Staff at Queen Books in Leslieville recommend some of the best new books on the shelves.
The Country of Toó by Rodrigo Rey Rosa, translated by Stephen Henighan (Biblioasis, 2023)
The Country of Toó is a story of violence and corruption by individuals, families, governments, and corporations. The book opens on a new year’s party, attendees drunk and happy on the lush Pacific coast of Guatemala. From there, we follow a loose cast of characters as they navigate the country’s complex political environment. We follow Cobra, our main actor, through his ambivalence and self preservation to his commitment to Mayan activism in his adopted country. From Indigenous ritual to political assassinations, the reader will appreciate the journey of the characters and the satirical streak that runs throughout the story.
– Rachel P. (Store Manager)
The Guest by Emma Cline (Penguin Random House, 2023)
Drama-filled from the first page, The Guest follows a shockingly self-aware unnamed narrator as she tries to survive the last dregs of summer on Long Island with no money, no friends, and nowhere to go. While she is seemingly unphased by scamming person after person, the tension keeps amping up, propelling the story forward. You will fly through this novel at breakneck pace and finish wanting more.
– Rachel P. (Store Manager)
The Natural Hustle by Eva H. D. (McLelland & Stewart, 2023)
The Natural Hustle is a city book, a summer book, where you can smell the hot garbage and hear the neighbours. It holds poems about experiencing life as it is, about loving people and places including – not in spite of – their flaws, about hustle as a condition of survival rather than a way to climb the ladder. I discovered Eva H. D., who is formerly of Toronto, through her poetry collections Shiner and Rotten Perfect Mouth. As these titles suggest, her work embraces the physicality and suffering keeping us real, which is refreshing in a literary landscape preoccupied with disaster, immortality and robots. Sexy, musical, mean and funny, this book is accessible to readers and non-readers of poetry alike. – Lee S.
Our Share of Night by Marina Enriquez, translated by Megan McDowell (Hogarth / Penguin Random House, 2023)
Enriquez's first translated novel, Our Share of Night, revolves around the affluent and influential founding families of the Cult of the Shadow, who summon the lord of darkness through bloody rituals. In pursuit of immortality, they have inflicted monstrous and grotesque actions (massacre, murder, torture, kidnapping, etc.) upon society and their kin. Using horror tropes and political allegory, Enríquez pictures the dark moments and the atrocities of Argentina's contemporary history, from years of military dictatorship in the ‘70s to the global epidemic of HIV in the ‘90s.
– Raheleh A.
The Extraordinary Part: Book One: Orsay's Hands by Florent Ruppert and Jérôme Mulot, translated by M.B. Valente (Fantagraphics, 2023)
As an avid sci-fi reader, it's exciting to see Rupert and Mulot break the mould and deliver a unique story. Book One of The Extraordinary Part, by duo Florent Ruppert and Jérôme Mulot, explores a near future in which “Whols” - strange, beautiful, and gentle blob – shaped creatures – inhabit our world. When Orsay touches the Whols and acquires new abilities, his safety from the state is immediately called into question. It’s an imaginative exploration of how to find compassion for that which we don’t understand. – Jeremie W.
Park Cruising: What Happens When We Wander Off the Path by Marcus McCann (House of Anansi, 2023)
Park Cruising is a beautiful exploration of one of society's most taboo activities. Using personal memoir as a through-line, McCann’s strong prose explores sex and sex laws in Canada. Park Cruising shows how those laws shape our behaviors and contribute to our urban fabric, but most importantly how they demonize an act that he argues should be joyous and full of pleasure. – Jeremie W.