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May’s Best Fiction: 10 Books to Put Spring in Your Stack

This month we're reading Ali Smith's follow-up to the Seasonal Quartet, a retelling of "Rebecca" set in Mexico and a new fantasy from Guy Gavriel Kay / BY Nathalie Atkinson / April 27th, 2022


Family sagas, dystopian dramas, and genre-bending fiction are among the 10 books we’re most looking forward to this month.

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1Companion Pieceby Ali Smith

Fresh from her Seasonal Quartet series, Smith’s latest is another up-to-the-minute novel, a companion (as the title suggests) to those previous four books, set during the COVID-19 pandemic. The tale of friction between parents and their millennial children covers contemporary ground, with all the usual suspects, plus xenophobia, healthcare policy and gender fluidity. As before, the celebrated British author’s palpably anguished, angry and, at times, surreal novel embodies the expression “fingertip history,” coined by a historian to describe an age so close you can just about touch it. (May 3)


2Poguemahoneby Patrick McCabe

To set the scene: While Dan visits his sister Una (who suffers from dementia) at her nursing home in Margate, on England’s southeast coast, he recounts their memories, grudges and family saga as an epic and psychedelic free-verse monologue, complete with allusions to The Waste Land, E.E. Cummings, and W.B. Yeats. A swirling tale nearly 600 pages long, the latest modernist-meets-Beat-poetry novel from the Booker-shortlisted Irish writer of The Butcher Boy and Breakfast on Pluto is, naturally, being called this century’s Ulysses. (May 3)


3Remarkably Bright Creaturesby Shelby van Pelt

To stave off her loneliness, the recently widowed Tova, 70, works as a night janitor at the local aquarium. Here she forms a bond with wily Marcellus, the grumpy resident octopus who longs for his freedom and return to the sea. Alternately told from Tova’s point of view and that of both Cameron (the young maintenance worker she mentors) and yes, the clever and intuitive giant octopus, together they piece together the truth of their past losses, which turn out to be related. It’s a quirky debut by a Chicago-based writer that, like A Man Called Ove, is great reminder of how hope for the future can come from unlikely connections. (May 3)


4Love Marriageby Monica Ali

For her first novel in a decade (soon to be a BBC drama), the acclaimed Booker-nominated British author of Brick Lane explores the nature of identity in multicultural modern Britain through the engagement between two young Londoners. Doctor-in-training Yasmin learns the truth about her Indian-born parents’ so-called love marriage in this warm and engaging novel, which looks at the culture clash and generational tensions around her impending nuptials and fiancé’s family of upper-class literati. (May 3)


5The Haciendaby Isabel Cañas

Cañas, a Mexican-American writer working on her PhD in medieval Islamic literature, reimagines Daphne du Maurier’s haunted house and malevolent housekeeper in the novel Rebecca, and transposes it to 19th-century Mexico. An enthralling addition to the growing genre of post-colonial gothic suspense, the setting just after the War of Independence allows it to address issues of class and colourism, and include elements of witchcraft – in this case, invoking the Aztec gods of death and sorcery. (May 3)


6Siren Queenby Nghi Vo

No maids, no funny talking, no fainting flowers” is the deal that an ambitious Chinese-American starlet (inspired by the real-life Anna May Wong) strikes to avoid racist typecasting in in pre-code Hollywood, that brief period in talkies before the Motion Picture Production Code of moral censorship was adopted in 1934. The Wisconsin-based, Hugo Award-winning author of The Chosen and the Beautiful, last year’s sublime queer magical retelling of The Great Gatsby, works a similar spell here: Vo literalizes the metaphors commonly used to describe the magic of movies – stardust, selling one’s soul (including studio bosses as literal monsters) and silver screen immortality – for an enchanting novel of Golden Age Hollywood that’s equal parts fantasy and wistful revisionist history. (May 10)


7Child Zeroby Chris Holm

Stephen King endorses this speculative thriller by a former molecular biologist turned crime writer who also lives in Maine, saying it has a Michael Crichton vibe. It’s a thought-provoking ride about a near-future pandemic exponentially worse than COVID-19 – think an even more panicked and militarized Escape from New York after a bioterrorist attack, one where medicine fails to cope with existing disease. The novel reflects the societal upheaval and political instability of the current pandemic, and takes the consequences of biological disaster a few chilling steps forward. (May 10)


8All the Seas of the Worldby Guy Gavriel Kay

Religion, war and family are evergreen subjects, whatever the century. In this stand-alone novel, the Toronto-based, World Fantasy Award-winning author revisits the near-Renaissance world of his international bestsellers, like Children of Earth and Sky. Related characters tread the same alternate Mediterranean world of 1450-1500 to deliver overlapping storylines rife with the signature combination of history, political intrigue (spies! attempted assassination!) and evocative world-building that has earned Kay a cult following. (May 24)


9Yerba Buenaby Nina LaCour

This love story about Sara and Emilie, two women who struggle to find themselves, love and one another, is the adult novel debut of bestselling San Francisco-based YA author LaCour — and is on every most-anticipated book list that matters. The textured and quietly powerful novel has been likened to Patricia Highsmith’s Carol in its depiction of domestic and sensual pleasures, while also addressing the messiness of addiction, generational trauma and the cost of independence. (May 31)


10The Garden of Broken Thingsby Francesca Momplaisir

The new novel from the Haitian-born, Oxford-educated, New York-based writer with a PhD in African and African diaspora literature (who Harpers Bazaar has compared to Toni Morrison at the height of her powers”) tracks the dynamics among three generations of women during a catastrophic disaster. Genevieve, a single mother from New York, is in Port-au-Prince with her troubled teenage son to reconnect with their heritage when the devastating 2010 earthquake hits, and surviving the aftermath becomes a living nightmare that tests familial bonds as they rebuild, in every sense of the word. (May 10)


THE SCROLL

French Author Annie Ernaux, 82, Becomes First French Woman to Win Nobel Prize for LiteratureThe author said, of winning, that "I was very surprised ... I never thought it would be on my landscape as a writer."


Hilary Mantel, Award-Winning British Author of ‘Wolf Hall’ Trilogy, Dies at 70Wolf Hall, published in 2009, and its sequel Bring Up the Bodies, released three years later, both won the Booker Prize, an unprecedented win for two books in the same trilogy and making Mantel the first woman to win the award twice.


Prince William “Cannot Forgive” Prince Harry, According to ‘The New Royals’ Author Katie NichollPrince William “just cannot forgive his brother,” according to Katie Nicholl, author of 'The New Royals: Queen Elizabeth’s Legacy and the Future of the Crown.'


Five Finalists Announced for Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for NonfictionThe winner — to be announced on November 2 — will take home the annual $60,000 prize.


Peter Straub, Bestselling American Horror Writer, Dies at 79Friend and co-author Stephen King has said the author's 1979 book, "Ghost Story," is his favourite horror novel.


Rawi Hage, Billy-Ray Belcourt and Sheila Heti Make the 2022 Scotiabank Giller Prize Long ListThe jury read 138 books to choose 14 titles for the long list, one of which will win the $100,000 prize, one of the richest in Canadian literature


Salman Rushdie, Novelist Who Drew Death Threats, Is Stabbed at New York LectureThe Indian-born novelist who was ordered killed by Iran in 1989 because of his writing, was attacked before giving a talk on artistic freedom.


Raymond Briggs, Creator of Beloved Children’s Tale ‘The Snowman’, Dies at 88First published in 1978, the pencil crayon-illustrated wordless picture book sold more than 5.5 million copies around the world while a television adaption became a Christmas favourite in Britain and was nominated for an Oscar.


Canadian Author Emily St. John Mandel Makes Barack Obama’s 2022 Summer Reading ListObama's list includes everything from fiction to books on politics, cultural exploration and basketball.


Canadian Author Rebecca Eckler to Launch RE:books Publishing House Focused on Female Authors and Fun ReadsThe former National Post columnist says her tagline is ‘What’s read is good, and what’s good is read.’”


Brian Thomas Isaac’s “All the Quiet Places” wins $5,000 Indigenous Voices AwardThe B.C. author, a retired bricklayer, drew on his childhood growing up on the Okanagan Indian reserve for his coming-of-age story set in 1956


Canadian-American Author Ruth Ozeki Wins Women’s Book Prize for “The Book of Form and Emptiness”The UK judges said her fourth novel, inspired in part by the Vancouver Public Library, contained "sparkling writing, warmth, intelligence, humour and poignancy."


The Bill Gates Summer Reading List Includes a Sci-Fi Novel On Gender Inequality Suggested by His DaughterBill Gates' summer reading list includes fiction and non-fiction titles that cover gender equality, political polarization and climate change.


American novelist Joshua Cohen wins the Pulitzer Prize for fiction for “The Netanyahus”The 2022 Pulitzer prizes include this satirical look at identity politics, focused on the father of former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, at a crucial time in the Jewish state’s history


Margaret Atwood, Alice Munro Among Canadian Authors Recognized in Commemorative Reading List Marking Queen’s Platinum JubileeThe authors are among six Canadian scribes included on the The Big Jubilee Read list.


Queen Elizabeth II’s Aide Reveals Details of Life in Royal Pandemic Lockdown in New Addition to BookAngela Kelly, who's worked for the Queen for 20 years, discusses everything from cutting the Queen's hair to "the light and laughter that was shared ... even in the darkest moments."


New Leonard Cohen Story Collection, ‘A Ballet of Lepers,’ Set for October ReleaseThe collection features a novel, short stories and a radio play written between 1956 and 1961.


Archived Letters Reveal How Toni Morrison Helped MacKenzie Scott Meet Future Husband Jeff BezosBezos hired Scott at the hedge fund where he worked after receiving a recommendation from Morrison. Shortly thereafter, the pair married and Scott helped Bezos launch Amazon.


Prince Harry’s Memoir is Set to Rock the MonarchyFriends say the California-based royal got a million-pound book deal to write "an intimate take on his feeling about the family."


European Jewish Congress Asks Publisher to Pull Anne Frank BookThe Congress says 'The Betrayal of Anne Frank' has "deeply hurt the memory of Anne Frank, as well as the dignity of the survivors and the victims of the Holocaust."


Canadian Author Details Anne Frank Cold-Case Investigation That Named Surprise Suspect in Her Family’s Betrayal in New BookAhead of the 75th anniversary of the publication of Frank's 'The Diary of a Young Girl' in June, a team that included a retired FBI agent and around 20 historians, criminologists and data specialists identified a relatively unknown figure as a leading suspect in revealing her family's hideout.


Man Who Tricked Authors Into Handing Over Unpublished Manuscripts Arrested by FBI in New YorkFilippo Bernardini, an employee of a well known publication house, has been arrested for stealing hundreds of unpublished manuscripts.


Hollywood Legend Betty White Has a Last Laugh in New Biographic Comic BookThe creators of the biographical comic book have released similar books about Hollywood legends like Carrie Fisher, Lucille Ball, David Bowie and Elizabeth Taylor.


Barack Obama Reveals His List of Books That Left “A Lasting Impression” in 2021Obama's favourite 2021 reads include two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning author Colson Whitehead's 'Harlem Shuffle' and 'Klara and the Sun,' by Nobel Prize-winning author Kazuo Ishiguro


“Interview With the Vampire” Author Anne Rice Dies at 80 — Tributes Pour in From Stuart Townsend and OthersThe author, who was best known for her work in gothic fiction, died on Saturday evening as a result of complications from a stroke.


Norma Dunning wins $25,000 Governor General’s English fiction prize for ‘Tainna’The Edmonton-based Inuk writer explores themes of displacement, loneliness and spirituality in six short stories


Omar El Akkad wins $100,000 Giller prize for “What Strange Paradise”The former Globe and Mail reporter, who published "American War" to acclaim in 2017, tackles the global migrant refugee crisis in his second novel


South African Author Damon Galgut Wins the Booker Prize For ‘The Promise’Galgut received nominations for his 2003 and 2010 works before finally taking home the prize this year. 


Hollywood Legend Paul Newman Discusses Life, Acting and Aging Gracefully in Newly Discovered MemoirPublishers of the newly discovered memoir say the Hollywood legend wrote the book in the 1980s in response to the relentless media attention he received during that time.


Here’s What You Need to Know About the Toronto International Festival of AuthorsDirector Roland Gulliver lands in Toronto to open his second, much-expanded virtual festival with more than 200 events


Tanzanian Novelist Gurnah Wins 2021 Nobel Prize in Literature for Depicting the Impact of Colonialism and Refugee StoriesGurnah, 72, is only the second writer from sub-Saharan Africa to win one of the world's most prestigious literary awards


Miriam Toews Garners Third Giller Prize Nomination for “Fight Night” after Shortlist AnnouncedSophomore efforts from novelists Omar El Akkad and Jordan Tannahill join debut books from Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia and Angélique Lalonde


Tina Brown’s New Book, ‘The Palace Papers’, Covers the Royal Family’s Reinvention After Diana’s Tragic DeathTina Brown's sequel to her 2007 release 'The Diana Chronicles' is set to hit shelves April 12, 2022. 


Audible.ca Releases Andrew Pyper’s Exclusive Audiobook “Oracle” For New Plus Catalogue LaunchThe thriller about a psychic FBI detective is one of 12,000 titles now available for free to members


Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen to Release Book Based On Their “Renegades” PodcastThe new book will feature a collection of candid, intimate and entertaining conversations


Prince Harry Will Publish a Memoir in Late 2022Harry says he's writing the book "not as the prince I was born but as the man I have become."


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