It’s as seasonally inevitable as the need for warm gloves and the appearance of twinkling lights: every year, as December hits, readers are inundated with a flood of lists, each proclaiming The Best Books of the Year. It seems like everyone gets in on the game: journalists, writers, celebrities, newspapers, magazines... Everyone, it seems, except those folks who know the books best, the booksellers.
Sure, you might occasionally find a Best Of list featuring a token bookseller, but they are largely overlooked. Which, as I have mentioned before, is ridiculous. Who better to be able to winnow the thousands of books published each year down to a list (or a single pick) than those people who spend their lives literally surrounded by books?
Of course, a lot of booksellers do provide lists, for their customers. They may not appear in the newspaper or in a magazine, but across the country there are table displays and printed sheets, featured shelves and, you guessed it, shelf talkers.
Which is terrific. A good independent bookseller is worth their weight in gold, an invaluable resource when it comes to your next great read, or in finding the perfect gift.
But geography has a sad role to play. It would be nearly impossible to visit every bookseller in this country (though if I had a bucket list, that would surely be on it).
Thankfully, you have the booksellers of the Shelf Talker community to turn to, a country’s worth of erudite, well-read bibliophiles who have, this month, provided t …
Last month, Canadian Madeleine Thien was among 13 writers shortlisted for this year’s Man Booker Prize for fiction for her extraordinary new novel, Do Not Say We Have Nothing. Shortly after, she won the 2016 Governor General's Award for Fiction and now, she is the 2016 Giller Prize winner. Madeleine is my guest on The Chat.
Do Not Say We Have Nothing is impressive in scope, covering key historical moments in recent Chinese history, including the Cultural Revolution and the 1989 massacre at Tiananmen Square. The Guardian calls the book “a moving and extraordinary evocation of the 20th-century tragedy of China.” The Globe and Mail says the work “will cement Madeleine Thien as one of Canada’s most talented novelists, at once a successor to Rohinton Mistry and a wholly singular stylist.”
Photo credit: Babak Salari