Toronto indie bookseller Ben McNally always packs people in at the Book Lovers Lunch at the annual Kingston WritersFest. Everyone is eager to hear McNally’s picks of his fave books of the upcoming season. And for Chatelaine, McNally has pared his list down to his Top 5 fiction and Top 5 non-fiction releases for fall 2012. Here are his fiction picks and why he loves them. For his top non-fiction releases, check back later this week!
1. A Partial History of Lost Causes, Jennifer DuBois, $21. An extraordinarily accomplished first novel in which a woman discovers that she has inherited a debilitating disease and sets off to get an answer to a question her father posed years before to a Russian chess champion. A brilliant debut, and a highly significant novel.
2. The Garden of Evening Mists, Tan Twan Eng, $19. A lyrical and elegantly crafted novel about a former prisoner of the Japanese who ends up as an apprentice to a Japanese gardener in Malaya after the war. All the characters, so beautifully imagined and realized, eventually give up their secrets.
3. The Forgiven, Lawrence Osborne, $20. A British couple invited to a debauched Moroccan weekend encounter a spot of difficulty on the way. A diverse assembly of characters are affected by the mishap, and almost none seem able to make a decision that the reader can sympathize with.
4. The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, Rachel Joyce, $16. A modern but very odd pilgrimage, as a retired and nondescript man makes his way from the bottom of England to the top, on foot, hoping to save a former colleague. Joyce manages to make this unlikely voyage not only believeable, but unforgettable.
5. Zagreb Cowboy, Alen Mattich, $16. A Croatian government functionary finds himself about to be murdered by his partner in some shady deals. Everyone in this snappy and fast-paced thriller is a little bit bent, but there’s a lot of fun to be had as the tale unfolds. – Ben McNally