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Best Grip-Lit Reads

November 20, 2016 | Viveca | Comments (2)

Blood on a Rose

"Grip-Lit" is certainly the fiction of choice for 2016 (as if this year wasn't tense enough). Psychological thrillers aren't new. However, these popular women-in-peril novels focus on domestic horrors: abuse, accidents, memory loss, missing children and (really) bad romance. Mix in unreliable narrators and huuge surprises -- and you have a gripping read. And isn't that appropriate for a year of post-truthiness and scary plot twists? 

Girl on the Train Book Cover Behind Closed Doors Book Cover Couple Next Door Book Cover Girls in the Garden Book Cover
I See You Book Cover Behind Her Eyes Book Cover Find Me Book Cover I Found You Book Cover

 The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

After Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl, this book has been a flagship title for this sub-genre. The film was released in October starring Emily Blunt. 

Behind Closed Doors by B. A. Paris

A British woman is living a storybook life with her charming husband. Except for what's in the basement.   

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapeña

A young couple's baby goes missing during a dinner party. You will endure the leaden prose just to find out what happened to the baby.  

The Girls in the Garden by Lisa Jewell

After a tragic family incident, a woman moves into a new neighbourhood with a beautiful communal garden. A brutal attack on her 13-year-old daughter unearths terrible secrets at the heart of the community. Hint: it's not organically-grown kale.  

I See You by Clare Mackintosh

Zoe's reading the newspaper on the train and spots an ad for "Find The One".  And it's got her picture underneath. To her horror, other women whose photos appear in these ads turn up dead.  

Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough

That awkward moment when the guy you smootched with in the bar last night turns out to be your new (married) boss.  And his wife seems scared of him. 

Find Me by J. S. Monroe

Jarlath's girlfriend killed herself when they were students.  Now he thinks he's seen her.  Is Rosa alive?  

I Found You by Lisa Jewell

In a British seaside town, single-mother Alice finds a man without a coat and his memory gone.  Naturally, she invites him in. 

I Let You Go Book Cover The Passenger Book Cover The Widow Book Cover In a Dark Dark Wood Book Cover

I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh

Lives are shattered when a five-year-old boy slips from his mother's grasp and is killed by a hit-and-run driver. It's clear who's to blame -- or is it?  

The Passenger by Lisa Lutz

Tanya's husband lies dead at the bottom of her staircase.  Looks bad. She bolts and changes her identity, which works -- until she's recognized.   

The Widow by Fiona Barton

A recent widow creepily contemplates telling the truth about the horrific crime her creepy husband was accused of committing. 

In a Dark Dark Wood by Ruth Ware

Nora is invited to a bachelorette party for a friend she hasn't seen since "the accident" ten years earlier. Wait...what exactly did happen that night?

Related links: If You Liked the Girl on the Train

International Men for International Men's Day

November 17, 2016 | M. Elwood | Comments (1)

November 19 is International Men's Day. It has been celebrated annually on this date in much of the world since 1992. It was first observed in Canada in 2009. 

This year's theme is Stop Male Suicide. The coordinators of the event hope to raise awareness that a much larger number of men die each year from suicide worldwide than do women. Read more at the International Men's Day global website.

Celebrate International Men's Day with one of these novels about international men and boys.

American boy American boy taylor Boy from aleppo Boys from santa cruz

American Boy by Larry Watson
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Coming of age story

The American Boy by Andrew Taylor
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Historical mystery

The Boy from Aleppo who Painted the War: A novel of Syria by Sumia Sukkar
Contemporary fiction

The Boys from Santa Cruz by Jonathan Nasaw
Suspense fiction

Dead man in malta German boy Man from beijing Man from berlin

A Dead Man in Malta by Michael Pearce
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Historical mystery

The German Boy by Patricia Wastvedt
Historical fiction

The Man from Beijing by Henning Mankell
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Talking Book (restricted to Print Disabled patrons)
Crime fiction

The Man from Berlin by Luke McCallin
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Large Print
Historical mystery

Man from saigon Our man in iraq Scotsman of my dreams Unfortunate englishman

The Man from Saigon by Marti Leimbach
Historical fiction

Our Man in Iraq by Robert Perišić
Political fiction

The Scotsman of my Dreams by Karen Ranney
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Historical Romance

The Unfortunate Englishman by John Lawton
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Espionage

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There is a Crack in Everything: Leonard Cohen, 1934-2016

November 11, 2016 | Book Buzz | Comments (1)

One of the most influential artists to come out of Canada, poet, musician, novelist Leonard Cohen died in Los Angeles on November 7, 2016. 

Cohen was born in Montreal and in his teenage years developed an interest in music founding a country/folk band called The Buckskin Boys. His real passion, however, was poetry. He was a devoted fan of Spanish poet Federico Garcia Lorca and Canadian poets like Irving Layton, who taught at Herzliah High School where Cohen was a student. 

Let us compare mythologiesHe received a B.A. from McGill University where he found success as a writer, winning the Chester MacNaghten Literary Competition while a student. His first book of poetry Let Us Compare Mythologies was published in 1956. It contained poems he had written between ages 15-20. He attended law school at McGill but dropped out after one term to pursue literary success while attending graduate school at Columbia University. 

In 1961, his second book of poetry Spice-Box of Earth brought him wider recognition in the Canadian literary scene and with the financial support of a modest trust fund, he bought a house on Hydra in Greece where he completed work on another poetry collection, Flowers for Hitler and two novels, The Favourite Game and Beautiful Losers.

Spice-box of earth Flowers for hitler Favourite game Beautiful losers

Frustrated by the lack of success with his writing, Cohen returned to New York in 1966 where he joined the burgeoning folk music scene. His first album Songs of Leonard Cohen was released in 1967 followed by numerous classic albums:

Songs of leonard cohen Songs from a room Songs of love and hat3e

Songs of Leonard Cohen

Songs from a Room

Songs of Love and Hate

Death of a ladies man I'm your man Live in dublin

Death of a Ladies' Man

I'm Your Man

Live in Dublin

Ten new songs You want it darker

In the mid-1990s, plagued by depression Cohen dropped out of the public eye entirely, moving to a Buddhist retreat in California for several years. He returned to the recording studio with Ten New Songs released in 2001 and began touring again following the discovery that his longtime manager had misappropriated most of his savings. 

His final album You Want it Darker was released in October 2016. At this time, Cohen caused concern by telling the New Yorker that he was "ready to die". He subsequently clarified this by announcing "I think I was exaggerating. I’ve always been into self-dramatization. I intend to live forever."

...and he will--through his poetry and fiction but most of all through the songs that live on in our hearts. 

Madeleine Thien Wins Scotiabank Giller Prize

November 8, 2016 | Book Buzz | Comments (0)

Madeleine_Thien

Madeleine Thien's novel Do Not Say We Have Nothing tells the story of three music students in China before, during and after the Cultural Revolution, the sociopolitical movement that set out to purge China of traditional and capitalist art that did not reflect the values of the New China. As a result, the students lose both their identities as musicians and the music they love. 

This powerful novel is the winner of the 2016 Scotiabank Giller Prize. 

Do not say we have nothing

 

 

Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien
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The other finalists were:

13 ways of looking at a fat girl Best kind of people

13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl by Mona Awad
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The Best Kind of People by Zoe Whittall
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Party wall Wonder Yiddish for pirates

The Party Wall by Catherine Leroux
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The Wonder by Emma Donahue
Audiobook
eBook
Talking Book (restricted to Print Disabled patrons)

Yiddish for Pirates by Gary Barwin
eBook

Related posts:

[Photo of Madeleine Thien By Simon Fraser University - University Communications (https://www.flickr.com/photos/sfupamr/13766402265/) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons]

NaNoWhatNow? Write Your Own Book for NaNoWriMo

November 1, 2016 | Maria | Comments (0)

NaNoWhatNow?

Is everyone around you suddenly talking about NaNoWriMo? If not, they should be, because National Novel Writing Month is a pretty big deal. 

20161029_151958
NaNoWriMo display at Albert Campbell Branch

What is National Novel Writing Month?

NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, or NaNo for short) happens every year in November, when people from all over the world make a pledge to write 50,000 words in 30 days. It's a mixed bag of writers: ones who have never written a book before (but always wanted to); seasoned authors with multiple books published; and people who have no idea how they got roped into it in the first place. I won't tell you where I fit in on the NaNo writer spectrum, but let's just say I've never regretted participating.

The reason I started off this blog by telling you that NaNo is a big deal is because thousands of people participate each year. Last year, there were 431,666 participants worldwide. Of those, 1,655 were from Toronto. Our city actually has one of the largest, most active NaNo communities. The latest NaNo stats (I could only find ones from 2013) had Toronto ranked #6 in the world. I wouldn't be surprised if we're now in the top five, if not #1. TonNaNo hosts tons of events (just scroll through the calendar), is active on Facebook and Twitter, and even has a chat room where participants can talk about their progress.

You're extremely lucky to not only live in Toronto, but to have come across this post. Today is November 1st. Day 1 of NaNoWriMo. If you've always wanted to write a book, here's your chance!

How Do You Participate?

Seasoned Wrimos (a Wrimo is a NaNoWriMo participant), you may want to skip this section.

Everyone else, just start writing.

You can write your novel on the computer, by hand, or on a typewriter (if you're so inclined). You can choose to write 1,667 words a day, every day. You can write 6,250 words every weekend. You can write sporadically, a thousand words here, four thousand words there. You can do anything you want; what matters is that you start writing on or after today, Tuesday, November 1st, 2016 and aim to write a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 PM on Wednesday, November 30th, 2016.

To be an official participant, you can sign up on the NaNoWriMo website, which  will allow you to keep track of your progress and award you a certificate if, strike that, when you win. Best of all? Even if you don't win, you'll be a lot closer to finishing your novel than you were when you first started.

Where Do You Find Other Wrimos?

If you'd like to be part of the ToNaNo community, your first stop should be the official Toronto region forum. You'll find posts, discussions forums and a calendar of events.

If you're looking for NaNoWriMo advice and support halfway through the month, Albert Campbell Branch is hosting a NaNoWriMo themed Local Authors Night on Wednesday, November 16th from 6:30-8 PM. NaNo experts, past winners and authors will be on hand to answer all your questions and talk about their 2016 NaNo experience so far.

On Saturday, November 26th from 2-4 PM, you can also join other Wrimos in the east end, at Albert Campbell Branch for a write-in, where you can write your way closer and closer to that 50K.

 20161029_150139  20161029_150118

Tips for Success

If you made it this far, I'm going to assume you're on board the ToNaNo Star Ship and ready to write those 50,000 words. To guide you on your journey, here are five tips for success. They're based on my research as a librarian coupled with personal experience as a two-time NaNoWriMo winner (almost three, but I'd rather not get into that). BTW, a NaNoWriMo winner is someone who has written 50,000 words in the month of November.

#1: Have a Plan

We’re only on day one, so it's not too late to have a plan. Not just what you’ll write, but where. At a coffee shop or in your favourite chair?

Stephen King is a great role model for us Wrimos. Daily rituals: how artists work, a book that details the habits of various artists (including writers), notes that "King writes every day of the year, including his birthday and holidays, and he almost never lets himself quit before he reaches his daily quota of two thousand words” (page 224). That's enough to win NaNoWriMo and finish early. 

So what is King's secret? Habit. In his book On writing: a memoir of the craft, King recommends that aside from having a daily writing goal (the magic number for NaNo is 1,667 words per day), you should also write at the same time every day and have a dedicated writing space (pages 155-157). Why? So you can turn writing into a routine.

The power of habit: why we do what we do in life and business explains that you need cues, or triggers, to tell your brain to get to work. That way, every day when the clock strikes 12 (or whatever time you pick to start writing), you automatically head to your dedicated writing space and get NaNo-ing. Even if you can't be as meticulous as King, you should still come up with a routine to turn writing into a habit. Maybe you make a cup of tea every time you start writing, or you have a dedicated writing laptop that you never use for anything else. You could even have a writing outfit, something you only wear to get that word count rolling. Whatever you choose, decide now, and then stick to your plan. Personally, I have a netbook I use exclusively for writing. I also keep my agenda on hand, and reward myself with colourful stickers as I write (an idea I got from Toronto author Rebecca Diem at the September Local Authors Night at Albert Campbell Branch, which she got from author Victoria Schwab's Vlog).

Lastly, in his article "How a Month of NaNoWriMo Can Lead To a Lifetime of Better Writing", Grant Faulkner suggests announcing your NaNo writing plan to friends and family, and to the larger NaNo community. That way, you'll be accountable to someone and are more likely to stick to your plan. Faulkner's article can be found in the November issue of Writers' Digest (pages 42-45). You can access it for free on Zinio with your library card, or stop by one of our libraries to read a physical copy.

 Daily Rituals  On Writing  The power of habit  The 101 habits of highly successful novelists

#2: Listen to the Experts

There is so much great advice already out there, you just have to know where to find it.

You'll find tons of advice from published authors on the NaNoWriMo website, the NaNoWriMo blog, in your NaNoWriMo.org inbox, and on NaNoWriMo's Twitter using the hashtag #nanocoach. A NaNoCoach is a published author who encourages NaNoWriMo participants on Twitter by tweeting tips and answering questions. Each NaNoCoach serves for one week in November.

There are also tons of great books that can help you win NaNoWriMo: 

No plot no problem  Book in a month  Write your novel in a month  Fast fiction 

#3: Exercise: No, Really.

I'll be the first to admit that I don't do this one as often as I should, but many writers swear by exercise as part of their creative routine.

Exercise is one of The 101 habits of highly successful novelists. "Different forms of physical activity enhance your creative juices" (page 100), which can give you that extra creative boost you need this November. If you don't normally exercise, maybe you could try walking, a really short workout, or yoga to help you write.  

Born to walk Fit in 5  Writing the fire  What I talk about when I talk about running

#4: Avoid Injury: Write Right

For the month of November, you need to think of yourself as a star athlete. Everyone's cheering for you to reach that 50K and you have an arsenal of tips and tricks to help you win. You may even be on a word count roll, but if you get injured and can't keep writing, you're out of the game.

NaNoWriMo involves a lot more sitting and typing (or handwriting?) than your body's used to. You may not see the inherent danger, but according to Deskbound: standing up to a sitting world, "sitting is as much an occupational risk as lifting heavy weights on the job" (page 7).

So what can you do? Make sure you write right. You could try a standing desk. If you sit, make sure to use an ergonomic workstation. Even if you're writing at a coffee shop or the library, keep an eye on your posture and write right. Also, don't forget to take periodic breaks and stretch, especially when your wrists start to ache. 

Deskbound The complete guide to stretching Anatomy & 100 essential stretching exercises

#5: Don't Stop on Day 30

When I blog about NaNoWriMo next year, I would love to include your book as one of this year's NaNoWriMo success stories. 

Over 250 NaNoWriMo novels have been traditionally published. Did you know that Marissa Meyer’s Cinder, Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl, Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants and Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus are among them? If you'd like to find out more, a colleague of mine wrote a blog post last year that talked about published NaNoWriMo novels. These novels were started in November, but they didn't end there. As these authors can attest, NaNoWriMo is just the beginning... it's the first draft of that story that's been trapped inside you. Then comes the hard part: editing, editing and more editing. Plus, many novels are a lot longer than 50,000 words. So when it's December 1st, and you're just glad it's over, remember that it's really not. Finish that novel. Edit it. Make it perfect. And don't forget to let me know, so I can include your story in next year's NaNo post!

Cinder  Fangirl  Water for Elephants  The Night Circus

It's Time to Start Writing!

Well... not quite yet. If you have NaNoWriMo advice you swear by, please post it in the comment section below. I'd love to hear what works for you, and I'm sure other Wrimos would too.

Okay. Deep breath. Here comes the hard part. You're at that point that you were trying to keep at bay by reading this post in the first place (unless you just discovered NaNoWriMo, in which case, welcome aboard!). Right now, it's time to stop procrastinating and start writing. There's really no advice that will help you put down one word after the other the way a writing session can. Which is why I'll take my own advice, retire my librarian blogger hat (at least for today), and get to work. After all, those 50,000 words won't write themselves.

A Soldier, A Jesuit and a Gunslinger: Books to Movies Fall 2016

October 21, 2016 | Kelli | Comments (2)

Now that we are well into autumn, it is time to again have a look at the upcoming movies that are based on books.  

 

Never Go BackNever Go Back, the 18th book in Lee Child's popular series, has been made into a film that is opening in theatres today, October 21st. Tom Cruise is back as former military cop, Jack Reacher.

In this book, Reacher returns to the headquarters of his old unit, the 110th MP, to meet with the new commanding officer, Major Susan Turner. He is in for a surprise when it isn't Turner behind the CO's desk.  Reacher must stay a step ahead of the army, and the FBI, the D.C. Metro police, and four unidentified thugs who are after him if he is going to find Turner and clear his name.


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These books are also being made into movies that are coming to theatres in the next few months. Place your holds now to make sure you get a chance to read the books before the movies are released. 

Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk A Long Way Home (Lion) Tony and susan (noctural animals) Silence Gunslinger

Billy Lynn's Long Half-Time Walk by Ben Fountain
Billy Lynn and the surviving members of the Bravo Squad, heroes from the war in Iraq, have a stop in their "Victory Tour" at Texas Stadium, the football mecca of the Dallas Cowboys. In this sharp satire, Fountain explores the disconnect between the war at home and reality of the war abroad.
Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction in 2012, the film is directed by Ang Lee and is scheduled to open in theatres on November 11th.
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A Long Way Home by Saroo Brierley. (Film title: Lion)
In this memoir, Brierley tells of his quest to find his family in India.  At only five years old, Saroo was separated from his family and survived alone for weeks on the rough streets of Calcutta.  Eventually adopted by an Australian couple, he always wondered about his family.  He began his search by poring over satellite images in Google Earth, looking for landmarks he recognized.  One day, after years of searching, he miraculously found what he was looking for.
The film Lion stars Dev Patel, Rooney Mara and Nicole Kidman and is scheduled to be in the theatres on November 25th.
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Talking Book (Restricted to print disabled patrons)

 

Tony and Susan by Austin Wright (Film title: Noctural Animals)
At his request, Susan Morrow agrees to read her ex-husband's first novel, Nocturnal Animals.  In the novel, Tony Hastings and his family have their ordinary lives violently thrown off course and delivered into the hands of strangers who terrorize them. As Susan becomes involved in the story, she is forced to name the fear that gnaws at her future.
Directed by Tom Ford and winner of the Silver Lion - Grand Jury Prize of this year's Venice Film Festival, the film Noctural Animals stars Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal and is scheduled to be in theatres on December 9th.  
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Silence by Shūsaku Endō
In seventeenth century Japan, Portuguese Jesuit priests arrive from Rome to try to find a renegade priest who saved his own life by denying his faith.  Alone and hunted by samurai, Jesuit Sebastian Rodrigues is eventually captured and faces his own ordeal of faith.
Starring Andrew Garfield, Liam Neeson and Adam Driver, the film is currently scheduled to be in the theatres on January 6, 2017.

 

The Gunslinger by Stephen King (Film Title: The Dark Tower)
In this first book of King's Dark Tower series, Gunslinger Roland Deschain, tracks the enigmatic 'The Man in Black' toward a forbidding dark tower.  Along the way, he must fight forces both mortal and supernatural in his quest to preserve his dying world.
Starring Matthew McConaughey and Idris Elba, the film The Dark Tower is currently scheduled to be in the theatres on February 17, 2017. 
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Related Posts:

Blue Jay Books (Books with Blue Covers written by people named Jay)

October 11, 2016 | M. Elwood | Comments (3)

Perhaps I am exhausted from Sunday's epic game but I thought this blog post was a good idea.

Anchorboy Channel blue

Anchorboy by Jay Onrait
This book is strangely appropriate. Jay Onrait was a sportscaster on TSN for a number of years and now hosts Fox Sports Live on Fox 1. This fun memoir traces his path from Alberta to broadcasting success documenting the lessons and failures along the way. 

Channel Blue by Jay Martel
Sounds like a good channel for baseball! This is a science fiction novel about aliens broadcasting a reality show of Earthling lives. Perhaps the baseball playoffs are not a big deal for those Earth dwellers, but it certainly is the topic of conversation around Toronto this week. 

Fashion india Fisherman's bible

Fashion India by Phyllida Jay
Already known for his hairstyle choices, this year Josh Donaldson embraced fashion by experimenting with gold and white high-tops and knee socks. Toronto Public Library has lots of books and other resources for people who want a style update. 

Fisherman's Bible: the World's Most Comprehensive Angling Bible edited by Jay Cassell
Here's hoping the Blue Jays don't need this book for a little while.

Great answers great questions Hug your haters

Great Answers, Great Questions for your Job Interview by Jay A. Block
Perhaps a little off-season reading for members of the Texas Rangers and Baltimore Orioles?

Hug your Haters: How to Embrace Complaints and Keep your Customers by Jay Baer
Toronto does indeed have a love/hate relationship with its sports teams. Right now we love the Jays but will we still love them next week? Both the players and the team's management might want to read this one and prepare for whatever happens.

Who is Elena Ferrante?

October 7, 2016 | Andrea | Comments (0)

The literary world is agog at the unmasking of Elena Ferrante, the mysterious author of the internationally popular Neapolitan Novels. Using financial records and real estate documents, an investigative journalist traced the true identity of the writer behind the pseudonym and published the results of his detective work in the New York Review of Books. Dozens of essays were penned in response, decrying the controversial article. Is the exposé simply poor journalism, as The New Republic suggests? Or is it sexism at work, as The Independent opines

Haven't caught Ferrante fever yet? The quartet of books collectively called the Neapolitan Novels chronicles the lives of two girls growing up in Naples during the 1950s and follows them into tumultuous adulthood, vividly exploring themes of female friendship and the changing roles of women through modern Italian history. The English translation of the fourth book was shortlisted for the Man Booker International Prize this year, and inevitable TV and theatre adaptations are in the pipeline. Find out for yourself what the buzz is about:

My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante  The Story of a New Name by Elena Ferrante  Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay by Elena Ferrante  The Story of the Lost Child by Elena Ferrante      


My Brilliant Friend   

 

The Story of a New Name

 

Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay

 

The Story of the Lost Child

 

eBook collection of all four novels

 

If you've read and enjoyed the series, here is a list of read-alike titles for your sampling. Interested in learning about connections between the books and Neapolitan legends? Don't forget to mark this Thought Exchange lecture at Yorkville Branch on your calendar! 

Scotiabank Giller Prize Finalists Announced

September 27, 2016 | Book Buzz | Comments (0)

The shortlist for this year's Scotiabank Giller Prize was announced on September 26. The prize is awarded for the best fiction published in English in the year. Both novels and short story collections are considered.

These six books are finalists for the $100,000 prize: 

13 ways of looking at a fat girl Best kind of people Do not say we have nothing

13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl by Mona Awad
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The Best Kind of People by Zoe Whittall
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Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien
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Party wall Wonder Yiddish for pirates

The Party Wall by Catherine Leroux
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The Wonder by Emma Donahue
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Yiddish for Pirates by Gary Barwin
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The winner will be announced on November 7.

Related post:

Two Canadians on Man Booker Shortlist

September 13, 2016 | Book Buzz | Comments (0)

Two Canadian authors are finalists for the prestigious Man Booker Prize this year. Montreal native David Szalay, currently based in Hungary, is nominated for All that Man is, a series of stories looking at nine different stages in the lives of men from ages 17-73. Madeleine Thien, a Vancouver native now based in Montreal, has been winning praise for her novel Do Not Say We Have Nothing which examines recent Chinese history through the lives of music students. It has also been longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize.

Also noteworthy this year is His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet, a novel about a 19th century murder. It was released by a small independent Scottish publisher.

All that man is Do not say we have nothing Eileen

All that Man is by David Szalay
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Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien
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Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh
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His bloody project Hot milk Sellout

His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet
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Hot Milk by Deborah Levy

The Sellout by Paul Beatty
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The winner will be announced on October 25, 2016.

Related post:

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