Exit West by Mohsin Hamid
An alternate title for Hamid’s new novel may well be Love in the Time of Drone Strikes. Fiery Nadia and sweet Saeed fall fast in love, but their city is a war zone. With helicopters whirring overhead and explosions interrupting their courtship, the couple searches for a magical door rumoured to teleport them to a better life. –Rachel Heinrichs
Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
When the Nigerian novelist’s childhood friend asked her for advice on raising her baby girl, Adichie wrote her a letter with 15 practical suggestions that now make up this lovely and lucid purse-sized manual for modern womanhood. –R.H.
Read Chatelaine‘s interview with the award-winning author
I Hear She’s a Real Bitch by Jen Agg
One of Canada’s most influential restaurateurs — the woman who introduced Toronto to charcuterie and the $15 cocktail — can write, too. In her candid and chatty new memoir, Agg dishes on the grit it takes to be a successful woman in a dude-dominated world, falling in love with her artist husband and, of course, her reputation for being a “real bitch.” –R.H.
Read Chatelaine‘s feature on Jen Agg
American War by Omar El Akkad
“I took the myriad conflicts that have defined the world during my lifetime — the Israeli-Palestinian wars, the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, the failed and failing Arab Spring revolutions — and dressed them in the clothes of a second American civil war.” This is how the award-winning Canadian journalist describes his absurdly ambitious debut novel, which brings the Middle East to the West and dares readers not to empathize. –R.H.
Read Chatelaine‘s Q&A with El Akkad, one of this year’s nominees for the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize
The Idiot by Elif Batuman
Selin, an plucky Turkish girl moves to America in 1995, enrolls in Harvard, makes a new best friend, goes off to Europe for a summer and falls in love — ordinary coming-of-age stuff related by a charming narrator with an eye for the absurdities of ordinary coming-of-age stuff. –R.H.
One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter by Scaachi Koul
The Toronto writer and Twitter provocateur reflects with dry wit and winning self-awareness on growing up a girl of colour in Calgary, shopping when you’re not a size zero, rape culture, binge drinking and inheriting her parents’ catastrophizing tendencies. –R.H.
Read Chatelaine‘s interview with Scaachi Koul
Hunger by Roxane Gay
The Twitter star and provocative author of Bad Feminist writes a heart-clenching new memoir that traces with raw emotional candour the life-long impact of a traumatic teenage event. This is the kind of book you have to put down periodically, both to process Gay’s disturbing experience and to marvel at her piercing prose. —R.H.
Read Chatelaine’s interview with Roxane Gay
Image, Hamish Hamilton.
The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy
Roy’s second novel arrives 20 years after she won the Man Booker prize for The God of Small Things. It opens in a graveyard in contemporary Delhi where Anjum, a woman born with male genitalia, has taken up residence. What follows is a rich and complex tale that incorporates a hijra (India’s official third gender) community, the conflict in Kashmir and a young villager who insists his name is Saddam Hussein. Prepare to be immersed. —Dafna Izenberg
Brother, by David Chariandy
In Chariandy’s second novel, which won the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize for 2017, a Black family comes of age and comes apart over the course of a stifling Scarborough summer in 1991.
Read Chatelaine‘s Q&A with Chariandy
Son of a Trickster, by Eden Robinson
It’s hard to find a more lovable protagonist than 16-year-old Jared, cracker of killer one-liners, baker of pot cookies beyond compare and protector of just about everyone who crosses his path, be it his ailing dad, his flighty mom, the elderly couple next door, or the hockey-star ex-boyfriend of a girl he has a crush on. Meanwhile, nobody seems to have Jared’s back, except for maybe a meddlesome raven that follows him around and sometimes talks to him… –D.I.
Life on the Ground Floor: Letters from the Edge of Emergency Medicine, by James Maskalyk
Recounting his experiences as an emergency physician in both Toronto’s downtown St. Michael’s Hospital and the Black Lion Hospital in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Maskalyk delivers a vivid and compelling sense of the emotional urgency in the ER — which is the same no matter the continent — for patients, the people who love them, and the people who are trying to keep them alive. Winner of the Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction. –D.I.
The Power, by Naomi Alderman
Margaret Atwood protégé, winner of the 2017 Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction and video-game writer —these are just a few descriptors of the ultra-talented Alderman. Her new novel imagines a world where teenage girls have lightning in their hands, and are using it to fell their assailants, their adversaries and even their lovers. Exhilarating and terrifying. –D.I.
Seven Fallen Feathers: Racism, Death and Hard Truths in a Northern City, by Tanya Talaga
When Toronto Star reporter Talaga went to Thunder Bay in 2011 to interview the grand chief of Nishnawbe Aski Nation about the upcoming federal election, he kept asking her: “Why aren’t you writing about Jordan Wabasse?” Here, she has. Talaga has also written about the six other Indigenous high school students who died in the northern Ontario city between 2000 and 2011. –D.I.
Read Chatelaine‘s interview with Tanya Talaga
What Happened, by Hillary Clinton
In this 500-plus page memoir, the would-be first female president of the United States offers her candid reflections on the 2016 campaign — the sexism she endured, the things she would do differently and how she really felt during that debate when Donald Trump followed her around the stage. D.I.
Eight things we learned from Hillary Clinton’s memoir.
Transit, by Rachel Cusk
Transit is the second book in what will eventually comprise a trilogy. Both it and the first in the series, Outline, published in 2014, were shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize. They’ve also been celebrated as a kind of “reinvention” of the novel — fictionalized autobiography in which the first-person narrator makes the scantest appearance, focusing instead on the stories of friends, acquaintances and co-workers, as recounted in conversation. Cusk’s writing is pristine and the detached voice of her narrator, Faye, a recently divorced British writer with two teenaged children, is deceptive — somehow, despite seeming to reveal nothing about herself, the character thrums with authenticity. —D.I.
Lincoln in the Bardo, by George Saunders
The winner of the 2017 Man Booker Prize, Saunders’s first novel is a rich and complex story that blends history and magic, humour and pathos. Above all, it is about the most heartbreaking of subjects: the grief of a parent who loses a child. After Abraham Lincoln’s 11-year-old son Willie died of tuberculosis in 1862, the 16th president was reported to have visited the crypt several times so as to hold the dead boy’s body. “Bardo” in Buddhism is an intermediate stage between life and death, and Lincoln’s son isn’t the only one whose soul is stuck there in this book. So yes, it is a ghost story, but because it’s told by Saunders, it also happens to brim with compassion and humanity. —D.I.
The Vanity Fair Diaries 1983–1992, by Tina Brown
Fans of magazines and gossip (and especially of magazine gossip) will be enthralled: Here is a riveting, behind-the-scenes account (albeit, one-sided) of Tina Brown’s reign as editor-in-chief at the resurgent Vanity Fair of the ’80s and ’90s. It comes straight out of the journals she kept during those years, in which Brown, originally a reporter, wrote very narratively — and very well. There are plenty of “celeb sightings” — dispatches from Arianna Huffington’s wedding, drinks with Warren Beatty, cameo appearances by Cybill Shepherd, Michael Caine, and, of course, Donald Trump. Beneath it all is the story of an ambitious and confident young woman who, after being hired as a consultant to the flagging VF in 1983, told Condé Nast that the “only thing I can do for you when you are ready is to be the editor.” And they listened. —D.I.
Bad Endings, by Carleigh Baker
Even if the book’s title is something of a spoiler, these stories of relationships doomed make swift work of grabbing the reader’s imagination, making you wonder: How do things go awry, and why? (Further spoilers: Tinder plays its part, as does climate change.) Baker was shortlisted for the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize for this, her first book. —D.I.
Read Chatelaine‘s Q&A with Baker
The Dark and Other Love Stories, by Deborah Willis
What more could a Canadian short-story writer ask for than an endorsement by Alice Munro? Alberta writer Willis has that on the cover of her new collection of 13 sparklingly crafted stories. She also has the rare facility for this genre, as well as a distinct writing voice that combines melancholy with playfulness, and rhythm with mystery. Sample first line: “Amber Kivinen — drug dealer, lapsed Evangelical Christian, my girlfriend of 12 years — is going to Mars.” —D.I.