Leading up to the holidays, we asked some of Canada's most notable authors for the one book they know they'll give this Christmas. Our contributors have all won major lit awards and/or critical acclaim; you can check out their most recent books, listed just below their picks. Later this week, we'll post Part 2, featuring Kelli Deeth, Catherine Bush, Matthew Heiti, Douglas Glover, Sandra Ridley, George Murray, Ayelet Tsabari, Jennifer LoveGrove, and Saleema Nawaz.
Lisa Moore picks Michael Winter's Minister Without Portfolio: "I am going to give Michael Winter's Minister Without Portfolio because it captures outport Newfoundland as it is today. The renovation of traditional houses, joists shored up, rippled window panes jostled, and dories banged about by whales, forest fires, through which one can catch glimpses of lake, between flames and heat-crimped air, and a girl floating on an air mattress with a paperback resting, open, spine up, on her thigh, and later, the shadow of a beaver swimming under a solid foot or two of ice, the whiff of frost and wood smoke coming off the page."
Todd Babiak picks Andrew Pyper's The Demonologist: "Luckily I can express this online because my mom doesn't look at the interwebs: every year she challenges me to find a novel that might scare her. This year's pick is Andrew Pyper's The Demonologist. He writes beautifully and meaningfully, keeps things spooky, and drives his readers to the end with power and authority. I'm always confident he will entertain and delight (and scare the shit out of) the people."
Steven Heighton picks Dave Bidini's Keon and Me: "I'll be giving my father a copy of Keon and Me: My Search for the Lost Soul of the Leafs. When I was growing up in Toronto, my father and I used to watch Dave Keon leading the Maple Leafs on Saturday nights, and I can even recall seeing a few of the plays Bidini describes in this book—and he describes them very, very well. Even better is his hilarious and oddly touching recreation of suburban Toronto in the early 70s; somehow he has made me nostalgic for a place and time I thought I loathed."
Stacey May Fowles picks S. Bear Bergman's Blood, Marriage, Wine & Glitter: "This year I'm gifting Blood, Marriage, Wine & Glitter by S. Bear Bergman. The holidays are generally thought of as a time to connect with family, so what better book to gift than one that sets out to expand and redefine what our notions of family can be. Bergman has a rare gift of offering comfort, solace, and courage to a reader by relaying his own life, and this memoir is one of the best and most beautiful I've read in years. You'd be blessed to receive it."
Cynthia Flood picks Lucie Wilk's first novel, The Strength of Bone: "Deeply felt but never sentimental, thoughtful but not preachy, Lucie Wilk's first novel, The Strength of Bone, delivers strong characters involved in a page-turning plot. Imagery drawn from African and Canadian settings, and also from the world of medicine, enriches the novel throughout. A memorable story."
Nicole Lundrigan picks Running the Whale's Back: "This Christmas, the book I will be giving everyone on my list (myself included) is Running the Whale’s Back. It is a short story collection with works from seventeen authors including Lynn Coady, Michelle Butler-Hallett, Ann-Marie MacDonald, and Michael Winter. This gorgeous book is described as a series of stories about “faith and doubt,” set in Atlantic Canada, where “mysticism meets piety, holiness argues with practicality, and hope lives side by side with despair.” There is sure to be something for everyone here with the varying styles and themes offered by this fantastic batch of writers.
Amber Dawn picks Falling Angels, by Barbara Gowdy: "For many of us, December is a month to reflect upon just how wonderfully dysfunctional our families are. Soothe your own personal familial dramas by diving into the twisted home life of the Field sisters—Norma, Lou and Sandy—whose madcap parents muck up their 1950s childhoods with unbelievable finesse. Barbara Gowdy's Falling Angels is a domestic hot mess of a masterpiece."
Charlotte Gill picks Patrick DeWitt's The Sisters Brothers:"A rare combination of ripping good story and writing that's both muscular and sensitive. I reached the end of this book wishing I could have the experience of never having read it all over again."
See Part 2 of this series here!