Book Review – The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

IMG_4958

This is one that’s been on my To Read list for a long time. The Shadow of the Wind (Penguin Books, 2001) takes place in Barcelona, following the Second World War. Daniel is ten years old, living with his father, the owner of a bookshop. As the story opens, Daniel is taken for the first time to The Cemetery of Forgotten Books. Zafon certainly knows how to grab a book lover’s attention. This is a mysterious place where books are preserved from destruction. Daniel is allowed to choose one volume as his own to protect and he takes home a book by a man called Julian Carax. The book is called The Shadow of the Wind.

From there we follow Daniel through the next ten or so years of his life. His adolescence, his first love, and his growing desire to find out who Julian Carax was and why someone has been systematically destroying all of Carax’s works. This question draws him deep into a family mystery, the dark places of a city, and even some political turmoil. (Zafon never lets his reader’s mind stray far from what life in Spain must have been like in the 1950s.)

For a normal-sized novel, there’s a lot packed in here. Zafon is great at fleshing out his characters – even the ones who eventually seem to fade into the background. From a beautiful blind girl to the beggar on the street with a mysterious past, each character is evocatively described and given life. Lurking behind all these is the figure of Julian Carax and a burned man who seems to want to stop Daniel from discovering the truth.

As Daniel reaches deeper into Carax’s past, the layers thicken. The story is undoubtedly interesting, with a certain gothic-style luridness. It becomes increasingly clear just how unlikely a happy ending will be for Julian, and maybe even Daniel. It’s certainly not a hard novel to read and the winding plot will keep you rushing towards the conclusion.

That said, the novel often delves into the overwrought or overly dramatic. No, it’s not realistic and it’s certainly not trying to be but it spreads out in so many directions that, by the end, a few of them felt unnecessary. The Cemetery of Forgotten Books, for example, while a great idea and a terrific initial hook, actually didn’t add that much to the story. Daniel could have just as easily gotten a copy of Carax’s book at the shop where he worked. As well, there’s a relationship extensively described at the beginning of the novel that is essentially forgotten halfway through. I kept waiting for that connection to pay off in the conclusion but it was never there.

This is a fun, escapist novel. It’s not great literature and it’s not written as such. It’s literary aspect will please those who love spending time in old book stores and who wonder about the secret lives of writers.

 

*Because reading Spanish is not one of my many talents, I read the English translation of this book, as translated by Lucia Graves.

Hike at Francis Point

A year ago, I was swimming in this river:

IMG_1996

But summer locally is not too shabby either:

IMG_1515

This past weekend, Peter and I explored an area neither of us had previously been to. Francis Point has been a Provincial Park since 2001. A trail takes you along the water and through the trees.

IMG_4970

IMG_4968

IMG_4973

IMG_4975

IMG_4981

IMG_4990

Walking through this Arbutus grove felt magical. I love these trees.

IMG_5006

IMG_5000

IMG_1516

And a couple from Madeira Park before we went for burgers. Peter ate something called a “Fat Elvis burger” – complete with deep fried banana, peanut butter, and chocolate syrup.

Beautiful Day.

IMG_5011

IMG_5010

Book Review – The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler

IMG_4763

If you love a good mystery novel – with a private eye who smokes too much, drinks too much, likes to comment on a lady’s legs (and calls them “gams”), but always gets the job done – you owe a debt of gratitude to Raymond Chandler.

The Big Sleep is Chandler’s first novel, published in 1939, and the first of several to feature private investigator Philip Marlowe. Marlowe is everything you imagine when you think “private eye”. From a 21st century perspective, it’s easy to view him as something of a cliche but you have to remember that Marlowe is one of the originals. He’s big, brash, and not afraid to bend the rules to work for me. At the same time, he has a deeply buried heart of gold. He’ll protect his client, even the ones he doesn’t like, and he’ll do his best to protect the innocent. You can’t help but like him even if you’d never, ever want to deal with him in real life.

Marlowe is hired by General Sternwood in a possible blackmailing case. Sternwood has two daughters – Vivian, who was on her third husband when he went missing, and Carmen, who seems more animal than lady most of the time. They are wild, dangerous, and beautiful women. Chandler describes them with a seductive sort of appeal, overlayed by an uneasy feeling of creepiness. Carmen especially.

Marlowe’s investigations take him into a shop of lewd images, a strange house where two men live together, and to a suspicious suicide scene. (The words “pornography” or “homosexual” are never used but they’re well-implied.) Marlowe continuously bumps up against the mystery of Vivian’s husband’s disappearance – something everything thinks he is or should be investigating. A blackmail case turns into one murder, followed by another.

Overall, I found the case somewhat difficult to follow. One solved murder only seems to open up into another and another and then a kidnapping, maybe, or an elaborate plot to save one devious man? I got to the end of the novel and thought, “But who killed that one guy?” The final conclusion seemed a little convenient but was definitely unique and cast a new light on certain characters and relationships.

I enjoyed Marlowe’s working relationship with the local police – for good and bad – and all the ways he both co-operates and works around them. At one point, he tells someone that he isn’t Sherlock Holmes, he isn’t going over the police’s tracks to find hidden clues. He trusts them to do their job and to do it thoroughly and he is able to add to their knowledge. This makes him a more realistic mystery-solving figure and, in many ways, a more interesting one.

The Big Sleep was Chandler’s novel and I think it shows in several ways. But there’s enough there – and a great deal to our man Marlowe – that I would happily read more from him.

Book Review – All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews

IMG_4760

Some books should come with a warning. Something like, “You’re probably going to cry before this book is through. Even if you think you’re not a crier.”

All My Puny Sorrows (Knopf Canada, 2014) is Miriam Toews’ sixth novel. Like the first five, this novel involves Mennonite characters. Though while being Mennonite is key to our main characters, it isn’t necessarily key to the novel. Our narrator is Yolandi or Yoli. She’s forty-something, twice divorced, two kids with two different fathers. She’s drifting in her career, in her relationships, in her own life. In comparison is Yoli’s older sister, Elfrieda. Elf is six years older, an accomplished international pianist, happily married. Elf has just landed in the hospital after a suicide attempt.

Yoli rushes to Winnipeg to be with her sister and mother, to encourage her beloved older sister to heal. But how do you help someone who doesn’t want to live anymore? Does there come a time when the most helpful thing is to let them die?

The present course of the novel is artfully interrupted with flashes of Elf and Yoli’s childhood, growing up in the small Mennonite community of East Village. A place where Elf learns piano in secret, the elders of the village advising her parents not to let her get fancy ideas about going to university. We see the ways that this family doesn’t fit in and the ways that it slowly begins to detach from the community. At the same time we see the closeness of an extended family – Yoli tells us she has 56 first cousins – who fly across country to be together, who are tough and loving, and get through things, both buoyed and destroyed by their common history of tragedy.

And despite the tears, this book is funny. Yoli is a hilarious, goofy, and loveable narrator. She’s falling apart but working desperately to keep what remains of her family together. I loved the scenes with her teenage daughter – bouncing back and forth between teenage frustration and an endearing closeness.

Toews writes Elf with a lot of sympathy. She would be an easy character to become frustrated with – the sister who, seemingly, has everything she could want, and yet cares about none of it, including the people who love her. And yet Toews makes her pain real and, because, we see her through Yoli’s eyes, we learn to love her a little too. I did find the relationship between Elf and her husband, Nic, poorly fleshed out. It seemed to me that Nic would be suffering just as much, if not more, than Yoli and would perhaps be the one most likely to keep Elf in the land of the living. Instead, he’s only a background character and even takes off for a trip in the midst of Elf’s hospital stay. While it makes sense that the sister relationship is the one central to Yoli, I found Nic’s absence wholly unbelievable.

Toews continues to cement herself as a powerful figure in Canadian literature. I have another book by her on my To Read list and I’m looking forward to it even more now.

Lately (+ a bonus dress!)

Just this dog I know, trying to keep me from napping.

Just this dog I know, trying to keep me from napping.

This past weekend, Peter and I had a whirlwind city trip to attend a wedding.

And by whirlwind, I mean that we totally had time to stop for donairs when we stumbled across the Vancouver Latino festival. (Not that donairs are Latino…)

IMG_1499

A wedding gave me a chance to wear one of my fancier dresses that didn’t make it into the 30 Days of Dresses in June.

IMG_1500

I found this BCBG dress, with the tags still on it, at the local consignment shop here in Sechelt. It drapes at the front and then dips down low at the back. (Not pictured, sorry, you’ll just have to trust me.) I initially envisioned it with some rocking gold heels. However, I don’t own such a pair of shoes and after some brief internet-looking, it just didn’t make sense to shell out money on fancy heels that I would hardly wear. So instead, I bought a pair of gold sandals and wore those and I know I’ll get wear out of them all summer. A gold clutch and my gold necklace from our own wedding added some sparkle.

The wedding was lovely.

IMG_1507

And, I know taking pictures of food is lame but…these were pretty cute and perfect for a wedding.

IMG_1508

 

Book Review – Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt

IMG_1453

I’m rather inclined to think of Tell the Wolves I’m Home (Dial Press, 2013) as a young adult novel. That’s certainly not a bad thing, I just think teenagers would benefit from reading this one.

June is 14-years-old and her favourite person in the world has just died. Her uncle Finn, a talented artist, her best friend, the only person who she thinks will ever understand her. Before he died, Finn painted one last work of art – a portrait of June and her sister Greta. This painting comes to mean a lot to the characters – a final message from Finn, a way to be part of his legacy, a means of communication as relationships fall apart.

To complicate matters, Finn’s death was caused by AIDS and the year is 1987. While most of the novel could take place in current time, I think Brunt was wise to place it in 1987 when it comes to the issue of AIDS. While AIDS still carries huge stigmas, peoples’ understanding of the disease has grown. I can remember, as a kid, how controversial it was when Princess Diana visited with AIDS patients. Tell the Wolves I’m Home takes place several years before that even, in New York City and its surrounding suburbs and the misinformation and fear is strong. Towards the beginning of the novel there is a telling scene where June, who adores Finn, is fearful when he kisses the top of her head. Can you catch AIDS through your hair? she wonders.

With Finn gone and feeling farther from her once-close sister than ever, June is adrift, anxious to grow up, and spending much of her free time in a fantasy land of the past. She hangs out in the woods, pretending to be a girl in the Middle Age. It’s weird and it’s endearing and it perfectly captures that awkward age between childhood and adulthood.

Then June is contacted by a stranger who knew Finn and begins to discover that there was a lot more to her uncle than she ever knew.

Brunt does a tremendous job creating characters. They are nuanced and, mostly, realistic. She gives them depth without giving us all the answers. Greta is a great example of this – we learn of some of the struggles that June’s older sister faces but, since the story, isn’t about her, there’s a lot left unanswered. This rang true to me; in real life we don’t know every detail about someone else’s life – even our own sisters. Greta has her own struggles off-screen, just as June’s mother has her own history with Finn. Sometimes these side stories colour June’s story but much of it is left untold. Because Brunt has created such well-rounded characters, I was okay with that.

I did have to suspend a fair amount of disbelief when it came to June’s interactions with this friend of her uncle’s, a man named Toby. June is fourteen and Toby is described as around thirty. While I bought that June might chase after this relationship as a connection to Finn, I question the judgement of a grown man who hangs out with a teenage girl behind her parents’ back. Toby is a likeable figure but why doesn’t he do things out in the open? As an adult, he’s the one who should know that this will blow up in his face? Why isn’t he as eager for a connection to Finn’s sister as to Finn’s niece?

Overall though, I was captivated. This fictional world is well-developed, fascinating, and fun to read about. I recommend getting to know June Elbus.

A note about the title: This is a fancy title that ends up not meaning anything and so I’m labelling it pretentious. It didn’t have to be – I kept waiting for some kind of excellent explanation from the author. I gave her the benefit of the doubt right up until the end because she wrote a good book. Without any sort of greater meaning added to it, this title seems like something that sounded cool to the author and got forced into her book.

Canada Day 2014

IMG_4947

Canada Day! Each little community along our Coast has a different occasion they celebrate throughout the summer. Sechelt’s is Canada Day. It’s the social event of the year around here.

IMG_4876

Here’s a few from the parade:

IMG_4878

Clearing the way for the excitement.

Clearing the way for the excitement.

IMG_4888

IMG_4894

The yearly fly-over.

IMG_4897

IMG_4898

Crazy search-and-rescue vehicle.

Crazy search-and-rescue vehicle.

These guys gave out free fertilizer.

These guys gave out free fertilizer.

Even local transit got in on the parade this year!

Even local transit got in on the parade this year!

The dog behind us started growling when he saw this float.

The dog behind us started growling when he saw this float.

I often think of how fortunate I am to be a Canadian. Through a fluke of birth (even though I wasn’t born in this country) I have had a plethora of opportunities – from clean drinking water every day to post-secondary education.Canada is a large and diverse nation and I’ve only lived in one small corner and visited a few others but I’m constantly thankful for where I live.

After the parade, we bumped into some friends and we wandered through the vendors and displays and petting zoo at the park. A mid-afternoon BBQ at a friends’ and then the day was topped of with a delicious crab feast at my in-laws’.

Happy Canada Day!

Day 30 – 30 Day Dress Challenge 2014

IMG_1407

This dress may look familiar. In fact, this picture may look familiar. I’ll be honest – this is a photo from Day 2. I wore this dress again yesterday and when I curled up in bed last night, realized I hadn’t taken a picture that day. So the 30 Day Dress Challenge ends on a whimper and not a bang.

Yesterday, Peter started his summer job and we marked the beginning of summer with a hot dog roast on our beach with a few friends. It was lovely. This dress was perfect for a casual day with friends, playing in the water, drawing with sidewalk chalk, and eating ‘smores. I love summer.

Thanks for following me along on my 30 Day Dress Challenge. In the end, I wore 25 of my 30 dresses. Two went directly into the thrift store pile and were never seen here. Three were overly fancy for my regular life, though one will make an appearance at a friends’ wedding soon.

Day 4, Day 10. Day 16 will also be sent to the thrift store. My month of dresses was a fun way to cull my closet a little, get creative with my wardrobe, and think about what I really wear. I have to admit, I was pretty happy to wear shorts today.

 

The Well-Read Canadian

Today Canada celebrates its 147th birthday. In honour of the occasion, I would like to present to you the top 50 novels you should read if you want to be A Well-Read Canadian. And who doesn’t, right?

This idea was inspired by this list, as well as my general love of listing books.

My criteria:

  • Novels only. This was to make it easier on myself, though it did limit terrific writers like Leonard Cohen (I know, he wrote a novel but that’s really not what he’s known for) Al Purdy, and Irving Layton.
  • One book per author. More seemed greedy. This was hard to pick when it came to writers who I hadn’t read at all. (I’m still not sure about my choice for Mordecai Richler – what’s his best novel?)
  • I wanted to have all the provinces and territories represented but I also wanted it to be an honest list of the books that are the most well-known, well-read, and influential in Canada. So Ontario dominates and Nunavut isn’t there at all. (If you know of books by writers from Nunavut or about Nunavut, please let me know.)
  • While this list is obviously dictated by my own tastes and whims, I did try to choose books that are lauded more widely than just by me. The bolded titles are the ones I have read.
  • I’ve arranged the list by publication date. Again, it weighs heavily to the last thirty years. This may be due to my own age. I couldn’t find anything pre-20th century that was fiction.
  • Again, in an attempt to reflect what’s out there, I didn’t hunt out a balance of male/female writers but I was pleased to find that it is decently balanced.

The List:

1. Anne of Green Gables – L. M. Montgomery

Montgomery was born and spent her childhood on Prince Edward Island. Most of her novels, including this one, are set there. L.C. Page & Co., 1908

2. Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town – Stephen Leacock

Leacock was born in England but eventually settled in Montreal, Quebec. This is a story collection set in a fictional town, perhaps based on Orillia, Ontario. 1912

3. Such is my Beloved – Morley Callaghan

Callaghan was born and died in Toronto, Ontario.This novel is set in Toronto during the Depression. Charles Scribner’s Son, 1934

4. Barometer Rising – Hugh MacLennan

MacLennan was born in Glace Bay, Nova Scotia. This novel is set in Halifax and centres around the Halifax Explosion. Duell, Sloan, and Pierce, 1941.

5. As For Me and My House – Sinclair Ross

Ross was born in Shellbrook, Saskatchewan. This novel is set in a fictional prairie town during the Depression. Reynal and Hitchcock, 1941

5. The Tin Flute – Gabrielle Roy

Roy was a French-Canadian, born in Manitoba. This novel takes places in Montreal, Quebec and was originally published in French as Bonheur d’Occasion in 1945.

6. Who Has Seen the Wind – W.O. Mitchell

Mitchell was born in Weyburn, Saskatchewan and later lived in Alberta. This novel is about childhood in the Saskatchewan prairies. 1947

7. Lost in the Barrens – Farley Mowat

Mowat was born in Ontario and lived in Saskatoon as a teenager. Lost in the Barrens is set in the Canadian Arctic. Little, Brown & Co, 1956

8. The Secret World of Og – Pierre Berton

Berton was born in Whitehorse, Yukon and moved to Victoria, BC as a boy and then to Ontario as an adult. This story is a children’s book set in a fantasy land. McClelland & Stewart, 1961

9. The Stone Angel – Margaret Laurence

Laurence was born in Neepawa, Manitoba. Though she travelled and lived around the world, she set most of her writing in Manitoba. McClelland & Stewart, 1964

10. Fifth BusinessĀ  – Robertson Davies

Davies was born and spent most of his life in Ontario. This novel is the first in a trilogy. Macmillan, 1970

11. Lives of Girls and Women – Alice Munro

Munro is the first Canadian to win the Nobel Prize for Literature. She was born in Wingham, Ontario. This short story collection is set in southern Ontario. McGraw-Hill Ryserson, 1971

12. The Wars – Timothy Findley

Findley was born in Toronto and spent most of his life in Ontario. This novel is about a young Canadian soldier during the First World War. Clarke, Irwin, 1977

13. The Fat Woman Next Door is Pregnant – Michel Tremblay

Tremblay was born in Montreal, Quebec. This novel was first published in French as La Grosse Femme d’a Cote est Enceinte and is set in Montreal. Talonbooks, 1978

14. Obasan – Joy Kogawa

Kogawa was born in Vancouver, BC. This is a novel about the internment of Japanese-Canadians during the Second World War. Lester & Orpen Dennys, 1981

15. The Fionavar Tapestry – Guy Gavriel Kay

Gavriel Kay was born in Weyburn, Saskatchewan. This trilogy involves 5 Toronto students in an alternate realm. McClelland & Stewart, 1984

16. The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood

Atwood was born in Ottawa and currently lives in Toronto. This novel is set in a future dystopia, within the borders of the USA. McClelland & Stewart, 1985)

17. In the Skin of a Lion – Michael Ondaatje

Ondaatje was born in Sri Lanka and arrived in Canada at the age of 19. This novel is set in Toronto in the early 20th Century. McClelland & Stewart, 1987

18. Broken Ground – Jack Hodgins

Hodgins was born in the Comox Valley, British Columbia. The novel is set on Vancouver Island, following the First World War. McClelland & Stewart, 1988

19. Green Grass, Running Water – Thomas King

King was born in California and moved to Lethbridge, Alberta in 1980. He is of Cree descent and this novel is set amongst the Blackfoot community in Alberta. Houghton Mifflin, 1993

20. The Stone Diaries –Carol Shields

Shields was born in Illinois but married and moved to Canada in the 1950s. Random House, 1993

21. The Book of Secrets – M.J. Vassanji

Born in Kenya, Vassanji studied at the University of Toronto. McClelland & Stewart, 1994

22. The Jade Peony – Wayson Choy

Choy was born in Vancouver, BC and lives now in Toronto. This novel is set in Vancouver’s Chinatown in the 1930s and 1940s. Douglas & McIntyre, 1995

23. A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry

Mistry was born in Mumbai, India and currently lives in Brampton, Ontario. The novel is set in India during the 1970s and 1980s. McClelland & Stewart, 1995

24. The Cure for Death by Lightning – Gail Anderson-Dargatz

Anderson-Dargatz was born in Salmon Arm, BC. The novel is set in BC, at the end of the Second World War. Knopf, 1996

25. Fall on Your Knees – Ann-Marie MacDonald

MacDonald was born in West Germany to a military family. She lives now in Toronto, Ontario. The novel is set in Nova Scotia in the 19th and 20th centuries. Knopf, 1996

26. Fugitive Pieces – Anne Michaels

This novel is set in Poland, Greece, and Toronto. Michaels was born and lives in Toronto. McClelland & Stewart, 1996

27. The Englishman’s Boy – Guy Vanderhaeghe

Vanderhaeghe was born in Esterhazy, Saskatchewan. He currently lives in Saskatoon. This novel is set in the Northwest Territories in the 1870s. McClelland & Stewart, 1996

28. Barney’s Version – Mordecai Richler

Richler was born in Montreal, Quebec. The Barney of this title is an English-speaking Jew in Montreal. Knopf, 1997

29. Kiss of the Fur Queen – Tomson Highway

Highway is a Cree writer born in Manitoba. He lives now in Ontario. This novel is set in northern Manitoba and is a fictionalized account of residential school experience. Doubleday Canada, 1998

30. The Colony of Unrequited Dreams – Wayne Johnston

Johnston was born in Goulds, Newfoundland, which is also where this novel is set. Knopf, 1998

31. The White Bone – Barbara Gowdy

Gowdy was born in Windsor, Ontario and lives now in Toronto. This is a fantasy novel about elephants. HarperCollins, 1999

32. Mercy Among the Children – David Adams Richards

Richards was born and lives in New Brunswick. This novel is also set there. Doubleday Canada, 2000

33. The Russlanders – Sandra Birdsell

Birdsell was born in Manitoba but lives now in Regina, Saskatchewan. The novel tells the story of Mennonites coming from Russia to Canada. McClelland & Stewart, 2001

34. Life of Pi – Yann Martel

Martel was born in Spain to Canadian parents. He lives now in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Life of Pi is set in India and the Atlantic Ocean. Knopf, 2001)

35. The Stone Carvers – Jane Urquhart

Urquhart was born in northern Ontario but lives now in southern Ontario. The novel follows an Ontario family and the building of the Vimy Ridge monument. McClelland & Stewart, 2001

36.Paris Stories – Mavis Gallant

Gallant was born in Montreal, Quebec but spent most of her life living in Paris, France. New York Review of Books, 2002

37. Elle – Douglas Glover

Glover was born in Simcoe, Ontario but lives now in Fredericton, New Brunswick. This novel is about a young French woman in the New World during Jacque Cartier’s time. Goose Lane, 2003

38. Hey Nostradamus! – Douglas Coupland

Coupland was born in Germany and moved to Canada before his fifth birthday. He currently lives in Vancouver. This novel is set in North Vancouver. Bloomsbury, 2004)

39. A Complicated Kindness – Miriam Toews

Toews was born in Manitoba. This novel is set in a fictitious Mennonite community, said to be modelled after Toews’ hometown of Steinbach. Knopf, 2004

40. Three Day Road – Joseph Boyden

Boyden, who was born in Ontario, is Metis. This novel is set in Ontario after the First World War. Penguin Canada, 2005)

41. A Discovery of Strangers – Rudy Wiebe

Wiebe was born in Saskatchewan. This novel is a re-telling of Franklin’s expedition to the Northwest Territories. Random House, 2005

42. Gargoyles – Bill Gaston

Gaston has lived in Manitoba, Ontario, and British Columbia. He currently lives in Victoria, BC. 2006

43. . Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures – Vincent Lam

Lam was born in London, Ontario and currently lives in Toronto. This short story collection is set in Toronto. Doubleday, 2006

44. Lullabies for Little Criminals – Heather O’Neill

O’Neill was born in Montreal, Quebec where she still lives and where this novel is also set. HarperCollins, 2006

45. Late Nights on Air – Elizabeth Hay

Hay was born in Owen Sound, Ontario and currently lives in Ottawa. This novel is set in the Northwest Territories. McClelland & Stewart, 2007

46. The Birth House – Ami McKay

McKay was born in Indiana and lives now on the Bay of Fundy. The Birth House is set in rural Nova Scotia. Vintage Canada, 2007

47.The Cellist of Sarajevo – Steven Galloway

Galloway was born in Vancouver and lives now in New Westminster, BC. This novel is set in Sarajevo in the 1990s. Random House Canada, 2008

48. The Bishop’s Man – Linden MacIntyre

MacIntyre was born and spent his childhood in Nova Scotia and now lives in Toronto. This novel is set on Cape Breton Island. Random House, 2009

49. February – Lisa Moore

Moore was born in St. John’s, Newfoundland. The novel is set in Newfoundland, following the sinking of the Ocean Ranger. Grove Press, 2010

50. Half-Blood Blues – Esi Edugyan

Edugyan was born in Calgary, Alberta and lives now in Victoria, BC. This novel is set in Paris and Berlin during the Second World War. Thomas Allen Publishers, 2011)

51. Indian Horse – Richard Wagamese

Wagamese is a member of the Ojibway First Nation and was born in Ontario. The novel is set in northern Ontario. Douglas & McIntyre, 2012

Fun Facts To Notice:

  • 20 of these authors are women. Women have always been at the forefront of Canadian lit.
  • 10 of them were born outside of Canada.
  • Both W.O. Mitchell and Guy Gavriel Kay were born in Weyburn, Saskatchewan. Weyburn has a population of approximately 10,000.
  • Ann-Marie MacDonald and Douglas Coupland were both born on a Canadian military base in Germany.
  • 8 of these novels deal with either World War One or World War Two.
  • None were released in the 1920s.
  • Ontario wins for most common setting but British Columbia, the Northwest Territories, Quebec, and Nova Scotia tie for second place.
  • 13 of these titles were published by McClelland & Stewart.
  • This list has 51 titles, not 50. Canadian fiction is so good, it’s hard to narrow down!