It's September which means its time for you to vote for the Ontario Library Assocation's Evergreen Award for 2017. The Evergreen Award is best described as the “readers’ choice” of Canadian literary awards. Each year, a list of ten nominees is selected by a committee of librarians and in September library patrons from all across the province can vote on their favourite. The winner will be announced during Ontario Public Library Week in October.
As is usually the case, the 2017 Evergreen list features a diverse list of titles. It spans multiples genres, includes both fiction and non-fiction, and features diverse authors and perspectives. It is certainly a book list that is well-representative of what Canadian authors have to offer Canadian readers. You only need to read one the following titles to be eligible to vote this month. You can do so at any local library branch throughout this month.
- Carry Me* by Peter Behrens is an elegant historical novel about a deep friendship forged in childhood and continuing into adulthood, of a man and a woman--she being Jewish, and he not--leading up to and during the early years of Hitler’s rise in Germany.
- Middle Aged Boys and Girls* by Diane Bracuk is a fantastic book of short stories that feature characters who, to varying degrees, are stuck in adolescent roles of rebel, outcast, enfant terrible and cool kid. All are linked by losses--of looks, of status, of job security, of health, of confidence--which forces them to life's inevitable turning point.
- The Name Therapist* by Duana Taha is a non-fiction title that examines North American naming trends, traditions and the influence of pop culture. What does your name say about you and your lot in life? While the author cites various studies and surveys, this book is mostly fun, anecdotal fluff – perfect for when you are in a light reading mood.
- The Spawning Grounds* by Gail Anderson-Dargatz is an intimate family saga rooted in the Thompson-Shuswap region of British Columbia, and saturated with the history of the place. It’s a bold story that bridges Native and white cultures as well as the past and present.
- Hidden Keys* by Andre Alexis, Giller Prize winning author of Fifteen Dogs, revolves around a family that is wealthy, loving but quite troubled. It also follows the story of a good-hearted professional thief the young addict sister confides in. Together, at first, and then separately, they embark on a treasure hunt left by their late father.
- Serial Monogamy* by Kate Taylor follows two threads. The first is that of a separated couple in contemporary times who attempts to reunite after the wife receives a cancer diagnosis. The second follows a woman in the 19th Century who becomes Charles Dicken’s secret mistress. As a whole, it is a novel about fidelity, passion and the hidden secrets of domestic life.
- Five Roses* by Alice Zorn is the story of three women living in Montreal whose stories are connected, but the reader only finds out how as the book progresses. This is a great choice for character-driven readers who appreciate a well-developed setting. The city’s historic Pointe St-Charles, a slightly downtrodden neighbourhood in the process of gentrification, is as much a character in this book as Fara, Maddy or Rose.
- How Can I Help?: A Week in my Life as a Psychiatrist by David Goldbloom portrays a week in the life of the author, a psychiatrist, as he treats patients, communicates with families, and trains staff at CAMH, the largest psychiatric facility in Canada. This highly readable and engaging, even for those of us without backgrounds in medicine.
- The Break* by Katherena Vermette has become a sleeper CanLit hit as of late and was recently announced as a candidate for CBC Canada Reads. It is comprised of multiple interconnected narratives of characters living in Winnipeg’s sketchy North End in the wake of a brutal rape investigation.
- Tomboy Survival Guide* by Ivan Coyote is a funny and moving memoir told in stories, in which the author recounts the pleasures and difficulties of growing up a tomboy (and genderqueer) in Canada’s Yukon in the 70s and 80s.
* This title is available as an Overdrive e-book