EVERGREEN™ 2017 NOMINATED TITLES

 












 

The Break

Katherena Vermette

House of Anansi Press

When Stella, a young Métis mother, looks out her window one evening and spots someone in trouble on the Break — a barren field on an isolated strip of land outside her house — she calls the police to alert them to a possible crime.

In a series of shifting narratives, people who are connected, both directly and indirectly, with the victim — police, family, and friends — tell their personal stories leading up to that fateful night. Lou, a social worker, grapples with the departure of her live-in boyfriend. Cheryl, an artist, mourns the premature death of her sister Rain. Paulina, a single mother, struggles to trust her new partner. Phoenix, a homeless teenager, is released from a youth detention centre. Officer Scott, a Métis policeman, feels caught between two worlds as he patrols the city. Through their various perspectives a larger, more comprehensive story about lives of the residents in Winnipeg’s North End is exposed.

A powerful intergenerational family saga, The Break showcases Vermette’s abundant writing talent and positions her as an exciting new voice in Canadian literature.





 

Carry Me

Peter Behrens

House of Anansi Press

Billy Lange is born in 1909 on the Isle of Wight, England, where his father is the skipper of a racing yacht belonging to a wealthy German-Jewish baron. As a child, Billy is entranced by the baron’s daughter, the elusive and willful Karin von Weinbrenner. After the First World War, Karin and Billy are reunited on the baron’s Frankfurt estate, where they bond over their fascination with the Wild West novels of Karl May, the most popular author in the German language.

Over the years, Billy and Karin’s childhood friendship deepens and transforms into a complex love affair with extraordinarily high stakes. Coming of age in Frankfurt and Berlin, Billy and Karin share a passion for speed, jazz, and nightclubs. As society loses its moral bearings and Germany marches toward the Second World War, they also share a dream of escape — from Germany, from history — to El Llano Estacado, May’s richly imagined New Mexico landscape.

An intriguing cast of characters braid this harrowing story together, transporting the reader from a golden Edwardian summer on the Isle of Wight, to London under Zeppelin attack, to Ireland on the brink of its War of Independence, and at last to Germany during the darkening Weimar period.

Brilliantly conceived, deeply researched, and profoundly moving, Carry Me is an unusual love story, an historical epic, and a lucid meditation on Europe’s violent twentieth century.




 
Five Roses
Alice Zorn

Dundurn

A sister. A baby. A man who watches from the trees.

Fara and her husband buy a house with a disturbing history that reawakens memories of her own family tragedy. Maddy still lives in the house, once a hippie commune, where her daughter was kidnapped twenty-seven years ago. Rose grew up isolated with her mother in the backwoods north of Montreal. Now in the city, she questions the silence and deception that shaped her upbringing.

AFara, Maddy, and Rose meet in Montreal’s historic Pointe St-Charles, a rundown neighbourhood on the cusp of gentrification. Against a backdrop of abandonment, loss, and revitalization, the women must confront troubling secrets in order to rebuild their lives.Zorn deftly interweaves the rich yet fragile lives of three very different people into a story of strength and friendship.




 

The Hidden Keys

André Alexis

Coach House Books

Giller Prize winner André Alexis’s contemporary take on the quest narrative is an instant classic.

Parkdale’s Green Dolphin is a bar of ill repute, and it is there that Tancred Palmieri, a thief with elegant and erudite tastes, meets Willow Azarian, an aging heroin addict. She reveals to Tancred that her very wealthy father has recently passed away, leaving each of his five children a mysterious object that provides one clue to the whereabouts of a large inheritance. Willow enlists Tancred to steal these objects from her siblings and help her solve the puzzle.

A Japanese screen, a painting that plays music, a bottle of aquavit, a framed poem and a model of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater: Tancred is lured in to this beguiling quest, and even though Willow dies before the puzzle is solved, he presses on.

As he tracks down the treasure, he must enlist the help of Alexander von Würfel, conceptual artist and taxidermist to the wealthy, and fend off Willow’s heroin dealers, a young albino named ‘Nigger’ Colby and his sidekick, Sigismund ‘Freud’ Luxemburg, a clubfooted psychopath, both of whom are eager to get their hands on this supposed pot of gold. And he must mislead Detective Daniel Mandelshtam, his most adored friend.

Inspired by a reading of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, The Hidden Keys questions what it means to be honourable, what it means to be faithful and what it means to sin.




 

How Can I Help?: A Week in My Life as a Psychiatrist

David Goldbloom and Pier Bryden
Simon & Schuster

A humane behind-the-scenes account of a week in the life of a psychiatrist at one of Canada’s leading mental health hospitals. How Can I Help? takes us to the frontlines of modern psychiatric care.

How Can I Help? portrays a week in the life of Dr. David Goldbloom as he treats patients, communicates with families, and trains staff at CAMH, the largest psychiatric facility in Canada. This highly readable and touching behind-the-scenes account of his daily encounters with a wide range of psychiatric concerns—from his own patients and their families to Emergency Department arrivals—puts a human face on an often misunderstood area of medical expertise. From schizophrenia and borderline personality disorder to post-traumatic stress syndrome and autism, How Can I Help? investigates a range of mental issues.

What is it like to work as a psychiatrist now? What are the rewards and challenges? What is the impact of the suffering—and the recovery—of people with mental illness on families and the clinicians who treat them? What does the future hold for psychiatric care?

How Can I Help? demystifies a profession that has undergone profound change over the past twenty-five years, a profession that is often misunderstood by the public and the media, and even by doctors themselves. It offers a compassionate, realistic picture of a branch of medicine that is entering a new phase, as increasingly we are able to decode the mysteries of the brain and offer new hope for sufferers of mental illness.



 

Middle-Aged Boys & Girls

Diane Bracuk
Guernica Editions

We all know adults who are stranded in the amber of adolescence. Growing older but not necessarily growing up is the central theme of Middle-Aged Boys & Girls, featuring 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. Given that we are living in an age where fifty is the new forty, and forty is the new thirty, and twenty is the new god-knows-what, these stories, with their sometimes painful, sometimes funny and always unflinching truths, resonate.




  

The Name Therapist: How Growing up with My Odd Name Taught Me Everything You Need to Know about Yours

Duana Taha

Penguin Random House of Canada

What’s a “stripper” name? For that matter, what’s a high-class name? How do you tell the difference? Why does everyone call them “baby” names when they follow us through our whole lives? And can your name determine your destiny?

From a television screenwriter and contributor on the LaineyGossip.com blog comes a book about what names really mean, how we use them, and why they matter.

A child of Irish and Egyptian immigrants to Canada, Duana Taha became fascinated by names, not least because hers felt awkward at best and impossible at worst. She believed that names explained not only who you were, but where you came from and who you could be. She became a name nerd, and later a name snob, before settling into the role she was born to play—a Name Therapist, giving straight talk baby-and-grown-up-name advice to just about everyone.

In a romp through North American naming trends, traditions, and pop culture, Duana brings us the hilarious, insightful, and surprising truths about hipster names in Brooklyn and Malibu, and the most “intelligent” names at Harvard University; digs into the stereotypes about culture and class where names are concerned; and heads backstage to find out the stories behind those supposed stripper names. And if you don’t know what a Starbucks name is, Duana points out why you obviously never needed one.

The Name Therapist’s explorations will help you understand your feelings about your own name, whether it’s one you share with millions (hi, Jennifer!), or one you grew up waiting in vain for the Romper Room host to say. Would you, by any other name, still be you?




 

Serial Monogamy

Kate Taylor

Penguin Random House Canada

What happens when life and ambition collide with betrayal and disease? Sharon's comfortable existence as a novelist, wife and mother to twin daughters is shattered by a cancer diagnosis, and by her husband's affair with a graduate student. The only relief in sight is a new writing project—an engrossing serialized novel based on the story of the 19th-century actress Nelly Ternan, the young mistress of the aging Charles Dickens. Chronicling this infamous affair, Sharon is forced to examine with new eyes the secrets and struggles at the heart of domestic life, as she strives to mend her own marriage and heal her body. This surprising and intricate novel shifts between Sharon's Toronto and Nelly's Victorian England in interwoven chapters, asking deep questions about what really makes up the story of a relationship and a life.




 

The Spawning Grounds

Gail Anderson-Dargatz

Penguin Random House Canada

The long-awaited new novel by the two-time Giller-shortlisted author is full of the qualities Gail Anderson-Dargatz's fans love: it's an intimate family saga rooted in the Thompson-Shuswap region of British Columbia, and saturated with the history of the place. A bold new story that bridges Native and white cultures across a bend in a river where the salmon run.

On one side of the river is a ranch once owned by Eugene Robertson, who came in the gold rush around 1860, and stayed on as a homesteader. On the other side is a Shuswap community that has its own tangled history with the river--and the whites. At the heart of the novel are Hannah and Brandon Robertson, teenagers who have been raised by their grandfather after they lost their mother. As the novel opens, the river is dying, its flow reduced to a trickle, and Hannah is carrying salmon past the choke point to the spawning grounds while her childhood best friend, Alex, leads a Native protest against the development further threatening the river. When drowning nearly claims the lives of both Hannah's grandfather and her little brother, their world is thrown into chaos. Hannah, Alex, and most especially Brandon come to doubt their own reality as they are pulled deep into Brandon's numinous visions, which summon the myths of Shuswap culture and tragic family stories of the past.

The novel hovers beautifully in the fluid boundary between past and present, between the ordinary world and the world of the spirit, all disordered by the human and environmental crises that have knit the white and Native worlds together in love, and hate, and tragedy for 150 years. Can Hannah and her brother, and Alex, find a way forward that will neither destroy the river nor themselves?



 

Tomboy Survival Guide

Ivan Coyote

Arsenal Pulp Press

Longlisted for the BC National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction.

Ivan Coyote is a celebrated storyteller and the author of ten previous books, including Gender Failure (with Rae Spoon) and One in Every Crowd, a collection for LGBT youth. Tomboy Survival Guide is a funny and moving memoir told in stories, about how they learned to embrace their tomboy past while carving out a space for those of us who don't fit neatly into boxes or identities or labels.

Ivan writes about their years as a young butch, dealing with new infatuations and old baggage, and life as a gender-box-defying adult, in which they offer advice to young people while seeking guidance from others. (And for tomboys in training, there are even directions on building your very own unicorn trap.)

Tomboy Survival Guide warmly recounts Ivan's past as a diffident yet free-spirited tomboy, and maps their journey through treacherous gender landscapes and a maze of labels that don't quite stick, to a place of self-acceptance and an authentic and personal strength.