2019 Evergreen Award™ Nominees

         
         

All Things Consoled: A Daughter's Memoir
by Elizabeth Hay
McClelland and Stewart

Jean and Gordon Hay were a colourful, formidable pair. Jean, a late-blooming artist with a marvellous sense of humour, was superlatively frugal; nothing got wasted, not even maggoty soup. Gordon was a proud and ambitious schoolteacher with a terrifying temper, a deep streak of melancholy, and a devotion to flowers, cars, words, and his wife. As old age collides with the tragedy of living too long, these once ferociously independent parents become increasingly dependent on Lizzie, the so-called difficult child. By looking after them in their final decline, she hopes to prove that she can be a good daughter after all.

In this courageous memoir, written with tough-minded candour, tenderness, and wit, Elizabeth Hay lays bare the exquisite agony of a family's dynamics – entrenched favouritism, sibling rivalries, grievances that last for decades, genuine admiration, and enduring love. In the end, she reaches a more complete understanding of the most unforgettable characters she will ever know, the vivid giants in her life who were her parents.

Foe
by Iain Reid
Simon & Schuster Canada

A taut, psychological mind-bender from the bestselling author of I’m Thinking of Ending Things.

We don’t get visitors. Not out here. We never have.

Junior and Hen are a quiet married couple. They live a comfortable, solitary life on their farm, far from the city lights, but in close quarters with each other. One day, a stranger from the city arrives with surprising news: Junior has been randomly selected to travel far away from the farm...very far away. The most unusual part? Arrangements have already been made so that when he leaves, Hen won’t have a chance to miss him at all, because she won’t be left alone—not even for a moment. Hen will have company. Familiar company.

Foe examines the nature of domestic relationships, self-determination, and what it means to be (or not to be) a person. An eerily entrancing page-turner, it churns with unease and suspense from the first words to its shocking finale.

French Exit
by Patrick deWitt
House of Anansi Press

Frances Price – tart widow, possessive mother, and Upper East Side force of nature – is in dire straits, beset by scandal and impending bankruptcy. Her adult son Malcolm is no help, mired in a permanent state of arrested development. And then there’s the Price’s aging cat, Small Frank, who Frances believes houses the spirit of her late husband, an infamously immoral litigator and world-class cad whose gruesome tabloid death rendered Frances and Malcolm social outcasts.

Putting penury and pariahdom behind them, the family decides to cut their losses and head for the exit. One ocean voyage later, the curious trio land in their beloved Paris, the City of Light serving as a backdrop not for love or romance, but self destruction and economical ruin – to riotous effect. A number of singular characters serve to round out the cast: a bashful private investigator, an aimless psychic proposing a seance, and a doctor who makes house calls with his wine merchant in tow, to name a few.

Brimming with pathos, French Exit is a one-of-a-kind “tragedy of manners,” a send-up of high society, as well as a moving mother/son caper which only Patrick deWitt could conceive and execute.

Hysteria
by Elisabeth de Mariaffi
HarperCollins Publishers Ltd.

Heike Lerner’s life looks perfect from the outside: she’s settled into an easy routine of caring for her young son, Daniel, and spends her days wandering the woods near their summer house, while her nights are filled with clinking glasses and charming conversation. It all helps to keep her mind at ease—or at least that’s what her husband, Eric, tells her. But lately, Heike’s noticed there are some things out of place: a mysterious cabin set back in the trees and a strange little girl who surfaces alone at the pond one day, then disappears—while at home Eric is becoming increasingly more controlling. Something sinister that Heike cannot quite put her finger on is lingering just beneath the surface of this idyllic life.

It is possible Heike’s worries are all in her head, but when the unthinkable happens—Daniel vanishes while she and Eric are at a party one night—she can no longer deny that something is very wrong.

Desperate to find her son, Heike will try anything, but Eric insists on a calm that feels so cold she wonders if she can trust him at all.

Could Eric be involved in Daniel’s disappearance? Or has some darker thing taken him? The closer Heike gets to the truth, the faster it slips away. But she will not rest until she finds her son. 

I’m Afraid of Men
by Vivek Shraya
Penguin Canada

Vivek Shraya has reason to be afraid. Throughout her life she's endured acts of cruelty and aggression for being too feminine as a boy and not feminine enough as a girl. In order to survive childhood, she had to learn to convincingly perform masculinity. As an adult, she makes daily compromises to steel herself against everything from verbal attacks to heartbreak.

Now, with raw honesty, Shraya delivers an important record of the cumulative damage caused by misogyny, homophobia, and transphobia, releasing trauma from a body that has always refused to assimilate. I'm Afraid of Men is a journey from camouflage to a riot of colour and a blueprint for how we might cherish all that makes us different and conquer all that makes us afraid.

The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore
by Kim Fu
Harper Perennial

A group of young girls descends on Camp Forevermore, a sleepaway camp in the Pacific Northwest, where their days are filled with swimming lessons, friendship bracelets and camp songs by the fire. Bursting with excitement and nervous energy, they set off on an overnight kayaking trip to a nearby island. But before the night is over, they find themselves stranded, with no adults to help them survive or guide them home.

The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore follows these five girls—Nita, Kayla, Isabel, Dina and Siobhan—through and beyond this fateful trip. We see the survivors through the successes and failures, loves and heartbreaks of their teen and adult years, and we come to understand how a tragedy can alter the lives it touches in innumerable ways. In diamond-sharp prose, Kim Fu gives us a portrait of friendship and of the families we build for ourselves—and the pasts we can't escape.

Moon of the Crusted Snow
by Waubgeshig Rice
ECW Press

With winter looming, a small northern Anishinaabe community goes dark. Cut off, people become passive and confused. Panic builds as the food supply dwindles. While the band council and a pocket of community members struggle to maintain order, an unexpected visitor arrives, escaping the crumbling society to the south. Soon after, others follow.

The community leadership loses its grip on power as the visitors manipulate the tired and hungry to take control of the reserve. Tensions rise and, as the months pass, so does the death toll due to sickness and despair. Frustrated by the building chaos, a group of young friends and their families turn to the land and Anishinaabe tradition in hopes of helping their community thrive again. Guided through the chaos by an unlikely leader named Evan Whitesky, they endeavor to restore order while grappling with a grave decision.

Blending action and allegory, Moon of the Crusted Snow upends our expectations. Out of catastrophe comes resilience. And as one society collapses, another is reborn.

The Return of Kid Cooper
by Brad Smith
Arcade Publishing

The year is 1910. Nate Cooper is an old-school cowboy who has spent nearly thirty years in a Montana prison of a wrongful life sentence for a false murder conviction. Nate's moral compass is true and unwavering: he does all the wrong things for all the right reasons. Upon his release he learns that the turn of the century has brought great change—none of it good. Horses are being replaced by the motorcar, his girlfriend has long ago married his best friend, his nemesis is running for Governor, and the Blackfoot Indians (the people he went to prison trying to defend) are still being betrayed by ranchers. So, some things haven’t changed. Nate is one of them.

He returns to his Northern Montana ranching town a free man and stirs up the pot of controversy immediately—seeking justice, evading hired guns, brawling in saloons, righting past wrongs, and ferreting out—with the help of a young newspaper reporter and the woman he used to love—a fraudulent boundary adjustment robbing the Blackfoot (again) of their territory. Along the way, he ruffles feathers all the way to the State House, and before the storm he brings is over, he and the friends of his youth will all pay a shockingly high price for justice.

The Saturday Night Ghost Club
by Craig Davidson
Knopf Canada

When neurosurgeon Jake Baker operates, he knows he's handling more than a patient's delicate brain tissue—he's altering their seat of consciousness, their golden vault of memory. And memory, Jake knows well, can be a tricky thing.

When growing up in 1980s Niagara Falls, a.k.a. Cataract City—a seedy but magical, slightly haunted place—one of Jake's closest confidantes was his uncle Calvin, a sweet but eccentric misfit enamoured of occult artefacts and outlandish conspiracy theories. The summer Jake turned twelve, Calvin invited him to join the "Saturday Night Ghost Club"—a seemingly light-hearted project to investigate some of Cataract City's more macabre urban myths. Over the course of that life-altering summer, Jake not only fell in love and began to imagine his future, he slowly, painfully came to realize that his uncle's preoccupation with chilling legends sprang from something buried so deep in his past that Calvin himself was unaware of it.

By turns heartwarming and devastating, written with the skill and cinematic immediacy that has made Craig Davidson a star, The Saturday Night Ghost Club is a bravura performance from one of our most remarkable literary talents: a note-perfect novel that poignantly examines the fragility and resilience of mind, body and human spirit, as well as the haunting mutability of memory and story.

Vi
by Kim Thúy
Random House Canada

The daughter of an enterprising mother and a wealthy, spoiled father who never had to grow up, Vi was the youngest of their four children and the only girl. They gave her a name that meant "precious, tiny one," destined to be cosseted and protected, the family's little treasure.

But the Vietnam War destroys life as they've known it. Vi, along with her mother and brothers, manages to escape—but her father stays behind, leaving a painful void as the rest of the family must make a new life for themselves in Canada.

While her family puts down roots, life has different plans for Vi. Taken under the wing of Hà, a worldly family friend, and her diplomat lover, Vi tests personal boundaries and crosses international ones, letting the winds of life buffet her. From Saigon to Montreal, from Suzhou to Boston to the fall of the Berlin Wall, she is witness to the immensity of geography, the intricate fabric of humanity, the complexity of love, the infinite possibilities before her. Ever the quiet observer, somehow Vi must find a way to finally take her place in the world.