Hot New Fiction & Poetry

Bad Cree

by Jessica Johns (HarperCollins)

Savi: Jessica Johns’ debut novel Bad Cree is a haunting thriller that highlights the strength that lies in family and kinship. After leaving her hometown in Alberta, Mackenzie begins experiencing chilling dreams after which she awakens in her Vancouver apartment grasping objects from the dreamworld. Not only do these dreams haunt her in her sleep, they follow her as crows stalk her everywhere she goes. With the help of her friend, mother, aunties, cousin, and sister, Mackenzie must uncover how her dreams are connected to both the death of her sister and her decision to distance herself from her hometown.

A Safe Girl to Love

by Casey Plett (Arsenal Pulp Press)

Maxwell: It’s a very rare experience as a reader to come across a description of a specific experience that you felt was totally your own. Something so private, shameful even, that you never expected to see it described on the written page. As a trans reader, A Safe Girl to Love by Casey Plett manages to do this continually. This collection of short stories is one of the most affirming texts I’ve ever read. Plett is an astonishing writer. She captures the contemporary trans experience in a way that’s remarkably empathetic and accurate. Her protagonists are refreshingly nuanced, possessing a dignity in their imperfection which is absent in much of fictional trans representation. This reissue of the 2014 short story collection by Arsenal Pulp Press can’t come recommended highly enough.

We Meant Well

by Erum Shazia Hasan (ECW Press)

Anju: I thoroughly enjoyed first-time novelist Erum Shazia Hasan’s first novel. Set in the fictional town of Likanni as well as Los Angeles, Hasan tells the story of Maya. (Unhappily) married and mother to a young daughter, Maya has worked in international aid for over a decade. She is called back to Likanni after her colleague, Marc, is accused of assaulting a young woman who works in the office. Hasan weaves a complex narrative of the politics of international work, race, power, and motherhood. Whose stories are told? Who is believed?

More Sure

by A. Light Zachary (Arsenal Pulp Press)

Saul: I was honoured to be an early reader of More Sure, A. Light Zachary’s debut collection of poems and interruptions. I am too close to this book to write a review, so consider this a warning and an invitation instead. More Sure is about, among other things, love and hope and better (trans, autistic, coyote, alien) forms of life. It is frightening and disruptive, as love and hope can be frightening and disruptive when we have learned to live without either. These poems are brilliant, deliberate, and beautiful. More than that, they are true.

We Measure The Earth With Our Bodies

by Tsering Yangzom Lama (McClelland & Stewart)

Ayan: “Ama was an oracle.” – The opening line of Tsering Yangzom Lama’s debut that places us right into the spirit and intimacy animating this stunning novel. We Measure The Earth With Our Bodies follows sisters Lhamo and Tenkyi as their lives in Tibet are upended by war, the loss of their mother, and their homeland. Rebuilding in Nepal, Lhamo meets Samphel who brings with him The Nameless Saint, a treasured relic rumored to vanish and reappear in times of need. The sisters are separated, and years later Tenkyi is living with Lhamo’s daughter Dolma in Toronto in Parkdale (Little Tibet). Dolma in turn meets the Nameless Saint, this time in a collector’s vault. If you loved sweeping historical and intergenerational sagas like HomegoingPachinko, or The Mountains Sing, you’re sure to be captivated by We Measure The Earth With Our Bodies.

This article appeared in the 2023 Summer issue.