A guide to POTSDAM
Ten Great Books set in TORONTO
17th August 2021
Toronto is the latest location for us to visit in our Great Books series. Ten Great Books set in Toronto. It is the capital of the province of Ontario, a major Canadian city along Lake Ontario’s northwestern shore. It’s a dynamic metropolis with a core of soaring skyscrapers, all dwarfed by the iconic, free-standing CN Tower. Toronto also has many green spaces, from the orderly oval of Queen’s Park to 400-acre High Park and its trails, sports facilities and zoo.
‘A lot of people don’t know this, but Toronto is probably the most multicultural city in North America.’ – Stephen Amell
Old City Hall by Robert Rotenberg
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.
The Recession Groom by Vani
Parshuraman Joshi, 27, handsome, Hindu-Brahmin, IT Professional, settled in Canada, earns a five-figure Canadian dollar salary ! These are credentials that would make any young man hot on the Indian wedding market, so it’s no wonder that Parshuraman’s family is inundated with matrimonial proposals. While so far all attempts to “settle” him have gone kaput, he has bigger issues vexing him – such as Jennifer, his “fireball” of a colleague, and their efforts to save Project Infinite.
Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin
AYESHA SHAMSI has a lot going on. Her dreams of being a poet have been overtaken by a demanding teaching job. Her boisterous Muslim family, and numerous (interfering) aunties, are professional naggers. And her flighty young cousin, about to reject her one hundredth marriage proposal, is a constant reminder that Ayesha is still single.
Ayesha might be a little lonely, but the one thing she doesn’t want is an arranged marriage. And then she meets Khalid… How could a man so conservative and judgmental (and, yes, smart and annoyingly handsome) have wormed his way into her thoughts so quickly?
As for Khalid, he’s happy the way he is; his mother will find him a suitable bride. But why can’t he get the captivating, outspoken Ayesha out of his mind? They’re far too different to be a good match, surely…
Bellevue Square by Michael Redhill
Jean lives in downtown Toronto with her husband and two kids. The proud owner of a thriving bookstore, she doesn’t rattle easily not like she used to. But after two of her customers insist they’ve seen her double, Jean decides to investigate. Curiosity grows to obsession and soon Jean s concerns shift from the identity of the woman, to her very own.
Funny, dark and surprising, Bellevue Square takes readers down the existentialist rabbit hole and asks the question: what happens when the sense you’ve made of things stops making sense?
Fauna by Alissa York
The wide ravine that bisects the city is home to countless species of urban wildlife, including human waifs and strays. When Edal Jones can’t cope with the casual cruelty she encounters in her job as a federal wildlife officer, she finds herself drawn to a beacon of solace nestled in the valley under the unlikely banner of an auto-wrecker’s yard. Guy Howell, the handsome proprietor, offers sanctuary to animals and people alike: a half-starved hawk and a brood of orphaned raccoon kits, a young soldier whose spirit failed him during his first tour of duty, a teenage runaway and her massive black dog. Guy is well versed in the delicate workings of damaged beings, and he might just stand a chance at mending Edal’s heart.
But before love can bloom, the little community must come to terms with a different breed of lost soul – a young man whose brutal backwoods childhood is catching up with him, causing him to persecute the creatures that call the valley home.
In the Skin of a Lion by Michael Ondaatje
It is the 1920s, and Patrick Lewis has arrived in the bustling city of Toronto, leaving behind his Canadian wilderness home. He immerses himself in the lives of the people who surround him, learning, from their stories, the history of the city itself. And he has his own adventures: searching for a missing millionaire, tunnelling beneath Lake Ontario, falling in love. In the Skin of a Lion is Michael Ondaatje’s sparkling predecessor to his Booker Prize-winning The English Patient. It is here that we encounter, for the first time, Hana the orphaned girl and Caravaggio the thief, among a large cast of characters who are all lovingly and intimately portrayed. It is an exquisite and musical novel, a romance that challenges the boundary between history and myth
The Killing Circle by Andrew Pyper
A spine-chilling, mind-twisting new psychological thriller in which a writing circle is haunted by a serial killer, from the acclaimed author of Lost Girls
Who is the Sandman: dream figure or killer?
When Patrick Rush, journalist, single father and failed novelist, decides to join a creative writing circle, it seems a fertile time for the imagination.
In the city of Toronto, a murderer is striking at random, leaving his victims’ bodies mutilated and dismembered, and taunting the police with cryptic notes.
Influenced by the atmosphere of menace and fear, the group begin to read each other their own dark, unsettling tales. One, Angela, tells a mesmerizing story about a child-stealer called the Sandman. Patrick, though, finds fantasy and reality becoming blurred. Is the maniac at large in fact the Sandman? What does Angela really know? And is he himself being stalked by the killer?
But it is only when his own son is snatched that Patrick understands what he must do: embark on a horrifying journey into the unknown and track down the elusive figure known as the Sandman.
What We All Long For by Dionne Brand
A multi-cultural infusion following a close circle of second-generation twenty-somethings in downtown Toronto, and the secrets they hide. Tuyen, a lesbian avant-garde artists and daughter of Vietnamese parents is in love with her best friend Carla, a bi-racial bicycle courier.Oku, a poet who unbeknown to his Jamaican parents has dropped out of college, tormented by unrequited love for Jackie, who runs a hip-hop store. Quy is Tuyen’s long-lost brother, whose first person narrative describes the horror of Vietnamese refugee camps and his journey to Toronto changing Tuyen’s life.
The Glenwood Treasure by Kim Moritsugu
After her marriage breaks down, shy schoolteacher Blithe Morrison takes refuge for the summer with her parents in the affluent Toronto neighbourhood of Rose Park. Blithe’s return home evokes memories of her lifelong sibling war with Noel, her golden-boy older brother, now a diplomat posted in England. But when Blithe befriends a lonely 11-year-old girl and takes on a local history project, she uncovers truths about a long-rumoured buried treasure that forever alter her perceptions of her family, her friends, and herself. Historic homes, ravines, and family secrets all figure in The Glenwood Treasure, a curl-up-and-enjoy novel that updates the traditions of such suspense classics as Josephine Tey’s Brat Farrar and Daphne DuMaurier’s Rebecca.
Unless by Carol Shields
Reta Winters has a loving family, good friends, and growing success as a writer of light fiction. Then her eldest daughter suddenly withdraws from the world, abandoning university to sit on a street corner, wearing a sign that reads only ‘Goodness’. As Reta seeks the causes of her daughter’s retreat, her enquiry turns into an unflinching, often very funny meditation on society and where we find meaning and hope. ‘Unless’ is a dazzling and daring novel from the undisputed master of extraordinary fictions about so-called ‘ordinary’ lives.
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