Alluring literature Free Press literary editor picks 15 books to watch for in first half of 2023
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A new year offers a chance to look ahead at the fascinating fiction and non-fiction publishers have planned for the coming months. Whether you’re looking for celebrity memoirs, thoughtful essays, scintillating story collections or immersive novels, here are 15 titles from local, national and international authors to watch out for in the first half of 2023.
By Prince Harry (Jan. 10, Random House)
Most royal buffs have come to either love or loathe the youngest son of Princess Diana. Hot on the heels of the Harry & Meghan Netflix docu-series, the Duke of Sussex dishes on life after his mother’s death, finding love, his move to California and more.
By Pamela Anderson (Jan. 31, Dey Street)
The B.C.-born Baywatch actor recalls her tough childhood, her youthful shyness, breaking into Hollywood via Playboy, marrying Tommy Lee, grappling with tabloids, her passion for animal rights and her return home.
By Salman Rushdie (Feb. 7, Knopf)
Rushdie’s latest novel, told as an ancient epic, follows a girl in 14th-century India bestowed with powers by a goddess who becomes instrumental in the rise of a great city over the course of 250 years.
Tell Me Pleasant Things About Immortality
By Lindsay Wong (Feb. 21, Penguin Canada)
Newly installed in Winnipeg, the author of The Woo-Woo’s stories combine elements of horror with the immigrant experience, spanning eras from 17th-century China to the present day.
By Alissa York (Feb. 28, Random House)
The one-time Winnipegger returns with a novel set on the northwest coast of 1920s B.C., following a man who chronicles his harrowing upbringing in Norway for his adopted niece, who herself is grappling with the loss of her family.
On the Ravine
By Vincent Lam (Feb. 28, Knopf)
The new novel by the Giller-winning Lam (Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures) sees a doctor’s life intersect with that of a violinist struggling with opioids who explores an experimental option to break from her addiction.
By Eleanor Catton (March 7, McClelland & Stewart)
The London, Ont.-born, Booker-winning Catton (The Luminaries) returns with her first novel in a decade, a thriller that follows a New Zealand guerilla gardening collective who eye up a farm to set up operations after a landslide cuts off a nearby town from civilization.
Old Babes in the Woods
By Margaret Atwood (March 7, McClelland & Stewart)
Canada’s most iconic writer offers up a short-fiction collection, her first since 2014, which brings 15 stories — seven of which follow a married couple across multiple decades. Throughout, Atwood tackles themes of memory, uncommon love, mother-daughter relationships and more.
Snow Road Station
By Elizabeth Hay (April 11, Knopf)
Hay (who penned the Giller-winning Late Nights on Air and the acclaimed memoir All Things Consoled, among others) delivers a novel about a struggling actor in her 60s who retreats to the titular town of Snow Road Station and grapples with aging, family drama and love affairs.
Places Like These: Stories
By Lauren Carter (April 18, Book*hug)
The Manitoba-based author (This Has Nothing to Do with You) offers a collection of short fiction which brings readers stories dealing with anxiety, grief, love, betrayal and climate change in locations ranging from northern Manitoba to Ecuador.
Instructions for the Drowning: Stories
By Steven Heighton (April 18, Biblioasis)
The Kingston, Ont.-based, Governor General’s award-winning Heighton’s posthumous collection offers often-vulnerable characters in the midst of struggle — be it emotional, romantic, familial, practical or otherwise.
A Grandmother Begins the Story
By Michelle Porter (May 9, Penguin)
The Red River Métis author (now based in Newfoundland) brings a chorus of five generations of Métis women whose stories weave together in joy and anguish to tell the story of a family struggling to persevere.
Truth Telling: Seven Conversations about Indigenous Life in Canada
By Michelle Good (May 30, HarperCollins)
In this essay collection, the bestselling author of Five Little Indians tackles a range of issues including missing and murdered women, false claims of Indigenous identity, discrimination against Indigenous children and more.
Pageboy: A Memoir
By Elliot Page (June 6, HarperCollins)
The Halifax-born, Oscar-nominated actor’s memoir follows the difficulties around transitioning as a Hollywood star, the difficult roles he had to play pre-transition, the trauma that ensued and the steps he has taken towards a life of peace and joy.
By Patrick deWitt (July 4, House of Anansi)
The Vancouver Island-born, Oregon-based author follows up 2018’s French Exit with a story of a retired librarian who begins volunteering at a senior’s centre, recalling his Second World War childhood, his beautifully ordinary life working in the library and more.
Literary editor, drinks writer
Ben Sigurdson edits the Free Press books section, and also writes about wine, beer and spirits.