I Read Canadian
As a Canadian-owned and operated company, McNally Robinson has always put a special emphasis on Canadian authors and their books. Featured here are some of our booksellers' favourite Canadian books.
- by Philipp Schott
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The touching and nuanced portrait of the rise and fall of Nazi Germany through the eyes of a resourceful German boy. Ludwig is an odd and introverted child, growing up in Hitler's Germany. While Ludwig's father, Wilhelm, is a senior Nazi and a true believer, Ludwig escapes the unfolding catastrophe by withdrawing into nature and books. Eventually, when the Allied bombing campaign intensifies, Ludwig is sent to a Hitler Youth camp, where his oddness makes him a target for bullying. As the war turns against Germany, the Hitler Youth camp becomes ever more severe and militaristic, and the atmosphere spirals towards chaos. After the Nazis abandon the camp, Ludwig returns home, and his father is presumed dead. With Ludwig's mother descending into depression, the 11-year-old bears increasing responsibility for the survival of the family as starvation sets in under Russian occupation. Soon, it will be impossible to leave the Russian zone, so Ludwig decides that he must rally his despondent mother and lead her and his three younger siblings in an escape attempt to the west. Based on a true story, The Willow Wren is a unique, touching exploration of extremism, resilience, and the triumph of the small.
- by George Toles
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A collection of mini-narratives that have been posted on Facebook every day since 2009. This book will collect posts from the entire collection in one cohesive volume of work. Award-winning artist Cliff Eyland and famed writer George Toles combine their unique talents in a book like no other, tackling apropos issues related to climate change, politics, relationships, death, and sex with wry humour and deft tone.
- by Tenille K. Campbell
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A celebratory, slyly funny, and bluntly honest take on sex and romance in NDN Country. nedi nezu (Good Medicine) explores the beautiful space that being a sensual Indigenous woman creates - not only as a partner, a fantasy, a heartbreak waiting to happen but also as an auntie, a role model, a voice that connects to others walking the same path. From the online hookup world of DMs, double taps, and secret texts to earth-shakingly erotic encounters under the northern stars to the ever-complicated relationship Indigenous women have with mainstream society, this poetry collection doesn't shy away from depicting the gorgeous diversity in decolonized desire. Instead, Campbell creates the most intimate of spaces, where the tea is hot and a seat is waiting, surrounded by the tantalizing laughter of aunties telling stories. These wise, jubilant poems chronicle many failed attempts at romance, with the wry humour needed to not take these heartbreaks personally, and the growth that comes from sitting in the silence of living a solo life in a world that insists everyone should be partnered up. With a knowing smile, this book side-eyes the political existence and celebrates the lived experience of an Indigenous woman falling in love and lust with those around her -but, most importantly, with herself. nedi nezu is a smart, sensual, and scandalous collection dripping in Indigenous culture yet irresistible to anyone in thrall to the magnificent disaster that is dating, sex, and relationships.
- by Eden Robinson
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In the third book of her brilliant and captivating Trickster Trilogy, Eden Robinson delivers an explosive, surprising and satisfying resolution.
All Jared Martin had ever wanted was to be normal, which was already hard enough when he had to cope with Maggie, his hard-partying, gun-toting, literal witch of a mother, Indigenous teen life and his own addictions. When he wakes up naked, dangerously dehydrated and confused in the basement of his mom's old house in Kitimat, some of the people he loves--the ones who don't see the magic he attracts--just think he fell off the wagon after a tough year of sobriety. The truth for Jared is so much worse.
He finally knows for sure that he is the only one of his bio dad Wee'git's 535 children who is a Trickster too, a shapeshifter with a free pass to other dimensions. Sarah, his ex, is happy he's a magical being, but everyone else he loves is either pissed with him, or in mortal danger from the dark forces he's accidentally unleashed, or both. The scariest of those dark forces is his Aunt Georgina, a maniacal ogress hungry for his power, who has sent her posse of flesh-eating coy-wolves to track him down.
Even though his mother resents like hell that Jared has taken after his dad, she is also determined that no one is going to hurt her son. For Maggie it's simple--Kill or be killed, bucko. Soon Jared is at the centre of an all-out war--a horrifying place to be for the universe's sweetest Trickster, whose first instinct is not mischief and mind games but to make the world a kinder, safer, place.
- by Michael Tregebov
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"Absolutely brilliant!" -- Guy Maddin
The sentimental and financial education of a young Jewish Winnipegger in and around 1968.
The Renter, Michael Tregebov's fourth novel, is set in Winnipeg Beach, Manitoba's version of cottage country, ca. 1968. Once the preserve of the city's establishment, by the time the events of the novel take place, Winnipeg Beach has declined to the point that even the city's middle classes, including its prosperous Jewish citizens, could afford addresses there.
Michael Tregebov's would-be hero in The Renter is a young man sporting a summer tan, Keds and crisp short-sleeved white shirts, and toting a transistor radio. Bret Yeatman is out to recoup the social position his father lost through financial ruin, and is determined to realize his fantasy by marrying up and into the well-to-do family of his first perfect love, Sandra Sugarman, and renouncing his easy, promiscuous life in the drug trade. But his fantasy collides with Sandra's own -- stars are crossed, and the fates will have their day.
The Renter is the latest installment in Michael Tregebov's comédie humaine Winnipeg-style, which also includes Shot Rock (2019), The Shiva (2012), and The Briss (2009). A literary translator, Michael Tregebov was born and raised in Winnipeg but now lives near Barcelona in Spain, his home since the 1980s.
- by Amanda Leduc
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Challenges the ableism of fairy tales and offers new ways to celebrate the magic of all bodies.
"Leduc persuasively illustrates the power of stories to affect reality in this painstakingly researched and provocative study that invites us to consider our favorite folktales from another angle." -- Library Journal, starred review
"Leduc argues that template is how society continues to treat the disabled: rather than making the world accessible for everyone, the disabled are often asked to adapt to inaccessible environments." -- Quill & Quire
"Fairy tales shape how we see the world, so what happens when you identify more with the Beast than Beauty? If every disabled character is mocked and mistreated, how does the Beast ever imagine a happily-ever-after? Amanda Leduc looks at fairy tales from the Brothers Grimm to Disney, showing us how they influence our expectations and behaviour and linking the quest for disability rights to new kinds of stories that celebrate difference. Leduc peels the flesh from the fairy tales we grew up loving and strips them down to their skeletons to skilfully reveal how they influence the way we think about disability. She contrasts the stories we have with the ones we wish we had, incorporating her own life. Her wisdom lands like a punch in the heart, leaving a sizable dent that reshapes how we see tales we've been telling for centuries. She also - and this is the best part - suggests how we might tell new fairy tales, how we can forge new stories.' -- Adam Pottle, author of Voice
'A unique and dazzling study ... a revolutionary approach to understanding why we are drawn to fairy tales and how they shape our lives.' - Jack Zipes, author of Grimm Legacies
'Each chapter is a gem, but the kind of gem that turns into a knife, into a mirror, into a portal. Leduc's real magic? That she transforms her readers as surely as any world.' -- Mira Jacob, author of Good Talk
- by Jenny Heijun Wills
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Winner of the 2019 Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction
A beautiful and haunting memoir of kinship and culture rediscovered.
Jenny Heijun Wills was born in Korea and adopted as an infant into a white family in small-town Canada. In her late twenties, she reconnected with her first family and returned to Seoul where she spent four months getting to know other adoptees, as well as her Korean mother, father, siblings, and extended family. At the guesthouse for transnational adoptees where she lived, alliances were troubled by violence and fraught with the trauma of separation and of cultural illiteracy. Unsurprisingly, heartbreakingly, Wills found that her nascent relationships with her family were similarly fraught.
Ten years later, Wills sustains close ties with her Korean family. Her Korean parents and her younger sister attended her wedding in Montreal, and that same sister now lives in Canada. Remarkably, meeting Jenny caused her birth parents to reunite after having been estranged since her adoption. Little by little, Jenny Heijun Wills is learning and relearning her stories and those of her biological kin, piecing together a fragmented life into something resembling a whole.
Delving into gender, class, racial, and ethnic complexities, as well as into the complex relationships between Korean women--sisters, mothers and daughters, grandmothers and grandchildren, aunts and nieces--Older Sister. Not Necessarily Related. describes in visceral, lyrical prose the painful ripple effects that follow a child's removal from a family, and the rewards that can flow from both struggle and forgiveness.
- by Katherena Vermette
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Winner of the 2017 Carol Shields Winnipeg Book Award, Margaret Laurence Award for Fiction, and the McNally Robinson Book of the Year Awards. When Stella, a young Metis mother, looks out her window one evening and spots someone in trouble on the Break -- a barren field on an isolated strip of land outside her house -- she calls the police to alert them to a possible crime. In a series of shifting narratives, people who are connected, both directly and indirectly, with the victim -- police, family, and friends -- tell their personal stories leading up to that fateful night. Lou, a social worker, grapples with the departure of her live-in boyfriend. Cheryl, an artist, mourns the premature death of her sister Rain. Paulina, a single mother, struggles to trust her new partner. Phoenix, a homeless teenager, is released from a youth detention centre. Officer Scott, a Metis policeman, feels caught between two worlds as he patrols the city. Through their various perspectives a larger, more comprehensive story about lives of the residents in Winnipeg's North End is exposed. A powerful intergenerational family saga, The Break showcases Vermette's abundant writing talent and positions her as an exciting new voice in Canadian literature.
- by Kenneth Oppel
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A New York Times Editor's Choice and a Best Book of the Year in the Globe and Mail, Publishers Weekly, Horn Book, School Library Journal and The Wall Street Journal, called "a masterpiece" (Globe and Mail) and now in paperback
She was very blurry, not at all human looking. There were huge dark eyes, and a kind of mane made of light, and when she spoke, I couldn't see a mouth moving, but I felt her words, like a breeze against my face, and I understood her completely."We've come because of the baby," she said. "We've come to help."
In this beautiful, menacing novel, perfect for fans of Neil Gaiman's Coraline, an anxious boy becomes convinced that angels will save his sick baby brother. But these are creatures of a very different kind, and their plan for the baby has a twist. Layer by layer, the boy unravels the truth about his new friends as the time remaining to save his brother ticks down.
With evocative and disquieting illustrations by Caldecott Medal- and Governor General's Award-winning artist Jon Klassen, The Nest is an unforgettable journey into one boy's deepest insecurities and darkest fears.
- by Desmond Cole
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WINNER OF THE 2020 TORONTO BOOK AWARD
A bracing, provocative, and perspective-shifting book from one of Canada's most celebrated and uncompromising writers, Desmond Cole. The Skin We're In will spark a national conversation, influence policy, and inspire activists.
In his 2015 cover story for Toronto Life magazine, Desmond Cole exposed the racist actions of the Toronto police force, detailing the dozens of times he had been stopped and interrogated under the controversial practice of carding. The story quickly came to national prominence, shaking the country to its core and catapulting its author into the public sphere. Cole used his newfound profile to draw insistent, unyielding attention to the injustices faced by Black Canadians on a daily basis.
Both Cole's activism and journalism find vibrant expression in his first book, The Skin We're In. Puncturing the bubble of Canadian smugness and naive assumptions of a post-racial nation, Cole chronicles just one year--2017--in the struggle against racism in this country. It was a year that saw calls for tighter borders when Black refugees braved frigid temperatures to cross into Manitoba from the States, Indigenous land and water protectors resisting the celebration of Canada's 150th birthday, police across the country rallying around an officer accused of murder, and more.
The year also witnessed the profound personal and professional ramifications of Desmond Cole's unwavering determination to combat injustice. In April, Cole disrupted a Toronto police board meeting by calling for the destruction of all data collected through carding. Following the protest, Cole, a columnist with the Toronto Star, was summoned to a meeting with the paper's opinions editor and informed that his activism violated company policy. Rather than limit his efforts defending Black lives, Cole chose to sever his relationship with the publication. Then in July, at another police board meeting, Cole challenged the board to respond to accusations of a police cover-up in the brutal beating of Dafonte Miller by an off-duty police officer and his brother. When Cole refused to leave the meeting until the question was publicly addressed, he was arrested. The image of Cole walking out of the meeting, handcuffed and flanked by officers, fortified the distrust between the city's Black community and its police force.
Month-by-month, Cole creates a comprehensive picture of entrenched, systemic inequality. Urgent, controversial, and unsparingly honest, The Skin We're In is destined to become a vital text for anti-racist and social justice movements in Canada, as well as a potent antidote to the all-too-present complacency of many white Canadians.
- by Meichi Ng
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"Funny, introspective, and touching. . . . The lessons Meichi gently shares with us through delightful stories are full of wisdom for people at any life stage who need a reminder they're not alone." --Mari Andrew, author of Am I There Yet?
From the creator of Barely Functional Adult, a painfully relatable webcomic with over 130k followers on Instagram, comes a never-before-seen collection of incriminating short stories about exes, murder, friendship, therapy, anxiety, Hufflepuff, sucking at things, freaking out about things, calming down momentarily, melodrama, wrinkles, pettiness, and other wonderful delights.
Wielding her trademark balance of artful humor, levity, and heartbreaking introspection, Meichi Ng's indisputably relatable collection of short stories holds a mirror to our past, present, and future selves. Featuring a swaddled Barely Functional Adult as its protagonist who says all the things we think but dare not say, this book is equal parts humorous and heartbreaking as it spans a spectrum of topics from imposter syndrome, therapy, friendships, first loves, letting go of exes, to just trying to find your purpose in the world. Prepare to excitedly shove this book in your friend's face with little decorum as you shout, "THIS IS SO US!"
In this beautiful, four-color collection compiled completely of never-before-seen content, Meichi perfectly captures the best and worst of us in every short story, allowing us to weep with pleasure at our own fallibility. Hilarious, relatable, and heart-wrenchingly honest, Barely Functional Adult will have you laughing and crying in the same breath, while taking solace in the fact that we're anything but alone in this world.
- by Christiane Vadnais
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In a near-future world ravaged by climate change, who will win in the struggle between humanity and nature? A thick fog rolls in over Shivering Heights. The river overflows, the sky is streaked with toxic green, parasites proliferate in torrential rains and once safely classified species - humans included - are evolving and behaving in unprecedented ways. Against this poetically hostile backdrop, a biologist, Laura, fights to understand the nature and scope of the changes transforming her own body and the world around her. Ten lush and bracing linked climate fictions depict a world gorgeous and terrifying in its likeness to our own. Fauna, Christiane Vadnais's first work of fiction, won the Horizons Imaginaires speculative fiction award, the City of Quebec book award, and was named one of 2018's best books by Radio-Canada.
- by Richard Wagamese
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A magical new novel from the bestselling author of One Native Life.
Saul Indian Horse is dying. Tucked away in a hospice high above the clash and clang of a big city, he embarks on a marvellous journey of imagination back through the life he led as a northern Ojibway, with all its sorrows and joys.
With compassion and insight, author Richard Wagamese traces through his fictional characters the decline of a culture and a cultural way. For Saul, taken forcibly from the land and his family when he’s sent to residential school, salvation comes for a while through his incredible gifts as a hockey player. But in the harsh realities of 1960s Canada, he battles obdurate racism and the spirit-destroying effects of cultural alienation and displacement.
Indian Horse unfolds against the bleak loveliness of northern Ontario, all rock, marsh, bog and cedar. Wagamese writes with a spare beauty, penetrating the heart of a remarkable Ojibway man. Drawing on his great-grandfather’s mystical gift of vision, Saul Indian Horse comes to recognize the influence of everyday magic on his own life. In this wise and moving novel, Richard Wagamese shares that gift of magic with readers as well.
- by Joan Thomas
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WINNER OF THE GOVERNOR GENERAL'S LITERARY AWARD FOR FICTION
A GLOBE AND MAIL, CBC BOOKS, APPLE BOOKS, AND NOW TORONTO BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR
In the tradition of The Poisonwood Bible and State of Wonder, a novel set in the rainforest of Ecuador about five women left behind when their missionary husbands are killed. Based on the shocking real-life events
In 1956, a small group of evangelical Christian missionaries and their families journeyed to the rainforest in Ecuador intending to convert the Waorani, a people who had never had contact with the outside world. The plan was known as Operation Auca. After spending days dropping gifts from an aircraft, the five men in the party rashly entered the "intangible zone." They were all killed, leaving their wives and children to fend for themselves.
Five Wives is the fictionalized account of the real-life women who were left behind, and their struggles - with grief, with doubt, and with each other - as they continued to pursue their evangelical mission in the face of the explosion of fame that followed their husbands' deaths.
Five Wives is a riveting, often wrenching story of evangelism and its legacy, teeming with atmosphere and compelling characters and rich in emotional impact.