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13 Canadian Books You Should Read Right Now

These buzzy 2019 releases by Canadian authors include tales of magic kingdoms, earthquake survivors, cultish sororities and high-tech serial killers.
By Danielle Groen, Dafna Izenberg and Emily Landau
13 Canadian Books You Should Read Right Now

Photo, iStock.

One of the easiest ways to show your love for all things red, white and northern on Canada Day weekend is to grab a book, head to the nearest tranquil dock and read. Here are our picks of the most engrossing new titles from Canadian writers.

Aria by Nazanine Hozar

Hozar, an Iranian-born writer who now lives in B.C., captures the sweep of Iran’s political history through the eyes of Aria, an orphan girl in 1950s Tehran. She’s raised by a series of complicated women, including a wealthy benefactress and, eventually, her biological mother. When the novel comes full circle, Aria has become a young mother herself and the fever of terror and revolution has again taken hold in Iran. $25, Penguin Random House.

Aria cover with paper cutouts of moon over cityscape

Dual Citizens by Alix Ohlin

Lark is accustomed to hanging out in the shadows: of her mercurial mother, of her artistic sister, of the celebrated filmmaker who is happy to hook up but won’t be persuaded to give her a child. Fresh off a Giller nomination for her last novel, Inside, Ohlin takes Lark in fascinating and unexpected directions. $23, House of Anansi.

Book cover image is blue and green mosaic-style print background with black lettering stating title and author name
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Frying Plantain by Zalika Reid-Benta

This heartbreaking debut novel follows Kara from a Toronto elementary school through to her high-school graduation as she tries to shape her own identity despite the competing pressures of her intractable Jamaican grandparents, her protective mother and her sometimes reckless white friends. $20, House of Anansi.

Thick yellow and red horizontal stripes separated by white horizontal stripes, with city skyline images overlaid on the top and bottom stripes

All the Wrong Places by Joy Fielding

A widow, a divorcée, a jilted lover and a straying woman try their hands at online dating. It could be the beginning of a really corny joke, but it’s the premise of author Joy Fielding’s twisty new thriller. Lurking behind a charming profile is a tech-savvy killer who uses the app to target his next victim. $24, Penguin Random House.

Close-up image of a woman's face in profile, showing nose, red lips, chin, and shoulders in a red shirt

Bina by Anakana Schofield

Schofield dedicates her propulsive novel to “every woman who has had enough.” Bina certainly ranks among them: The feisty older Irishwoman has done something terrible that has brought the police to her door. But first, Bina has a few scores she wants to settle. $30, Penguin Random House.

white book cover with extremely large black print that reads
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A Girl Named Lovely by Catherine Porter

Upon arrival in Haiti in 2010 to report on the earthquake, Porter, then a Toronto Star columnist, heard rumours that a two-year-old had been pulled from a collapsed building after six days. This riveting memoir details what happens as she draws closer to her family and confronts the limitations of foreign aid. $25, Simon & Schuster.

Shadow image of a girl's head in black outline overtop a scene of tightly-packed colourful Haitian houses on a hillside

The Time Has Come: Why Men Must Join the Gender Equality Revolution by Michael Kaufman

There’s never been a better opportunity for gender equality, Kaufman argues. But the work can’t fall to women alone. To galvanize men to join the movement, he challenges expectations around power, parenthood and progress in this timely new book. $23, House of Anansi.

beige background with purple/blue/red Venn diagram (two overlapping circles)

The Homecoming by Andrew Pyper

When Raymond Quinlan, an absent father and a preposterously rich man, dies abruptly, the Quinlan siblings and their mother convene at his palatial lodge in the woods. But to claim their inheritance, they need to stay alone on the isolated property for a month, which becomes every bit as chilling and creepy as you’d expect. $25, Simon & Schuster.

Scene of dark trees in front of a large a-frame cottage in the woods
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Reproduction by Ian Williams

In this novel about fathers who vanish and the families that spring up in their place, the Vancouver-based poet deftly weaves together the voices of a 14-year-old Black boy, a 16-year-old white girl and a motley crew of middle-aged parents who are all struggling to do right by their children—with mixed results. $35, Penguin Random House.

Cover of book made to look as if it is an old letter envelope made of green and yellow paper

Bunny by Mona Awad

An obsession with beautiful mean girls has fuelled an entire genre: HeathersGossip Girl and, of course, Mean Girls. In her latest addition to the clique canon, Awad, who captured female insecurity so beautifully in the bittersweet 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl, follows a sorority of posh, secretive students at a small New England liberal arts college who call themselves the Bunnies and engage in mysteriously cultish off-campus rituals. $30, Penguin Random House.

Bunny cover with peach silouhette of rabbit on black background

A Brightness Long Ago by Guy Gavriel Kay

Kay is a brainier Canadian equivalent of George R.R. Martin. His latest epic, set in a magic-infused analogue to Renaissance Italy, follows a peasant boy who serves a count known as the Beast and finds himself caught in a deadly feud. Like all of Kay’s work, the novel is worth reading as much for the plot and characters as for the fantasy world it occupies, which is as richly detailed as a Bosch painting. $32, Penguin Random House.

A Brightness Long Ago cover with red bird cutouts
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I’ll Never Tell by Catherine McKenzie

Five siblings reunite at the summer camp their family owns for the reading of their parents’ will. Each would rather forget the day 20 years ago when oldest sister Margaux’s best friend, Amanda, was found dead at the camp’s “Secret Beach.” But the will insists they revisit it, because in order to collect their inheritance, the four sisters must decide whether their older brother, Ryan, is Amanda’s killer. A Montreal lawyer, McKenzie does a brilliant job of gradually reconstructing the last day of Amanda’s life, mapping each sibling’s whereabouts on the campgrounds while also revealing their own potential culpability in the crime. $22, Simon and Schuster.

I'll Never Tell cover, hand dipping in lake: new thrillers books summer 2019

The Arrangement by Robyn Harding

There’s no mystery as to who the killer is in Harding’s latest (the Vancouver author and screenwriter also wrote 2018’s Her Pretty Face and the 2015 feature film The Steps, starring James Brolin). That is revealed in the first three pages. Instead, what will keep you reading is the story of how Natalie, a young art student in New York, met Gabe, who became her sugar daddy, and what went wrong between them. To research the novel, Harding set up her own account on a sugar dating site, and interviewed women she met there. July 30, $22, Simon and Schuster.

The Arrangement cover, red light over apartment alleyway after rain: new thrillers books summer 2019

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