The Evergreen Award, part of the Ontario Library Association’s Forest of Reading program, is best described as the “readers’ choice” of Canadian literary awards. Each year, a list of ten nominees is selected by a committee of librarians and in September library patrons from all across the province can vote on their favourite. The winner will be announced during Ontario Public Library Week in October. Last year, the winner was Five Little Indians by Michelle Good.
As is usually the case, the 2022 Evergreen list features a well-rounded list of titles for an adult audience. Just announced last week, the list spans multiples genres, includes both fiction and non-fiction, and covers a number of writing styles, topics, and perspectives.
The Captive by Fiona King Foster is a heart-thumping rural noir-dystopian mash up. It follows a woman who travels with her family and an escaped criminal through a harsh winter landscape to claim a bounty and safeguard her loved ones from murderous rivals.
The Centaur’s Wife by Amanda Leduc takes place following a catastrophic meteor shower. A woman wakes up to discover her family is among the few who have survived. This bleak yet hopeful post-apocalyptic story is interwoven with fairy tale elements, making for a memorable read.
Everyone Knows Your Mother is a Witch by Rivka Galchen is based loosely on the 1615 witch trial of Katharina Kepler, but it incorporates unexpected humour and plenty of imagination. The result is part well-researched portrait of an eccentric woman, part social drama, and part clever reframing of historical misogynies.
Murder on the Inside by Catherine Fogarty is a non-fiction entry that examines the deadly 1971 riot that took place at Kingston Penitentiary. Fed up with the conditions inside the prison and the rumours of an even more oppressive prison being constructed nearby, inmates took a handful of guards hostage with the hope of bringing attention to their cause – but their plans went disastrously awry.
Nothing but the Truth is a memoir by Jian Ghomeshi’s controversial lawyer Marie Henein – but this book is not about the trial or any behind the courtroom scene gossip. Rather, it is an immigration story, a commentary on our justice system, and a wry examination of both sexism and ageism.
Permanent Astonishment is a heartwarming and funny memoir by acclaimed Cree playwright, author and musician Tomson Highway. He discusses growing up in Northern Manitoba in the 1950s and 1960s, fascinating family lore, as well as his time in a residential school. The book consists of short vignettes with plenty of Cree names and phrases thrown in for flavour.
Shadow Life by Hiromi Goto is a moving and sardonic graphic novel that stars Kumiko, a bisexual Japanese Canadian woman in her 70s who is stubborn, quirky, and very independent. Kumiko’s life is upended when Death’s shadow swoops in to collect her but she is prepared for the fight of her life. How long can an old woman thwart fate?
Speak, Silence by Kim Echlin follows a travel journalist who takes an assignment to find her former lover and to investigate the fallout of the Bosnian war. It based on the true events of the International Criminal Trial of the former Yugoslavia, which led to a change in international law that classified rape in these circumstances as a war crime. A dark story, beautifully told.
Swimming Back to Trout River by Linda Rui Feng is a lyrical novel set against the backdrop of China’s Cultural Revolution. It chronicles a father’s determination to reunite his family before his daughter 12th birthday, even if it means bringing painful family secrets to light.
A Town Called Solace by Mary Lawson is a quiet, reflective historical novel set in Northern Ontario – Lawson’s trademark. The story is told using three intertwining character perspectives, including Clara, an eight-year-old girl whose teenage sister has just run away from home; Liam, a newly divorced man from Toronto who has just inherited a house up north, and Elizabeth, who is Clara’s neighbour and is in hospital.
All of these titles can be reserved in various formats from your branch of the County of Lennox & Addington Libraries or online at CountyLibrary.ca. Remember, you only need to read one the titles to be eligible to vote on your favourite in September.