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Five great books set in CANADA
4th August 2019
Canada is the latest country for us to visit in our ‘Great books set in…’ series. Five great books set in Canada.
‘Canada is an open, welcoming country that stands by its citizens. We are a nation of millions of immigrants and refugees, of hundreds of cultures, languages and religions bound by one, unwavering, unshakable belief: we are stronger not in spite of our differences, but because of them’ – Justin Trudeau (2017)
Here are 5 intriguing books set in different parts of Canada which we hope you’ll enjoy:
The Shipping News by Annie Proulx – set in Newfoundland
Annie Proulx’s highly acclaimed, international bestseller and Pulitzer Prize-winning novel.
Quoyle is a hapless, hopeless hack journalist living and working in New York. When his no-good wife is killed in a spectacular road accident, Quoyle heads for the land of his forefathers — the remotest corner of far-flung Newfoundland. With ‘the aunt’ and his delinquent daughters — Bunny and Sunshine — in tow, Quoyle finds himself part of an unfolding, exhilarating Atlantic drama.
‘The Shipping News’ is an irresistible comedy of human life and possibility, and was adapted into a memorable film, starring Kevin Spacey, Julianne Moore & Judy Dench, as noted in this TripFiction post ‘5 great books adapted into 5 great films‘.
Black Rock by John McFetridge – set in Montreal
An artfully told police procedural set in an explosive era in recent history Montreal 1970.
The “Vampire Killer” has murdered three women and a fourth is missing. Bombs explode in the stock exchange, McGill University, and houses in Westmount. Riots break out at the St. Jean Baptiste parade and at Sir George Williams University. James Cross and Pierre Laporte are kidnapped and the Canadian army moves onto the streets of Montreal.
A young beat cop working out of Station Ten finds himself almost alone hunting the serial killer, as the rest of the force focuses on the FLQ crisis. Constable Eddie Dougherty, the son of a French mother and an Irish – Canadian father, decides to take matters into his own hands to catch the killer before he strikes again.
Set against actual historical events, Black Rock is both a compelling page – turner and an accomplished novel in the style of Dennis Lehane.
Old City Hall by Robert Rotenberg – set in Toronto
A talk-show host confesses to the brutal murder of his young wife. The evidence is cast iron. But when a determined detective, an ambitious rookie prosecutor and a defence lawyer keen to make her mark piece together the details of the case, nothing fits.
An intricately plotted web of lies, half-truths and hidden motives emerges – along with a secret no one could have suspected.
Canada by Richard Ford – set in Great Falls, Winnipeg
First, I’ll tell about the robbery our parents committed. Then about the murders, which happened later.
It was more bad instincts and bad luck that lead to Dell Parsons’ parents robbing a bank. They weren’t reckless people, but in an instant, their actions alter fifteen-year-old Dell’s sense of normal life forever.
In the days that follow, he is saved before the authorities think to arrive. Driving across Montana, his life hurtles towards the unknown; a hotel in a deserted town, the violent and enigmatic Arthur Remlinger, and towards Canada itself. But, as Dell discovers, in this new world of secrets and upheaval, he is not the only one whose past lies on the other side of the border.
The Favourite Game by Leonard Cohen – set in Montreal
This warm and lyrical semi-autobiographical first novel by singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen charts the coming of age of Lawrence Breavman, the only son of a Jewish Montreal family.
‘Children show scars like medals. Lovers use them as secrets to reveal. A scar is what happens when the world is made flesh.’
Lawrence Breavman seeks two things: love and beauty. Beginning with the innocent games of delicious misadventure with first love Lisa and the absorbing wanders through Montreal with best friend Krantz, Breavman’s tale is a distant echo of ‘Catcher in the Rye’ and ‘Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man’ – injected with 1960s aesthetics and Cohen’s unique poetry. As Breavman grows into a young man, the emerging writer continues his quest for beauty and love, finding himself in the arms of Shell and a burgeoning realisation of his own talent for appreciating majesty in the grotesque.
Semi-autobiographical, the angst and beauty of Cohen’s voice deftly channel the painful confusion of the journey into adulthood, and the friendships, wars and lovers that are our guides.
Andrew for the TripFiction Team
Which titles would you add to the list? Remember to check out the TripFiction listings for more books set in Canada and around the world. Each will transport you to some excellent fiction, travelogues or memoirs. Or you may have your own favourites you would like to add. Please leave your thoughts in the Comments box below.
Other posts in our ‘Ten/five great books set in…’ series that might interest you:
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