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Literary Fiction

Find recent novels and story collections in our selection of literary fiction. Embrace contemporary topics and timeless themes with different narrative styles.

The Waters

- Bonnie Jo Campbell

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On an island in the Great Massasauga Swamp--an area known as "The Waters" to the residents of nearby Whiteheart, Michigan--herbalist and eccentric Hermine "Herself" Zook has healed the local women of their ailments for generations. As stubborn as her tonics are powerful, Herself inspires reverence and fear in the people of Whiteheart, and even in her own three estranged daughters. The youngest--the beautiful, inscrutable, and lazy Rose Thorn--has left her own daughter, eleven-year-old Dorothy "Donkey" Zook, to grow up wild.

Donkey spends her days searching for truths in the lush landscape and in her math books, waiting for her wayward mother and longing for a father, unaware that family secrets, passionate love, and violent men will flood through the swamp and upend her idyllic childhood. Rage simmers below the surface of this divided community, and those on both sides of the divide have closed their doors against the enemy. The only bridge across the waters is Rose Thorn.

With a "ruthless and precise eye for the details of the physical world" (Jane Smiley, New York Times Book Review), Bonnie Jo Campbell presents an elegant antidote to the dark side of masculinity, celebrating the resilience of nature and the brutality and sweetness of rural life.

The Other Valley

- Scott Alexander Howard

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For fans of Emily St. John Mandel, David Mitchell, and Kazuo Ishiguro, an exquisite literary speculative novel set in an unnamed valley, where bereaved residents can petition to cross a forbidden border to see their lost loved ones again.

Sixteen-year-old Odile Ozanne is an awkward, quiet girl, vying for a coveted seat on the Conseil. If she earns the position, she'll decree who among the town's residents may be escorted deep into the woods, who may cross the border's barbed wire fence, who may make the arduous trek to descend into the next valley over. It's the same valley, the same town. But to the east, the town is twenty years ahead in time. To the west, it's twenty years behind. The only border crossings permitted by the Conseil are mourning tours: furtive viewings of the dead in towns where the dead are still alive.

When Odile recognizes two mourners she wasn't supposed to see, she realizes that the parents of her classmate Edme have crossed the border from the future to see their son while he's still alive in Odile's present. Edme--who is brilliant and funny, and the only person to truly know Odile--is about to die. Sworn to secrecy by the Conseil so as not to disrupt the course of nature, Odile finds herself drawing closer to her doomed friend--imperiling her own future.

Masterful and original, The Other Valley is an affecting modern fable about the inevitable march of time and whether or not fate can be defied. Above all, it is about love and letting go, and the bonds, in both life and death, that never break.

The Ghosts of Beatrice Bird

- Louisa Morgan

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The Ghosts of Beatrice Bird is an unforgettable story of obsession, redemption, and the magic of unexpected friendship, from the acclaimed author of A Secret History of Witches.

Beatrice Bird is haunted by ghosts--a gift she's had since she was a small child. Unfortunately, it's an ability that has now grown more intense, shifting from flashes and feelings to physical manifestations she can't escape.

In a desperate attempt to find relief, Beatrice flees her home, her partner, and her psychology practice in San Francisco for a remote island with only nuns and a few cows for company. She doesn't call home. She sees as few people as she possibly can. Then she meets Anne Iredale, a timid woman who has lost everything that matters to her.
 
For the first time in a long time, Beatrice's gift will be called on to help someone in need. But the ghosts have taken on an even darker edge--and there is something sinister lurking in the shadows. Beatrice may not be enough to stop what's coming for them. 

For more from Louisa Morgan, check out:

A Secret History of Witches
The Witch's Kind
The Age of Witches
The Great Witch of Brittany

Martyr!

- Kaveh Akbar

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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER o A MOST ANTICIPATED BOOK o A newly sober, orphaned son of Iranian immigrants, guided by the voices of artists, poets, and kings, embarks on a remarkable search for a family secret that leads him to a terminally ill painter living out her final days in the Brooklyn Museum. Electrifying, funny, and wholly original, Martyr! heralds the arrival of an essential new voice in contemporary fiction.

"Kaveh Akbar is one of my favorite writers. Ever." --Tommy Orange, Pulitzer Prize-nominated author of There There

"The best novel you'll ever read about the joy of language, addiction, displacement, martyrdom, belonging, homesickness." --Lauren Groff, best-selling author of Matrix and Fates and Furies


Cyrus Shams is a young man grappling with an inheritance of violence and loss: his mother's plane was shot down over the skies of the Persian Gulf in a senseless accident; and his father's life in America was circumscribed by his work killing chickens at a factory farm in the Midwest. Cyrus is a drunk, an addict, and a poet, whose obsession with martyrs leads him to examine the mysteries of his past--toward an uncle who rode through Iranian battlefields dressed as the angel of death to inspire and comfort the dying, and toward his mother, through a painting discovered in a Brooklyn art gallery that suggests she may not have been who or what she seemed.

Kaveh Akbar's Martyr! is a paean to how we spend our lives seeking meaning--in faith, art, ourselves, others.

Cold

- Drew Hayden Taylor

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INSTANT NATIONAL BESTSELLER

A tragic plane crash that leaves two women stranded and fighting for their lives kicks off this sweeping and hilarious novel from award-winning writer Drew Hayden Taylor that blends thriller, murder mystery, and horror with humour and spectacle.


Elmore Trent is a professor of Indigenous studies who finds himself entangled in an affair that's ruining his marriage; Paul North plays in the IHL (Indigenous Hockey League), struggling to keep up with the game that's passing him by; Detective Ruby Birch is chasing a string of gruesome murders, with clues that conspicuously lead her to both Elmore and Paul. And then there's Fabiola Halan, former journalist-turned-author and famed survivor of a plane crash that sparked a nationwide tour promoting her book. 

What starts off as a series of subtle connections between isolated characters quickly takes a menacing turn, as it becomes increasingly clear that someone--or something--is hunting them all.

Taking tropes from the murder mystery, police procedural, thriller, and horror genres, Drew Hayden Taylor weaves a pulse-pounding and propulsive narrative with an intricate cast of characters, while never losing the ability to make you laugh.

So Late in the Day

- Claire Keegan

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From Booker Prize Finalist and bestselling author of "pitch perfect" (Boston Globe) Small Things Like These, comes a triptych of stories about love, lust, betrayal, and the ever-intriguing interchanges between women and men.

Celebrated for her powerful short fiction, considered "among the form's most masterful practitioners" (New York Times), Claire Keegan now gifts us three exquisite stories, newly revised and expanded, together forming a brilliant examination of gender dynamics and an arc from Keegan's earliest to her most recent work.

In So Late in the Day, Cathal faces a long weekend as his mind agitates over a woman with whom he could have spent his life, had he behaved differently; in The Long and Painful Death, a writer's arrival at the seaside home of Heinrich Böll for a residency is disrupted by an academic who imposes his presence and opinions; and in Antarctica, a married woman travels out of town to see what it's like to sleep with another man and ends up in the grip of a possessive stranger.

Each story probes the dynamics that corrupt what could be between women and men: a lack of generosity, the weight of expectation, the looming threat of violence. Potent, charged, and breathtakingly insightful, these three essential tales will linger with readers long after the book is closed.

Held

- Anne Michaels

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INSTANT NATIONAL BESTSELLER
One of the Globe and Mail's Best Books of 2023

A breathtaking and mysterious new novel from the beloved Anne Michaels, internationally bestselling author of Fugitive Pieces and The Winter Vault.


1917. On a battlefield near the River Aisne, John lies in the aftermath of a blast, unable to move or feel his legs. Struggling to focus his thoughts, he is lost to memory--a chance encounter in a pub by a railway, a hot bath with his lover on a winter night, his childhood on a faraway coast--as the snow falls.

1920. John has returned from war to North Yorkshire, near another river--alive, but not whole. Reunited with Helena, an artist, he reopens his photography business and endeavours to keep on living. But the past erupts insistently into the present, as ghosts begin to surface in his pictures: ghosts whose messages he cannot understand.

So begins a narrative that spans four generations, moments of connection and consequence igniting and re-igniting as the century unfolds. In luminous moments of desire, comprehension, longing, and transcendence, the sparks fly upward, working their transformations decades later. This resonance through time--not only of actions but also of feelings and perceptions--desire in its many forms--are at the heart of this novel's profound investigation.

Held is a deeply affecting and intensely beautiful novel, full of unforgettable characters and imagery, wisdom and compassion. It explores the deepest mysteries, and the ways in which desire in its many forms--and perhaps the deepest desire, to find meaning--manifests itself. Held moves through history to light upon Darwin, Sir Ernest Rutherford, North Sea ganseys, early photography, Ella Mary Leather, modern field hospitals...while lovers find each other and snow drifts down across the centuries. From the WW1 battlefield where the novel begins, and its opening lines, Held is alive with seeking: "We know life is finite. Why should we believe death lasts forever?"

Before We Say Goodbye

- Toshikazu Kawaguchi

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The fourth novel in the internationally bestselling Before the Coffee Gets Cold Series

The regulars at the magical Café Funiculi Funicula are well acquainted with its famous legend and extraordinary time-travel offer. Many patrons have reunited with old flames, made amends with estranged family and visited loved ones. But the journey is not without risks, and there are rules to follow. 

In the tradition of Toshikazu Kawaguchi's sensational Before the Coffee Gets Cold Series, readers will once again be introduced to a new set of visitors: the husband with something important left to say; the woman who couldn't bid her dog farewell; the woman who couldn't answer a proposal; and the daughter who drove her father away.

Featuring signature heartwarming characters and wistful storytelling, in the beautifully haunting Before We Say Goodbye, Kawaguchi asks: Who would you visit if you could travel through time?

Pinching Zwieback

- Mitch Toews

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These loosely linked stories read like a novel. Lives are given form by the past but undergo change as the world reshapes beliefs and circumstances. Focusing on recurrent, related characters with a common reality: small town Mennonite life, this powerful collection connects us to the author's own background and experiences.

Let Us Descend

- Jesmyn Ward

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OPRAH'S BOOK CLUB PICK o Instant New York Times Bestseller o Named one of the best books of 2023 by The Washington Post, Vanity Fair, The Boston Globe, Time, The New Yorker, and more.

"Nothing short of epic, magical, and intensely moving." --Vogue o "A novel of triumph." --The Washington Post o "Harrowing, immersive, and other-worldly." --People

From "one of America's finest living writers" (San Francisco Chronicle) and "heir apparent to Toni Morrison" (LitHub)--comes a haunting masterpiece about an enslaved girl in the years before the Civil War that's destined to become a classic.

Let Us Descend describes a journey from the rice fields of the Carolinas to the slave markets of New Orleans and into the fearsome heart of a Louisiana sugar plantation. A journey that is as beautifully rendered as it is heart wrenching, the novel is "[t]he literary equivalent of an open wound from which poetry pours" (NPR).

Annis, sold south by the white enslaver who fathered her, is the reader's guide. As she struggles through the miles-long march, Annis turns inward, seeking comfort from memories of her mother and stories of her African warrior grandmother. Throughout, she opens herself to a world beyond this world, one teeming with spirits: of earth and water, of myth and history; spirits who nurture and give, and those who manipulate and take. While Annis leads readers through the descent, hers is ultimately a story of rebirth and reclamation.

From one of the most singularly brilliant and beloved writers of her generation, this "[s]earing and lyrical...raw, transcendent, and ultimately hopeful" (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution) novel inscribes Black American grief and joy into the very land--the rich but unforgiving forests, swamps, and rivers of the American South. Let Us Descend is Jesmyn Ward's most magnificent novel yet.

Signal Fires

- Dani Shapiro

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On a summer night in 1985, three teenagers have been drinking. One of them gets behind the wheel of a car, and, in an instant, everything changes.

A TIME Best Fiction Book of the Year o A Washington Post Notable Work of Fiction o A Real Simple Best Book of the Year


Signal Fires opens on a summer night in 1985. Three teenagers have been drinking. One of them gets behind the wheel of a car, and, in an instant, everything on Division Street changes. Each of their lives, and that of Ben Wilf, a young doctor who arrives on the scene, is shattered. For the Wilf family, the circumstances of that fatal accident will become the deepest kind of secret, one so dangerous it can never be spoken.

On Division Street, time has moved on. When the Shenkmans arrive--a young couple expecting a baby boy--it is as if the accident never happened. But when Waldo, the Shenkmans' brilliant, lonely son who marvels at the beauty of the world and has a native ability to find connections in everything, befriends Dr. Wilf, now retired and struggling with his wife's decline, past events come hurtling back in ways no one could ever have foreseen.

In Dani Shapiro's first work of fiction in fifteen years, she returns to the form that launched her career, with a riveting, deeply felt novel that examines the ties that bind families together--and the secrets that can break them apart. Signal Fires is a work of haunting beauty by a masterly storyteller.

Island Falls

- Owen Toews

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A student becomes intrigued by a mysterious friend whose intimate relationship with the history of the mill town where he grew up informs his politics and enigmatic writing. With curiosity that often breaches the private boundaries of friendship, the student's warm and comedic accounts repeatedly shift to a narrative space where the harsh conditions, operations, and confines of the residents of the mill town are explored in clinical detail.

The House of Doors

- Tan Twan Eng

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LONGLISTED FOR THE BOOKER PRIZE
LONGLISTED FOR THE WALTER SCOTT PRIZE FOR HISTORICAL FICTION
INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER

NAMED A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR BY THE NEW YORKER, NPR, SLATE, THE FINANCIAL TIMES, AND A WASHINGTON POST NOTABLE WORK
A NEW YORK TIMES EDITORS' CHOICE

From the bestselling author
of The Garden of Evening Mists, a spellbinding novel about love and betrayal, colonialism and revolution, storytelling and redemption.

The year is 1921. Lesley Hamlyn and her husband, Robert, a lawyer and war veteran, are living at Cassowary House on the Straits Settlement of Penang. When "Willie" Somerset Maugham, a famed writer and old friend of Robert's, arrives for an extended visit with his secretary Gerald, the pair threatens a rift that could alter more lives than one.

Maugham, one of the great novelists of his day, is beleaguered: Having long hidden his homosexuality, his unhappy and expensive marriage of convenience becomes unbearable after he loses his savings--and the freedom to travel with Gerald. His career deflating, his health failing, Maugham arrives at Cassowary House in desperate need of a subject for his next book. Lesley, too, is enduring a marriage more duplicitous than it first appears. Maugham suspects an affair, and, learning of Lesley's past connection to the Chinese revolutionary, Dr. Sun Yat Sen, decides to probe deeper. But as their friendship grows and Lesley confides in him about life in the Straits, Maugham discovers a far more surprising tale than he imagined, one that involves not only war and scandal but the trial of an Englishwoman charged with murder. It is, to Maugham, a story worthy of fiction.

A mesmerizingly beautiful novel based on real events, The House of Doors traces the fault lines of race, gender, sexuality, and power under empire, and dives deep into the complicated nature of love and friendship in its shadow.

Shield Maiden

- Sharon Emmerichs

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Both epic and intimate, Sharon Emmerichs's extraordinary debut novel reimagines Beowulf from the perspective of a young woman reclaiming her power. 
 
All her life, Fryda has longed to be a shield maiden, an honor reserved for Geatland's mightiest warriors. When a childhood accident leaves her tragically injured and unfit for the battlefield, her dreams are dashed--or so she thinks. But a strange, unfathomable power is awakening within her, a power that will soon be put to the test.
 
For when foreign lords and chieftains descend upon Fryda's home to celebrate her uncle King Beowulf's fifty-year reign, she realizes not all their guests come with good intentions. Treachery is afoot, and Fryda must gather her courage to fight for her people...as a queen should--as a shield maiden would--and as only Fryda can.
 
But as Fryda's power grows stronger, something ancient hears its call. For buried deep in her gilded lair, a dragon awakens...and Fryda must prove herself once and for all.

Praise for Shield Maiden:

"A heroine with a generous spirit, an unshakable will, and a dragon's fury." --H. M. Long, author of Hall of Smoke 

"Casts a superb spell. Shimmering with detail, with a propulsive plot to match" --D. K. Fields, author of the Tales of Fenest trilogy 

Death Valley

- Melissa Broder

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Named a Best Book of 2023 by The New York Times ("incandescent...hilarious...a triumph"), Oprah Daily ("surreal, absurd, lucid, and wise"), Vanity Fair ("Broder [is] a genius and a sorceress"), and more!

From the visionary author of Milk Fed and The Pisces, a darkly funny novel about grief and a "magical tale of survival" (Publishers Weekly, starred review).

In Melissa Broder's astonishingly profound new novel, a woman arrives alone at a Best Western seeking respite from an emptiness that plagues her. She has fled to the California high desert to escape a cloud of sorrow--for both her father in the ICU and a husband whose illness is worsening. What the motel provides, however, is not peace but a path discovered on a nearby hike.

Out along the sun-scorched trail, the narrator encounters a towering cactus whose size and shape mean it should not exist in California. Yet the cactus is there, with a gash through its side that beckons like a familiar door. So she enters it. What awaits her inside this mystical succulent sets her on a journey at once desolate and rich, hilarious, and poignant.

Death Valley is Melissa Broder at her most imaginative, most universal, and finest, and is "a journey unlike any you've read before" (Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, author of Friday Black).

This is a selection of our current Literary Fiction titles. To find other titles or authors, or just to browse, please use the search box.

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