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Literary Fiction

Laurie Petrou’s Sibling Rivalry on Steroids

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In Laurie Petrou’s Sister of Mine (Crooked Lane Books), the lives of two orphaned sisters, Hattie and Penny, begin to fray as longstanding resentments, sibling rivalry and unpaid debts overflow and the ties of sisterhood start to snap. It’s a fast-paced thriller by Petrou, a debut novelist who also is an Associate Professor at Ryerson’s RTA School of Media and speaks on topics such as gender and rejection. See what she has to say about her first work, family relationships, and her own literary journey. BookTrib: You’ve said you never set out to write suspense. How did Sister of Mine evolve into the thriller it is? Laurie Petrou: In order for the sisters’ relationship to be put to a test, there…

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Sarah Winman’s “Tin Man” is Heartbreaking and Tender

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A tender and beautiful story, Sarah Winman’s novel Tin Man is heartbreaking and wonderfully moving, focusing on the relationship between two people, first as young boys and then as adults, with an exquisitely written and introspective look into the experiences and intimacies that are shared in a relationship so close. At twelve years old, Ellis and Michael become friends, with shared similarities in their difficult family lives and less than stellar relationships with their fathers. The two spend a lot of time together, having fun and exploring their hometown, learning to swim, and more. Then, their close friendship becomes something much more. Ten years later, Ellis is married to Annie, and Michael is gone from the picture. Burdened with shame stemming from…

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Interview with Maxine Rosaler, Author of “Queen for a Day”

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It is bold work to invite us into the world of children who are eligible for special education—and their long suffering parents. Maxine Rosaler does this in her novel, Queen for a Day, through her main character, Mimi Slavitt and her young son, Danny. We, the audience, are alongside Mimi as she attempts to accept and comprehend her autistic son’s world. In the process, Mimi — and so we the readers — are introduced to the other mothers and their children, whom she encounters along the path, and the social system that provides aid. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2015-2016, 6.7 million students between the ages of three and 21 received special education services. Among the…

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10 New Books of Literary Fiction with a Razor’s Edge

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Literary fiction occupies a special place in the world of books. There are masterpieces that combine elements of heart, fantasy, science fiction, war-narratives, biographies, soul and humor to create something that is unique as well as familiar. Here are ten brand new literary works of fiction by the late Sam Shepard, Fiona Mozley, Elif Shafak, Nora Roberts, Jenny Diski and others that we think are pretty edgy. Spy of the First Person, Sam Shepard This is the final work of the late Pulitzer-Prize winning writer, actor, musician and private person Sam Shepard who died in July at the age of 73. With an unnamed narrator to guide the way, we are taken through the perspective, life and memories of his work,…

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Video: Interview with Diane Saxton and Peregrine Island: A Novel

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The Peregrine family’s lives are turned upside down one summer when so-called “art experts” appear on the doorstep of their Connecticut island home to appraise a favorite heirloom painting. When incriminating papers, as well as other paintings, are discovered behind the artwork in question, the appraisal turns into a full-fledged investigation. Antagonism mounts between grandmother, mother, and child, who begin to suspect one another, as well as the shady newcomers in their midst, of foul play. As the summer progresses and the Peregrines discover facts about their past in the course of the investigation, they learn that people―including them―are not always who they appear to be. But when they uncover the painting’s deepest secret, it gives them the gift of…

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Video: Missed It? Interview with Ken Murray and Eulogy

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The controlled and calm life of William Oaks is shattered when his parents die suddenly in a car accident. A reclusive paper conservator at a renowned Toronto museum, William must face the obsessions and denials that have formed him: delusional family history, religious fundamentalism, and get-rich-quick schemes. Memory and facts collide, threatening to derail his life and career as William feverishly prepares for an important exhibition on the Egyptian Book of the Dead. Meet the Author KEN MURRAY lives in Prince Edward County, Ontario. He teaches creative writing at Haliburton School of the Arts and at the School of Continuing Studies at the University of Toronto. He is a volunteer broadcaster in community radio and dabbles in several sports. Eulogy is…

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Beatriz Williams’ Tiny Little Thing looks at a political wife in the Mad Men era

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A woman inserting herself in the epicenter of politics in 1966 was unheard of, and worse, frowned upon. But Beatriz Williams’ Tiny Little Thing (GP Putnam’s Sons, June 23, 2015) turns this notion on its head and brings us a story about what happens when a picture-perfect woman, who has a lot to hide, threatens the political stability of her husband. Christina Hardcastle, also known as “Tiny,” comes from a wealthy and influential family. But while her husband, Frank, aims for a seat on the Senate, the past resurfaces to haunt “Tiny” and secrets she thought were long-buried threaten to come out. Reputations and futures are on the line in this political and suspenseful romance. Author Beatriz Williams is a…

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Video: Missed It? Interview with Rebecca Makkai, Author of Music for Wartime: Stories

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Named one of the must-read books of the summer by The Chicago Tribune, OMagazine, BuzzFeed, The Huffington Post, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, and The L Magazine  Rebecca Makkai’s first two novels, The Borrower and The Hundred-Year House, have established her as one of the freshest and most imaginative voices in fiction. Now, the award-winning writer, whose stories have appeared in four consecutive editions of The Best American Short Stories, returns with a highly anticipated collection bearing her signature mix of intelligence, wit, and heart. A reality show producer manipulates two contestants into falling in love, even as her own relationship falls apart. Just after the fall of the Berlin Wall, a young boy has a revelation about his father’s past when a renowned Romanian violinist plays a concert in their home. When the…

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CAPTION CONTEST for Vivian Probst’s DEATH BY ROSES

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Are you hung-up over the one who got away? If you were given the chance, what would you do? What would you say? DEATH BY ROSES is about second chances and this is your chance to remind someone just how special they are to you. Enter to win a dozen luscious roses to send to someone special in time for Valentine’s Day. To enter please write a caption for the book cover featured in the image above. Write your caption in the comment section below. The winner will receive a dozen beautiful roses from Surroundings Flowers to send to their loved one.  

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Not afraid of Virginia Woolf? 3 Novels to celebrate her birthday

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Happy birthday, Virginia Woolf! You turn 133 on January 25 (which is funny, because you don’t look a day over 125). How can you celebrate the timeless author’s big day? You can read some of her great works, of course. Or, for something a bit different, you can treat yourself to some novels that feature Woolf as a character. Here are some of our favorites: Vanessa and Her Sister by Priya Parmar Parmar’s second novel brings the Bloomsbury group to vibrant life. Vanessa and Her Sister is Vanessa Bell’s imagined diary, incorporating letters and telegrams. In 1905, the four Stephen children have recently been orphaned. Vanessa, the eldest, strives to keep the family together in their London home while focusing…

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Lev Grossman discusses weaving the power of literary fiction into fantasy

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Lev Grossman’s latest novel, The Magician’s Land, hits shelves this week, marking the triumphant close of his New York Times bestselling fantasy trilogy. The trilogy is no doubt a beacon on the current rising tide in fantasy readership and writership, a genre which Grossman says is evolving quickly. It’s a suprise to some that Grossman’s novels didn’t follow in his parents’ well-tread literary footsteps (he’s the son of poet Allen Grossman and novelist Judith Grossman), as well as the trajectory of his own academic background. A graduate of both Yale and Harvard, Grossman was surprised by this himself, noting the book Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke as one that fueled the start of his trilogy. “[That book] was a fantasy…

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Pressing on after the Holocaust: In Paradise by Peter Matthiessen

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As a pre-teen, I went through a phase where I read every novel I could about the Holocaust. Late at night I would hide under my blanket with a flashlight, pouring over the devastating details of ghettos and death camps, devouring stories about young girls like me facing an evil that seemed so impossible when compared to my modern, American, middle-class life. In eighth grade I remember visiting the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington DC, ignoring the signs that read “Do Not Touch,” and running my fingers along the inside of a boxcar—on loan from the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum in Poland—thinking that it was somehow important to touch the rough wood, that I was paying tribute to the people who had…

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The madame and her Frenchman

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December 12th marked the 192nd birthday of French novelist Gustave Flaubert, best known for his tale of the perpetually unhappy titular housewife, Madame Bovary (1857). Emma Bovary, the sexually repressed and generally unpleasant focal point of the novel, is glumly married to the rather boring local doctor and spends the book longing and scheming for the passion, ecstasy, and luxury she’s experienced only in books. Like any good heroine doomed to go down in flames (paging Anna Karenina), Madame B. has her share of affairs, accumulates substantial debt, before—spoiler alert—ending it all with arsenic, much as Edith Wharton’s Lily Bart would do nearly half a century later in The House of Mirth, albeit with a popular “sleeping aid” made of choral hydrate. But both are…

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