5 Debut Writers to Check Out

You’re always on the lookout for new and eclectic voices. Short stories, poetry, nonfiction and novels: you want to know who’s new on the scene. Then you’ll want to check out these debut titles from five writers on the rise.

The Boat People by Sharon Bala (McClelland & Stewart): The Boat People was inspired by the true story a ship carrying Tamil refugees escaping the civil war in Sri Lanka, in 2010. Because there was so little information about the voyage, Bala created this subtle exploration, told in alternating views, into the imagined journey of 500 Tamil men, women and children who arrive on Canada’s shores.

Bad Endings by Carleigh Baker (Anvil Press): Winner of the 2017 Vancouver Book Award. Steadfastly local in her choice of setting, Baker’s deep appreciation for nature takes a lot of these stories out of Vancouver and into the wild. Salmon and bees play reoccurring roles in these tales, as do rivers. Occasionally, characters blend with their animal counterparts, adding a touch of magic realism. Even if things get weird along the way, as Hunter S. Thompson said, “When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.”

I Am a Truck by Michelle Winters (Invisible Publishing):  Set in New Brunswick, I Am a Truck is a novel coloured with a dialect, food, weather and landscape that  is familiar and dear to Michelle Winters. Remarkable for a debut book, I Am a Truck was shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize. It tells the story of Agathe Lapointe, a married woman whose husband, Réjean, disappears before their 20th wedding anniversary, leaving behind only his beloved Chevy truck.

full-metal indigiqueer by Joshua Whitehead (Talonbooks): This is the debut poetry collection from Joshua Whitehead, an Oji-Cree, two-spirit writer, poet and Indigiqueer scholar from Peguis First Nation. Inspired in part by the 1988 Japanese anime film Akira and the work of Full Metal Apache by cultural critic Takayuki Tatsumi, these poems are a conversation between Whitehead and a Trickster figure that becomes like a virus that infects and invades.

Hard to Do: The Surprising, Feminist History of Breaking Up by Kelli Maria Korducki (Coach House Books): Hailed as a “superbly written ode to a new brand of woman,” Hard to Do is a look at the surprising politics of romantic love and its underlying motives. Debut author Kelli María Korducki turns a Marxist lens on the history of romantic partnership to reveal that, for all women, ending a relationship is a radical action.

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