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Kurt Palka nominated for Hammett Prize

Canadian author Kurt Palka’s Patient Number 7 (McClelland & Stewart) is one of five finalists for the 2012 Hammett Prize. The North American branch of the International Association of Crime Writers made the announcement on Friday.

The annual prize is awarded to the best English-language crime novel published in the U.S. and Canada. The winner will be chosen by three judges – Rob Dougherty, Janet Groth, and Edward D. Miller – and will be revealed Sept. 30 at the New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association’s fall conference.

The other nominees are:

  • William Landay, Defending Jacob (Delacorte/Random House)
  • Jim Lynch, Truth Like the Sun (Knopf Canada)
  • Howard Owen, Oregon Hill (Permanent Press)
  • G. Willow Wilson, Alif the Unseen (Emblem Editions)

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Canadian booksellers pick the top crime and mystery books of 2012

Q&Q contacted booksellers across Canada to uncover the most popular crime and mystery titles of 2012.

Click on the thumbnails to discover the booksellers’ top titles.

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This weekend in Canadian literary events: Aug. 10-12

Lit lovers who spent the long weekend in cottage country needn’t fear they’ve missed out. There’s plenty of bookish happenings across the country this weekend, like these ones selected from Q&Q’s events calendar:

The Fish Quill Poetry Boat Tour gets underway Aug. 9 at 8 p.m. at the Tranzac Club in Toronto. Tonight’s kick-off will be the first of 10 stops on the canoe tour, which sees a group of Canadian poets and musicians paddling from Elora to Chiefswood on Six Nations of the Grand River territory, performing in various venues along the way.

Albertans still have time to register for this weekend’s When Words Collide festival, which takes place from Aug. 10–12 in Calgary, and includes readings and talks by Anthony Bidulka, Kelley Armstrong, Kevin J. Anderson, Rebecca Moesta, Adrienne Kerr, and Vanessa Cardui.

Authors at the Harbourfront Centre pairs with Planet IndigenUS for a reading and discussion featuring Thomas King, Drew Hayden Taylor, and Brian Wright-McLeod. The free event takes place Aug. 11 at 7 p.m. at the Harbourfront Centre in Toronto.

The nominees for the Evelyn Richardson Award for Non-fiction will be gathering for a reading and discussion at the Osprey Arts Centre in Shelburne, Nova Scotia. The free event kicks off at 7 p.m. on Aug. 11, and boasts Chris Benjamin, Ray MacLeod and Harry Thurston. They will be joined by a live saw-whet owl from animal rehab facility Hope for Wildlife. (Should be a hoot!)

Fantasy enthusiasts hailing from Orillia, Ontario may want to check out Here Be Dragons, part of the photography exhibit Look. Magic! at the Leacock Museum. The Aug. 11 event starts at 8 p.m., and writers Julie Czerneda, Adrienne Kress, Anne Bishop and Mark Leslie will be in attendance.

If gritty crime stories are more your thing, check out the Wolfe Island Scene of the Crime Festival, which takes place on Aug. 11 in Wolfe Island, Ontario. The Ladies Killing Circle, D.J. McIntosh, John Moss, Y.S. Lee, and Thomas Rendell Curran are set to appear.  Full-day passes are $65.

The annual Winterset in Summer Festival starts up Aug. 10 and runs until Aug. 12. Events for the Peril at the Sea–themed festival will take place at various locales across Eastport, Newfoundland. This year’s lineup includes Daniel Allen Butler, Paul Butler, Simon Winchester, Nancy Earle, Bernice Morgan, Bert Riggs, Danielle Devereaux, Jamie Fitzpatrick, and Bob Hallett, as well as 2012 Winterset Award finalists Mark Callanan, Don McKay, and Edward Riche. Tickets start at $15.

Q&Q’s events calendar has even more listings for this weekend’s readings, poetry shows, book signings, and festivals.

Want to add an event to Q&Q’s calendar? Send your literary event listings to Quill & Quire. Please include the event name, date, time, location, cost, and a brief description.

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Fall preview 2012: Canadian non-fiction, part II

The season of high-profile literary awards and author festivals is on its way, and there’s no shortage of new releases from marquee names. In the July/August issue, Q&Q looks ahead at some of the fall’s biggest books.

TRUE CRIME

In 2009, police discovered a car in the Rideau Canal just outside of Kingston, Ontario. The car contained the bodies of three sisters – Zainab, Sahar, and Geeti Shafia – and 50-year-old Rona Amir Mohammad. Authorities later arrested the girls’ father, brother, and mother, all of whom were convicted of first-degree murder for their roles in the honour killings. Paul Schliesmann’s Honour on Trial (Fitzhenry & Whiteside, $19.95 pa., Oct.) examines the facts behind the case that horrified Canadians.

BUSINESS & FINANCE

He’s been a dragon in his den and gone to prison for his reality-television show, Redemption Inc. Now, Kevin O’Leary, businessman, pundit, and author of the hybrid memoir/business guide Cold Hard Truth, returns with The Cold Hard Truth about Men, Women and Money (Doubleday Canada, $29.95 cl., Dec.), a guide to avoiding common financial mistakes. • O’Leary’s left-leaning opponent on CBC’s The Lang and O’Leary Exchange, Amanda Lang, has a leadership book out this season. The Power of Why: Simple Questions that Lead to Success (HarperCollins Canada, $33.99 cl., Oct.) postulates that asking the right questions leads to increased productivity.

SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

From the internal combustion engine and cold fusion to the Internet and the artificial heart, all scientific discoveries and technological advancements are the product of human ingenuity. In the 2012 CBC Massey Lectures, Neil Turok argues that science represents humanity’s best hope for progress and peace. The Universe Within: From Quantum to Cosmos (House of Anansi Press, $19.95 pa.) appears in September. • Terence Dickinson is editor of the Canadian astronomy magazine Sky News and author of the bestseller NightWatch: A Practical Guide to Viewing the Universe. His new book, Hubble’s Universe: Greatest Discoveries and Images (Firefly Books, $49.95 cl., Sept.), is a visually sumptuous compendium of images from the Hubble Space Telescope.

CULTURE & CRITICISM

Novelist and short-story writer Thomas King, who was also the first native person to deliver the prestigious CBC Massey Lectures, has long been a committed advocate for native rights. In The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America (Doubleday Canada, $34.95 cl., Nov.), King examines the way European settlers and natives have viewed each other via pop culture, treaties, and legislation. • Poet and critic Kathleen McConnell explores the portrayal of women in pop culture through the ages in Pain, Porn and Complicity: Women Heroes from Pygmalion to Twilight (Wolsak & Wynn, $19 pa., Nov.).

In A Civil Tongue, philosophy professor and public intellectual Mark Kingwell predicted the devolution of political discourse into a schoolyard-like shouting match. His new collection, Unruly Voices: Essays on Democracy, Civility, and the Human Imagination (Biblioasis, $21.95 pa., Sept.), is about how incivility and bad behaviour prevent us from achieving the kind of society we desire.

Poet, publisher, and critic Carmine Starnino turns his incisive and cutting attention to CanLit in his new collection of essays, Lazy Bastardism (Gaspereau Press,  Sept.). • James Pollock believes that Canadian poetry lacks an authentic relationship with poetry from the rest of the world. His new book, You Are Here: Essays on the Art of Poetry in Canada (The Porcupine’s Quill, $22.95 pa., Nov.), attempts to situate Canadian poetry in a global context, through examinations of the work of writers such as Anne Carson, Eric Ormsby, and Karen Solie.

A new anthology from Women’s Press brings together essays addressing specific concerns of LGBT communities and individuals across the country. Edited by Maureen FitzGerald and Scott Rayter, Queerly Canadian: An Introductory Reader in Sexuality Studies ($64.95 pa., Sept.) takes up issues of education, law, and religion, among others. • For a brief moment in the 1960s, Montreal became a hotbed of Civil Rights activism, radically challenging traditional conceptions of racial hierarchies. The 1968 Congress of Black Writers included activists and spokespeople such as Stokely Carmichael, C.L.R. James, and Harry Edwards. David Austin chronicles this important gathering in Fear of a Black Nation: Race, Sex, and Security in Sixties Montreal (Between the Lines, $24.95 pa., Nov.).

Belles Lettres (McArthur & Company, $29.95 pa., Nov.) is a collection of postcards from authors such as Baudelaire, Flaubert, Proust, and Charlotte Brontë, collated and annotated by Greg Gatenby, the founding artistic director of Toronto’s International

Festival of Authors. • In The Other Side of Midnight: Taxi Cab Stories (Creative Book Publishing, $19.95 pa., Oct.), writer and anthologist Mike Heffernan chronicles the experiences of St. John’s cab drivers and their clients.

ENTERTAINMENT

In the years following Liz Worth’s Treat Me Like Dirt, the market for books about the Canadian punk music scene has been as frenzied as the audience at a Fucked Up concert. In Perfect Youth: The Birth of Canadian Punk, (ECW, $22.95 pa., Oct.), Sam Sutherland looks at the historical context for Canadian punk progenitors such as D.O.A., the Viletones, and Teenage Head. • One early Canadian punk band – Victoria’s NoMeans­No – is the subject of the latest book in the Bibliophonic series from Invisible Publishing. NoMeansNo: Going Nowhere ($12.95 pa.), by Halifax author Mark Black, is due out in October.

Marc Strange, who died in May, was known for mystery novels such as Body Blows and Follow Me Down. He was also the co-creator (with L.S. Strange) of the seminal Canadian television series The Beachcombers. Bruno and the Beach: The Beachcombers at 40 (Harbour Publishing, $26.95 pa., Sept.), co-written with Jackson Davies, the actor who played Constable John Constable in the series, chronicles the iconic show and its equally iconic lead actor.

Since its release in 1971, Ken Russell’s notoriously blasphemous film, The Devils, has been the subject of heavy censorship in both the U.S. and the U.K. Canadian film scholar Richard Crouse examines the history of this cult classic in Raising Hell: Ken Russell and the Unmaking of The Devils (ECW, $19.95 pa., Oct.), which includes an interview with the film’s director, who died in 2011.

HUMOUR

Former model and current stay-at-home mom Kelly Oxford has found her largest measure of fame as a result of her sarcastic Twitter feed (@kellyoxford), which features such Oscar Wildean witticisms as “IDEA: ‘Bless This Mess’ novelty period panties” and “Some parents in China get their kids to work in factories and I can’t get my kid to pass me some Twizzlers.” The essays in Everything’s Perfect When You’re a Liar (HarperCollins Canada, $24.99 cl., Sept.) promise more of the same. • If you prefer your humour with a larger dollop of political satire, you’ll be pleased to know that Rick Mercer has a collection of brand new rants on the way. A Nation Worth Ranting About (Doubleday Canada, $29.95 cl., Oct.) includes the author’s description of bungee jumping with Rick Hansen, and a more serious piece about Jamie Hubley, a gay teen who committed suicide after being bullied.

If you want to know whether you might be a redneck, ask Jeff Foxworthy. If you want to know whether you might be a native of Saskatchewan, check your birth certificate or consult the new book from author Carson Demmans and illustrator Jason Sylvestre. You Might Be from Saskatchewan If … (MacIntyre Purcell/Canadian Manda Group, $12.95 pa.) appears in September.

FOOD & DRINK

Rob Feenie is the latest Food Network Canada celebrity chef with a new cookbook. The host of New Classics with Chef Rob Feenie, who famously defeated Masaharu Morimoto on Iron Chef America, offers innovative approaches to classic, family-friendly fare in Rob Feenie’s Casual Classics: Everyday Recipes for Family and Friends (D&M, $29.95 pa., Sept.). The recipes have undergone stringent quality control, each one having been approved by Feenie’s children, aged 3, 6, and 7.

Camilla V. Saulsbury’s 500 Best Quinoa Recipes: Using Nature’s Superfood for Gluten-free Breakfasts, Mains, Desserts and More (Robert Rose, $27.95 pa., Oct.) provides more healthy recipes based on the reigning superstar ingredient. • Aaron Ash, founder of Gorilla Food, a Vancouver restaurant that features vegan, organic, and raw cuisine, has achieved popularity among celebrity fans including Woody Harrelson and Katie Holmes. His new book, Gorilla Food: Living and Eating Organic, Vegan, and Raw (Arsenal Pulp, $24.95 pa., Oct.), collects 150 recipes, all of which are made without a heat source.

SPORTS


Rocker Dave Bidini returns to his other passion – hockey – in A Wild Stab for It: This Is Game Eight from Russia (ECW, $22.95 cl., Sept.), in which the author talks to various Canadians about the influence of the 1972 Canada-Russia Summit Series. The release of the book is timed to coincide with the 40th anniversary of the iconic series. • The man who made that series so memorable also has a book out this fall. Co-written with sports commentator Roger Lajoie, The Goal of My Life (Fenn/M&S, $32.99 cl., Sept.) traces Paul Henderson’s route through the OHL and the NHL, on his way to scoring “the goal of the century.”

To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Grey Cup, ex–CFL quarterback and coach Frank Cosentino has penned the appropriately titled The Grey Cup 100th Anniversary (McArthur & Company, $29.95 pa., Oct.). • Crime fiction writer Michael Januska offers his own take on 100 years of Canadian football history in Grey Cup Century (Dundurn, $14.99 pa., Sept.).

Q&Q’s fall preview covers books published between July 1 and Dec. 31, 2012. • All information (titles, prices, publication dates, etc.) was supplied by publishers and may have been tentative at Q&Q’s press time. • Titles that have been listed in previous previews do not appear here.

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Gloria Ferris wins first Bloody Words Light Mystery Award

Gloria Ferris has won the first Bloody Words Light Mystery Award for her novel Cheat the Hangman (Imajin Books).

The Light Mystery award, also known as the Bony Blithe Award, was established by the board of directors of Bloody Words, Canada’s oldest and largest mystery convention, to encourage an appreciation for traditional “light” mysteries. The honours were granted at the annual Bloody Words Banquet in Toronto on June 2. Winners of the annual juried award receive a framed plaque and $1000 cheque.

Ferris started out as a technical writer at a nuclear power development but later turned to crime fiction. She wrote Cheat the Hangman, her first novel, in 2009, and it was a finalist in the Crime Writers of Canada Unhanged Arthur Award that year. Her second novel, Corpse Flower, won that same award in 2010 and will be published by Dundurn Press in 2013.

The other authors shortlisted for the award were:

  • Alan Bradley, A Red Herring without Mustard (Doubleday Canada)
  • Phyllis Smallman, Champagne for Buzzards (McArthur & Company)
  • Mary Jane Maffini, The Busy Woman’s Guide to Murder (Berkley Prime Crime)
  • Janet Bolin, Dire Threads (Berkley Prime Crime)

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Canadian fiction editor Melanie Little steps down at Anansi

House of Anansi Press president and publisher Sarah MacLachlan has announced several changes to its editorial department.

Melanie Little, who joined the firm two years ago as senior editor of Canadian fiction, is stepping down to pursue her own writing, the company announced in a press release. She will continue to edit the work of Lisa Moore, Lynn Coady, Saleema Nawaz, and Théodora Armstrong.

Little is the former editor-at-large for Annick Press and the founding editor of Broadview Press’s literary imprint, Freehand Books. She is also the author of the short story collection Confidence (Thomas Allen Publishers) and the YA novel The Apprentice’s Masterpiece (Annick).

Little’s departure has led to a slew of promotions within Anansi. Former managing editor Jared Bland, who joined the firm a year ago, has been promoted to senior editor, and will now be responsible for acquiring both poetry and Canadian fiction.

Former assistant editor Kelly Joseph has been promoted to managing editor, responsible for acquiring French Canadian literature for translation. Former editorial assistant Meredith Dees (responsible for both Anansi and Groundwood Books) has been promoted to editor.

The press release notes that senior editor Janie Yoon remains responsible for acquiring non-fiction, crime fiction, and foreign titles for Anansi International.

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Spring preview 2012: international books

In the January/February issue, Q&Q looks ahead at the spring season’s new books.

FICTION

Two prolific American literary novelists are set to publish new titles this spring. Nobel Prize and Pulitzer Prize winner Toni Morrison is back with her 10th novel, Home (Knopf Canada, $25.95 cl., May). Exploring themes of masculinity and belonging, the short novel follows a self-loathing Korean War veteran as he surmounts defeat and finds a place to call home. • Also in May, part-time Toronto resident John Irving returns with his 13th novel, In One Person (Knopf Canada, $34.95 cl.), a tragicomedy narrated by a bisexual protagonist who reflects on life as a boy, a young man, and an adult.

Jack Kerouac’s first novel, The Sea Is My Brother (Da Capo Press/Raincoast, $26.50 cl., March), was written in the 1940s but never published. One of several Kerouac manuscripts that has recently resurfaced, the story follows the divergent fortunes of two sailors and explores an important theme in Kerouac’s later work: rebellion. • A book of little-known stories written by Anton Chekhov at the end of his career is forthcoming from Biblioasis. About Love ($12.95 pa., May), the Russian writer’s only linked collection, is translated by David Helwig and contains illustrations by Seth.

One of the most buzzed about debut novels of the season is Karen Thompson Walker’s The Age of Miracles (Bond Street Books/Random House, $29.95 cl., June), a unique coming-of-age story about a young girl who wakes up one morning to discover that the rotation of the earth has begun to slow, upending life as she knows it.

Jodi Picoult’s new novel, Lone Wolf (Atria/Simon & Schuster, $32 cl., Feb.), tells the story of two siblings who disagree over the treatment of their comatose father. • Best known for his 2003 novel, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, British author Mark Haddon returns with The Red House (Doubleday Canada, $29.95 cl., June). The book is narrated by eight characters, all related, who spend a week together in a countryside vacation home.

From the best-selling (co-)author of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies comes another new take on an old story. Seth Grahame-Smith’s Unholy Night (Grand Central Publishing/Hachette, $27.99 cl., April) reimagines the personalities of the three kings of the nativity, injecting the well-known Bible tale with thievery, escape, and intrigue. • The author of 12 previous novels, Christopher Moore continues in the surreal, satirical style of Lamb and Fool in his latest book, Sacré Bleu: A Comedy d’Art (William Morrow/HarperCollins, $34.99 cl., March), which follows friends of Vincent van Gogh as they vow to uncover the truth behind the painter’s death. • Neurosurgeon and medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta, whose non-fiction books Chasing Life and Cheating Death were New York Times bestsellers, makes his first foray into fiction with Monday Mornings (Grand Central/Hachette, $27.99 cl., March). In the vein of TV medical dramas, the novel follows the daily lives of five surgeons.

From Argentinean writer Liliana Heker comes The End of the Story (Biblioasis, $19.95 pa., April), a novel about Argentina’s Dirty War translated by Andrea Labinger. Set in 1976, the book follows a group of women living against a backdrop of state-sponsored violence. • Waiting for the Monsoon (House of Anansi Press, $24.95 pa., Feb.), by Threes Anna and translated from the Dutch by Barbara Fasting, is about a British woman’s relationship with the Indian tailor to whom she rents a room in her crumbling mansion.

Australian author Elliot Perlman’s third novel, The Street Sweeper (Bond Street Books/Random House, $32.95 cl., Jan.), explores the unlikely intersection of two characters’ lives: a history professor whose career and relationship are unravelling, and a black man from the Bronx who struggles to reintegrate after serving a prison term for a crime he didn’t commit.

MYSTERY, CRIME, AND FANTASY

Stephen King’s latest novel, The Wind Through the Keyhole (Scribner/S&S, $29.99 cl.), is set to publish in April. The eighth book in the Dark Tower series – chronologically set between volumes four and five – tells the story of gunslinger Roland Deschain’s first quest.Camilla Läckberg is a household name in her native Sweden. In The Drowning (HarperCollins, $19.99 pa., April), translated by Tiina Nunnally, a man is found murdered and frozen beneath the ice. After discovering a similar incident, police realize the killings are connected and look into each victim’s past for clues. • Best-selling psychological suspense writer Brian Freeman returns with Spilled Blood (Sterling/Canadian Manda Group, $29.95 cl., May), the story of two Minnesota towns locked in a violent feud over the carcinogenic waste one town’s research corporation is releasing into the other community.

U.K. writer Benjamin Wood, who completed a master’s degree in creative writing at the University of British Columbia, is set to publish his debut mystery novel. In The Bellwether Revivals (McClelland & Stewart, $29.99 cl., March), bodies turn up near an elegant Cambridge house, and the young narrator and his lover become entangled in the search for the villain. • The 500 (Little, Brown/Hachette, $28.99 cl., June), a first novel from Matthew Quirk that is in development as a feature film, follows a young lawyer at a powerful Washington, D.C., consulting firm as he is pursued by two of the world’s most dangerous men. • A New York family is involved in a financial scandal in lawyer Cristina Alger’s debut thriller, The Darlings (Penguin, $28.50 cl., Feb.).

In Sara Paretsky’s latest crime thriller, Breakdown (G.P. Putnam and Sons/Penguin, $28.50 cl., Jan.), girls from some of Chicago’s most powerful families stumble upon a corpse in an abandoned cemetery. Detective V.I. Warshawski investigates childhood secrets to get to the bottom of the killing. • In Cloudland (St. Martin’s/Raincoast, $28.99 cl., March), the latest crime novel from Joseph Olshan, a newspaper reporter gets involved with the search for a serial killer after discovering a murder victim’s body. Meanwhile, a failed love affair surfaces and acquaintances emerge as suspects.

BIOGRAPHY AND MEMOIR

Sally Bedell Smith’s biography, Elizabeth the Queen: The Life of a Modern Monarch (Random House, $34 cl., Jan.), chronicles the public persona and private life of the reigning English monarch, offering a close-up view of her routines and relationships. • In Charles Dickens and the Great Theatre of the World (HarperCollins, $24.99 cl., Jan.), biographer Simon Callow explores the Victorian novelist’s status as an early celebrity and his little-known love of the stage.

Iconic American singer-songwriter Carole King is set to publish a memoir, A Natural Woman (Grand Central/Hachette, $29.99 cl., April). Chronicling King’s early years, her musical career, and her present-day activism, the book features behind-the-scenes concert photographs.

Revolution 2.0 (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt/Thomas Allen & Son, $29.95 cl., Jan.) is former Google executive Wael Ghonim’s first-hand account of his capture and interrogation in Cairo during the Arab Spring protests. The memoir also looks at how social media helped foment revolution. • Norwegian writer Halfdan W. Freihow reflects on his attempts to help his son, who has autism, make sense of the world in Somewhere Over the Sea (Anansi, $14.95 pa., June), translated by Robert Ferguson with a foreword by The Boy in the Moon author Ian Brown.

What Do You Want to Do Before You Die? (Artisan/Thomas Allen, $23.95 cl., April) follows four twentysomethings during their journey to complete a 100-item bucket list. Five years into their quest, Ben Nemtin, Dave Lingwood, Duncan Penn, and Jonnie Penn share what they’ve accomplished.

POETRY

Political activist, writer, and Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo has become a symbol of the struggle for human rights in China. His collection June Fourth Elegies (Graywolf/D&M Publishers, $27.50 cl., April), translated by Jeffrey Yang, honours the memory of fellow protesters in the Tiananmen Square massacre.

GRAPHICA

Following his internationally acclaimed debut, The Wrong Place, Belgian graphic novelist Brecht Evens is back with The Making Of (Drawn & Quarterly, $27.95 pa., May). Using watercolour images and deadpan humour, the book details the misadventures of an honoured guest at a country art festival. • Tom Gauld reimagines a familiar Bible story in Goliath (D&Q, $19.95 cl., Feb.). Focusing on the reluctant fighter, the graphic novel pairs minimalist drawings and witty prose. • In My Friend Dahmer (Abrams/Manda, $27.95 cl., March), cartoonist John “Derf” Backderf creates a haunting, intimate portrait of Jeffrey Dahmer, a high school friend who later became the notorious American serial killer.

POLITICS AND CURRENT AFFAIRS

New York Times Washington correspondent Jodi Kantor invites readers on a tour of the White House in The Obamas (Little, Brown/Hachette, $32.99 cl., Jan.), a detailed look at the family’s attempts to lead a normal life while juggling public roles and responsibilities. • The decade-long search for Osama bin Laden is the subject of CNN national security analyst and Holy War, Inc. author Peter L. Bergen’s new book, Manhunt (Doubleday Canada, $29.95 cl., May). • In Newstainment: Why the News Is Bad for You (Picador/Raincoast, $18.50 pa., June), Chase Whiteside and Erick Stoll argue that brief, up-to-the-moment bulletins are revolutionizing news media but failing political discourse.

Pakistani journalist Ahmed Rashid confronts crucial questions about U.S. foreign policy in Pakistan on the Brink: The Future of America, Pakistan, and Afghanistan (Viking, $28.50 cl., March). A follow-up to the acclaimed Descent into Chaos, Rashid’s latest explores solutions for achieving stability in the war-torn region. • In Heaven on Earth: A Journey Through Shari’a Law from the Deserts of Ancient Arabia to the Streets of the Modern Muslim World (Farrar, Straus and Giroux/D&M Publishers, $31 cl., April), U.K. human rights lawyer Sadakat Kadri takes an historical approach to explaining the evolution and implications of Islamic law.

An economics historian, British MP, and son of African immigrants, Kwasi Kwarteng explores the global reverberations of colonial history in Ghosts of Empire: Britain’s Legacies in the Modern World (Public Affairs/Raincoast, $34.50 cl., Feb.).

HISTORY

Long before the earthquake that ravaged Haiti in 2010, the country had a history of poverty and corruption. In Haiti: The Aftershocks of History (Henry Holt and Company/Raincoast, $29 cl., Jan.), Laurent Dubois traces the Caribbean nation’s troubles back to the 1804 slave revolt and sheds light on the country’s overlooked successes. • Jenny Balfour-Paul probes the roots of the world’s oldest dye in Indigo: Egyptian Mummies to Blue Jeans (Firefly Books, $39.95 pa., Jan.). Covering the history, science, and cultural significance of indigo dye, the full-colour book also explores its use in sustainable development initiatives.

LIFESTYLE, SCIENCE, AND SELF-HELP

Following his quests to read the Encyclopedia Britannica from cover to cover (The Know-It-All) and live according to a literal interpretation of the Bible (The Year of Living Biblically), A.J. Jacobs is back with another experiment. Drop Dead Healthy: One Man’s Humble Quest for Bodily Perfection (S&S, $29.99 cl., April) follows his efforts to become the healthiest man in the world. • Tae kwon do master Jim Langlas discusses seven principles of the martial art that also build character in Heart of a Warrior: 7 Ancient Secrets to a Great Life (Free Spirit/Georgetown, $17.50 pa., April). • For fans of Rhonda Byrne’s The Secret comes another guide to living a fulfilling life. The Tools (Random House Canada, $29.95 cl., June), by Phil Stutz and Barry Michels, identifies and offers solutions to four common barriers that hold people back.

FOOD AND DRINK

First Lady Michelle Obama argues for the need to improve access to healthy, affordable food in her first book, American Grown: How the White House Kitchen Garden Inspires Families, Schools, and Communities (Crown/Random House, $34 cl., April.). • Food writer (and son of Baskin-Robbins founder) John Robbins goes undercover in No Happy Cows: Dispatches from the Frontlines of the Food Revolution (Conari Press/Georgetown, $18.95 pa., March) to investigate the feedlots and slaughterhouses that satisfy modern appetites. • In The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Food from My Frontier (Morrow/HarperCollins, $38.99 cl., March), best-selling author, blogger, and ranch wife Ree Drummond shares easy country cooking recipes.

The fine print: Q&Q’s spring preview covers books published between Jan. 1 and June 30, 2012. All information (titles, prices, publication dates, etc.) was supplied by publishers and may have been tentative at Q&Q’s press time. • Titles that have been listed in previous previews do not appear here.

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Booksellers’ picks of the year: crime and mystery

The third instalment of Alan Bradley’s Flavia de Luce series, A Red Herring Without Mustard (Doubleday Canada), is one of the most popular crime and mystery titles of 2011, according to booksellers contacted by Q&Q.

Two other new books from established authors, Louise Penny’s A Trick of the Light (St. Martin’s Press/Raincoast) and Peter Robinson’s Before the Poison (McClelland & Stewart), are also among booksellers’ top 2011 crime and mystery titles.

A lesser-known Ontario author, retired aeronautical professional Liam Dwyer, has been one of the year’s top-selling authors at The Sleuth of Baker Street in Toronto. Co-owner Marian Misters says Murdoch in Muskoka (Muskoka Dockside Reader), a new omnibus containing the first three titles in Dwyer’s murder-mystery series, has been especially popular.

At Whodunit? Mystery Bookstore in Winnipeg, co-owner Jack Bumsted points to local author C.C. Benison’s Christmas mystery, Twelve Drummers Drumming (Doubleday Canada), as his store’s best-selling book of the year. Other top 2011 titles at Whodunit? include Q&Q book of the year The Water Rat of Wanchai and The Disciple of Las Vegas, both from Ian Hamilton’s Ava Lee series published by Spiderline, the new crime fiction imprint from House of Anansi Press.

Walter Sinclair, co-owner of Dead Write Books in Vancouver, says the best-selling 2011 books in his store have common features. “All are well-established authors, all with mysteries featuring series characters,” he says. Dead Write’s top titles this year include William Deverell’s latest Arthur Beauchamp mystery, I’ll See You in My Dreams (M&S), and the U.K. edition of Louise Penny’s Bury Your Dead (Headline/Hachette).

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Ezra Levant wins Best Political Book contest

The Writers’ Trust of Canada, in collaboration with Samara, has named Ezra Levant’s Shakedown: How Our Government is Undermining Democracy in the Name of Human Rights (McClelland & Stewart, 2009) the Best Canadian Political Book of the Last 25 Years.

The WTOC and Samara, a non-profit organization for citizen engagement in Canada’s democratic system, announced the contest in June to recognize books “that have captured the Canadian political imagination and contributed in a compelling and unique way to how Canadians understand a political issue, event, or personality” as a means of teaching Canadian political history and sparking political debate. The public was asked to submit their top three recommendations for the longlist, revealed July 1st, and vote on the final 12.

Shakedown, the conservative commentator’s critique of government-appointed human rights commissions and their impact on civil liberties, edged out On the Take: Crime, Corruption and Greed in the Mulroney Years by Stevie Cameron (Seal Books/Random House, 1995), Harperland: The Politics of Control by Lawrence Martin (Penguin, 2010), and Fights of Our Lives: Elections, Leadership, and the Making of Canada by John Duffy (HarperCollins Canada, 2002) to win the popular vote.

The other eight finalists were:

The sponsoring organizations are planning an event with the contest finalists on the topic of political writing in Canada later this year.

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Book links round-up: Google’s eBookstore, e-mail woes, Q&A with Chester Brown, and more


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Book Pictures

Do you have great photos from a recent book event in Canada that you'd like to share with us? Submit them to the Quill & Quire Flickr pool and they'll show up here.

Steve Artelle

Chris Jennings

Kaie Kellough

Jenna

Hall of Honourers

Brandon Wint

Eva Stachniak's Empress of the Night

Eva Stachniak poses with a copy of her book, Empress of the Night

Tea and snacks inspired by Eva Stachniak's Empress of the Night

Rimma Burashko with author Eva Stachniak

Eva Stachniak talks to the audience about the best and worst of Catherine the Great's favourites

Eva Stachniak smiles as she signs a copy of Empress of the Night for a fan

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