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Literary Fiction

Our favourite recent literary novels and story collections.

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Heaven

- by Mieko Kawakami

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From the bestselling author ofBreasts and Eggs and international literary sensation Mieko Kawakami, a sharp and illuminating novel about the impact of violence and the power of solidarity.

A bold foray into new literary territory, Kawakami's novel is told in the voice of a 14-year-old student subjected to relentless torment for having a lazy eye. Instead of resisting, the boy chooses to suffer in complete resignation. The only person who understands what he is going through is a female classmate who suffers similar treatment at the hands of her tormentors.

These raw and realistic portrayals of bullying are counterbalanced by textured exposition of the philosophical and religious debates concerning violence to which the weak are subjected.

Heaven stands as a dazzling testament to Kawakami's literary talent. There can be little doubt that it has cemented her reputation as one of today's most important young authors working to expand the boundaries of contemporary Japanese literature.

ANew York Times, Washington Post, TIME, Oprah Daily, CNN, Bustle,andMs. Magazinemost anticipated book of the year.

Memoirs and Misinformation

- by Jim Carrey

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NATIONAL BESTSELLER
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

"None of this is real and all of it is true." --Jim Carrey

From movie star Jim Carrey and novelist Dana Vachon, a fearless and semi-autobiographical novel about acting, Hollywood, agents, celebrity, privilege, friendship, romance, addiction to relevance, fear of personal erasure, destruction of persona, our "one big soul," Canada, and apocalypses within and without.


Meet Jim Carrey. Sure, he's an insanely successful and beloved movie star drowning in wealth and privilege--but he's also lonely. Maybe past his prime. Maybe even... getting fat? He's tried diets, gurus, and cuddlin' with his military-grade Israeli guard dogs, but nothing seems to lift the cloud of emptiness and ennui. Even the advice of his best friend, actor and dinosaur skull collector, Nicolas Cage, isn't enough to pull Carrey out of his slump.

Then Jim meets Georgie: ruthless ingénue, love of his life. And thanks to auteur screenwriter Charlie Kaufman, he has a role to play in a boundary-pushing new picture that may help him uncover a whole new side to himself. Finally, his Oscar vehicle! Things are looking up.    

But the universe has other plans.

Astra

- by Cedar Bowers

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What if you could see yourself as others see you? Astra is a beguiling debut novel that reveals the different faces of one woman, as seen through the eyes of ten people over a lifetime.

Born and raised on a remote British Columbia commune, Astra Brine has long struggled to find her way in the world, her life becoming a study of the thin line between dependence and love, need and desire. Over the years, as her path intersects with others--sometimes briefly, but always intensely--she will encounter people who, by turns, want to rescue, control, become, and escape her, revealing difficult yet shining truths about who they are and what they yearn for.
     There is the childhood playmate who comes to fear Astra's unpredictable ways. The stranger who rescues her from homelessness, and then has to wrestle with his own demons. The mother who hires Astra as a live-in nanny even as her own marriage goes off the rails.
The man who takes a leap of faith and marries her.
     Even as Astra herself remains the elusive yet compelling axis around which these narratives turn, her story reminds us of the profound impact that a woman can have on those around her, and the power struggles at play in all our relationships, no matter how intimate. A beautifully constructed and revelatory novel, Astra explores what we're willing to give and receive from others, and how well we ever really know the people we love the most.
 

An Unlikely Spy

- by Rebecca Starford

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"A beguiling tale of espionage." -- Pam Jenoff, author of The Orphans Tale and The Lost Girls of Paris

A twisting, sophisticated World War II novel following a spy who goes undercover as a part of MI5--in chasing the secrets of others, how much will she lose of herself?

Evelyn Varley has always been ambitious and clever. As a girl, she earned a scholarship to a prestigious academy well above her parents' means, gaining her a best friend from one of England's wealthiest families. In 1939, with an Oxford degree in hand and war looming, Evelyn finds herself recruited into an elite MI5 counterintelligence unit.

A ruthless secret society seeks an alliance with Germany and, posing as a Nazi sympathizer, Evelyn must build a case to expose their treachery. But as she is drawn deeper into layers of duplicity--perhaps of her own making--some of those closest to her become embroiled in her investigation. With Evelyn's loyalties placed under extraordinary pressure, she'll face an impossible choice: save her country or the people who love her. Her decision echoes for years after the war, impacting everyone who thought they knew the real Evelyn Varley.

Beguiling and dark, An Unlikely Spy is a fascinating story of deception and sacrifice, based on the history of real people within the British intelligence community.

The Warsaw Orphan

- by Kelly Rimmer

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Instant New York Times bestseller!

Inspired by the real-life heroine who saved thousands of Jewish children during WWII, The Warsaw Orphan is Kelly Rimmer's most anticipated novel since her bestselling sensation, The Things We Cannot Say.

"Heart-stopping." - Lisa Wingate, #1 New York Times Bestselling Author
"A surefire hit." - Kristin Harmel, #1 New York Times Bestselling Author

In the spring of 1942, young Elzbieta Rabinek is aware of the swiftly growing discord just beyond the courtyard of her comfortable Warsaw home. She has no fondness for the Germans who patrol her streets and impose their curfews, but has never given much thought to what goes on behind the walls that contain her Jewish neighbors. She knows all too well about German brutality--and that it's the reason she must conceal her true identity. But in befriending Sara, a nurse who shares her apartment floor, Elzbieta makes a discovery that propels her into a dangerous world of deception and heroism.

Using Sara's credentials to smuggle children out of the ghetto brings Elzbieta face-to-face with the reality of the war behind its walls, and to the plight of the Gorka family, who must make the impossible decision to give up their newborn daughter or watch her starve. For Roman Gorka, this final injustice stirs him to rebellion with a zeal not even his newfound love for Elzbieta can suppress. But his recklessness brings unwanted attention to Sara's cause, unwittingly putting Elzbieta and her family in harm's way until one violent act threatens to destroy their chance at freedom forever. 

From Nazi occupation to the threat of a communist regime, The Warsaw Orphan is the unforgettable story of Elzbieta and Roman's perilous attempt to reclaim the love and life they once knew.
 

Homeland Elegies

- by Ayad Akhtar

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This "beautiful novel . . . has echoes of The Great Gatsby": an immigrant father and his son search for belonging--in post-Trump America, and with each other (Dwight Garner, New York Times).

One of the New York Times 10 Best Books of the Year 

One of Barack Obama's Favorite Books of 2020
A Best Book of 2020 * Entertainment Weekly * Washington Post * O Magazine * New York Times Book Review * Publishers Weekly * NPR * The Economist * Shelf Awareness * Library Journal * St. Louis Post-Dispatch * Slate
Finalist for the 2021 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction
A deeply personal work about identity and belonging in a nation coming apart at the seams, Homeland Elegies blends fact and fiction to tell an epic story of longing and dispossession in the world that 9/11 made. Part family drama, part social essay, part picaresque novel, at its heart it is the story of a father, a son, and the country they both call home.

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Ayad Akhtar forges a new narrative voice to capture a country in which debt has ruined countless lives and the gods of finance rule, where immigrants live in fear, and where the nation's unhealed wounds wreak havoc around the world. Akhtar attempts to make sense of it all through the lens of a story about one family, from a heartland town in America to palatial suites in Central Europe to guerrilla lookouts in the mountains of Afghanistan, and spares no one--least of all himself--in the process.

"Passionate, disturbing, unputdownable." --Salman Rushdie

All My Mother's Lovers

- by Ilana Masad

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One of . . .
Electric Literature's "Most Anticipated Debuts of Early 2020" o O Magazine's "31 LGBTQ Books That'll Change the Literary Landscape in 2020" o Publisher Weekly's "Spring 2020 Literary Fiction Announcements" o Buzzfeed's "Most Highly Anticipated Books Of 2020" The Millions's "Most Anticipated: The Great First-Half 2020 Book Preview" The Rumpus's "What to Read When 2020 is Just Around the Corner" LGBTQ Reads's "2020 LGBTQAP Adult Fiction Preview: January-June" Lit Hub's "Most Anticipated Books of 2020" BookRiot's "Must-Read Debut Novels of 2020" Bitch's  "27 Novels Feminists Should Read in 2020" Harper's Bazaar's "14 LGBTQ+ Books to Look For in 2020" NewNowNext's "11 Queer Books We Can't Wait to Read This Spring" Cosmopolitan's "12 Books You'll Be Dying to Read This Summer" Salon's "The Best and Boldest New Must-Read Books for May" o Lambda Literary's "Most Anticipated LGBTQ Books of May 2020" o The Rumpus "What to Read When You Want to Celebrate Mothers"

"A queer tour-de-force . . . Compelling and astonishing."-Kristen Arnett, author of Mostly Dead Things

Unfolding over the course of nine days, and written with enormous heart, All My Mother's Lovers is a meditation on the universality and particularity of family ties, grief, and generational divides, as well as a tender and biting portrait of sex, gender, and identity.

After Maggie Krause's mother dies suddenly in a car crash, Maggie finds five sealed envelopes with her will, each addressed to a mysterious man she's never heard of. Maggie and her mother, Iris, weren't close, especially since Maggie came out, but she never thought they would run out of time to figure each other out. Now in her late twenties, Maggie is finally in something resembling a serious relationship, wondering if some of whatever shaped her parents' decades-long love story might exist after all.

Overwhelmed by her grief and frustrated with her family, Maggie decides to escape the shiva and hand-deliver her mother's letters. The ensuing road trip takes her over miles of California highways, through strangers' recollections of a second, hidden life (that seems almost impossible to reconcile with the Iris she knew), and a journey through her own fears as she navigates her new relationship. As she fills in the details of Iris's story, Maggie must confront the possibility that almost everything she knew about her mother -- her marriage, her lukewarm relationship to Judaism, her disapproval of her daughter's queerness -- is more meaningful than she ever allowed herself to imagine.

Sex and Vanity

- by Kevin Kwan

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NATIONAL BESTSELLER
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

The iconic author of the bestselling phenomenon Crazy Rich Asians returns with a glittering tale of love and longing as a young woman finds herself torn between two worlds, two men, and two very different cultures.


On her very first morning on the jewel-like island of Capri, Lucie Churchill sets eyes on George Zao and instantly can't stand him. She can't stand it when he gallantly offers to trade hotel rooms with her so that she can have the view of the Tyrrhenian Sea, she can't stand that he knows more about Curzio Malaparte than she does, and she really can't stand it when he kisses her in the darkness of the ancient ruins of a Roman villa and they are caught by her snobbish, disapproving cousin, Charlotte.

Daughter of an American-born-Chinese mother and blue-blooded New York father, Lucie has always sublimated the Asian side of herself in favor of the white side, and she adamantly denies having feelings for George. But several years later, when George unexpectedly appears in East Hampton where Lucie is weekending with her new fiancé, Lucie finds herself drawn to George again. Soon, Lucy is spinning a web of deceit that involves her family, her fiancé, the co-op board of her Fifth Avenue apartment, and ultimately herself.

Moving between summer playgrounds of privilege, peppered with decadent food and extravagant fashion, Sex and Vanity is a truly modern love story, a daring homage to A Room with a View, and a brilliantly funny comedy of manners set between two cultures.

The Death of Vivek Oji

- by Akwaeke Emezi

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INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

"Electrifying." -- O: The Oprah Magazine
 

Named a Best Book of 2020 by The New York TimesThe Washington Post, NPR, USA TODAY, Vanity Fair, Elle, Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire, Shondaland, Teen Vogue, Vulture, Lit Hub, Bustle, Electric Literature, and BookPage

What does it mean for a family to lose a child they never really knew?
 

One afternoon, in a town in southeastern Nigeria, a mother opens her front door to discover her son's body, wrapped in colorful fabric, at her feet. What follows is the tumultuous, heart-wrenching story of one family's struggle to understand a child whose spirit is both gentle and mysterious. Raised by a distant father and an understanding but overprotective mother, Vivek suffers disorienting blackouts, moments of disconnection between self and surroundings. As adolescence gives way to adulthood, Vivek finds solace in friendships with the warm, boisterous daughters of the Nigerwives, foreign-born women married to Nigerian men. But Vivek's closest bond is with Osita, the worldly, high-spirited cousin whose teasing confidence masks a guarded private life. As their relationship deepens--and Osita struggles to understand Vivek's escalating crisis--the mystery gives way to a heart-stopping act of violence in a moment of exhilarating freedom. 

Propulsively readable, teeming with unforgettable characters, The Death of Vivek Oji is a novel of family and friendship that challenges expectations--a dramatic story of loss and transcendence that will move every reader.

Mayflies

- by Andrew O'hagan

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An unforgettable coming-of-age novel that becomes a profound mediation on life, death, and lifelong friendship.

Everyone has a Tully Dawson: the friend who defines your life.

In the summer of 1986, in a small Scottish town, James and Tully ignite a brilliant friendship based on music, films and the rebel spirit. With school over and the locked world of their fathers before them, they rush towards the climax of their youth: a magical weekend in Manchester, the epicentre of everything that inspires them in working-class Britain. There, against the greatest soundtrack ever recorded, a vow is made: to go at life differently.

Thirty years on, half a life away, the phone rings. Tully has news--news that forces the life-long friends to confront their own mortality head-on. What follows is an incredibly moving examination of the responsibilities and obligations we have to those we love. Mayflies is at once a finely-tuned drama about the delicacy and impermanence of human connection and an urgent inquiry into some of the most important questions of all: Who are we? What do we owe to our friends? And what does it mean to love another person amidst tragedy?

The Certainties

- by Aislinn Hunter

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FINALIST FOR THE ETHEL WILSON FICTION PRIZE
 
A vivid, moving novel reminiscent of Anthony Doerr and Michael Ondaatje, about the entwined fates of two very different refugees.


In 1940, as the shadow of war lengthens over Europe, three mysterious travelers enter a village in Spain. They have the appearance of Parisian intellectuals, but the trio of two men and a woman are starving and exhausted from crossing illegally through the Pyrenees. Their story, told over a period of 48 tense hours, is narrated by one of the men, who slowly accepts his unthinkable fate. In a voice despairing and elegant, he calmly considers what he should do, and weighs what any one life means. As he does so, his attention is caught by a five-year-old named Pia who wanders near his cafe table. To Pia he begins to address all that he thinks and feels in his final hours--envisioning a rich future life for her that both reflects and contrasts with his own.

Meanwhile, in the 1980s, a woman named Pia seeks solitude on a remote island in the Atlantic, where she works at an inn and reflects on her chaotic childhood. As Pia's story begins, a raging storm engulfs the island and a boat flounders offshore. Pia and her fellow islanders rush to help--and past and present calamities collide.

By turns elegiac and heart-pounding, a love letter in the guise of a song of despair, The Certainties is a moving and transformative blend of historical and speculative fiction--a novel that shows us what it means to bear witness, and to attend to those who seek refuge, past and present.

The Other Black Girl

- by Zakiya Dalil Harris

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A Good Morning America, Esquire, and Read with Marie Claire Book Club Pick and a People Magazine Best Book of Summer

Named a Most Anticipated Book of 2021 by Time, The Washington Post, Harper's Bazaar, Entertainment Weekly, Marie Claire, Bustle, BuzzFeed, Parade, Goodreads, Fortune, and BBC

Urgent, propulsive, and sharp as a knife, The Other Black Girl is an electric debut about the tension that unfurls when two young Black women meet against the starkly white backdrop of New York City book publishing.

Twenty-six-year-old editorial assistant Nella Rogers is tired of being the only Black employee at Wagner Books. Fed up with the isolation and microaggressions, she's thrilled when Harlem-born and bred Hazel starts working in the cubicle beside hers. They've only just started comparing natural hair care regimens, though, when a string of uncomfortable events elevates Hazel to Office Darling, and Nella is left in the dust.

Then the notes begin to appear on Nella's desk: LEAVE WAGNER. NOW.

It's hard to believe Hazel is behind these hostile messages. But as Nella starts to spiral and obsess over the sinister forces at play, she soon realizes that there's a lot more at stake than just her career.

A whip-smart and dynamic thriller and sly social commentary that is perfect for anyone who has ever felt manipulated, threatened, or overlooked in the workplace, The Other Black Girl will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very last twist.

The Book of Not

- by Tsitsi Dangarembga

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The powerful sequel to Nervous Conditions, by the Booker-shortlisted author of This Mournable Body

The Book of Not continues the saga of Tambudzai, picking up where Nervous Conditions left off. As Tambu begins secondary school at the Young Ladies' College of the Sacred Heart, she is still reeling from the personal losses that have been war has inflicted upon her family--her uncle and sister were injured in a mine explosion. Soon she'll come face to face with discriminatory practices at her mostly-white school. And when she graduates and begins a job at an advertising agency, she realizes that the political and historical forces that threaten to destroy the fabric of her community are outside the walls of the school as well. Tsitsi Dangarembga, honored with the 2021 PEN Award for Freedom of Expression, digs deep into the damage colonialism and its education system does to Tambu's sense of self amid the struggle for Zimbabwe's independence, resulting in a brilliant and incisive second novel.

Katheryn Howard, The Scandalous Queen

- by Alison Weir

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Bestselling author and acclaimed historian Alison Weir tells the tragic story of Henry VIII's fifth wife, a nineteen-year-old beauty with a hidden past, in this fifth novel in the sweeping Six Tudor Queens series.

"A vivid re-creation of a Tudor tragedy."--Kirkus Reviews

In the spring of 1540, Henry VIII is desperate to be rid of his unappealing German queen, Anna of Kleve. A prematurely aged and ailing forty-nine, with an ever-growing waistline, he casts an amorous eye on a pretty nineteen-year-old brunette, Katheryn Howard. Like her cousin Anne Boleyn, Katheryn is a niece of the Duke of Norfolk, England's premier Catholic peer, who is scheming to replace Anna of Kleve with a good Catholic queen. A flirtatious, eager participant in the life of the royal court, Katheryn readily succumbs to the king's attentions when she is intentionally pushed into his path by her ambitious family.

Henry quickly becomes besotted and is soon laying siege to Katheryn's virtue. But as instructed by her relations, she holds out for marriage and the wedding takes place a mere fortnight after the king's union to Anna is annulled. Henry tells the world his new bride is a rose without a thorn, and extols her beauty and her virtue, while Katheryn delights in the pleasures of being queen and the rich gifts her adoring husband showers upon her: the gorgeous gowns, the exquisite jewels, and the darling lap-dogs. She comes to love the ailing, obese king, enduring his nightly embraces with fortitude and kindness. If she can bear him a son, her triumph will be complete. But Katheryn has a past of which Henry knows nothing, and which comes back increasingly to haunt her--even as she courts danger yet again. What happens next to this naïve and much-wronged girl is one of the saddest chapters in English history.

The First Day of Spring

- by Nancy Tucker

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"Tense, addictive and powered by an unforgettable narrative voice." - PAULA HAWKINS

"A stunning debut...Suspenseful? You bet. Heart-rending? From beginning to end."--The Washington Post
 
"Gripping...The voices of Chrissie and Julia reside deep in your skull: visceral and wicked, sad and wonderful, all at the same time." --The New York Times 

"Fans of Lisa Jewell and smart psychological suspense will eagerly await Tucker's next." --Publishers Weekly, STARRED review

"So that was all it took," I thought. "That was all it took for me to feel like I had all the power in the world. One morning, one moment, one yellow-haired boy. It wasn't so much after all."



Meet Chrissie...
 
Chrissie is eight and she has a secret: she has just killed a boy. The feeling made her belly fizz like soda pop. Her playmates are tearful and their mothers are terrified, keeping them locked indoors. But Chrissie rules the roost -- she's the best at wall-walking, she knows how to get free candy, and now she has a feeling of power that she never gets at home, where food is scarce and attention scarcer.

    Twenty years later, adult Chrissie is living in hiding under a changed name. A single mother, all she wants is for her daughter to have the childhood she herself was denied. That's why the threatening phone calls are so terrifying. People are looking for them, the past is catching up, and Chrissie fears losing the only thing in this world she cares about, her child.

     Nancy Tucker leaves the reader breathless as she inhabits her protagonist with a shocking authenticity that moves the reader from sympathy to humor to horror to heartbreak and back again.

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