Lawrence Hill is the author of the novels Any Known Blood and Some Great Thing. For his most recent novel Someone Knows My Name (now in paperback), he has won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize. Hill lives in Ontario, Canada. Visit him online at LawrenceHill.com.
It’s never easy to do sad and hilarious on the same page, and these days, one of the very best at the game is Canadian novelist Miriam Toews, whose new novel The Flying Troutmans follows the story of a young woman who leaves her own failing life in Paris to take care of her troubled teenaged niece and nephew. Their mom is gravely ill in a psychiatric hospital and the aunt – who has fewer life coping skills than most people half her age – takes the teens on a road trip across America, in an attempt to find their father. Toews portrays the aunt convincingly, but approaches genius in her subtle, nuanced and touching descriptions of two teenaged siblings on the edge of mental and family breakdown. Also highly recommended are two other Canadian novels: The Cellist of Sarajevo, by Steven Galloway, about ordinary people facing extraordinary challenges of survival during the long and murderous siege of Sarajevo in the former Yugoslavia, and Cockroach by Rawi Hage, a gritty, disturbing story about an immigrant living in poverty and emotional distress in modern-day Montreal.