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Prairie Writers

A selection of recent books by writers from the Canadian Prairies.


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Who Has Seen the Wind

- W O Mitchell , William Kurelek

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A gorgeous new illustrated edition to commemorate the 75th anniversary of this seminal Canadian classic.

Since its publication in 1947, Who Has Seen the Wind -- a classic tale about a boy growing up on the Saskatchewan prairie -- has been read and loved by millions. With his unique blend of poetry and humour, W.O. Mitchell perfectly captures childhood and small-town life. Featuring an unforgettable cast of characters -- young Brian O'Connal and his family, including his fiery-tongued Uncle Sean and his formidable Scotch grandmother, and the colourful inhabitants of their prairie community -- it is not only the story of one boy, but an ageless story of growing up and the search for meaning. This new edition commemorates the 75th anniversary of the book's publication, bringing together the complete and unabridged version of the text with 8 full-colour paintings and 32 black-and-white illustrations by renowned artist William Kurelek. It also includes a new foreword from W.O. Mitchell's friend, the acclaimed novelist Frances Itani, as well as new essays about the book's storied history and legacy. Admirers of W.O. Mitchell will cherish this edition, and a new generation of readers will discover this brilliant, timeless novel for the first time.

The Russian Daughter

- Sarah Klassen

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With the Czarist empire in turmoil, a young Mennonite couple in what is now Ukraine adopt a Russian baby. This historical novel explores themes of belonging, responsibility, and the places we call home.

When the Sky Comes Looking For You

- Chadwick Ginther

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Come along for another trip down Thunder Road. Since Ted Callan's fateful encounter with a roomful of Dwarves his world has exploded with Gods and monsters, Giants, Witches, and more.

When the Sky Comes Looking for You expands upon the Thunder Road trilogy with a series of short stories, both loved and brand new, from acclaimed author Chadwick Ginther.

Sweetest Dance On Earth, The

- Di Brandt

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Since her debut in 1987 with questions I asked my mother, Di Brandt has remained curious, still asking questions and pushing poetic bounds. Now for the first time, the best work of this Griffin Award winning poet has been gathered together in one place. Distilled into one collection is Di Brandt's insatiable desire to understand, question and show the world in a new light. From her feminist work to her eco poetics, readers will get a chance to see the breathtaking career of one of Canada's most influential poets.

Probably Ruby

- Lisa Bird-Wilson

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A CBC BEST CANADIAN FICTION BOOK OF THE YEAR
 
Probably Ruby is an audacious, brave, and beautiful book about an adopted woman's search for her Indigenous identity, for readers of Tommy Orange's There There and Terese Marie Mailhot's Heart Berries.

Relinquished as an infant, Ruby is placed in a foster home and finally adopted by Alice and Mel, a less-than-desirable couple who can't afford to complain too loudly about Ruby's Indigenous roots. But when her new parents' marriage falls apart, Ruby finds herself vulnerable and in compromising situations that lead her to search, in the unlikeliest of places, for her Indigenous identity.

Unabashedly self-destructing on alcohol, drugs, and bad relationships, Ruby grapples with the meaning of the legacy left to her. In a series of expanding narratives, Ruby and the people connected to her tell their stories and help flesh out Ruby's history. Seeking understanding of how we come to know who we are, Probably Ruby explores how we find and invent ourselves in ways as peculiar and varied as the experiences of Indigenous adoptees themselves. Ruby's voice, her devastating honesty and tremendous laugh, will not soon be forgotten.

Probably Ruby is a perfectly crafted novel, with effortless, nearly imperceptible shifts in time and perspective, exquisitely chosen detail, natural dialogue and emotional control that results in breathtaking levels of tension and points of revelation.

The Theory of Crows

- David A Robertson

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A poignant and evocative novel about the bonds of family and the gifts offered by the land

When a troubled father and his estranged teenage daughter head out onto the land in search of the family trapline, they find their way back to themselves, and to each other

Deep in the night, Matthew paces the house, unable to rest. Though his sixteen-year-old daughter, Holly, lies sleeping on the other side of the bedroom door, she is light years away from him. How can he bridge the gap between them when he can't shake the emptiness he feels inside? Holly knows her father is drifting further from her; what she doesn't understand is why. Could it be her fault that he seems intent on throwing everything away, including their relationship?

Following a devastating tragedy, Matthew and Holly head out onto the land in search of a long-lost cabin on the family trapline, miles from the Cree community they once called home. But each of them is searching for something more than a place. Matthew hopes to reconnect with the father he has just lost; Holly goes with him because she knows the father she is afraid of losing won't be able to walk away.

When things go wrong during the journey, they find they have only each other to turn to for support. What happens to father and daughter on the land will test them, and eventually heal them, in ways they never thought possible.

The Strangers

- Katherena Vermette

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#1 NATIONAL BESTSELLER
WINNER OF THE ATWOOD GIBSON WRITERS' TRUST PRIZE FOR FICTION
SHORTLISTED FOR THE 2022/2023 FIRST NATION COMMUNITIES READ AWARD, 2022 MANITOBA BOOK AWARDS' CAROL SHIELDS WINNIPEG BOOK AWARD, MARGARET LAURENCE AWARD FOR FICTION, AND MCNALLY ROBINSON BOOK OF THE YEAR AWARD
LONGLISTED FOR THE 2021 SCOTIABANK GILLER PRIZE
A GLOBE & MAIL BEST BOOK

From the bestselling author of The Break comes a staggering intergenerational saga that explores how connected we are, even when we're no longer together--even when we're forced apart.


Cedar has nearly forgotten what her family looks like. Phoenix has nearly forgotten what freedom feels like. And Elsie has nearly given up hope. Nearly.

After time spent in foster homes, Cedar goes to live with her estranged father. Although she grapples with the pain of being separated from her mother, Elsie, and sister, Phoenix, she's hoping for a new chapter in her life, only to find herself once again in a strange house surrounded by strangers. From a youth detention centre, Phoenix gives birth to a baby she'll never get to raise and tries to forgive herself for all the harm she's caused (while wondering if she even should). Elsie, struggling with addiction and determined to turn her life around, is buoyed by the idea of being reunited with her daughters and strives to be someone they can depend on, unlike her own distant mother. These are the Strangers, each haunted in her own way. Between flickering moments of warmth and support, the women diverge and reconnect, fighting to survive in a fractured system that pretends to offer success but expects them to fail. Facing the distinct blade of racism from those they trusted most, they urge one another to move through the darkness, all the while wondering if they'll ever emerge safely on the other side. 

A breathtaking companion to her bestselling debut The Break, Vermette's The Strangers brings readers into the dynamic world of the Stranger family, the strength of their bond, the shared pain in their past, and the light that beckons from the horizon. This is a searing exploration of race, class, inherited trauma, and matrilineal bonds that--despite everything--refuse to be broken.

The Apothecary's Garden

- Jeanette Lynes

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National Bestseller

Canadian Indies Bestseller

Indigo Top Ten Canadian Reads

Indigo's Most Anticipated Books of 2022

Victorian Canada: Touring circuses, seances, and a world powered by steam engines. But in Belleville, Ontario, a twenty-eight-year old spinster, Lavender Fitch, barely scrapes by, selling flowers from her garden at the train station, her position in life greatly diminished after the death of her father, the local apothecary.

Then, one day, a glamorous couple step off the train. The lady is a famed spirit medium, Allegra Trout, who has arrived for a public show of her mediumship, accompanied by her handsome but disfigured assistant, Robert. With her striking beauty and otherworldly charms, Allegra casts a spell over Belleville from the moment she arrives.

Lavender is captivated by the medium as well. She's been searching for a secret cache of money and hopes Allegra might be able to contact her dead mother for clues to its hidden location.

As the Trouts remain in town, preparing for their Mystical Extravaganza, Robert and Lavender grow close, much to Allegra's disapproval. Will Robert and Lavender's relationship blossom or will it be abandoned when he leaves for the next town? Will Lavender find her mother's gift or be forced from her home and beloved garden?

The Apothecary's Garden is a magical story about the mysteries of life, the enchantment of flowers, and wonders of love

Glimmer

- Steven Ross Smith

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Glimmer is an incredibly off-beat and unconventional collection about the human experience - in long short stories alternating with twelve 'experimental one sentence novels'. The stories are diverse, and deal with strange and surreal relationships.

Pond and Beyond, The

- Audrey Lute

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Just beneath the water's surface exists a fragile and delicate ecosystem, yet is a place often overlooked and taken for granted. The Pond and Beyond explores the tiny worlds right beneath our feet and the beautiful creatures that inhabit them. This sensitive and poignant book calls out our arrogance as the dominant species and the risks of continuing to ignore the complex environments and social systems thriving right alongside our own.

The Full Catastrophe

- Meira Cook

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A compassionate and funny novel about defining yourself, the communities that support us, and the journeys that secrets propel.
Charlie Minkoff, a thirteen-year-old boy born with intersex traits, would be happy to be left alone. Living with his artist mother in a derelict loft in downtown Winnipeg, perpetually wondering about the father who abandoned him, and tormented in school because of his differences, Charlie navigates the assorted catastrophes of his life. He's helped along by the love of his beloved grandfather, Oscar, and the makeshift family who surround him: his mother's best friend; a couple of elderly shut-in neighbours; a mysterious girl in his class who has secrets of her own; and his desperately needy and perpetually hungry dog, Gellman.
When a school project leads him to discover that Oscar never had a bar mitzvah, Charlie decides to right the historical wrong and arrange a belated ceremony. But this quest will be more than he bargained for, and meanwhile everyone from his doctor to his Ancestry Studies teacher keeps insisting that Charlie needs to learn to tell his own story.
Margaret Laurence Award winner Méira Cook's The Full Catastrophe is a story of psychological complexity, tenderness, and humour.

Shelterbelts

- Jonathan Dyck

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Progress isn't always a straight line. When a non-denominational megachurch opens on the edges of a rural Mennonite community, a quiet--but longstanding battle--begins to reveal itself. For years, the traditionalists in the community have held fast to the values and beliefs they grew up with, while other community members have begun raising important questions about LGBTQ+ inclusion, Indigenous land rights, and the Mennonite legacy of pacifism. Through a series of vignettes, Shelterbelts explores the perspectives, experiences and limitations of a wide range of characters who find themselves increasingly at odds with their surroundings. A pastor and his queer daughter learn that a family has left their church because of the "LGBT issue." Young activists butt heads with a farmer over the construction of a pipeline happening on his fields. A librarian leaves suggestive notes for readers inside popular library books. By pulling these threads together, artist Jonathan Dyck has woven a rich tapestry--one that depicts a close-knit community in the midst of defining its future as it reckons with its past.

Snake in the Raspberry Patch, A

- Joanne Jackson

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It is the summer of 1971 and Liz takes care of her four sisters while waiting to meet the fifth Murphy child: a boy. And yet, something is not right. Adults tensely whisper in small groups, heads shaking. Her younger sister, Rose seems more annoying, always flashing her camera and jotting notes in her her notepad. The truth is worse than anyone could imagine: an entire family slaughtered in their home nearby, even the children. The small rural community reels in the aftermath. No one seems to know who did it or why. For Liz, these events complicate her already tiring life. Keeping Rose in line already feels like a full time job, and if Rose gets it in her head that she can solve a murder... The killer must be someone just passing through, a random horror. It almost begs the question: where do murderers live?

Flyway

- Sarah Ens

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This Meditation on the impact of human and ecological trauma explores the cost of survival for three generations of women living between empires. Writing from within the disappearing tallgrass prairie, Sarah Ens follows connections between the Russian Mennonite diaspora and the disrupted migratory patterns of grassland birds. Drawing on family history, eco-poetics, and the rich tradition of the Canadian long poem, Flyway migrates along pathways of geography and the heart to grapple with complexities of home.

What Is Written on the Tongue

- Anne Lazurko

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For readers of Anthony Doerr's All the Light We Cannot See and Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried, a transportive historical novel about finding morality in the throes of war and colonization Released from Nazi forced labor as World War II ends, 20-year-old Sam is quickly drafted and sent to the island of Java to help regain control of the colony. But the Indonesian independence movement is far ahead of the Dutch, and Sam is thrown into a guerilla war, his loyalties challenged when his squad commits atrocities reminiscent of those he suffered at the hands of the Nazis. Sam falls in love with both Sari and the beautiful island she calls home, but as he loses friends to sniper fire and jungle malady, he also loses sight of what he wants most -- to be a good man.

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