2020 Reading List

To download a PDF version of our previously printed Reading List, click here. Please note that this list is not complete and you will find the most up-to-date lineup below.

The Vancouver Writers Fest is delighted to partner with our city’s vibrant community of independent booksellers. This year, each are offering a 15% discount on all Festival titles in this Reading List. Click here to learn more.

Category:

A Russian Sister

Caroline Adderson

In this witty and colourful novel, Governor General award-winning author Caroline Adderson effortlessly plunges the reader into a nineteenth-century Russian tragicomedy.

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Homeland Elegies

Ayad Akhtar

From Ayad Akhtar, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Disgraced and American Dervish, comes the story of an immigrant father and his son as they search for belonging in post-Trump America, and with each other.

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A History of My Brief Body

Billy-Ray Belcourt

Griffin Poetry Prize winner Billy-Ray Belcourt’s debut memoir opens with a tender letter to his kokum and memories of his early life in the hamlet of Joussard, Alberta, and on the Driftpile First Nation.

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Like a Boy but Not a Boy

andrea bennett

Inquisitive and expansive, Like a Boy but Not a Boy explores National Magazine award-winning author and editor andrea bennett’s experiences with gender expectations, being a non-binary parent, and the sometimes funny and sometimes difficult task of living in a body.

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Burning Sugar

Cicely Belle Blain

In this incendiary debut collection, activist, poet and entrepreneur Cicely Belle Blain intimately revisits familiar spaces in geography, the arts, and their personal history to expose the legacy of colonization and its impact on Black bodies.

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The Gospel of Breaking

Jillian Christmas

In The Gospel of Breaking, Jillian Christmas confirms what followers of her performance and artistic curation have long known: there is magic in her words.

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Rebent Sinner

Ivan Coyote

From our Guest Curator, Ivan Coyote, comes an examination of what it means to be trans and non-binary today from one of North America’s most lauded storytellers, Rebent Sinner is both deeply personal and powerfully political.

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Through the Garden

Lorna Crozier

When Lorna Crozier and Patrick Lane met in 1976, they had no idea that they would go on to write over forty books between them, balance their careers with their devotion to each other, and to their cats, for decades.

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Magdalena

Wade Davis

Author and renowned National Geographic explorer Wade Davis has enthralled people around the world by capturing the essence of places; awakening in his readers a longing for worlds thousands of miles away.

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Primary Obsessions

Charles Demers

Canadian author and comedian Charles Demers returns with a new novel—this time the first in a series of mysteries starring Dr. Annick Boudreau and involving themes of mental health.

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Postcolonial Love Poem

Natalie Diaz

Postcolonial Love Poem is an anthem of desire against erasure. American Book Award-winner Natalie Diaz’s brilliant second collection demands that every body carried in its pages—bodies of language, land, rivers, suffering brothers, enemies, and lovers—be touched and held as beloveds.

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Seven

Farzana Doctor

Winner of the Lambda Literary Prize and Toronto Book Prize finalist for her novel Six Metres of PavementFarzana Doctor is back with Seven: a rich, soulfully written novel about inheritance and resistance that tests the balance between modern and traditional customs.

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The Pull of the Stars

Emma Donoghue

In an Ireland ravaged by war and disease, Nurse Julia Power works at a hospital where expectant mothers diagnosed with the new flu are quarantined together.

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Love

Roddy Doyle

Two old friends reconnect in Dublin for a dramatic, revealing evening of confidences—some planned, some spontaneous—in this captivating new book from Roddy Doyle, author of the Booker Prize-winning novel Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha.

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Butter Honey Pig Bread

Francesca Ekwuyasi

In Journey Prize nominee Francesca Ekwuyasi’s moving novel about food, family and forgiveness, twin sisters, Kehinde and Taiye live with their mother Kambirinachi, who feels she is a spirit that plagues families with misfortune.

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The Swan Suit

Katherine Fawcett

In this short story collection, reimagined folktales appear alongside new stories, serving to defamiliarize us from the undeniably odd tales we continue to pass down, and lend a vague familiarity to the stories of Katherine Fawcett’s invention.

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The Finder

Will Ferguson

From Will Ferguson, the Scotiabank Giller Prize–winning novelist of 419, comes a spellbinding literary adventure about precious objects lost and found.

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The Park

John Freeman

American editor and writer, John Freeman, is a Festival favourite, offering insights and recommendations that illuminate contemporary literature. In The Park, his second book of poetry, Freeman uses a park as a petri dish, turning a deep gaze on all that pass through it.

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Outlasting the Weather

Patrick Friesen

Covering twenty-six years and selected from eight previous volumes, the poems in Governor General’s Award for Poetry finalist Patrick Friesen’s collection reject wisdom; rather, they are infused with the kind of knowledge that comes from having weathered many seasons yet still remaining open to wonder.

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Five Little Indians

Michelle Good

Years after being taken from their families and sent to a remote, church-run residential school, Kenny, Lucy, Clara, Howie and Maisie are released. Alone and without any skills, the teens find their way to the unfamiliar world of the DTES.

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Transcendent Kingdom

Yaa Gyasi

Yaa Gyasi’s stunning follow-up to her acclaimed national bestseller and multi-award winning novel, Homegoing, is a powerful, raw, intimate, deeply layered novel about a Ghanaian family in Alabama.

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Reaching Mithymna

Steven Heighton

In 2015, Steven Heighton, the Governor General’s Literary Award-winning poet of The Waking Comes Late, volunteered on the frontlines of the Syrian refugee crisis, on the isle of Lesvos in Greece.

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The Stray and the Strangers

Steven Heighton

National award-winning author Steven Heighton’s first children’s book, The Stray and the Strangers, is about a stray dog named Kanella. She’s scrawny and nervous and afraid of the cats and dogs that compete for handouts on the pier.

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Crosshairs

Catherine Hernandez

The acclaimed novelist of Scarborough returns with a dystopian account of a queer Black performer and allies joining forces to battle a regime sending those deemed “Other” to concentration camps.

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Commanding Hope

Thomas Homer-Dixon

Thomas Homer-Dixon, the renowned Governor General’s Non-Fiction Award-winning author of The Upside of Down, is back with a highly anticipated new work. He turns his attention to how we can shift human civilization onto a decisively new path if we mobilize our minds, spirits, imaginations and collective values.

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Rabbit Foot Bill

Helen Humphreys

Based on a true story, this page-turning novel from master stylist and multi-award winning author Helen Humphreys examines the frailty and resilience of the human mind.

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The Certainties

Aislinn Hunter

From the acclaimed and Gerald Lampert Award-winning author of Into the Early Hours and The World Before Us, Aislinn Hunter, comes a vivid, moving novel about the entwined fates of two very different refugees.

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Hi Five

Joe Ide

Award-winning novelist Joe Ide’s private investigator IQ became one of the best-loved detectives of modern crime, and quickly made Ide a multi-bestselling author. In Hi Five, IQ is back to piece together a Newport Beach murder with an eyewitness who gives “people person” a whole new meaning.

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Music for Tigers

Michelle Kadarusman

Middle schooler and passionate violinist Louisa is spending the summer with her Australian relatives in the Tasmanian rainforest. It’s an intriguing place with strange creatures and weird noises and odours in the night, and a quirky boy named Colin.

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No Going Back

Sheena Kamal

Named a Most Anticipated Book of the Year by CrimeReads, LitHub and Book Riot, Kobo Emerging Writer Prize-winning author Sheena Kamal’s No Going Back is the third novel featuring the brilliant, fearless, deeply flawed Nora Watts.

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Fight Like a Girl

Sheena Kamal

From the Kobo Emerging Writer Prize-winning author of The Lost Ones, Sheena Kamal: Trisha is trying to break the cycle of violence in her family by channeling her impulses into kickboxing.

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Bunbun & Bonbon: Fancy Friends

Jess Keating

Bunbun had it all: a delightful Bunbun nose, a winning Bunbun smile, a ridiculously cute Bunbun tail and not one, but two adorable Bunbun ears. But Bunbun didn’t have a friend—until she met Bonbon.

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Nikki Tesla and the Traitors of the Lost Spark

Jess Keating

In the third book in Jess Keating’s Elements on Genius series, Genius Academy is under attack! When a routine operation goes horribly wrong, Nikki Tesla and the team take the blame for an international incident of epic proportions, and the school is shut down indefinitely.

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Hope Matters

Elin Kelsey

Hope Matters: Why Changing the Way We Think is Critical to Solving the Environmental Crisis boldly breaks through the narrative of doom and gloom that has overtaken conversations about our future to show why hope, not fear, is our most powerful tool for tackling the planetary crisis.

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Dig

A.S. King

In this Michael L. Printz Award-winning novel, five estranged cousins are lost in a maze of their family’s tangled secrets. Their grandparents, former potato farmers Gottfried and Marla Hemmings sit atop a million-dollar bank account—wealth they’ve refused to pass on to their adult children or their five teenage grandchildren.

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Indians on Vacation

Thomas King

Multi-award winning author and inaugural Massey Lectures speaker Thomas King introduces readers to Bird and Mimi in Indians on Vacation, a brilliant, poignant new novel on personal and political histories.

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Sara and the Search for Normal

Wesley King

Sara wants one thing: to be normal. What she has instead are multiple diagnoses from her doctor that cause her to isolate herself. She rarely speaks at school, and doesn’t have any friends. When she starts group therapy, she meets talkative and outgoing Erin, who doesn’t believe in “normal.”

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A Good War

Seth Klein

In A Good War, author, activist and founding director of BC’s Canadian Centre for Public Alternatives chapter Seth Klein revisits and reframes strategies from WWII, demonstrating that change can be productive, creating jobs and reducing inequality while tackling our climate obligations.

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Sex and Vanity

Kevin Kwan

Kevin Kwan—iconic author of the bestselling phenomenon Crazy Rich Asians and a Time Magazine 100 Most Influential People in the World—returns with a glittering tale of love and longing as a young woman finds herself torn between two worlds.

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This is Your Brain on Stereotypes

Tanya Lloyd Kyi

From the time we’re born, our brains sort and label the world around us—a skill that’s crucial for survival. But, when we do this to people, it can cause great harm. Tanya Lloyd Kyi’s newest release is a primer to the science behind stereotypes that will help young people understand why we classify people and how we can change our thinking.

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The Girl Who Was Convinced Beyond All Reason That She Could Fly

Sybil Lamb

In a rusted unnamed city full of five-dollar hotels and flea markets, a young homeless girl named Eggs is trying to make her way in the world. She’s shy and bold at the same time, and wary of strangers, but she is convinced beyond all reason that she can fly.

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Petra

Shaena Lambert

Inspired by Petra Kelly, the original Green Party leader who fought for the planet in 1980s Germany, Petra is a captivating new novel about a woman who changed history and transformed environmental politics—and who, like many history-changing women, has been largely erased.

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Disfigured: On Fairy Tales, Disability, and Making Space

Amanda Leduc

Fairy tales shape how we see the world, so what happens when you identify more with the Beast than Beauty? If every disabled character is mocked and mistreated, how does the Beast ever imagine a happily-ever-after?

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What Hurts Going Down

Nancy Lee

Award-winning novelist Nancy Lee’s latest collection of poetry is a searing exploration of girlhood pre- and post- the #MeToo movement. These poems confront how socially ingrained violence and sexual power dynamics distort and dislocate girlhood, womanhood, and relationships.

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Heaven, My Home

Attica Locke

Named a ‘Best Book of the Year’ by the New York TimesGuardian, LitHub, NPR and many more, Heaven, My Home is the second installment in Harper Lee Prize-winning Attica Locke’s Highway 59 series: crime novels that lay bare race relations in the US.

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The Dyzgraphxst

Canisia Lubrin

Canisia Lubrin returns with a mesmerizing new collection, the follow-up to her breakout book, Voodoo HypothesisThe Dyzgraphxst presents seven inquiries into selfhood through the perennial figure Jejune.

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Consent

Annabel Lyon

Traversing familial duty, love, guilt, resentment and regret, Consent centers two sets of sisters and the ways trauma forever alters their relationships.

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Adrift: How Our World Lost Its Way

Amin Maalouf

World-renowned scholar and bestselling author of The Crusades Through Arab Eyes, Amin Maalouf traces how civilizations have drifted apart throughout the 20th century, mixing personal narrative and historical analysis to provide a warning signal for the future.

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War: How Conflict Shaped Us

Margaret MacMillan

In War, acclaimed historian and Baillie Gifford Prize recipient Margaret MacMillan analyzes the tangled history of militarized conflict and society—and our complex feelings towards it.

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A Burning

Megha Majumdar

A Burning is an electrifying debut novel about three unforgettable characters who seek to rise—to the middle class, to political power, to fame in the movies—and find their lives entangled in the wake of a catastrophe in contemporary India.

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They Said This Would Be Fun

Eternity Martis

A booksmart kid from Toronto, Eternity Martis was excited to move away to Western University for her undergraduate degree. But as one of the few Black students there, she soon discovered that the campus experiences she’d seen in movies were far more complex in reality.

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Facing the Sun

Janice Lynn Mather

An exciting new work from Learning to Breathe author and Governor General’s Literary Award finalist, Janice Lynn Mather, Facing the Sun revolves around four friends in the Caribbean—Eve, Faith, KeeKee and Nia—who are facing unexpected changes in their lives

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Utopia Avenue

David Mitchell

From the bestselling author of Cloud Atlas and two-time Booker Prize finalist David Mitchell comes the story of Utopia Avenue and its age; of riots in the street and revolutions in the head; of drugs and thugs, schizophrenia, love, sex, grief, art; of the families we choose and the ones we don’t.

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The Awkward Black Man

Walter Mosley

Bestselling author Walter Mosley has proven himself a master of narrative tension, both with his extraordinary fiction and gripping writing for television. The Awkward Black Man collects seventeen of Mosley’s most accomplished short stories to showcase the full range of his remarkable talent.

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Washes, Prays

Noor Naga

Don’t miss RBC Bronwen Wallace Award winner Noor Naga’s bracing debut: a novel-in-verse about a young woman’s romantic relationship with a married man and her ensuing crisis of faith.

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Weather

Jenny Offill

From Jenny Offill, the beloved author of the nationwide bestseller Dept. of Speculation comes Weather, a tour de force about a family, and a nation, in crisis.

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Hatch

Kenneth Oppel

Internationally beloved author Kenneth Oppel introduced us to alien plants with deadly toxins in Bloom. In the first book, Seth, Anaya and Petra found themselves strangely immune to the toxins and combatted them. Now in Hatch, the second novel in the trilogy, the rain brings eggs that hatch into large, dangerous insects.

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Fatty Legs (10th Anniversary Edition)

Margaret-Olemaun Pokiak-Fenton

Christy Jordan-Fenton

Margaret-Olemaun Pokiak-Fenton’s powerful story of an Inuvialuit girl standing up to the bullies of residential school has been reissued to commemorate the memoir’s 10th anniversary with updates to the text, reflections on the book’s impact, and a bonus chapter from the acclaimed follow-up, A Stranger at Home.

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High School

Tegan Quin

Sara Quin

Discover multiple Juno Award-winning music icons Tegan and Sara Quin as you’ve never known them before in this intimate and raw account of their formative years.

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A Song for the Dark Times

Ian Rankin

Award-winning author Ian Rankin’s 23rd novel in the John Rebus series, A Song for the Dark Times, is deeply rooted in the present. This thrilling new book explores the relationship between crime, punishment and redemption.

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Black Water

David A. Robertson

A Governor General’s Award winning-author known for his writings about Indigenous Peoples in Canada, David A. Robertson now turns his focus to his own personal journey.

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The Barren Grounds

David A. Robertson

Governor General’s Literary Award-winning author David A. Robertson’s new novel revolves around two Indigenous children, Morgan and Eli, who live in foster care. One day, they find a portal to another reality, Askí, bringing them onto frozen, barren grounds, where they meet Ochek (Fisher).

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Jack

Marilynne Robinson

Jack is the fourth and last of Pulitzer Prize-winning author Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead novels—one of the great works of contemporary literature.

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Don’t Call the Wolf

Aleksandra Ross

A fierce young queen, neither human nor lynx, fights to protect a forest abandoned by humans. A young soldier searches for the brother who disappeared into the forest. A fearsome and vengeful dragon haunts their nightmares and their steps.

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Noopiming: The Cure for White Ladies

Leanne Betasamosake Simpson

A MacEwan Book of the Year winner and finalist for the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize and Trillium Book Award for This Accident of Being Lost, Nishnaabeg writer Leanne Betasamosake Simpson has returned with a bold and fierce reclamation of Anishinaabe aesthetics in Noopiming.

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Hearts Amok

Kevin Spenst

Examining the underpinnings of love, this book journeys from the Middle Ages to the present where Pushcart Prize nominee Kevin Spenst dates his way through Vancouver to finally find the love of his life.

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The Glass Hotel

Emily St. John Mandel

An instant #1 New York Times bestseller. From Emily St. John Mandel, the Arthur C. Clarke and Toronto Book Award-winning author of Station Eleven, The Glass Hotel is a captivating novel of money, beauty, white-collar crime, ghosts and moral compromise.

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Junebat

John Elizabeth Stintzi

An unforgettable poetry collection by rising star John Elizabeth Stintzi, Junebat grapples with the pain of uncertainty and the power of becoming

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Vanishing Monuments

John Elizabeth Stintzi

This beautiful, tender debut novel by RBC Bronwen Wallace Award for Emerging Writers winner John Elizabeth Stintzi explores what haunts us most, bearing witness to grief over not only what is lost, but what remains.

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Yorick and Bones

Jeremy Tankard

Hermione Tankard

Yorick is a skeleton who was just dug up after a few hundred years of sleep. He speaks like it too. “Forsooth, my joy, I barely can contain!” Bones is the hungry dog who did the digging. Though he cannot speak, he can chomp. What will become of these two unlikely companions?

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Real Life

Brandon Taylor

Named one of the most anticipated books of the year by Entertainment Weekly, Harper’s Bazaar, BuzzFeed and more, Brandon Taylor’s Real Life is a novel of startling intimacy, violence, and mercy among friends in a Midwestern university town.

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We Two Alone

Jack Wang

Set on five continents and spanning nearly a century, Jack Wang’s We Two Alone is a collection that traces the long arc and evolution of the Chinese immigrant experience.

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Sharks in the Time of Saviors

Kawai Strong Washburn

Nainoa Flores is known as the boy who was rescued by sharks after falling off a cruise ship in Hawai’i. The strange abilities he acquires after this begin to drive his family apart, while he also struggles with his newly discovered powers while working as a paramedic.

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Word Problems

Ian Williams

In Word Problems, 2019 Giller Prize winner Ian Williams tries to force poetry to offer us unambiguous answers by slotting tough questions about racial inequality, our pernicious depression, and troubled relationships between people into verse.

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Interior Chinatown

Charles Yu

From the author of How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe and one of the award-winning screenwriters behind Westworld comes Interior Chinatown.

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