It has been about two years since the COVID-19 pandemic took hold of North America, and, as a result, altered the landscape of the writing and publishing world. In Toronto, and many parts of Ontario, we’ve been on a rolling series of lockdowns and closures. All that aside, we have all been trying to do our part and keep each other safe and sane during this last while, and sometimes, that just means trying to keep on going and treasuring things we took for granted.
While I don’t think most who read this will have taken books for granted in general, they’ve surely seen the way things can get lost in the static when literary communities have to move exclusively online, especially in an era of dwindling book coverage and other sad shenanigans in the Canadian literary industry. However, I have been saying that these last few years and those ahead of us are filled with promise as far as what is being published here, and what might shape our literature to come.
So, I decided to make a list of books that came out during the pandemic, and especially highlight those that were greatly hindered by the lack of press and events and touring that might usually accompany publication and help the authors make a dent. Much as I did almost two years ago, with that list of stories to tide people over, I wanted to share this list of pandemic-published books so that we celebrate the authors that kept on grinding and working at their craft during all of this, and those who saw their books land during a time of zooming and not putting pants on and generally turning very weird. And, of course, during a time when often there was not enough emotional bandwidth to seek out new works, as many have experienced loss and change in a way that we’re yet to truly reckon with.
Feel free to message me with other books I’ve missed. You’ll note that I’ve broken this up into categories to feature those books with independent presses and newer authors who might not have had the push to break through. But, I’ll also list some very good and important books that had momentum and resources behind them, because they deserve it, and many of those authors have sweat blood to earn that standing at this point in their careers…
PS – Check out Shop Local to find these books at your local independent booksellers, and avoid helping rocket-dick Bezos do stupid things with your money. If you can! To do that click this link and add the ISBN you’re looking for to the end of the linked address.
Pandy books from Independently Published/New Authors
(Early 2020 to Present – In no particular order)
A Dream of a Woman – By Casey Plett
- An ethereal meditation on partnership, sex, addiction, romance, groundedness, and love, the stories in A Dream of a Woman buzz with quiet intensity and the intimate complexities of being human.
The Subtweet – By Vivek Shraya
- Celebrated multidisciplinary artist Vivek Shraya’s second novel is a no-holds-barred examination of the music industry, social media, and making art in the modern era, shining a light on the promise and peril of being seen.
Glorious Frazzled Beings – By Angélique Lalonde
- Home is where we love, suffer, and learn. Some homes we chose, others are inflicted upon us, and still others are bodies we are born into. In this astounding collection of stories, human and more-than-human worlds come together in places we call home… A startling and beguiling story collection, Glorious Frazzled Beings is a love song to the homes we make, keep, and break.
- What if you could see yourself as others see you? Astra is a beguiling debut novel that reveals the different faces of one woman, as seen through the eyes of ten people over a lifetime. Longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and named a Best Book of the Year by the Globe and Mail, Winnipeg Free Press, and CBC Books.
A Hero of Our Time – By Naben Ruthnum
- A wry comic novel with an acerbic wit, A Hero of Our Time cracks the veneer of well-intentioned race conversations in the West, dismantles cheery narratives of progress through tech and “streamlined” education, and exposes the venomous self-congratulation and devouring lust for wealth, power, and property that lurks beneath.
Once More, With Feeling – By Sophie McCreesh
- Calling to mind smart, deadpan and unrepentant novels such as The New Me and My Year of Rest and Relaxation, Sophie McCreesh’s distinctive and arresting debut novel is about a young woman veering towards self-destruction. Darkly funny, piercing and tender, Once More, With Feeling is a portrait of a detached young woman trapped in the perils of self-loathing and addiction, who is searching for originality in an age of profound social disconnection and anxiety.
Polar Vortex – By Shani Mootoo
- “A keen meditation on the complexities of identity and desire, Polar Vortex is the unsettling examination of a failing marriage. In a small, southern Ontario town, Priya impulsively invites an old suitor, Prakash, to spend the night and his arrival triggers the fault lines in her relationship with Alexandra. Conflicting wants and untold truths drag the past into the present. Memories cascade and clash as Mootoo masterfully dismantles the stories the narrators tell themselves in language as unsparing as winter.” – Giller Prize Jury
Wave Forms and Doom Scrolls – By Daniel Scott Tysdal
- In his debut collection of short stories, Daniel Scott Tysdal delves deep into the human experience with beautifully drawn and often profoundly flawed characters. Looking unflinchingly at the darkness of society, at suicide, at internet trolls, at violence, the powerful empathy of his writing brings significance to even the most tragic moments. These stories have intricate and unexpected plots, filmic descriptions and crisp writing, but what will stay with the reader is the way Wave Forms and Doom Scrolls breaks the reader’s heart and then puts it back together again filled with compassion for these lost souls.
Aubrey McKee – By Alex Pugsley
- Aubrey McKee and his familiars navigate late adolescence amidst the old-monied decadence of Halifax. Alex Pugsley’s long-awaited debut novel follows an arcana of oddball angels as they try to make sense of the city into which they’ve been born. Part coming-of-age-story, part social chronicle, and part study of the myths that define our growing up, Aubrey McKee introduces a breathtakingly original new voice.
Letters to Amelia – By Lindsay Zier-Vogel
- Underscoring the power of reading and writing letters for self-discovery, Letters to Amelia is, above all, a story of the essential need for connection—and our universal ability to find hope in the face of fear.
- From the vulnerable and disenfranchised to the educated and elite, the characters in this extraordinary collection embody the diversity of the diaspora at key moments in history and in contemporary times. Jack Wang has crafted deeply affecting stories that not only subvert expectations but contend with mortality and delicately draw out the intimacies and failings of love.
Lake Effect – By Dayle Furlong
- This collection of stories charts the emotional lives of characters in the midst of private sorrows and triumphs. Each story, set in the cities and towns around the Great Lakes, reveals the author’s fierce love for a landscape merciless and opulent, yet speaks with eloquence about its inhabitants.
Evie of the Deepthorn – By Andre Babyn
- What is Evie of the Deepthorn? It’s a cult Canadian movie that Kent looks to for inspiration as he struggles to understand the death of his brother. It’s a fantasy novel that Sarah wrestles with as she navigates a traumatic childhood and comes to terms with her failures as an adult. It’s a poem that motivates Reza to go on a pilgrimage from which he will not return unscathed. Shifting and sometimes contradictory, Evie of the Deepthorn is about the search for answers — and escape.
Pallbearing – By Michael Melgaard
- An honest and unaffected collection of human experiences that deftly tackles themes of grief, loss, missed opportunities, and the pain of letting go. With deceptively spare prose that carries outsized emotional weight and pathos, Melgaard brings his characters to life in sharp-edged portraits and all-too-human dilemmas, creating engaging stories that resonate with honesty and depth, and linger in the imagination.
When the Dead are Razed – By Samuel Martin
- “When the Dead are Razed is a nightmare—a dark, vividly realized crime novel that exposes the cruel underbelly of violence in the drug and sex trade in Newfoundland. Deeply affecting, masterfully taut, and explosive.” – Lisa Moore, award-winning author of Caught
- We, Jane probes the importance of care work by women for women, underscores the complexity of relationships in close circles, and beautifully captures the inevitable heartache of understanding home.
Seeking Shade – By Frances Boyle
- In Frances Boyle’s short story collection Seeking Shade, nuanced characters endure trauma, evolution and epiphany as they face challenges, make decisions, and suffer the inevitable consequences.
The Only Way is the Steady Way – By Andrew Forbes
- The Only Way Is the Steady Way is a baseball memoir in scorecards and baseball cards, a recollection of the game’s biggest stars and outlandish personalities, and introspective letters to a legendary player. Just as he did in The Utility of Boredom, Forbes shows us how a summertime distraction might help us to make sense of the world, and how a certain enigmatic Japanese superstar offers a surprising ethos for living.
The Quiet is Loud – By Samantha Garner
- Interwoven with themes of Filipino Canadian and mixed-race identity, fantastical elements from Norse and Filipino mythology, and tarot card symbolism, The Quiet Is Loud is an intergenerational tale about the consequences of secrets and what happens when we refuse to let others tell our stories for us.
- A sprawling saga set in the Canadian wilderness of the late 19th century, about a teenaged girl named Davey, a charismatic fraudster, and the unbearable weight of fate. No Man’s Land is part classic coming-of-age story, part unwavering portrait of the bloody price of power, a raw and bold novel about the search for family, and a grand tale about an education in the pull of predestination and the responsibility of free will.
Vanishing Monuments – By John Elizabeth Stinzi
- A brilliant novel whose lead character returns home to their long-estranged mother who is now suffering from dementia. This beautiful, tenderly written debut novel by Bronwen Wallace Award for Emerging Writers winner John Elizabeth Stintzi explores what haunts us most, bearing witness to grief over not only what is lost, but also what remains.
Swimmers in Winter – By Faye Guenther
- Sharp and stylistic, the trifecta of diptychs that is Swimmers in Winter swirls between real and imagined pasts and futures to delve into our present cultural moment. These are soul-searching, plot-driven character studies equally influenced by James Baldwin, Christopher Isherwood, and Elena Ferrante.
Under an Outlaw Moon – By Deitrich Kalteis
- Meet Depression-era newlyweds Bennie and Stella. He’s reckless, she’s naive. Longing for freedom from tough times, they rob a bank, setting off a series of events that quickly spin out of their control.
“Kalteis breathes life into these fearless, larger-than-life fugitives.” — Publishers Weekly, starred review.
Why Birds Sing – By Nina Berkhout
- After a very public onstage flameout, a disgraced opera singer is confronted with her crumbling marriage, a prickly and unexpected brother-in-law, and a cheeky parrot named Tulip — and she must learn to whistle her way through it all.
Autonomy – By Victoria Hetherington
- It’s 2035: a fledging synthetic consciousness “wakes up” in a lab. Jenny, the lead developer, determined to nurture this synthetic being like a child, trains it to work with people at the border of the American Protectorate of Canada. She names it Julian…. Autonomy is an ambitious philosophical novel about the possibilities for love in a world in which human bodies are either threatened or irrelevant.
Noopiming: The Cure for White Ladies – By Leanne Betasamosake Simpson
- Award-winning Nishnaabeg storyteller and writer Leanne Betasamosake Simpson returns with a bold reimagination of the novel, one that combines narrative and poetic fragments through a careful and fierce reclamation of Anishinaabe aesthetics.
- “Girl Minus X is what happens when great writing meets a mesmeric, page-turning plot. The best speculative fiction captures what we dimly imagine but intimately feel; and this book wins in its gripping tale of intense social crises, complicated family members, dismal pressures from school and a young woman awakening to her own uncanny power. Anne Stone will captivate both teens and adults alike.” – David Chariandy, author of Soucouyant and Brother
Stella Atlantis – By Susan Perly
- When novelist Johnny Coma’s daughter comes back from the dead as a talking octopus, will he be finally be able to write her story? Will his estranged wife, renowned war photographer Vivienne Pink, even believe him? In Stella Atlantis, the stunning follow-up to her visionary desert novel Death Valley, Susan Perly returns to the lives of these troubled artists.
Radium Girl – By Sofia Papamarko
- Radium Girl is a collection full of dark wonder that explores the boundaries of love, death, loneliness and justice. In these twelve deft stories, Sofi Papamarko introduces a cast of unforgettable characters.
Everything Turns Away – By Michelle Berry
- In this tautly written domestic thriller Michelle Berry weaves together the story of two couples whose lives are about to be unraveled by the murder of a neighbour, a babysitter who has gone missing and the aftermath of the collapse of the World Trade Center. Everything Turns Away is a haunting exploration of marriages and what tears them apart, of what happens to people during shocking events and of how everything can change in an instant.
The Björkan Sagas – By Harold R. Johnson
- While sorting through the possessions of his recently deceased neighbour, Harold Johnson discovers an old, handwritten manuscript containing epic stories composed in an obscure Swedish dialect. The Björkan Sagas is a bold, innovative fusion of narrative traditions set in an enchanted world of heroic storytellers, shrieking Valkyries, and fire-breathing dragons.
Manikanetish – By Naomi Fontaine
- In Naomi Fontaine’s Governor General’s Literary Award finalist, a young teacher’s return to her remote Innu community transforms the lives of her students, reminding us of the importance of hope in the face of despair.
- In this darkly hilarious satire by the inimitable Will Aitken, class war erupts aboard a luxury cruise ship.
- A fresh take on the romance novel from the Giller Prize–winning author of Fifteen Dogs. Ring, provoked by a reading of Harlequin romances, is a mash-up of romance novel conventions and a sunny meditation on the past, on language, on poetry, and yes, on love.
The Crash Palace – By Andrew Wedderburn
- The Crash Palace is a funny, moving, and surprising novel by the author of the Amazon First Novel Award–nominated The Milk Chicken Bomb. Audrey is unlike any character you’ve met before, and you’ll love being along for the ride.
- Linked short stories about families, nascent queers, and self-deluded utopians explore the moral ordinary strangeness in their characters’ overlapping lives.
Chemical Valley – By David Huebert
- From refinery operators to long term care nurses, dishwashers to preppers to hockey enforcers, Chemical Valley’s compassionate and carefully wrought stories cultivate rich emotional worlds in and through the dankness of our bio-chemical animacy.
Dante’s Indiana – By Randy Boyagoda
- Following Original Prin, a New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice and Globe and Mail Best Book, Dante’s Indiana is affecting and strange, intimate and big-hearted—an extraordinary journey through the darkly divine comedies of our time.
The Complex Arms – By Dolly Dennis
- Adeen is the resident manager of the Complex Arms, an apartment building in the Mill Woods neighbourhood of Edmonton. With no help from her deadbeat husband, Frosty, who sees himself as the next big thing in Nashville, she struggles to maintain the building while coping with the needs of a daughter with disabilities.
- A brave, soulfully written feminist novel about inheritance and resistance that tests the balance between kinship and the fight against customs that harm us. When Sharifa accompanies her husband on a marriage-saving trip to India in 2016, she thinks that she’s going to research her great-great-grandfather, a wealthy business leader and philanthropist. What captures her imagination is not his rags-to-riches story, but the mystery of his four wives, missing from the family lore. She ends up excavating much more than she had imagined.
Misconduct of the Heart – By Cordelia Strube
- In the tight grip of new corporate owners, Stevie battles corporate’s “restructuring” to save her kitchen, while trying to learn to forgive herself and maybe allow some love back into her life. Stevie’s biting, hilarious take on her own and others’ foibles will make you cheer and will have you loving Misconduct of the Heart (in the immortal words of Stevie’s best line cook) “like never tomorrow.”
After Elias – By Eddy Boudel Tan
- A modern queer tragedy about a pilot’s last words, an interrupted celebration, and the fear of losing everything. From the damp concrete of Vancouver to the spoiled shores of Mexico, After Elias weaves the past with the present to tell a story of doubt, regret, and the fear of losing everything.
Talking Animals by Julie Joosten
- A fable for our times, Joni Murphy’s Talking Animals takes place in an all-animal world where creatures rather like us are forced to deal with an all-too-familiar landscape of soul-crushing jobs, polluted oceans, and a creeping sense of doom.
The Narrows of Fear – By Carol Rose GoldenEagle
- The Narrows of Fear (Wapawikoscikanik) weaves the stories of a group of women committed to helping one another. Despite abuse experienced by some, both in their own community and in residential schools, these women learn to celebrate their culture, its stories, its dancing, its drums, and its elders. This is a powerful novel—sometimes brutally violent, sometimes healing, sometimes mythical, and always deeply respectful of the Indigenous culture at its heart.
Ghost Lake – By Nathan Niigan Noodin Adler
- Pyromaniacs, vigilantes, mysterious phenomena, prehistoric beasts, cryptid species, grave robbers and ghosts… the stories of Ghost Lake feature a cast of interrelated characters and their brushes with the supernatural, the Spirit World, and with creatures of Ojibwe legend.
My Mother, My Translator – By Jaspreet Singh
- Tracing the men and especially the women of his family from the 1918 pandemic through the calamitous events of Partition, My Mother, My Translator takes us through Singh’s childhood in Kashmir and with his grandparents in Indian Punjab to his arrival in Canada in 1990 to study the sciences, up to the closing moments of 2020, as he tries to locate new forms of stories for living in a present marked by COVID-19 and climate crisis.
Constant Nobody – By Michelle Butler Hallett
- The time is 1937. The place: the Basque Country, embroiled in the Spanish Civil War. Polyglot and British intelligence agent Temerity West encounters Kostya Nikto, a Soviet secret police agent. Kostya has been dispatched to assassinate a doctor as part of the suppression of a rogue communist faction. When Kostya finds his victim in the company of Temerity, she expects Kostya to execute her — instead, he spares her.
Best Canadian Stories 2020 – Curated by Paige Cooper
- Featuring work by: Maxime Raymond Bock • Lynn Coady • Kristyn Dunnion • Omar El Akkad • Camilla Grudova • Conor Kerr • Alex Leslie • Thea Lim • Madeleine Maillet • Cassidy McFadzean • Michael Melgaard • Jeff Noh • Casey Plett • Eden Robinson • Naben Ruthnum • Pablo Strauss • Souvankham Thammavongsa
Best Canadian Stories 2021 – Curated by Diane Schoemperlen
- Featuring work by: Senaa Ahmad • Chris Bailey • Shashi Bhat • Megan Callahan • Francine Cunningham • Lucia Gagliese • Alice Gauntley • Don Gillmor • Angélique Lalonde • Elise Levine • Colette Maitland • Sara O’Leary • Jasmine Sealy • Joshua Wales • Joy Waller
As Far As You Know – By A.F. Moritz
- Written and organized chronologically around before and after the poet’s serious illness and heart surgery in 2014, these gorgeously unguarded poems plumb and deepen the reader’s understanding of Moritz’s primary and ongoing obsessions: beauty, impermanence, history, social conscience and responsibility, and, always and most urgently, love. For all its necessary engagement with worry, sorrow, and fragility, As Far As You Know sings a final insistent chorus to what it loves: “You will live.”
The Shadow List – By Jen Sookfong Lee
- In these devastating lyric poems Jen Sookfong Lee unfolds the experience of her narrator, following her through frost-chilled nights and salt-scented days, as she pulls at the knot of accumulated expectations around her trying to create space to want and to be.
Shared Universe: New and Collected Poems – By Paul Vermeersch
- Paul Vermeersch has reinvented the “new and selected.” Bringing together the very best of his poetry from the last quarter century with new and never-before-published works, Shared Universe is a sprawling chronicle of the dawn of civilizations, the riddles of 21st-century existence, and any number of glorious, or menacing, futures.
Gold Rush – By Claire Caldwell
- From the Klondike to an all-girls summer camp to the frontier of outer space, Gold Rush explores what it means to be a settler woman in the wilderness. Drawing on and subverting portrayals of nature from Susanna Moodie to Cheryl Strayed, Caldwell’s poems examine the tension between the violence and empowerment women have often sought and found in wild places.
- Named after a local word meaning “soaked through” or “weighed down,” Scotiabank Giller Prize finalist Megan Gail Coles’s debut poetry collection, Satched, is a vivid portrait of intergenerational trauma, ecological grief, and late-stage capitalism from the perspective of a woman of rural-remote, Northern, working class, mixed ancestry.
The Only Card in a Deck of Knives – By Lauren Turner
- A groundbreaking new collection in the area of sickness poetry, The Only Card in a Deck of Knives unpacks society’s impulse to pull away from sick women and examines why we discredit their professed pain, symptoms and emotions.
Double Self-Portrait – By James Lindsay
- Double Self-Portrait explores doubling and reproduction in art, memory, culture, nostalgia and fatherhood. Divided by four longer, more autobiographical poems, Double Self-Portrait is a deeply layered collection, one that at times speaks directly to the reader and at other times is meta-textual.
OO: Typewriter Poems – By Dani Spinosa
- OO: Typewriter Poems is a book of vispo (visual poetry) glosas (a Spanish poetic form that pays tribute to another poet by incorporating their lines) designed to begin to dismantle the masculinist legacy of avant-garde visual poetics.
barangay: an offshore poem – By Adrian de Leon
- As beautiful and varied as an archipelago, barangay is an elegant new collection of poetry from Adrian De Leon that gathers in and arranges the difficult pieces of a scattered history. These are spare, haunting poems, which wash over the reader like the waves of the ocean.
Exhibitionist – By Molly Cross-Blanchard
- In Exhibitionist, Cross-Blanchard’s speaker could be the poet herself, and the depiction of desire here is tender yet awkward, fumbling. She sketches memories and lays out her longing for love and for aspirations she can never reach in language that is blunt – and at times painfully honest. —Starred Review, Quill and Quire
Word Problems – By Ian Williams
- Frustrated by how tough the issues of our time are to solve – racial inequality, our pernicious depression, the troubled relationships we have with other people – Ian Williams revisits the seemingly simple questions of grade school for inspiration: if Billy has five nickels and Jane has three dimes, how many Black men will be murdered by police? He finds no satisfaction, realizing that maybe there are no easy answers to ineffable questions.
Disintegration in Four Parts – Jean Marc Ah-Sen, Emily Anglin, Devon Code, and Lee Henderson
- Four writers, four different perspectives on the problematic notion of purity. Wildly different in style and subject matter, these four virtuoso pieces give us a 360-degree view of a philosophical theme that has never felt so urgent.
- Starting with ad copy that extols the iconic Pink Pearl eraser, Holbrook erases and erases, revealing more and more. Rubbing out different words from this decidedly non-literary, noncanonical source text, she was left with the promise of “100 essays” and set about to find them. Among her discoveries are queer love poems, art projects, political commentary, lunch, songs, and entire extended families.
Watch Your Head – Curated By Kathryn Mockler
- Writers and artists confront colonization, racism, and the social inequalities that are endemic to the climate crisis. Here the imagination amplifies and humanizes the science. These works are impassioned, desperate, hopeful, healing, transformative, and radical.
Entering Sappho – By Sarah Dowling
- Driving along the Pacific Coast Highway, you come to a road sign: Entering Sappho. Nothing remains of the town, just trash at the side of the highway and thick, wet bush. Can Sappho’s breathless eroticism tell us anything about settlement—about why we’re here in front of this sign?
Heady Bloom – By Andrew Faulkner
- Think of this collection as a meditation on how to deal with pain and uncertainty when life itself is an uncertain, painful mess. These are poems that acknowledge the shakiness of the ground we stand on. The opening poem wonders: “If you stay with the shakiness through its conjugations? Who knows. ” But don’t worry. Advil’s on the case and aims to find out.
- In Strangers, Rob Taylor makes new the epiphany poem: the short lyric ending with a moment of recognition or arrival. In his hands, the form becomes not simply a revelation in words but, in Wallace Stevens’ phrase, “a revelation in words by means of the words.” The epiphany here is not only the poet’s. It’s ours.
Villa Negativa – By Sharon McCartney
- Against the backdrop of a sibling’s death, an eating disorder, and a few very dismal dating relationships, Villa Negativa looks for laughter behind darkness. Sharon McCartney’s seventh collection articulates an essential truth of self-knowledge—that “to perceive something, we have to be able / to stand away from it.”
The Debt – By Andreae Callahan
- Set against the backdrop of a post-moratorium St. John’s, Newfoundland, The Debt explores tensions between tradition and innovation, and between past and present in a province unmoored by loss and grief. The Debt explores the dues we all owe: to nature, to those who came before us, and to one another.
- Drawing on Arthurian myth, the Romantic poets, the ill-fated “Great War” efforts of the Newfoundland Regiment, modern parenthood, 16-bit video games, and Major League Baseball, these poems examine the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves, both as individuals and as communities, in order to explain how and why we are the way we are.
Persephone’s Children – By Rowan McCandless
- Persephone’s Children chronicles Rowan McCandless’s odyssey as a Black, biracial woman escaping the stranglehold of a long-term abusive relationship. Through a series of thematically linked and structurally inventive essays, McCandless explores the fraught and fragmented relationship between memory and trauma.
The Bones Are There – By Kate Sutherland
- As much as it is a critique of humanity’s disastrous effects on this world, The Bones Are There is also a celebration of such incredible creatures, all sadly lost to us. It honours their memory by demanding accountability and encouraging resistance, so that we might stave off future irrevocable loss and preserve what wonders that remain.
- Accretion is written in a contemporary lyricism that honours ancient poetic traditions. It is a familiar story, imbued with a particularity and honesty that only Irfan Ali could bring to the table.
I Am the Big Heart – By Sarah Venart
- What does it mean to be the big heart? Or to hope to be the big heart? Or to fail to be that big heart? How far can a heart stretch? This collection asks how to rise to the occasions that family presents and also how to let oneself spill over the bounds of familial roles.
- In Intruder, acclaimed poet Bardia Sinaee explores with vivid and precise language themes of encroachment in contemporary life. Progressing from plain-spoken dispatches about city life to lucid nightmares of the calamities of history, the poems in Intruder ultimately grapple with, and even embrace, the daily undertaking of living through what we’re living through.
Iron Goddess of Mercy – By Larissa Lai
- Iron Goddess of Mercy by Lambda Literary Award winner Larissa Lai (for the novel The Tiger Flu) is a long poem that captures the vengeful yet hopeful movement of the Furies. Summoning the ghosts of history and politics, Iron Goddess of Mercy explores the complexities of identity through the lens of rage and empowerment.
Pandy books from Big Presses/Established Authors
(Early 2020 to Present – In no particular order)
Hunting by Stars – By Cherie Dimaline
- The thrilling follow-up to the bestselling, award-winning novel The Marrow Thieves, about a dystopian world where the Indigenous people of North America are being hunted for their bone marrow and ability to dream. This engrossing, action-packed, deftly-drawn novel will haunt readers long after they’ve turned the final page.
How to Pronounce Knife – By Souvankham Thammavongsa
- Named one of Time‘s Must-Read Books of 2020, and featuring stories that have appeared in Harper’s, Granta, The Atlantic, and The Paris Review, this revelatory book of fiction from O. Henry Award winner Souvankham Thammavongsa establishes her as an essential new voice in Canadian and world literature. Told with compassion and wry humour, these stories honour characters struggling to find their bearings far from home, even as they do the necessary “grunt work of the world.”
Blackwood – By Michael Farris Smith
- In this timeless, mythical tale of unforgiving justice and elusive grace, rural Mississippi townsfolk shoulder the pain of generations as something dangerous lurks in the enigmatic kudzu of the woods. The Deep South gives these noble, broken, and driven folks the gift of human connection while bestowing upon them the crippling weight of generations. With broken histories and vagabond hearts, the townsfolk wrestle with the evil in the woods — and the wickedness that lurks in each and every one of us.
Return of the Trickster – By Eden Robinson
- In the third book of her brilliant and captivating Trickster Trilogy, Eden Robinson delivers an explosive, surprising and satisfying resolution to the story.
- In her masterful new novel, Ivy Pochoda creates a kaleidoscope of loss, power, and hope featuring five very different women whose lives are steeped in danger and anguish. They’re connected by one man and his deadly obsession, though not all of them know that yet. Written with beauty and grit, tension and grace, These Women is a glorious display of storytelling, a once-in-a-generation novel.
What Strange Paradise – By Omar El Akkad
- In alternating chapters, we learn about Amir’s life and how he came to be on the boat, and we follow him and the girl as they make their way toward safety. What Strange Paradise is the story of two children finding their way through a hostile world. But it is also a story of empathy and indifference, of hope and despair—and about the way each of those things can blind us to reality.
The Dyzgraphxst by Canisia Lubrin
- The Dyzgraphxst presents seven inquiries into selfhood through the perennial figure Jejune. Polyvocal in register, the book moves to mine meanings of kinship through the wide and intimate reach of language across geographies and generations. Against the contemporary backdrop of intensified capitalist fascism, toxic nationalism, and climate disaster, the figure Jejune asks, how have I come to make home out of unrecognizability. Marked by and through diasporic life, Jejune declares, I was not myself. I am not myself. My self resembles something having nothing to do with me.
- Set in in the Niagara Falls of Davidson’s imagination known as “Cataract City,” the superb stories of Cascade shine a shimmering light on this slightly seedy, slightly magical, slightly haunted place. The six gems in this collection each illuminate familial relationships in a singular way.
When We Lost Our Heads – By Heather O’Neill
- From the bestselling author of The Lonely Hearts Hotel, a spellbinding story about two young women whose friendship is so intense it not only threatens to destroy them, it changes the course of history. When We Lost Our Heads is a page-turning novel that explores gender and power, sex and desire, class and status, and the terrifying strength of the human heart when it can’t let someone go.
Rabbit Foot Bill – Helen Humphreys
- A lonely boy in a prairie town befriends a local outsider in 1947 and then witnesses a shocking murder. Based on a true story, this page-turning novel from a master stylist examines the frailty and resilience of the human mind.
The Centaur’s Wife – By Amanda Leduc
- Amanda Leduc’s brilliant new novel, woven with fairy tales of her own devising and replete with both catastrophe and magic, is a vision of what happens when we ignore the natural world and the darker parts of our own natures. At times devastating, but ultimately redemptive, The Centaur’s Wife is a fable for our uncertain times reminds us that the most important things in life aren’t things at all, but rather the people we want by our side at the end of the world.
Gutter Child – By Jael Richardson
- A fierce and illuminating debut from FOLD founder Jael Richardson about a young woman who must find the courage to determine her own future and secure her freedom. Richardson’s Gutter Child reveals one young woman’s journey through a fractured world of heartbreaking disadvantages and shocking injustices. Elimina is a modern heroine in an altered but all too recognizable reality who must find the strength within herself to forge her future and defy a system that tries to shape her destiny.
Probably Ruby – By Lisa Bird Wilson
- For readers of Tommy Orange’s There There and Terese Marie Mailhot’s Heart Berries, Probably Ruby is an audacious, brave and beautiful book about an adopted woman’s search for her Indigenous identity. A perfectly crafted novel, with effortless, nearly imperceptible shifts in time and perspective, exquisitely chosen detail, natural dialogue and emotional control that results in breathtaking levels of tension and points of revelation.
Five Little Indians – By Michelle Good
- Taken from their families when they are very small and sent to a remote, church-run residential school, Kenny, Lucy, Clara, Howie, and Maisie are barely out of childhood when they are finally released after years of detention. Alone and without any skills, support, or families, they cling together, striving for safety and belonging in a world that doesn’t want them. With compassion and insight, Five Little Indians chronicles the desperate quest to come to terms with their past and, ultimately, find a way forward.
Greenwood – By Michael Christie
- Transporting, beautifully written, and brilliantly structured like the nested growth rings of a tree, Greenwood reveals the knot of lies, omissions, and half-truths that exists at the root of every family’s origin story. It is a magnificent novel of greed, sacrifice, love, and the ties that bind–and the hopeful, impossible task of growing toward the light.
I Love You But I’ve Chosen Darkness – By Claire Vaye Watkins
- A darkly funny, soul-rending novel of love in an epoch of collapse—one woman’s furious revisiting of family, marriage, work, sex, and motherhood. Bold, tender, and often hilarious, I Love You but I’ve Chosen Darkness reaffirms Watkins as one of the signal writers of our time.
When These Mountains Burn – By David Joy
- Acclaimed author and “remarkably gifted storyteller” (The Charlotte Observer) David Joy returns with a fierce and tender tale of a father, an addict, a lawman, and the explosive events that come to unite them.
- Men are disappearing from Toronto’s gay village. They’re the marginalized, the vulnerable. One by one, stalked and vanished, they leave behind small circles of baffled, frightened friends. As Demchuk tries to make sense of the relationship between queerness and horror, what it means for gay men to disappear, and how the isolation of the LGBTQ+ community has left them profoundly exposed to monsters that move easily among them, fact and fiction collide and reality begins to unravel.
Satellite Love – By Genki Ferguson
- Full of surprising imaginative leaps and yet grounded by a profound understanding of the human heart, Satellite Love is a brilliant and deeply moving meditation on loneliness, faith, and the yearning for meaning and connection. It is an unforgettable story about the indomitable power of the imagination and the mind’s ability to heal itself, no matter the cost, no matter the odds.
Songs for the End of the World – By Saleema Nawaz
- Brilliantly told by an unforgettable chorus of voices, this glittering novel is a moving and hopeful meditation on what we owe to ourselves and to each other. It reminds us that disaster can bring out the best in people—and that coming together may be what saves us in the end.
- A sly and satirical look at the fractures in modern existence, Sufferance is a bold and provocative novel about the social and political consequences of the inequality created by privilege and power—and what we might do about it.
- The beloved author of bestsellers Women Talking, All My Puny Sorrows, and A Complicated Kindness returns with a funny, smart, headlong rush of a novel full of wit, flawless writing, and a tribute to perseverance and love in an unusual family. Fight Night unspools the pain, love, laughter, and above all, will to live a good life across three generations of women in a close-knit family.
Undersong – By Kathleen Winter
- From Giller-shortlisted author Kathleen Winter (author of the bestseller Annabel): A stunning novel reimagining the lost years of misunderstood Romantic Era genius Dorothy Wordsworth.
- Douglas Adams meets David Lynch in this ingenious, witty fable about one of North America’s most surreal inventions—the local mall. Much like the shopping centres it praises and parodies, Pasha Malla’s wildly adventurous novel follows its own internal logic, channeling its narrator’s unshakeable innocence to explore the darker edges of human (and other) nature.
The Marriage of Rose Camilleri – By Robert Hough
- An illuminating portrait of an unconventional marriage by bestselling and critically acclaimed author Robert Hough. The Marriage of Rose Camilleri transports the reader into the epicentre of an unconventional love story, where he draws out captivating details from the fabric of an ordinary shared lifetime to create a story that lives in the moment and takes seriously the small but vital details of everyday life.
The Spectacular – By Zoe Whittall
- In her new book, by turns sharp and provocative, Zoe Whittall captures three generations of very different women who struggle to build an authentic life in the absence of traditional familial and marital structures. Definitions of family, romance, gender and love will radically change as they seek out lives that are nothing less than spectacular.
The Snow Line – By Tessa McWatt
- Tessa McWatt’s breathtaking new novel explores love and endurance in the face of change and violence, and how people find wholeness and belonging when their own identities feel shattered.
Waiting for a Star to Fall – By Kerry Clare
- For fans of Joanne Ramos, Josie Silver, and Emily Giffin, a gripping and powerful story that asks: Just how much are you willing to forgive in the name of love?
- From Amy Stuart, the bestselling author of Still Mine and Still Water—PI Clare O’Dey is on the hunt for two missing persons. Little does she know she’s the one being hunted.
Cereus Blooms at Night – By Shani Mootoo
- At the core of this haunting multi-generational novel are the shifting faces of Mala—adventurer and protector, recluse, and madwoman. Told by the engaging voice of Tyler, Mala’s vivacious male caretaker at the Paradise Alms House, Cereus Blooms at Night is layered with unforgettable scenes of a world where love and treachery collide.…
The Spirit’s Up – By Todd Babiak
- The Spirits Up is the story of a family haunted by the charmlessness of middle age and the cruelties of modern teenage life. Part social satire and part contemporary ghost story (with a hint of Dickens’s A Christmas Carol), it is an exploration of a timeless question: what happens when there’s nothing to believe?
The Mystery of Right and Wrong – By Wayne Johnston
- The Mystery of Right and Wrong is a masterwork from one of the country’s most critically acclaimed and beloved writers that is both compulsively readable and heartstopping in the vital truth it unfolds. In a novel that grapples with sexual abuse, male violence and madness, Wayne Johnston reveals haunting family secrets he’s kept for more than thirty years.
Missed Connections – By Brian Francis
- An entertaining and moving memoir about coming out, looking inwards, and the search for connection, inspired by the responses to a personal ad. Missed Connections is an open-hearted, irreverent, often hilarious, and always bracingly honest examination of the pieces of our past we hold close — and all that we lose along the way.
- Writer and performer Ivan Coyote has spent decades on the road, telling stories around the world. For years, Ivan has kept a file of the most special communications received from readers and audience members. Care Of combines the most powerful of these letters with Ivan’s responses, creating a body of correspondence of startling intimacy, breathtaking beauty, and heartbreaking honesty and openness.
What Hurts Going Down – By Nancy Lee
- Nancy Lee’s searing collection of poems confronts how socially ingrained violence and sexual power dynamics distort and dislocate girlhood, womanhood, and relationships. Startling and visceral, the poems in What Hurts Going Down deconstruct a lifetime of survival, hover in the uneasy territory of pre- and post- #MeToo, and scrutinize the changing wagers of being female.…
On the Trapline – By David A. Robertson
- A picture book celebrating Indigenous culture and traditions. The Governor General Award–winning team behind When We Were Alone shares a story that honours our connections to our past and our grandfathers and fathers.
The Barren Grounds (The Misewa Saga – Book One) – By David A. Robertson
- Narnia meets traditional Indigenous stories of the sky and constellations in an epic middle-grade fantasy series from award-winning author David Robertson.
The Great Bear (The Misewa Saga – Book Two) – By David A. Robertson
- In this second book in the Narnia-inspired Indigenous middle-grade fantasy series, Eli and Morgan journey once more to Misewa, travelling back in time.
One thought on “Books That Were Published During The Pandy”
Thanks a lot for this, Kevin.
On Sat., Jan. 29, 2022, 2:55 p.m. Kevin Hardcastle, wrote:
> KHardcase posted: ” It has been about two years since the COVID-19 > pandemic took hold of North America, and, as a result, altered the > landscape of the writing and publishing world. In Toronto, and many parts > of Ontario, we’ve been on a rolling series of lockdowns and cl” >