2016 Summer Reading: Recommended by Canadian Writers
Discover the books your favourite Canadian authors can't wait to read at the cottage this year—and add a few titles to your own summer reading pile—with our handy list of writer recommendations:
“This summer I would like to read Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien and Chester Brown's graphic novel Louis Riel.
Currently I'm reading Marlon James' A Brief History of Seven Killings and Jhumpa Lahiri's In Other Words.”
Carmen Aguirre’s most recent memoir, Mexican Hooker #1: And My Other Roles Since the Revolution, was published in April by Random House Canada.
“For the past two years I’ve been reporting, researching, and writing my nonfiction book Brown, so almost everything I read, including fiction, related somehow to the ideas in it. This will be the first summer or any stretch of time for that matter in a while when I’ll read for pure pleasure or curiosity. Here are five titles on my must-read list this summer:
Taras Grescoe’s Shanghai Grand: Forbidden Love and International Intrigue on the Eve of the Second World War
Mona Awad’s 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl
Siddhartha Mukherjee’s The Gene: An Intimate History
André Alexis’ Fifteen Dogs
Robert F. Worth’s A Rage for Order: The Middle East in Turmoil, from Tahrir Square to ISIS”
Kamal Al-Solaylee’s most recent book, Brown: What Being Brown in the World Today Means (to Everyone), was published in May by HarperCollins Publishers.
“Summertime. Can't wait. I'm looking forward to reading poetry and nonfiction. Poetry because I'm dazzled by the way our best poets handle the language. Nonfiction to indulge a lifelong fascination with the wide-open history of the American and Canadian West. Karen Solie is a brilliantly sharp and spooky Canadian poet. I can't wait to explore her latest collection, The Road In is Not the Same Road Out.
And I also have Custer’s Trials by T.J. Stiles waiting for me. It promises to focus on the (brevet) General's fascinating, over-several-tops career in the years before he met his match on the Little Bighorn. Poetry to tune the spirit, history to remind me that 'today' always arrives with ancient roots attached.”
Peter Behrens’ most recent novel, Carry Me, was published in February by House of Anansi Press.
Ann Y.K. Choi
“I’m a high school teacher and my students know that I’m a huge fan of Canadian literature. For years now they’ve recommended books by Canadian authors for me to read during the summer months when we’re all off. This year they’ve suggested Lawrence Hill’s The Illegal, George Elliott Clarke’s The Motorcyclist, and Rupi Kaur’s Milk and Honey.
I’m also looking forward to reading Diane Schoemperlen’s This Is Not My Life, Richard B. Wright’s Nightfall, and David Adams Richard’s Principles to Live By.”
Ann Y.K. Choi’s debut novel, Kay’s Lucky Coin Variety, was published in May by Touchstone Books.
George Elliott Clarke
“My reading list is eclectic and old-school. I will revisit 3 Canadian classics:
George Grant’s Lament for a Nation: The Defeat of Canadian Nationalism
John Porter’s The Vertical Mosaic
Stephen Vicinczey’s In Praise of Older Women
I will also re-read Ezra Pound's Pisan Cantos and reread and rewrite Austin Clarke's short story, ‘When He Was Free and Young and He Used to Wear Silks.’ I also need to take a fresh look at PEI poet J.J. Steinfeld.”
George Elliott Clarke’s most recent novel, The Motorcyclist, was published in February by HarperCollins Publishers.
Christy Ann Conlin
“This summer I’m getting married so I'll be sitting on honeymoon beaches in PEI and Nova Scotia devouring a selection of fine books. I can't wait to dig into Willem De Koonings Paintbrush by Kerry Lee Powell because she has an uncanny gift for combining tragedy, comedy, and lyricism.
I’ll also be reading Kris Bertin’s short fiction collection, Bad Things Happen, because I had the pleasure of hearing him read an excerpt and his exuberant voice has inhabited my head ever since. I’ll also be reading my long time mentor Madeleine Thien’s new novel, Do Not Say We Have Nothing, because of my love for her exquisite use of language, and my interest in the Tienanmen Square Massacre.
Every summer I reread Lynn Coady’s pitch perfect tragicomedy of a novel, Mean Boy, which is her best and most overlooked novel. And no summer is complete without poetry so Sue Goyette’s luminous Ocean, because who doesn’t love a poetic biography of the salt water threading through our veins and hearts, and lapping at our shores.”
Christy Ann Conlin’s second novel, The Memento, was published in April by Doubleday Canada.
“Two novels in particular, both thrillers, sit at the top of my reading list this summer: The Emperor of Any Place by Tim Wynne-Jones, and Shooter by Caroline Pignat. Both authors are two-time winners of the Governor General's Award, and the books represent a great cross-section of the current strength of writing for young audiences in Canada.
Shooter, about a high school lockdown from five intriguingly different points of view, couldn't be more topical. The Emperor of Any Place, an ambitious cross-cultural novel exploring how the agonies of World War II echo down the generations, also promises depth and sophistication in a mystery. I can't wait to find my shady spot!”
Alan Cumyn’s most recent YA novel, Hot Pterodactyl Boyfriend, was published March by Simon & Schuster Canada.
“Iain Reid’s I'm Thinking of Ending Things. A re-read. Such a powerful, and eerie, and unsettling book that it demands a reread. So, I'm doing so!
Gerard Beirne's Charlie Tallulah. Have had this one on the shelf for some time, but having enjoyed Beirne's prior work, looking forward to diving right in.
Cigarette Smuggling for Fun and Profit by Philip Morris (which one can only assume is a pen name). All the tricks of the cigarette smuggling game. This one is for research purposes on an upcoming project, and should not be seen as an attempt by me to enter a new vocational stream!”
Craig Davidson’s recent memoir, Precious Cargo: My Year of Driving the Kids on School Bus 3077, was published in April by Knopf Canada.
“The final stages of writing a book require reading and rereading it so I am even further behind than usual on the books I want to read. Right now I am enjoying Undermajordomo Minor by Patrick deWitt and my stack includes three 2015 books by friends: The Man Who Saved Henry Morgan by Robert Hough, Long Change by Don Gillmor, and Genius at Play by Siobhan Roberts.
Newer additions to the pile include Brown by Kamal Al-Solaylee and because my love of the North predates my time at Berton House—I spent a summer working in a Yukon mine when I was in university—I am really keen to read Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube by Blair Braverman when it comes out in July.”
Tim Falconer’s most recent book, Bad Singer: The Surprising Science of Tone Deafness and How We Hear Music, was published in May by House of Anansi Press.
“I should preface by saying that I'm a pretty slow reader and so never get around to as many books as I'd like to, but there are a handful of titles that I'm looking forward to reading over the hot days ahead. The first, and the one I'm most excited to get my hands on, is Don DeLillo's latest, Zero K. I really can't get enough of what DeLillo does.
After that I'm hoping to have time for Madeleine Thien's Do Not Say We Have Nothing. And if I've managed to get through those and get all the yardwork done, too, I'd like to tuck into Annie Proulx's big new book, Barkskins.
As I usually like to have a baseball book on the go in the midst of more 'serious' reading, I'm meaning to tackle Ty Cobb: A Terrible Beauty by Charles Leerhsen. Right now – though this is a cheat, as it doesn't come out until next April – I'm enjoying Jeremy Hanson-Finger's debut novel, Death and the Intern, a sort of noir/procedural set in my hometown of Ottawa. Great fun. It'll make for perfect summer reading a year from now.”
Andrew Forbes most recent book, The Utility of Boredom: Baseball Essays, was published in April by Invisible Publishing.
“In the last two weeks, I have read Claudia Casper’s fine new novel The Mercy Journals. It is about how murder became enmeshed in the narrative of our species, and what it might take to reach the final murder. I have also just finished Jane Urquhart’s marvellous book The Night Stages, relishing the characters' conversations so much that sometimes I read the dialogue out loud.
I am making my way more slowly through Jhumpa Lahiri's memoir In Other Words. It is bilingual, Italian on the left and English on the right, and I am restricting myself about 85% to the Italian version. Next up are Jane Eaton Hamilton’s new novel Weekend, and The Cambridge Companion to Alice Munro, edited by David Staines, which includes essays by Merilyn Simonds, Douglas Glover, Margaret Atwood, Elizabeth Hay, and others.”
Anne Giardini’s most recent book, Startle and Illuminate: Carol Shields on Writing, was co-edited with her son Nicholas Giardini and published in April by Random House Canada.
“I plan on rereading Armand Garnet Ruffo’s book Norval Morrisseau: Man Changing into Thunderbird. It’s a beautifully crafted book on Armand’s personal contact with Norval. I started reading it sometime ago and didn’t finish it because I often have a reading list a mile long, however the flavour of the text hasn’t left me and I wish to recapture the images that Armand so cleverly and simply addressed.
I also want to dive deep into Clearing the Plains: Disease, Politics of Starvation, and the Loss of Aboriginal Life by James Daschuk. I have avoided reading this text as its too close to my heart, however I expect family and relatives to read it so I better just do it!"
Louise Halfe’s latest collection of poems, Burning in this Midnight Dream, was published in May by Coteau Books.
“Last summer, I was working on my book, so I barely read. In fact, I barely saw the sun because I was in the studio so much drawing. It was a strange summer that way. This summer I'm looking forward to glutting on gorgeous books and sunshine. These books are at the top of my to-read pile for this summer (it's a big, beautiful, varied pile):
A Year Without Mom by Dasha Tolstikova
The Naturalist by Alissa York
Precious Cargo by Craig Davidson
Bearskin Diary by Carol Daniels
Mary Wept Over the Feet of Jesus by Chester Brown
Photobooth: A Biography by Meags Fitzgerald
Big Questions by Anders Brekhus Nilsen
I, Bifucus by Bif Naked
Dressing by Michael DeForge
A Pillow Book by Suzanne Buffam
Congratulations on Everything by Nathan Whitlock”
Teva Harrison’s debut graphic novel, In-Between Days: A Memoir About Living with Cancer, was published in April by House of Anansi Press.
“After years of good intentions I’ve finally started Djuna Barnes’s bizarre masterpiece, Nightwood.
I now share a publisher with Colin McAdam, and she—Nicole Winstanley—gave me a copy of his latest book, A Beautiful Truth. Maybe she was tired of hearing me extemporize on the primate politics of our little bibliocosm and wanted me to experience a more polished and daringly dramatized exploration of the concept.
I'm reading Ray Robertson’s Lives of the Poets (With Guitars) in a piecemeal way, not because it’s a plod—quite the contrary—but because after each chapter I go off and forage on YouTube and in Brian's Record Option for the obscure, brilliant songwriters he celebrates.”
Steven Heighton’s latest poetry collection, The Waking Comes Late, was published in April by House of Anansi Press.
“This summer I am really looking forward to reading books from two of my favourite Canadian authors. The Memento is the second novel from Christy Ann Conlin, whose debut novel, Heave, had a huge influence on me as a writer living in the Maritimes, and I am so excited to see what she has been working on for the past few years.
I'm also going to take advantage of the longer daylight hours to dig into the thriller I'm Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid. I was a big fan of his two previous memoirs, One Bird's Choice and The Truth About Luck, and his debut novel has already been getting a lot of super positive buzz—I'm just not sure I'll be able to read it in the dark.”
Amy Jones’ debut novel, We’re All in This Together, was published in June by McClelland & Stewart.
“So much to read this summer! Here’s how I’ll begin:
Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien
13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl by Mona Awad
Kay’s Lucky Coin Variety by Ann Y. K. Choi
Mysterious Fragrance of the Yellow Mountains by Yasuko Thanh
The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen
And for special inspiration, Startle and Illuminate: Carol Shields on Writing, edited by Anne Giardini and Nicholas Giardini.”
Lynne Kutsukake’s debut novel, The Translation of Love, was published in April by Knopf Canada.
“Here's a few of the books on my summer reading list:
Mexican Hooker #1 by Carmen Aguirre
Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien
Where Did You Sleep Last Night? By Lynn Crosbie
The Noise of Time by Julian Barnes
It's going to be a great summer!”
Sonja Larsen’s debut memoir, Red Star Tattoo: My Life as a Girl Revolutionary, was published in January by Random House Canada.
“My older son has settled in Montreal, and each time I visit him I get more and more excited by the city. I'm thinking this summer is prime time to experience it through Québécois writers in translation. I plan to reacquaint myself with Gabrielle Roy’s The Tin Flute, and choose one of Michel Tremblay’s Plateau Mont-Royal novels. But I've started with a more recent book, Nikolski by Nicholas Dickner. And I will add something by Dany Laferrière.
As a fun diversion from writing novels, I post monthly on a blog I started three years ago (The Literary Dram) in which I pair a book that I’m reading with a distilled spirit. This summer watch for Québécois authors paired with the fine new artisanal gins now being made in Quebec!”
Kevin Major’s most recent novel, Found Far and Wide, was published in May by Breakwater Books.
“I’ve already started a new novel, a creative pregnancy that has taken me by surprise.
The story came to me as a result of reading The Iliad, so I've been doing research on Homer, reading such academic tomes as The Theme of the Mutilation of the Corpse in the Iliad or Some Aspects of the Gods in the Iliad. Absolutely fascinating stuff.
The Iliad is an astonishing work. I’d recommend it to anyone. It’s with good reason that it’s survived so long. I plain on delving into the world of Homer for the next several months.”
Yann Martel’s most recent novel, The High Mountains of Portugal, was published in February by Knopf Canada.
“My idea of a summer well spent is to move a stack of books from one side of a reclining chair to the other while the tide washes in and out on the shore at the family cottage. Last year I spent my days staring into my computer screen because I was writing a book about the right to die movement in Canada and around the world. This summer I will be doing quite a bit of that again because I am updating A Good Death for the paperback edition, but I am determined to catch up on some of the books that have been languishing in reproachful stacks beside my bed and under my desk—although I happily admit that I celebrated sending my manuscript to the printers last March by binge reading Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels.
Here is my partial reading list of old and new books, both fiction and nonfiction. Of course, I won’t be able to resist adding some new titles, especially if the summer turns rainy. Is it any wonder why I am a summer recluse?
A year’s worth of New Yorkers that I skimmed too quickly
Penelope Fitzgerald’s fiction–an embarrassing gap in my reading
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
By Chance Alone: A Remarkable True story of Courage and Survival at Auschwitz by Max Eisen
1913: The Year Before the Storm by Florian Illies
Memorial by Alice Oswald
Lila by Marilynne Robinson
Stalin’s Daughter: The Extraordinary and Tumultuous Life of Svetlana Alliluyeva by Rosemary Sullivan
Tomorrow by Graham Swift
The Naturalist by Alissa York”
Sandra Martin’s latest book, A Good Death: Making the Most of Our Final Choices, was published in April by Patrick Crean Editions.
“Clifford Geertz’ The Interpretation of Culture. I ordered this after reading Geerz’ seminal essay ‘Notes on the Balinese Cockfight,’ a study of cockfighting that combines the lyricism of a Hemingway story with a brilliant explication of the deeper concepts at work beneath the surface of any cultural event.
Steven Heighton’s The Waking Comes Late. Heighton’s low-key, occasionally brusque, style makes many of his contemporaries seem fussy or over-ornate. Yet his poems often have great beauty and clarity, pack an emotional punch rarely felt today.
Alice Petersen’s Wordly Goods. Petersen is such an elegant writer it’s a pleasure to linger on her sentences. This collection, from the reviews garnered so far, promises to be spectacular.
Christy Ann Conlin’s The Memento. Conlin has an enviably lush style well-suited to what, in the tradition of the best Gothic literature, is both supernatural tale and an exploration of the human imagination. From what I’ve seen so far, The Memento has all the hallmarks of a perfect summer read: brainy, gripping, and gorgeously wrought.
Teva Harrison’s In-Between Days and Jenny Diski’s In Gratitude. I was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer last year and am still in treatment. I’ve found a lot of the discourse surrounding cancer, the idea that it’s a battle to be fought and won, somewhat diminishing. To have cancer is to take a crash course in humanity, to travel along intricate pathways of loss, gain an awareness of mortality so acute the senses are altered. It is a descent into the underworld and the deep mythologies that shape our visions of life and death. Yet a cancer patient receives a great deal of the compassion and ingenuity that civilized society has to offer, moments of radical grace that illumine what might otherwise be a dark journey. Far from being ‘other,’ the cancer patient has, if she chooses, a trove of vital experiences to share with her fellow beings.”
Kerry-Lee Powell’s debut story collection, Willem De Kooning’s Paintbrush, was published in April by HarperAvenue.
David Adams Richards
“The Unlit Path Behind the House, poems by Margo Wheaton
Bad Things Happen, stories by Kris Berton
The Golden Bowl by Henry James”
David Adams Richards’ most recent novel, Principles to Live By, was published in May by Doubleday Canada.
“When I'm writing a novel, as I am now, I tend to read anything but fiction. Appropriately, at the moment I’m enjoying Brigid Brophy’s collection of essays and reviews Don’t Never Forget.
I’m also dipping into The Bradt Travel Guide to Serbia because one of my books has been translated into Serbian and I’m going to be attending the Belgrade Festival of European Literature later this summer.
By the time Fall comes around I'm looking forward to John Metcalf’s new collection of fiction. I’m not sure if it’s short stories or novellas, but whatever he writes is smart, funny, and pulsing with life. Whatever the season, what else can a reader ask for?”
Ray Robertson’s most recent nonfiction book, Lives of the Poets (with Guitars), was published in March by Biblioasis.
“I have spent the last three summers working on my own book and reading other books that were directly related to that. This year I look forward to a stretch of random reading, being able to pick up whatever takes my fancy as the days pass. But, me being me, I also have a list to get me started.
Stalin’s Daughter by Rosemary Sullivan
The Naturalist by Alissa York
The Ballad of Danny Wolfe by Joe Friesen
The Animal Game by Kirsteen MacLeod
I’m Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid
The Course of Love by Alain de Botton
I am also going to reread every single word of The Elements of Style. This Strunk and White classic always bears rereading, especially now that a friend has given me the perfect gift of the recent edition illustrated with gorgeous and whimsical paintings by Maira Kalman.”
Diane Schoemperlen’s latest book, This Is Not My Life: A Memoir of Love, Prison, and Other Complications, was published in April by HarperAvenue.
“I’ve been wanting to read Martha Baillie’s novel, The Search for Heinrich Schlögel, for ages and this summer it’s at the top of the list. Martha’s an immensely intelligent and innovative writer.
I’m also looking forward to Cherie Dimaline’s most recent story collection, A Gentle Habit—I discovered her writing when I was at the FOLD, in Brampton, this spring and within the first 30 seconds of hearing her read I knew I had to buy the book.
Jon Chan Simpson’s debut novel, Chinkstar, is one I’m looking for to bring the smart-and-saucy; and Susan Perly’s Death Valley is what I’m thinking of to just immerse myself in wild language and landscape.
Ben Lerner’s new book, The Hatred of Poetry, is out now, as well. I love his hyper-articulate brain, and I’ll read pretty much anything he writes.
As far as poetry itself, I’ll be rereading (and rereading) Ocean Vuong’s Night Sky with Exit Wounds, and communing with Soraya Peerbaye’s arresting Tell: Poems for a Girlhood.”
Kilby Smith-McGregor’s debut collection of poetry, Kids in Triage, was published in May by Buckrider Books.
“Among the many books in my stack of possibilities for this summer's reading are:
The Master by Colm Toibin–A fictionalized account of the life of Henry James. (I wasn’t crazy about The Testament of Mary but quite liked Nora Webster. I think a book about a writer may be more my cup of tea than one about the Virgin Mary.)
Poles Apart by Terry Fallis–I've laughed out loud at all of Terry Fallis’ books (and I rarely even crack a smile when reading). I expect this one about a feminist blogger with a mysterious identity to be no exception.
Started Early, Took My Dog by Kate Atkinson–I loved Life After Life and liked Case Histories. I expect this mystery will be a great page-turner for a lazy afternoon (or two or three) in the hammock.
The Hero's Walk by Anita Rau Badami. I especially appreciate Canada Reads selections that lead me to authors whose work I'm not yet familiar with. I don't know how I've missed this writer’s work but she won the Marian Engel Award for Body of Work in 2000, so if I like this book, she's written a number of others for me to look forward to.
A few more Canadian books I hope to get to soon:
A Measure of Light by Beth Powning
Rabbit Ears by Maggie de Vries
The End of Memory: A Natural History of Aging and Alzheimer's by Jay Ingram
Startle and Illuminate: Carol Shields on Writing edited by Anne Giardini and Nicholas Giardini”
Kathy Stinson’s most recent picture book, Harry and Walter, was illustrated by Qin Leng and published in March by Annick Press.
Andrew F. Sullivan
“This summer I'll be reading a lot about 17th century French witchcraft, the habits of opossums, and how to sell a house where someone was murdered.
I'll also be reading Amy Jones’ brand new novel, We're All In This Together, where no one is murdered in a house. Amy’s previous short story collection, What Boys Like, is wonderful and her debut novel will be everywhere this summer with good reason.
When August hits, I'll also be recommending Jay Hosking's Three Years with the Rat, soundtracked with Constantines records and accompanied by a stiff drink. It’s a strange and eerie look at the ties that bind family and friends together with a dose of time travel.”
Andrew F. Sullivan’s debut novel, Waste, was published in March by Dzanc Books.
“What I am reading:
Flannery by Lisa Moore
Daddy Lenin by Guy Vanderhaeghe
Fifteen Dogs by Andre Alexis
The Long Faraway Gone by Lou Berney, which I just finished and it is amazing.
A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki, which my dad lent me.”
Mariko Tamaki’s latest book, Saving Montgomery Sole, was published in April by Razorbill.
“If I could find a beach cabin, or a room in a monastery, away from the business that is summer—play dates that need to be organised, the picking up and dropping off of friends, dishing out dinners—my list would look like this. (As it is, I may get through half.)
Top of my list is the Truth and Reconciliation Report. I’m reading this before I read anything else and would like to invite everyone to read it, too.
Next, Living In the World As If It Were Home by Tim Lilburn (a former Jesuit priest, I could listen to him talk for hours). My pal Jim Lynch’s book, Before the Wind, about sailing the waters around Victoria, where I live.
I may be one of the only people who has not yet read Ru by Kim Thuy. I need this book in my life, as much as I need Medicine Walk by Richard Wagamese.
What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours by Nigerian-born Helen Oyeyemi, God Help the Child, by Nobel prize-winning Toni Morisson. I'd also like to reread the 1959 Canadian classic The Double Hook by Sheila Watson.”
Yasuko Thanh’s debut novel, Mysterious Fragrance of the Yellow Mountains, was published in April by Hamish Hamilton.
“I had a head start on my summer reading with Katherena Vermette’s The Break set in Winnipeg’s North End, a shattering, resonant work.
And I’m still thinking about the obsessive desire and musicality in Lydia Perović’s brilliant novella, All That Sang.
And for the summer, John Eliot Gardiner’s study of the music of Bach, Music in the Castle of Heaven; and a work of reportage I’ve heard a great deal about, Howard W. French’s China’s Second Continent, about Chinese migrant workers in Africa. And Anosh Irani’s new novel The Parcel. I love and admire his work so much, and can’t wait to read it.
Also, come fall, Christina Sharpe’s In the Wake: On Blackness and Being, which I’ve been waiting for ever since I saw an unforgettable lecture she gave in Toronto two years ago.”
Madeleine Thien’s most recent novel, Do Not Say We Have Nothing, was published in May by Knopf Canada.
“I have started the summer with Kenzaburo Ōe’s Death By Water, a rich, harrowing, at times baffling, heavyweight of a novel.
I am almost done and will be moving on to Ian McGuire’s The North Water, about which I know nothing other than that I love the first page.
As for my summer CanLit fix, I am looking forward to reading Madeleine Thien’s Do Not Say We Have Nothing and to finishing the summer with Kathy Page’s new story collection The Two of Us, out in September. I have also placed Frances Itani’s Tell on my summer reading pile, a book I have long wanted to read.
In between I will take a dip into science fiction—Cixin Liu’s The Three Body Problem and the second volume of Ian McDonald’s Luna trilogy, a biting commentary on corporate capitalism displaced to the moon (Vol 2 is out in the UK in September; the Canadian edition will be a few months behind). And for a dose of crime fiction, I am thinking of returning to Japan with Hideo Yokoyama’s Six Four. It’ll be a busy summer!”
Dan Vyleta’s most recent novel, Smoke, was published in May by HarperCollins Publishers.
“I’m struggling to find something as compelling as last summer’s immersion into Elena Ferrante’s Neopolitan novels–the perfect combination of soap opera and social history.
I have a catch-up stack but so far nothing with that kind of coherence. Somehow I don’t think the summer is quite right to continue with that other ‘slow read’ Karl Ove Knausgaard’s My Struggle (vols 3-5). But what about Proust? Anne Carson recently told me that the seven years she spent reading Proust each morning were among the happiest of her life.
The Door by Magda Szabo
Ostend: Stefan Zweig, Joseph Roth and the Summer Before the Dark by Volker Weidermann
The Past by Tessa Hadley
The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri”
Eleanor Wachtel’s most recent book, The Best of Writers & Company, was published in May by Biblioasis.
“I have very belatedly discovered Anne Enright’s books, starting with The Green Road, which knocked me sideways, and The Forgotten Waltz, which did the same but in a very different way. She is brilliant and merciless and deadly funny—my favourite literary combination. So I am planning to spend this summer working my way back through her work, starting with her short story collection, Yesterday’s Weather
I will also be reading Lynn Coady’s Who Needs Books? A book-length defence of books sounds like a terminally nostalgic cry from a culture in retreat, but coming from Coady (who, like Enright, is merciless and funny and all the rest of it), it is more likely to be a very smart clearing away of accumulated bullshit.”
Nathan Whitlock’s most recent novel, Congratulations on Everything, was published in May by ECW Press.
“Books I can’t wait to read this summer include:
In-Between Days by Teva Harrison
Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien
Medicine Walk by Richard Wagamese
This is Not My Life by Diane Schoemperlen
Principles to Live By by David Adams Richards
The Best of Writers & Company by Eleanor Wachtel
Barkskins by Annie Proulx
Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave
How to Be Drawn by Terrance Hayes
The Little Red Chairs by Edna O’Brien”
Alissa York’s most recent novel, The Naturalist, was published in April by Random House Canada.
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