Proud of our open-air patios, gorgeous parks and endless festivals, Montreal is also a creative cultural centre. In addition to our full music, film and art scene, the last few years have brought about a tide of prizewinning fiction from this city’s authors, perfect books to bring with you on a lazy day in a café or sitting in a park.
1. DAYDREAMS OF ANGELS, Heather O’Neill (2015)
This Montreal native has been on an award-winning streak since 2007, when Lullabies for Little Criminals, a novel about a girl’s difficult coming-of-age, won the Canada Reads competition. A brand new collection, Daydreams of Angels, promises to surprise, sadden, and entertain with all of its whimsical turns. Many of the stories are magical-realist in nature, eager to transport you outside of your everyday life and concerns.
2. US CONDUCTORS, Sean Michaels (2014)
Winner of the prestigious Giller Prize, Michaels’s novel debuted to resounding acclaim from critics and readers alike. Featuring Lev Sergeyvich Termen, the inventor of a very strange (and real) instrument called the theremin, the prose weaves ambition and romance into an early-20th-century tale of Russian politics, Harlem nightlife and genuine perseverance. The mix of science, music and human relationships makes this a unique and intriguing read.
3. THE RIVER BURNS, Trevor Ferguson (2014)
After writing gripping crime mysteries for twenty years under his pseudonym, John Farrow, Trevor Ferguson released a work of literary fiction last year influenced by his penchant for fast-paced fiction. Alongside small-town eccentricities of character and conversation embedded in the cultural fabric of Quebec, Ferguson builds intricate prose around the historic burning of a Wakefield bridge.
4. NEW TAB, Guillaume Morissette (2014)
Morissette’s novel is marked by a smooth flow and a main character very recognizable in his Montreal lifestyle and his particular anxieties. The ironic distance and disdain that serve as markers of the internet era are palpable on every page. New Tab is a page-turner, often very funny for the way it filters the hyper-contemporary world through text.
5. SWEET AFFLICTION, Anna Leventhal (2014)
This short story collection is filled with interconnections between people and events. Hazy, blurry or uncertain areas of meaning seem to be where Leventhal’s writing thrives, such as the perpetually changing relationships women have to their bodies. Lots of dark humour and graceful language to relish here.
There’s no shortage of books from the city’s literary past, either—Leonard Cohen’s Beautiful Losers (1966), Selected Stories by Mavis Gallant (1997) and Mordecai Richler’s The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz (1959) are also famous feats of imaginative storytelling. Make sure to pick up your copies from a beloved local bookshop such as Drawn & Quarterly, S. W. Welch or Argo Books.