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Books of the Year

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Books of the Year 2016: Reviewer Picks

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Q&Q contributors select their favourite releases of the year

BooksoftheYear_December_Contributors_TheBreak_CoverThe Break
Katherena Vermette
House of Anansi Press
Katherena Vermette’s fiction debut is a novel that allows, like no other, mainstream society to peer into the warts-and-all world of urban indigenous people and the pervasive violence experienced by that community. –Paul Gessell

BooksoftheYear_December_Contributors_QueerProgress_CoverQueer Progress: From Homophobia to Homonationalism
Tim McCaskell
Between the Lines
The fastest 500 pages of non-fiction I’ve read in a long time. Tim McCaskell goes beyond a historical or theoretical account of the strange transformations that characterize queer politics in Canada, and actually teases out the mechanics of those changes. He grounds his thorough breakdown of these movements with playful anecdotes and clear, concise political analysis. –Jonathan Valelly

Reviews_October_NotesFromAFeministKilljoy_CoverNotes from a Feminist Killjoy: Essays on Everyday Life
Erin Wunker
BookThug
Erin Wunker, chair for Canadian Women in the Literary Arts, adds a potent and provocative voice to both the discussion about gender politics and the trend of feminist essay collections, mixing current events and personal anecdotes with scholarly theory that never feels tedious or extraneous. Everything this book has to say about women’s collective experience in today’s world is so important. –Becky Robertson

BooksoftheYear_December_DoNotSayWeHaveNothing_CoverDo Not Say We Have Nothing
Madeleine Thien
Knopf Canada
Madeleine Thien has written a novel of reconcilable differences: epic and intimate, lyrical yet political. She parlays an exploration of modern Chinese history into multiple tales about art, personal responsibility, and the manipulative but life-altering power of stories. –Kamal Al-Solaylee

BooksoftheYear_December_Contributors_OntheShoresofDarknessThereisLight_CoverOn the Shores of Darkness, There Is Light
Cordelia Strube
ECW Press
In her feisty protagonist Harriet, Cordelia Strube has created one of the most forceful and unsettling voices in contemporary CanLit narrating the experience of being an angry and emotionally abandoned adolescent. –Dana Hansen

BooksoftheYear_December_Contributors_ReturnOfHistory_CoverThe Return of History
Jennifer Welsh
House of Anansi Press
Jennifer Welsh not only puts her finger right on the world’s biggest problems, she explains where they came from, why we should be concerned, and what we can do to fix them. –Megan Moore Burns

BooksoftheYear_December_ContributorsPicks_ABoyNamedQueen_CoverA Boy Named Queen
Sara Cassidy
Groundwood Books
Sara Cassidy’s subtle snapshot of a budding friendship between two outsiders is filled with dramatic tension, but clichéd high drama is thankfully absent. It’s an intimate, immersive, and wonderful slip of a novel. I didn’t want it to end. –Serah-Marie McMahon

BfYPMarch_BookJacket_Exit

Exit, Pursued by a Bear
E.K. Johnston
Dutton Books for Young Readers
E.K. Johnston’s intense and unflinching examination of one girl’s life after a sexual assault is a powerful survivor story that repudiates the culture of victim blaming. Beautifully written, the book is also important and timely. –Linda Ludke

White-Cat-and-the-Monk-Alternate-CoverThe White Cat and the Monk
Jo Ellen Bogart and Sydney Smith, ill.
Groundwood Books
Jo Ellen Bogart’s retelling of an ancient poem sends a subtle message about mindfulness, while Sydney Smith’s austere illustrations reflect the story’s emphasis on the importance of focusing on just one moment and one task at a time for life to feel complete. –Helen Kubiw

BfYPMay_SeaChange_CoverSea Change
Frank Viva
Tundra Books
Frank Viva makes everything beautiful: New Yorker covers, picture books, and, in his middle-grade fiction debut, a boy accidentally peeing on his great-grandmother’s grave. Sea Change is equal parts gorgeous, gross, funny, and real. –Shannon Ozirny

BooksoftheYear_December_ContributorsPicks_OCDaniel_CoverOCDaniel
Wesley King
Simon & Schuster Canada
Obsessive-compulsive disorder is not exactly an easy topic, but Wesley King keeps his novel light with plenty of humour, likeable characters, and varied plotlines. Best known for his entertaining fantasy writing, King explores a new, real, and scary place, while making readers feel understood and less alone. –Heather Camlot