator’s resigned re-telling of his own past in “History Lesson(s)”—it’s often the sense of pre-existing and enduring conflicts that gives these stories so much weight. MORE >

  • ‘The Heavy Bear’ by Tim Bowling

    Reviewed by Richard Cumyn

    Not many pages into The Heavy Bear, Tim Bowling’s latest novel, I was seized by the desire to watch The Railrodder (NFB, 1965), one of Buster Keaton’s last appearances in a movie. I hadn’t seen the half-hour short since my brothers and I watched it as children, not long after it was released, in the old Victoria Museum (now the Canadian Museum of Nature) on McLeod Street in Ottawa. MORE >

  • ‘In the Cage’ by Kevin Hardcastle

    Reviewed by Andrew Woodrow-Butcher

    This new book from Kevin Hardcastle is a much-anticipated follow-up to his Trillium Award-winning 2016 short-fiction debut, Debris. Written before Debris but published subsequently, In the Cage revisits many of the themes of his other work, bringing us back to Hardcastle’s small-town, working-class, violently masculine world. MORE >

  • ‘The Slip’ by Mark Sampson

    Reviewed by Keith Cadieux

    The Canadian literary scene is no stranger to so-called outrage culture: the all-too-public screaming matches that often surround particular news items, TV appearances or blog posts. This is the atmosphere that Mark Sampson wades into with his latest novel, The SlipMORE >