We're back this week with the second installment in our list of staff favourite Canadian authors. As a reminder, we asked staff who their favourite Canadian author is, what they liked about the author, and what their favourite book by that author is.
As always, if you have a favourite Canadian author you feel deserves more attention let us know!
What about this author appeals to you: I was first introduced to the Canadian poet and novelist Anne Michaels when I was doing my undergrad in English Lit. We read sections of her book Fugitive Pieces in class, and I was blown away by her beautiful prose and masterful use of symbolism.
What is your favourite book by this author, and what did you like about it: Fugitive Pieces is a book spanning several decades, but focuses mostly on Jakob Beer, a boy who manages to escape Nazi soldiers after the rest of his family is killed. The book follows him as he finds poetry to express himself and grows into an adult who is scarred by his past, but still trying to reach out and connect with those around him in a meaningful way. Though the subject matter is brutal and sad at times, Michaels' skill as a poet is obvious. I can't stress this enough: the prose is lyrical and gorgeous. There are sentences that can and do take your breath away.
We had another staff member mention Anne Michaels as their favourite, they had this to say:
What about this author appeals to you: I really enjoyed her novel Fugitive Pieces. I loved the lyrical writing style and historical elements. I’m drawn to stories that involve the holocaust. The power of language and the strength of the human spirit are strong themes. Although I read this book over ten years ago, its beautiful language and striking scenes still resonate with me. I’d recommend it for people that read for language over plot.
What is your favourite book by this author, and what did you like about it: I’ve read almost all of his books but River Thieves, The Innocents and Sweetland were my favourites. He has such a beautiful way with description that I sometimes don’t care what he’s saying, just how he is saying it. His stories can be dark and the pace slow, but his characters are intriguing and his Newfoundland settings vivid.
What about this author appeals to you: His writing is just so good, and he has a way of making you feel what the characters are feeling. I often find myself either laughing hysterically or crying my way through his books. He also writes in such a way that you feel like you know the places he is writing about, even though he never specifies the settings of his books.
I also like how interactive he is with people on his social media accounts. He always answers back, loves answering questions about and discussing his books, and is eager to talk to young people about becoming a writer.
What is your favourite book by this author, and what did you like about it: My favourite book by him is his newest one that just came out this fall, called Heart Sister. It was such a heartbreaking but also somehow heartwarming story about a teenager who is trying to cope with his twin sister’s death, and the subsequent hole it has left in his family. His sister was an organ donor, and he thinks that by meeting the people she helped, essentially bringing all the pieces of his sister back together, will somehow fix his family.
This book was just so full of emotion – grief, embarrassment, love, and Stewart does such an amazing job of writing those emotions. It also sheds light on the importance of the organ donor program, and the different ways that receiving an organ can change a person’s life – or not. Not everything is sunshine and rainbows.
What about this author appeals to you: I love the way he writes his characters. Even in a fantasy novel the characters feel very real, they all have problems and flaws.
What is your favourite book by this author, and what did you like about it: My favourite novel by him is Tigana. It asks the question of “what would you do if something that was a key part of your sense of self and sense of place in the world was taken away from you?”. I don’t know if any of the characters could be called a hero. They had a noble goal, but at what point does the end no longer justify the means? I really liked the character development, I really felt like I got to know them while reading this, and I felt that I shared in their struggles even though I was just along for the ride.