Top 7 Graphic Novels/Collections
1. Ant Colony by Michael Deforge
2. Beautiful Darkness by Fabien Vehlmann and artist Kerascoët
3. Here by Richard McGuire
4. Sugar Skull by Charles Burns
5. This One Summer by Mariko & Jillian Tamaki
6. Through the Woods by Emily Carroll
7. The Wrenchies by Farel Dalrymple
Top 3 Continuing Graphic Novel Series
1. Adventure Time by Ryan Q. North
2. Saga by Brian K. Vaughan
3. Sex Criminals by Matt Fraction & Chip Zdarsky (grudgingly)
5 Poetry Collections
1. The Second Sex is less adreneally charged than Michael Robbins’s first collection, but nonetheless touches the quivering nerve; here the highflying pop-cult vitamixer of Alien vs. Predator alights on drones, gender politics and Sunday mornings.
2. Breckon Hancock’s Broom Broom is a charged delight for formalists, with her carefully constructed melange of tercets, couplets, haiku, but it’s in her jarring scenery and unsettling pacing that these poems of domesticity and violence come thrillingly to life.
3. In MxT, Sina Queyras imagines the shape of grief if it could be contained in the plotted points of a graph. With metered rage, Queyras’s stanzas break down; even poetry, it turns out, is an imperfect technology for getting at what hurts about being alive.
4. Susannah Showler’s Failure to Thrive is a flippant rejoinder to the myriad pressures on quote-unquote millennials—Showler’s brainy debut calls out the precariousness of this time above others. “Don’t forget:”/, she admonishes, “exposure is something you can die of.”
5. Claire Caldwell’s musical sensibility is well served in her debut, Invasive Speicies, where doom wrought by climate change and other too-human bad behaviour is brought to the intimacy of the laundry line, of one’s desk drawer full of inert pencils.
2 Debut Novels
1. Ghalib Islam’s brazen debut, Fire in the Unnameable Country is a searingly brilliant, totally surreal novel about how language bleeds into politics as we enter the greatest surveillance age since the Coldwar.
2. The Giller-winning tale of the Theremin’s invention saw so many Canadians swept up in the body electric of Sean Michaels’s tender debut, Us Conductors, which tells the story of the droning man-made and body-powered songbird with an uncommon lyrical wryness.
3 Short Story Collections
1. Taking its title from a meditation on a stroke of luck from NBA star Yao Ming, Doretta Lau’s How Does a Single Blade of Grass Thank the Sun is a sharply turned out debut collection, full of gangsters and beauty queens at the ready to upend Canadian (and, ahem, #CanLit) expectations on their heads.
2. Cynthia Flood’s Red Girl Rat Boy features 11 stories about lost radicalism, wild cats, and tween ginger-obsessives. Flood’s quirky realism rewards attentive readers and quiet-thrill seekers.
3. The bloodied covers are pulled back on the pulsing muscles of the world in Nothing Looks Familiar, Shawn Syms’s tantalizingly kinetic debut collection of stories about catfishing tweeters and methy cheque-bouncers.
2 Novels by Authors Who Have Previously Published Not Less Than One Novel
1. Elyse Friedman’s devastatingly funny The Answer to Everything takes place on the faultline between cult and culture—artist squatters decide to turn their crasjhpad into a commune, then something that requires a greater suspension of disbelief than all that.
2. Ben Lerner’s 10:04, his puzzling and dazzling sophomore novel that continues in the emerging tradition of reality fiction popularized by his contemporaries Sheila Heti and Tao Lin, is a circuitous book about “dilated time” and the impossible project of moving into the future when the future is running out of supply.
1. While I still take my eggs poached and slathered in hollandaise on weekend mornings, thanks to Shawn Micallef’s witty and persuasive The Trouble With Brunch I might enjoy them a little less than I once did. Investigating how a precarious, short term contract-based economy and rapid, practically pre-fab urban gentrification gave rise to the brunching class, Micallef’s polemic falls just short of convincing one to forgo foie gras on flapjacks all together.