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 Catherine Macdonald
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Reluctant amateur detective, Reverend Charles Lauchlan, departs the prairie city of Winnipeg and travels abroad to Scotland with his fiancé Maggie on a bicycle tour of the highlands. Two near fatal accidents put members of the tour on edge and, to make matters worse, a shadowy figure seems to be observing their every move. Stuck in the remote highland countryside, the group is thrown back on their own resources. While Charles and Maggie are trying to decipher what these strange events mean, they make another grisly discovery. It's murder most foul and we're not just talking about Scottish weather. 'Fifty Words For Rain' is the second in a three book series that began with 'Put on an Armour of Light' (winner of the Michael Van Rooy Award for Genre Fiction). Deftly wrought, meticulously researched, and scintillating with charm and period prose, Macdonald weaves a winding, cross-country tale that will require all of the detective's ingenuity and test the measure of his resolve.
- by James Scoles
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The Trailer explores the subtle art of balancing life on the edge of a city--indeed, perched precariously, metaphorically on the fringe of society--not exactly following a script for keeping up with the Joneses. The experiences of love and loss while living on that (not exactly) sharp edge build the foundation in this collection. Stylistically, the poems vary as they dig through the detritus daily to reveal the joy, beauty, and humour within the world of thin tin-walled hope and melamine dreams of a mobile home, of a live lived lagging just a little behind.
- by Lori Cayer
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Searching for Signal is a long poem that bears witness to the quotidian, disorienting shifts of grief as a father makes his way toward his death over 3 seasons. This is mourning conducted in situ, the gift of observing one man quietly taking his leave and the impacted hole it leaves behind. The language is mix of narrative lyric and fragmentary breath-spaced verse; the silences are his private silences, alluding to memory, family trauma and shame. The hunter, the gatherer who never stopped trying for epiphanies, a daughter engaged in the same effort, frankly facing the span of a swift human lifetime that may pass without revelation or resolution. If there is redemption it is in the daughter bringing clarity to the physical condition of living and dying and the emotional intricacies of existence.
- by Genevieve Graham
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Inspired by a little-known chapter of World War II history, a young Protestant girl and her Jewish neighbour are caught up in the terrible wave of hate sweeping the globe on the eve of war in this powerful love story that's perfect for fans of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.
If you're reading this letter, that means I'm dead. I had obviously hoped to see you again, to explain in person, but fate had other plans.
At eighteen years old, Molly Ryan dreams of becoming a journalist, but instead she spends her days working any job she can to help her family through the Depression crippling her city. The one bright spot in her life is watching baseball with her best friend, Hannah Dreyfus, and sneaking glances at Hannah's handsome older brother, Max.
But as the summer unfolds, more and more of Hitler's hateful ideas cross the sea and "Swastika Clubs" and "No Jews Allowed" signs spring up around Toronto, a city already simmering with mass unemployment, protests, and unrest. When tensions between the Irish and Jewish communities erupt in a riot one smouldering day in August, Molly and Max are caught in the middle, with devastating consequences for both their families.
Six years later, the Depression has eased and Molly is a reporter at her local paper. But a new war is on the horizon, putting everyone she cares about most in peril. As letters trickle in from overseas, Molly is forced to confront what happened all those years ago, but is it too late to make things right?
From the desperate streets of Toronto to the embattled shores of Hong Kong, Letters Across the Sea is a poignant novel about the enduring power of love to cross dangerous divides even in the darkest of times--from the #1 bestselling author of The Forgotten Home Child.
- 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 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.