Salt Houses by Hala Alyan (on shelves now)
If you love opening a book to find a sprawling family tree on the first pages, Alyan’s debut novel will no doubt be your jam. The story follows the Yacoubs, a displaced, middle-class Palestinian family, across generations and locations (Nablus, Kuwait City, Beirut) between 1963 and 2014. Chapters jump perspectives and eras, viewing the Palestinian-Israeli conflict intimately through each character’s eyes and overturning stereotypes readers may hold about the war-torn region. — Rachel Heinrichs
This is Just My Face by Gabourey Sidibe (on shelves now)
The actor who played Precious (and was nominated for an Oscar for her performance), does not ease you into her memoir. In the first chapter, she objects to having been called a “fat bitch” by a famous Vogue editor and in the second, she recounts losing her virginity, becoming promiscuous, becoming depressed and going to sad camp. Funny, smart, and super-honest. — Dafna Izenberg
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gaily Honeyman (on shelves now)
Get ready to meet your favourite anti-heroine of the summer. Eleanor is arrogant, rude and hated by her co-workers. Hers is a dull existence, utterly routine and solitary. And yet her inner life is brimming with humour and hope, in spite of a rather awful childhood. As she prepares to meet the man of her dreams, she unwittingly becomes close with someone much better. Reese Witherspoon has bought the movie rights for this debut novel from the Scottish Honeyman. — D.I.
Between Them by Richard Ford (on shelves now)
The Pulitzer-winning author gets personal with a 160-odd-page portrait of his parents, Edna, a spirited Catholic school girl who, at the age of 17, marries his father, Parker, a reserved door-to-door salesman. The couple travels throughout the American south, selling laundry starch and, eventually, bringing their son with them. It’s a gently observed ode to the people who raised him — and to mid-century American life. — R.H.
Standard Deviation by Katherine Heiny (on shelves now)
Twelve years ago, Graham Cavanaugh married Audra, the woman for whom he left his first wife. A generation younger than Graham and eons more energetic, Audra befriends everyone she meets, and now she wants to bring Graham’s ex-wife, Elspeth, into the mix. It’s all a bit confusing for Graham, who finds himself mourning his first marriage in a new way while trying to keep his current one alive. A sophomore outing from the British author of Single, Carefree, Mellow. — D.I.
Scarborough by Catherine Hernandez (on shelves now)
The Toronto playwright and actor’s debut novel offers a journey into multi-cultural suburban landscape that’s often overlooked in fiction. She writes with raw emotion, painting vivid scenes of life in a low-income community, demanding you to engage with the messy situations her characters are dealing with: There’s Sylvie, an indigenous girl, whose mother is making ends meet while living in a shelter; Hina, a hijab-wearing Muslim school worker dealing with a supervisor’s passive-aggressive emails and racism at work; and Bing, a gay Filipino boy bullied by his classmates. Scarborough is a challenging book that gives readers a glimpse of the people behind the headlines. — Aparita Bhandari
Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan (May 23)
In the third of Kwan’s gleefully excessive Crazy Rich Asians trilogy, matriarch Su Yi is on her deathbed and the whole Shang-Young clan rushes home to Tyersall Park, a 64-acre estate in a posh central Singapore neighbourhood. As expected, they spend more time squabbling over family heirlooms and the fate of the manor than comforting their ailing grandmother. — R.H.
Fugue States by Pasha Malla (May 30)
Ash, a successful thirtysomething radio host in Toronto, appears to be at some kind of breaking point. He experiences a strange mental lapse while giving a eulogy at his father’s funeral. He berates a famous author during an interview. Then he practically forgets who he is during a trip to Kashmir with is best friend, Matt. An absorbing and intriguing tale about grief, male friendship and masculinity. — D.I.
All the Beloved Ghosts by Alison MacLeod (May 30)
Here is a beautifully written collection of short fiction and personal essays that imagine the stories of departed souls, both famous and anonymous: a young Cape Breton woman who died on her way home from a dance in the 1920s; a 16-year-old Congolese girl rumoured to have started the London riot of 2011; Sylvia Plath; Princess Diana. MacLeod, a Canadian writer who lives in England, is a true literary talent. — D.I.
Our Little Secret by Roz Nay (June 6)
Saskia has gone missing and Detective Novak thinks Angela (an old flame of Saskia’s husband) has something to do with it. From a sterile interrogation room, Anglea becomes the unreliable narrator of a twisted, triangular love story that shapes this debut psychological thriller from Canadian-British-Australian writer Roz Nay. — R.H.
The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy (June 6)
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. — D.I.
Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Meloy (June 6)
Cousins Liv and Nora decide to spend Christmas together on a cruise with their families, and everything is perfect until the children disappear during a day stop ashore in Central America. Told from different characters’ perspective, this story’s suspense lies in the testing of relationships. An unusually deft blend of rollicking plot and psychological depth. — D.I.
Be Ready for the Lightning by Grace O’Connell (June 6)
Veda has left Vancouver for New York City to get away from her brother, Conrad, who lives a life of violence and chaos. Then she finds herself on a bus in Manhattan, held hostage by a disturbed man who has a gun. The first half of this book shuttles between past and present, suggesting an intimate parallel between Veda’s relationship with Conrad and what happens in the hijacking. In the second half, O’Connell reveals this connection, to sad yet satisfying effect. —D.I.
Hunger by Roxane Gay (June 13)
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.
Gypsy Moth Summer by Julia Fierro (June 6)
Avalon Island is a rancid place to live during the thick-hot summer of 1992, when insatiable black gypsy moth caterpillars descend on its seemingly placid suburban inhabitants. The plague exposes the community’s long-simmering secrets, which include: cancer, drug addiction, domestic violence and virulent racism. Just a little light summer reading. — R.H.
You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me by Sherman Alexie (June 13)
Following his mother’s death, the celebrated author of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian wrote his way through grief. The result is a collection of tender, dark, hilarious, sometimes furious personal essays and poems that capture his childhood on a Spokane Indian reservation and his intensely fraught relationship with his mother. Alexie’s sentences will burn in the back of your brain long after reading. — R.H.
Our Little Racket by Angelica Baker (June 20)
Baker’s debut novel explores the perspectives of the women orbiting Bob D’Amico, CEO of an investment bank on Wall Street and recently implicated in the 2008 financial fiasco. His wife and their daughter, along with both of their best friends, plus the family nanny, must all carve out new roles for themselves within a privileged community, while also reflecting on their own possible complicity in D’Amico’s crimes. — D.I.
Flesh and Bone Water by Luiza Sauma (June 20)
Upper-class 1980s Rio de Janeiro is the lushly rendered setting for Andre’s reckless teenage years, which he spends, in part, falling for the family maid’s daughter, Luana. Thirty years later, buttoned-down London becomes the backdrop for his mid-divorce, mid-life crisis. When a letter from Luana arrives, the two eras and places collide in a rush of repressed memories. — R.H.
How To Fall in Love With Anyone by Mandy Len Catron (June 27)
In 2015, the Vancouver-based writer published a New York Times essay-slash-exercise called “To Fall in Love With Anyone, Do This.” The series of 36 questions, designed to create intimacy between any two people, went viral. Now, in a set of revealing personal essays, Catron asks the big questions about love, using her own relationships as case studies: Do soulmates exist? What makes love last? How do you know it’s over? — R.H.
Hunting Houses by Fanny Britt (July 1)
At 37, Tessa has a beautiful life: she’s a successful Montreal real estate agent, the mother of three boys and married to a man who does the cooking. Yet she suffers from mid-life malaise, her heart “rotting from easy living and death wishes.” When she runs into an ex-boyfriend, she’s gripped by invasive thoughts of infidelity that threaten to disturb it all. — R.H.
Made for Love by Alissa Nutting (July 4)
This wildly inventive, near-future satire plumbs the effect of human technology on relationships: Hazel leaves Byron, her controlling tech-tycoon husband who attempts to wirelessly meld their minds together by microchip. Having nowhere to go, she moves into a trailer park, where her father lives with Diane, his shockingly realistic sex doll. But before long, Byron comes after Hazel, using his arsenal of digital tracking devices to hunt her down in. — R.H.
Reckless Years by Heather Chaplin (July 11)
New York journalist Chaplin mines her own Moleskines for the story of how, in 2006, she ended her marriage and spent two years dating, doing drugs, dancing, obsessing about an Irishman, crashing and finally coming to terms with the hazy memories that have long haunted her. A messy and utterly un-put-downable journey. — D.I.
Careers for Women by Joanna Scott (July 25)
It’s 1958 when 21-year-old Maggie Gleason lands a clerical job at the Port Authority in New York City. She promptly becomes fixated on winning the approval of her boss, Mrs. J, who asks her to look out for her co-worker Pauline, a former prostitute with mysterious connections to the rich family Whittaker in upstate New York. Sparkling writing a playful structure — each chapter has several subheads like “Pauline Arrives in the Big City” and “A Problem Named Sonia” — from the acclaimed Pulitzer-nominated novelist Scott. — D.I.
Fierce Kingdom by Gin Phillips (July 25)
Mother-son time turns nightmare when Joan and her four-year-old are trapped alone in a zoo with a gunman for three hours, the entire duration of the novel. With time stamps marking the breathless passage of minutes and the emotional stakes ratcheted up to “I will kill you before you hurt my kid” the story is like 24 for parents. — R.H.
Gather the Daughters by Jennie Melamed (July 25)
Get over The Handmaid’s Tale finale (June 18) with a disturbing debut dystopia from a psychiatric-nurse-turned novelist. This time, the women are subjugated in an island society strictly controlled by the descendants of 10 founding men. Vanessa, Amanda, Caitlin, and Janey are allowed to run relatively wild until puberty arrives and they’re forced to marry and ritualistically make babies. As the horrific new rules of womanhood are revealed, the girls begin to fight back. — R.H.
The Lying Game by Ruth Ware (July 25)
Last July, the prolific British crime novelist had two thrillers on the New York Times bestseller list at the same time: The Woman in Cabin 10 and In a Dark, Dark Wood (Reese Witherspoon bought the rights to the latter). This July, she’s back with the tightly knotted plot of four friends, Kate, Isa, Thea and Fatima, who discover in adulthood that a dark childhood game they used to play had dire consequences. Now they must solve the 17-year-old mystery of their missing art teacher who is also Kate’s father. — R.H.