Open a book this minute and start reading. Don’t move until you’ve reached page fifty. Until you’ve buried your thoughts in print. Cover yourself with words. Wash yourself away. Dissolve. Carol Shields Republic of Love

Vickie Gendreau’s Testament (2012; 2016)

Originally written after the author had been diagnosed with a brain tumour, Testament is a response to the news that Vickie Gendreau would have little time left to live: about a year.

2012; Book Thug, 2016

The novel’s translator, Aimee Wall, writes about the work, a few months after its author died, in Lemon […]

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Quarterly Stories: Three Collections

In Susan Hill’s Howard’s End Is on the Landing, she quotes a friend who says “We read Margaret Drabble to feel the zeitgeist, our daughters read Helen Simpson.”

(Their daughters’ daughters might be reading Janine Alyson Young or Alex Leslie or Rivka Galchen or Eufemia Fantetti.)

In the first story in Hey Yeah Right Get […]

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Telling Stories: Five 2016 Novels

It’s not all “Reader, I married him” but plenty of contemporary novels are preoccupied by the idea of storytelling, and often one voice does speak to us directly even now.

Periscope Books, 2016

In Tabish Khair’s Just Another Jihadi Jane, the storyteller’s direct address appears regularly and spiritedly.

“Yes, well, if you insist, I […]

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November 2016, In My Bookbag

In which I discuss some of the skinny volumes which have kept me company while on the move, while heavier volumes (like Steven Price’s By Gaslight and Ami McKay’s The Witches of New York) stayed home.

The Selected Poetry of Ryszard Kapuściński is the first in the International Translation Series from Biblioasis.

It’s translated from […]

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Luisgé Martín’s The Same City (2013; 2015)

It doesn’t happen everyday: a single book resulting in a new reading resolution. Even the idea of it is somehow misleading, isn’t it? Because in the life of a voracious reader, is it possible to isolate a single reading experience and claim it as the genesis of a change in reading habits?

2013. Hispabooks, […]

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Quarterly Stories: Autumn 2016

Only ten this year, so far. Without my Alice Munro project to steer me, I am not reading as many short story collections now.

Over the summer, I read Cherie Dimaline’s A Gentle Habit (2015) as part of All Lit Up’s summer bookclub. Dimaline is a member of the Georgian Bay Métis community and her […]

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Auđur Ava Ólafsdóttir’s Butterflies in November (2003; 2014)

Almost ten years after its original publication, Butterflies in November was translated into English from the Icelandic by Brian FitzGibbon. (This was in 2013, by Pushkin Press, though the edition which appears below was published in 2014 by Grove/Atlantic.)

2003; Translated Brian FitzGibbon, 2013

It gained substantial attention with its listing for the Independent […]

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Sun-Mi Hwang’s The Dog Who Dared to Dream (2016)

Sun-Mi Hwang’s The Hen Who Believed She Could Fly was a runaway bestseller for its Korean author, who had previously published more than 50 books and was surprised to find her work such a phenomenon, not only in Korea but beyond.

Abacus – Hachette, 2016

The Dog Who Dared to Dream is poised to experience […]

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August 2016, In My Bookbag

In which I discuss some of the skinny volumes, which have nestled into my bookbag.

(Meanwhile longer works, like Kathleen Winsor’s Forever Amber and Greg Iles’ The Bone Tree, were left at home.)

Patricia and Fredrick McKissack’s Best Shot in the West tells the story of Nat Love, who was born into slavery in 1854 and became […]

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Kingdoms of the Dead

Lynda Barry says a “happy ending is hardly important, though we may be glad it’s there”.

But there’s more to it, she says: “The real joy is knowing that if you felt the trouble in the story, your kingdom isn’t dead.”*

Doubleday Canada, 2015

If one reads a lot of literary fiction, ambiguity in […]

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