2020 Evergreen Award™ Nominees
Autopsy of a Boring Wife
by Marie-Renée Lavoie
House of Anasi
Like a Québécois Bridget Jones’s Diary, Marie-Renée Lavoie’s Autopsy of a Boring Wife tells the hysterically funny and ultimately touching tale of forty-eight-year-old Diane, a woman whose husband leaves her and is having an affair because, he says, she bores him. Diane takes the charge to heart and undertakes an often ribald, highly entertaining journey to restoring trust in herself and others that is at the same time an astute commentary on women and girls, gender differences, and the curious institution of marriage in the twenty-first century. All the details are up for scrutiny in this tender, brisk story of the path to recovery. Autopsy of a Boring Wife is a wonderfully fresh and engaging novel of the pitfalls and missteps of an apparently “boring” life that could be any of ours.
Chasing Painted Horses
by Drew Hayden Taylor
Chasing Painted Horses has a magical, fable-like quality. It is the story of four unlikely friends who live in Otter Lake, a reserve north of Toronto. Ralph and his sister, Shelley, live with their parents. One day, their mother brings home a chalkboard and installs in prominently in the kitchen. She wants her children and their friends to draw something every week, at the end of which there’ll be a vote as to which is the best artwork. Danielle, a small and quiet girl from school, draws a horse – a breathtakingly beautiful horse. And while she wins the competition, the reactions to her work set in motion a series of actions and reactions that will shape the lives of the brother and sister and William, Shelley’s would-be-boyfriend, that rarity, a bully who bullies other bullies.
by Karen McBride
Nanabush. A name that has a certain weight on the tongue—a taste. Like lit sage in a windowless room or aluminum foil on a metal filling.
Trickster. Storyteller. Shape-shifter. An ancient troublemaker with the power to do great things, only he doesn’t want to put in the work.
Since coming home to Spirit Bear Point First Nation, Hazel Ellis has been dreaming of an old crow. He tells her he’s here to help her, save her. From what, exactly? Sure, her dad’s been dead for almost two years and she hasn’t quite reconciled that grief, but is that worth the time of an Algonquin demigod?
Soon Hazel learns that there’s more at play than just her own sadness and doubt. The quarry that’s been lying unsullied for over a century on her father’s property is stirring the old magic that crosses the boundaries between this world and the next. With the aid of Nanabush, Hazel must unravel a web of deceit that, if left untouched, could destroy her family and her home on both sides of the Medicine Wheel.
by Zalika Reid-Benta
House of Anasi
Kara Davis is a girl caught in the middle — of her Canadian nationality and her desire to be a “true” Jamaican, of her mother and grandmother’s rages and life lessons, of having to avoid being thought of as too “faas” or too “quiet” or too “bold” or too “soft.” Set in “Little Jamaica,” Toronto’s Eglinton West neighbourhood, Kara moves from girlhood to the threshold of adulthood, from elementary school to high school graduation, in these twelve interconnected stories. We see her on a visit to Jamaica, startled by the sight of a severed pig’s head in her great aunt’s freezer; in junior high, the victim of a devastating prank by her closest friends; and as a teenager in and out of her grandmother’s house, trying to cope with the ongoing battles between her unyielding grandparents.
A rich and unforgettable portrait of growing up between worlds, Frying Plantain shows how, in one charged moment, friendship and love can turn to enmity and hate, well-meaning protection can become control, and teasing play can turn to something much darker. In her brilliantly incisive debut, Zalika Reid-Benta artfully depicts the tensions between mothers and daughters, second-generation Canadians and first-generation cultural expectations, and Black identity and predominately white society.
by Michael Christie
McClelland & Stewart
They come for the trees. It's 2038 and Jacinda (Jake) Greenwood is a storyteller and a liar, an overqualified tour guide babysitting ultra-rich-eco-tourists in one of the world's last remaining forests. It's 2008 and Liam Greenwood is a carpenter, sprawled on his back after a workplace fall and facing the possibility of his own death. It's 1974 and Willow Greenwood is just out of jail for one of her environmental protests: attempts at atonement for the sins of her father's once vast and rapacious timber empire. It's 1934 and Everett Greenwood is a Depression-era drifter who saves an abandoned infant, only to find himself tangled up in the web of a crime, secrets, and betrayal that will cling to his family for decades. And throughout, there are trees: a steady, silent pulse thrumming beneath Christie's effortless sentences, working as a guiding metaphor for withering, weathering, and survival.
Transporting, beautifully written, and brilliantly structured like the nested growth rings of a tree, Greenwood reveals the knot of lies, omissions, and half-truths that exists at the root of every family's origin story. It is a magnificent novel of greed, sacrifice, love, and the ties that bind--and the hopeful, impossible task of growing toward the light.
A Mind Spread Out on the Ground
by Alicia Elliott
Penguin Random House
In an urgent and visceral work that asks essential questions about the treatment of Native people in North America while drawing on intimate details of her own life and experience with intergenerational trauma, Alicia Elliott offers indispensable insight into the ongoing legacy of colonialism. She engages with such wide-ranging topics as race, parenthood, love, mental illness, poverty, sexual assault, gentrification, writing and representation, and in the process makes connections both large and small between the past and present, the personal and political—from overcoming a years-long battle with head lice to the way Native writers are treated within the Canadian literary industry; her unplanned teenage pregnancy to the history of dark matter and how it relates to racism in the court system; her childhood diet of Kraft Dinner to how systemic oppression is directly linked to health problems in Native communities.
With deep consideration and searing prose, Elliott provides a candid look at our past, an illuminating portrait of our present and a powerful tool for a better future.
This One Looks Like a Boy: My Gender Journey to Life as a Man
by Lorimer Shenher
Since he was a small child, Lorimer Shenher knew something for certain: he was a boy. The problem was, he was growing up in a girl’s body.
In this candid and thoughtful memoir, Shenher shares the story of his gender journey, from childhood gender dysphoria to teenage sexual experimentation to early-adult denial of his identity—and finally the acceptance that he is trans, culminating in gender reassignment surgery in his fifties. Along the way, he details his childhood in booming Calgary, his struggles with alcohol, and his eventual move to Vancouver, where he became the first detective assigned to the case of serial killer Robert Pickton (the subject of his critically acclaimed book That Lonely Section of Hell). With warmth and openness, This One Looks Like A Boy takes us through one of the most important decisions Shenher will ever make, as he comes into his own and finally discovers acceptance and relief.
by David Albertyn
House of Anasi
When Tyron Shaw returns to his hometown of Las Vegas after eleven years in the Marines, he’s surprised to discover that two of his best friends from childhood are all anyone is talking about: Antoine Deco, three years out of prison, hasn’t lost a boxing match since his release, and tonight is fighting in the undercard to the fight of the decade; and Keenan Quinn, a police officer who killed an unarmed teenager and escaped punishment from the courts, is the subject of a protest tomorrow morning.
Tyron has trouble reconciling either story with his memory of these men, and the situation escalates when he runs into the love of his life, Naomi Wilks, a retired WNBA player, basketball coach, and estranged wife of Keenan. As Tyron reconnects with his old community, he will learn over the next twenty-four hours that much has changed since he left Las Vegas . . . and there is much more that he never understood.
The Reef, an aquarium-themed casino and the hottest resort on the Strip, is the backdrop for this bullet-paced narrative, where loyalty to one’s friends, one’s family, and one’s community are ever at odds, and every choice has deadly repercussions.
Watching You Without Me
by Lynn Coady
House of Anasi
After her mother’s sudden death, Karen finds herself back in her childhood home in Nova Scotia for the first time in a decade, acting as full-time caregiver to Kelli, her older sister. Overwhelmed with grief and the daily needs of Kelli, who was born with a developmental disability, Karen begins to feel consumed by the isolation of her new role. On top of that, she’s weighed down with guilt over her years spent keeping Kelli and their independent-to-a-fault mother, Irene, at arm’s length. And so when Trevor — one of Kelli’s support workers — oversteps his role and offers friendly advice and a shoulder to cry on, Karen gratefully accepts his somewhat overbearing friendship. When she discovers how close Trevor was to Irene, she comes to trust him all the more. But as Trevor slowly insinuates himself into Karen and Kelli’s lives, Karen starts to grasp the true aspect of his relationship with her mother — and to experience for herself the suffocating nature of Trevor’s “care.”
Scotiabank Giller Prize–winning author Lynn Coady delivers a creepy and wholly compelling novel about the complex relationship between mothers and daughters and sisters, women and men, and who to trust and how to trust in a world where the supposedly selfless act of caregiving can camouflage a sinister self-interest.
by Christy Ann Conlin
House of Anasi
In these evocative and startling stories, we meet people navigating the elemental forces of love, life, and death. An insomniac on Halifax’s moonlit streets. A runaway bride. A young woman accused of a brutal murder. A man who must live in exile if he is to live at all. A woman coming to terms with her eccentric childhood in a cult on the Bay of Fundy shore.
A master of North Atlantic Gothic, Christy Ann Conlin expertly navigates our conflicting self-perceptions, especially in moments of crisis. She illuminates the personality of land and ocean, charts the pull of the past on the present, and reveals the wildness inside each of us. These stories offer a gallery of both gritty and lyrical portraits, each unmasking the myth and mystery of the everyday.