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Summer Reading

Books to keep you cool this summer, courtesy of Penguin Random House.


China Room

- by Sunjeev Sahota

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LONGLISTED FOR THE 2021 BOOKER PRIZE
 
A transfixing novel about two unforgettable characters seeking to free themselves--one from the expectations of women in early 20th century Punjab, and the other from the weight of life in the contemporary Indian diaspora.

Mehar, a young bride in rural 1929 Punjab, is trying to discover the identity of her new husband. Married to three brothers in a single ceremony, she and her now-sisters spend their days sequestered from the men in the family's "china room"--except when their domineering mother-in-law summons them to a darkened chamber at night. Curious and strong willed, Mehar tries to piece together the truth as the early stirrings of the Indian independence movement rise around her, forcing her to weigh her own desires against the reality--and danger--of her situation.

Spiralling around Mehar's story is that of a young man who arrives at his uncle's house in Punjab in the summer of 1999, hoping to shake a formidable addiction. Raised in small-town England as the son of an immigrant shopkeeper, his experiences of racism, violence, and estrangement led him to seek a dangerous form of escape. As he rides out his withdrawal at his family's ancestral home--an abandoned farmstead, its china room mysteriously locked and barred--he begins to piece himself back together.

Partly inspired by award-winning author Sunjeev Sahota's family history, China Room is at once a deft exploration of how systems of power circumscribe individual lives and a deeply moving portrait of the unconquerable human capacity to resist them. At once sweeping and intimate, lush and propulsive, it is a stunning achievement from a contemporary master.

Nightbitch

- by Rachel Yoder

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One day, the mother was a mother, but then one night, she was quite suddenly something else...

In this blazingly smart and voracious debut, an artist turned stay-at-home mom becomes convinced she's turning into a dog.

An ambitious mother puts her art career on hold to stay at home with her newborn son, but the experience does not match her imagination. Two years later, she steps into the bathroom for a break from her toddler's demands, only to discover a dense patch of hair on the back of her neck. In the mirror, her canines suddenly look sharper than she remembers. Her husband, who travels for work five days a week, casually dismisses her fears from faraway hotel rooms.

As the mother's symptoms intensify, and her temptation to give into her new dog impulses peak, she struggles to keep her alter-canine-identity secret. Seeking a cure at the library, she discovers the mysterious academic tome which becomes her bible, "A Field Guide to Magical Women: A Mythical Ethnography," and meets a group of mommies involved in a multi-level-marketing scheme who may also be more than what they seem.

An outrageously original novel of ideas about art, power and womanhood wrapped in a satirical fairy tale, Nightbitch will make you want to howl in laughter and recognition. And you should. You should howl as much as you want.

A Town Called Solace

- by Mary Lawson

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Reader Reward Price: $18.90

NATIONAL BESTSELLER
LONGLISTED FOR THE 2021 BOOKER PRIZE
NAMED A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR BY THE GLOBE AND MAIL, CBC BOOKS AND THE DAILY TELEGRAPH
 
"I've been telling everyone I know about Mary Lawson . . . Each of her novels is just a marvel" --Anne Tyler

New York Times bestselling author Mary Lawson, acclaimed for digging into the "wilderness of the human heart", is back after almost a decade with a fresh and timely novel that is different in subject but just as emotional and atmospheric as her beloved earlier work.


A Town Called Solace, the brilliant and emotionally radiant new novel from Mary Lawson, her first in nearly a decade, opens on a family in crisis. Sixteen-year-old Rose is missing. Angry and rebellious, she had a row with her mother, stormed out of the house and simply disappeared. Left behind is seven-year-old Clara, Rose's adoring little sister. Isolated by her parents' efforts to protect her from the truth, Clara is bewildered and distraught. Her sole comfort is Moses, the cat next door, whom she is looking after for his elderly owner, Mrs. Orchard, who went into hospital weeks ago and has still not returned.
 
Enter Liam Kane, mid-thirties, newly divorced, newly unemployed, newly arrived in this small northern town, who moves into Mrs. Orchard's house--where, in Clara's view, he emphatically does not belong. Within a matter of hours he receives a visit from the police. It seems he is suspected of a crime.
 
At the end of her life, Elizabeth Orchard is also thinking about a crime, one committed thirty years previously that had tragic consequences for two families, and in particular for one small child. She desperately wants to make amends before she dies.
 
Told through three distinct, compelling points of view, the novel cuts back and forth among these unforgettable characters to uncover the layers of grief, remorse, and love that connect them. A Town Called Solace is a masterful, suspenseful, darkly funny and deeply humane novel by one of our great storytellers.

The War for Gloria

- by Atticus Lish

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A searing, tender, haunting story about fathers and sons, sons and mothers, and a young boy's struggle to become a man, from the author of the PEN/Faulkner winning debut novel Preparation for the Next Life.

Corey Goltz is fifteen years old when his mother, Gloria, is diagnosed with ALS. Estranged from his father, and increasingly responsible for meeting both his mother's needs and his own, Corey is determined to be the hero Gloria needs--at any cost.

But when his father Leonard re-enters the picture, Corey's beliefs--about honour and love, duty and devotion, and the uses and misuses of power--are sorely tested. Charismatic and cruel, Leonard is a man of outsize influence and dubious moral character, a man whose neglect of his wife and son amounts to a kind of barbarism. The closer Corey gets to understanding his father's role in their family, the closer he comes to unmasking a violence that is beyond even his worst imaginings.

Set against the backdrop of a small town in Massachusetts in the early 2000s, where the working-class world collides with the professional and academic worlds of nearby Boston and Cambridge, The War for Gloria tells the story of a young man straddling childhood and adulthood, whose yearning to protect his mother requires him to dismantle the myth of--and possibly destroy--his father. A gripping, indelible work from a fearless new voice in American fiction.

Hummingbird Salamander

- by Jeff Vandermeer

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A brilliant speculative thriller of dark conspiracy, endangered species, and the end of all things, from the author of Annihilation.

Security consultant "Jane Smith" receives an envelope with a key to a storage unit that holds a taxidermied hummingbird and clues leading her to a taxidermied salamander. Silvina, the dead woman who left the note, is a reputed ecoterrorist and the daughter of an Argentine industrialist. By taking the hummingbird from the storage unit, Jane sets in motion a series of events that quickly spin beyond her control.
     Soon, Jane and her family are in danger, with few allies to help her make sense of the true scope of the peril. Is the only way to safety to follow in Silvina's footsteps? Is it too late to stop? As she desperately seeks answers about why Silvina contacted her, time is running out--for her and possibly for the world.
   Hummingbird Salamander is Jeff VanderMeer at his brilliant, cinematic best, wrapping profound questions about climate change, identity, and the world we live in into a tightly plotted thriller full of unexpected twists and elaborate conspiracy. 

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?