Best Fiction of 2012   
In This Issue
419
Gone Girl
Above All Things
The Round House
Carnival
The Beautiful Mystery
Sutton
Dear Life: Stories
Bring Up the Bodies
The Headmaster's Wager
Ru
The Age of Miracles
Sweet Tooth
The Sweet Girl
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry
In One Person
Standing in Another Man's Grave
Astray
Stray Bullets
The Song of Achilles
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419 by Will Ferguson
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Publisher: Viking Canada  

(Mar 27 2012)

ISBN-10: 0670064718

ISBN-13: 978-0670064717

Literary Fiction
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From internationally bestselling travel writer Will Ferguson, comes a novel both epic in its sweep and intimate in its portrayal of human endurance. A car tumbles through darkness down a snowy ravine. A woman without a name walks out of a dust storm in sub-Saharan Africa. And in the seething heat of Lagos City, a criminal cartel scours the Internet, looking for victims.

  

Lives intersect. Worlds collide. And it all begins with a single email: "Dear Sir, I am the daughter of a Nigerian diplomat, and I need your help..."

  

Will Ferguson takes readers deep into the labyrinth of lies that is 419, the world's most insidious Internet scam.

  

When Laura Curtis, a lonely editor in a cold northern city, discovers that her father has died because of one such swindle, she sets out to track down-and corner-her father's killer. It is a dangerous game she's playing, however, and the stakes are higher than she can ever imagine. Woven into Laura's journey is a mysterious woman from the African Sahel with scars etched into her skin and a young man who finds himself caught up in a web of violence and deceit.

 
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
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Publisher: Crown  

(Jun 5 2012)

ISBN-10: 030758836X

ISBN-13: 978-0307588364

Thriller/Suspense

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On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne's fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick's clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River.

Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn't doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife's head, but passages from Amy's diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media-as well as Amy's fiercely doting parents-the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he's definitely bitter-but is he really a killer?

Above All Things by Tanis Rideout
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Publisher: McClelland & Stewart

(Jun 19 2012)  

ISBN-10: 0771076355

ISBN-13: 978-0771076350

Historical Fiction
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The Paris Wife meets Into Thin Air in this breathtaking debut novel of obsession and divided loyalties, which brilliantly weaves together the harrowing story of George Mallory's ill-fated 1924 attempt to be the first man to conquer Mount Everest, with that of a single day in the life of his wife as she waits at home in England for news of his return.
 
A captivating blend of historical fact and imaginative fiction, Above All Things moves seamlessly back and forth between the epic story of Mallory's legendary final expedition and a heartbreaking account of a day in the life of Ruth Mallory. Through George's perspective, and that of the newest member of the climbing team, Sandy Irvine, we get an astonishing picture of the terrible risks taken by the men on the treacherous terrain of the Himalaya. But it is through Ruth's eyes that a complex portrait of a marriage emerges, one forged on the eve of the First World War, shadowed by its losses, and haunted by the ever-present possibility that George might not come home.  
The Round House by Louise Erdrich
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Publisher: Harper   

(Sep 24 2012)  

ISBN-10: 0062065246

ISBN-13: 978-0062065247  

Literary Fiction

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One Sunday in the spring of 1988, a woman living on a reservation in North Dakota is attacked. The details of the crime are slow to surface as Geraldine Coutts is traumatized and reluctant to relive or reveal what happened, either to the police or to her husband, Bazil, and thirteen-year-old son, Joe. In one day, Joe's life is irrevocably transformed. He tries to heal his mother, but she will not leave her bed and slips into an abyss of solitude. Increasingly alone, Joe finds himself thrust prematurely into an adult world for which he is ill prepared.

  

While his father, who is a tribal judge, endeavors to wrest justice from a situation that defies his efforts, Joe becomes frustrated with the official investigation and sets out with his trusted friends, Cappy, Zack, and Angus, to get some answers of his own. Their quest takes them first to the Round House, a sacred space and place of worship for the Ojibwe. And this is only the beginning.

 

Carnival by Rawi Hage
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Publisher: House of Anansi Press  

(Sep 29 2012)

ISBN-10: 0887842356

ISBN-13: 978-0887842351

Literary Fiction 
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In the Carnival city there are two types of taxi drivers -- the spiders and the flies. The spiders patiently sit in their cars and wait for the calls to come. But the flies are wanderers - they roam the streets, looking for the raised hands of passengers among life's perpetual flux.

 

Fly is a wanderer and a knower. Raised in the circus, the son of a golden-haired trapeze artist and a flying carpet pilot from the East, he is destined to drift and observe. From his taxi we see the world in all its carnivalesque beauty and ugliness. We meet criminals, prostitutes, madmen, magicians, and clowns of many kinds. We meet ordinary people going to extraordinary places, and revolutionaries trying to live ordinary lives. Hunger and injustice claw at the city, and books provide the only true shelter. And when the Carnival starts, all limits dissolve, and a gunshot goes off . . .

 

The Beautiful Mystery by Louise Penny
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Publisher: Minotaur Books  

(Aug 28 2012)

ISBN-10: 0312655460

ISBN-13: 978-0312655464

Mystery

No outsiders are ever admitted to the monastery of Saint-Gilbert-Entre-les-Loups, hidden deep in the wilderness of Quebec, where two dozen cloistered monks live in peace and prayer. They grow vegetables, they tend chickens, they make chocolate. And they sing. Ironically, for a community that has taken a vow of silence, the monks have become world-famous for their glorious voices, raised in ancient chants whose effect on both singer and listener is so profound it is known as "the beautiful mystery."

 

But when the renowned choir director is murdered, the lock on the monastery's massive wooden door is drawn back to admit Chief Inspector Armand Gamache and Jean-Guy Beauvoir of the Sret du Qubec. There they discover disquiet beneath the silence, discord in the apparent harmony. One of the brothers, in this life of  prayer and contemplation, has been contemplating murder. As the peace of the monastery crumbles, Gamache is forced to confront some of his own demons, as well as those roaming the remote corridors. Before finding the killer, before restoring peace, the Chief must first consider the divine, the human, and the cracks in between.

Sutton by J. R. Moehringer
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Publisher: Hyperion  

(Sep 25 2012)

ISBN-10: 1401323146

ISBN-13: 978-1401323141

Literary Fiction
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Born in the squalid Irish slums of Brooklyn, in the first year of the twentieth century, Willie Sutton came of age at a time when banks were out of control. If they weren't taking brazen risks, causing millions to lose their jobs and homes, they were shamelessly seeking bailouts. Trapped in a cycle of bank panics, depressions and soaring unemployment, Sutton saw only one way out, only one way to win the girl of his dreams.

 

So began the career of America's most successful bank robber. Over three decades Sutton became so good at breaking into banks, and such a master at breaking out of prisons, police called him one of the most dangerous men in New York, and the FBI put him on its first-ever Most Wanted List.

 

But the public rooted for Sutton. He never fired a shot, after all, and his victims were merely those bloodsucking banks. When he was finally caught for good in 1952, crowds surrounded the jail and chanted his name.

 

Blending vast research with vivid imagination, Pulitzer Prize-winner J.R. Moehringer brings Willie Sutton blazing back to life. In Moehringer's retelling, it was more than need or rage at society that drove Sutton. It was one unforgettable woman. In all Sutton's crimes and confinements, his first love (and first accomplice) was never far from his thoughts. And when Sutton finally walked free--a surprise pardon on Christmas Eve, 1969--he immediately set out to find her. 

 

Dear Life: Stories by Alice Munro
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Publisher: Douglas Gibson Books  

(Oct 13 2012)

ISBN-10: 0771064861

ISBN-13: 978-0771064869

Literary Fiction
 
With her peerless ability to give us the essence of a life in often brief but spacious and timeless stories, Alice Munro illumines the moment a life is shaped -- the moment a dream, or sex, or perhaps a simple twist of fate turns a person out of his or her accustomed path and into another way of being. Suffused with Munro's clarity of vision and her unparalleled gift for storytelling, these stories (set in the world Munro has made her own: the countryside and towns around Lake Huron) about departures and beginnings, accidents, dangers, and homecomings both virtual and real, paint a vivid and lasting portrait of how strange, dangerous, and extraordinary the ordinary life can be.

Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel   
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Publisher: Harper Collins  

(May 3 2012)

ISBN-10: 1554687799

ISBN-13: 978-1554687794

Historical  
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By 1535 Thomas Cromwell, the blacksmith's son, is far from his humble origins. Chief Minister to Henry VIII, his fortunes have risen with those of Anne Boleyn, Henry's second wife, for whose sake Henry has broken with Rome and created his own church. But Henry's actions have forced England into dangerous isolation, and Anne has failed to do what she promised: bear a son to secure the Tudor line. When Henry visits Wolf Hall, Cromwell watches as Henry falls in love with the silent, plain Jane Seymour. The minister sees what is at stake: not just the king's pleasure, but the safety of the nation. As he eases a way through the sexual politics of the court, and its miasma of gossip, he must negotiate a "truth" that will satisfy Henry and secure his own career. But neither minister nor king will emerge undamaged from the bloody theatre of Anne's final days.

 

In Bring Up the Bodies, sequel to the Man Booker Prize-winning Wolf Hall, Hilary Mantel explores one of the most mystifying and frightening episodes in English history: the destruction of Anne Boleyn.

 

The Headmaster's Wager by Vincent Lam   
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Publisher: Doubleday Canada

(April 24 2012)

ISBN-10: 0385661452

ISBN-13: 978-0385661454

Literary Fiction
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From Giller Prize winner, internationally acclaimed, and bestselling author Vincent Lam comes a superbly crafted, highly suspenseful, and deeply affecting novel set against the turmoil of the Vietnam War.
 
Percival Chen is the headmaster of the most respected English school in Saigon. He is also a bon vivant, a compulsive gambler and an incorrigible womanizer. He is well accustomed to bribing a forever-changing list of government officials in order to maintain the elite status of the Chen Academy. He is fiercely proud of his Chinese heritage, and quick to spot the business opportunities rife in a divided country. He devotedly ignores all news of the fighting that swirls around him, choosing instead to read the faces of his opponents at high-stakes mahjong tables. But when his only son gets in trouble with the Vietnamese authorities, Percival faces the limits of his connections and wealth and is forced to send him away. In the loneliness that follows, Percival finds solace in Jacqueline, a beautiful woman of mixed French and Vietnamese heritage, and Laing Jai, a son born to them on the eve of the Tet offensive. Percival's new-found happiness is precarious, and as the complexities of war encroach further and further into his world, he must confront the tragedy of all he has refused to see.

Ru by Kim Thuy
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Publisher: Vintage Canada  

(Sep 6 2012)

ISBN-10: 0307359719

ISBN-13: 978-0307359704

Literary Fiction
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Ru. In Vietnamese it means lullaby; in French it is a small stream, but also signifies a flow--of tears, blood, money. Kim Thy's Ru is literature at its most crystalline: the flow of a life on the tides of unrest and on to more peaceful waters. In vignettes of exquisite clarity, sharp observation and sly wit, we are carried along on an unforgettable journey from a palatial residence in Saigon to a crowded and muddy Malaysian refugee camp, and onward to a new life in Quebec. There, the young girl feels the embrace of a new community, and revels in the chance to be part of the American Dream. As an adult, the waters become rough again: now a mother of two sons, she must learn to shape her love around the younger boy's autism. Moving seamlessly from past to present, from history to memory and back again, Ru is a book that celebrates life in all its wonder: its moments of beauty and sensuality, brutality and sorrow, comfort and comedy.

The Age of Miracles by Karen Thomas Walker
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Publisher: Bond Street Books  

(Jun 26 2012)

ISBN-10: 0385676638

ISBN-13: 978-0385676632

Literary Fiction
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From a stunning new literary voice comes a brilliant debut novel that created an international auction frenzy, with sales in twenty-seven countries to date, about a young girl growing up in extraordinary times.
 
On a seemingly ordinary Saturday morning, Julia and her family wake to discover, along with the rest of the world, that the rotation of the earth has suddenly begun to slow. Set against this threat to normal life, The Age of Miracles maps the effects of catastrophes big and small on the lives of ordinary people, and in particular, one young girl. Extraordinary for its original concept, unforgettable characters, and the grace, elegance and beauty of Karen Thompson Walker's prose, this is a mesmerizing story of family turmoil, young love, and coming-of-age set against an upending of life as we know it. 

Sweet Tooth  by Ian McEwan
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Publisher: Knopf Canada  

(Aug 28 2012)  

ISBN-10: 0307363341

ISBN-13: 978-0307363343

Suspense/Thriller
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Serena Frome, the beautiful mathematician daughter of an Anglican bishop, has a brief affair with an older man during her final year at Cambridge, and finds herself being groomed for the Intelligence Service. The year is 1972: Britain, confronting economic disaster, is being torn apart by industrial unrest and Irish terrorism and faces its fifth state of emergency. The Cold War has entered a moribund phase but the fight goes on and MI5 hesitates at little to influence hearts and minds. 

Serena, a compulsive reader of novels, is sent by her new employers on a secret mission that brings her into the literary world of Tom Haley, a promising young writer. First, she loves his stories, then she begins to love the man. Can she maintain the fiction of her undercover life? And who is deceiving whom? To answer these questions, Serena must abandon the first rule of espionage - trust no one.

The Sweet Girl by Annabel Lyon
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Publisher: Random House Canada  

(Sep 18 2012)

ISBN-10: 0307359441

ISBN-13: 978-0307359445

Historical Fiction
A bold and captivating new novel of ancient Greece, from the celebrated, award-winning author of The Golden Mean.

Pythias is her father's daughter, with eyes his exact shade of unlovely, intelligent grey. A slave to his own curiosity and intellect, Aristotle has never been able to resist wit in another--even in a girl child who should be content with the kitchen, the loom and a life dictated by the womb. And oh his little Pytho is smart, able to best his own students in debate and match wits with a roomful of Athenian philosophers. Is she a freak or a harbinger of what women can really be? Pythias must suffer that argument, but she is also (mostly) secure in her father's regard.

But then Alexander dies a thousand miles from Athens, and sentiment turns against anyone associated with him, most especially his famous Macedonian-born teacher. Aristotle and his family are forced to flee to Chalcis, a garrison town. Ailing, mourning and broken in spirit, Aristotle soon dies. And his orphaned daughter, only 16, finds out that the world is a place of superstition, not logic, and that a girl can be played upon by gods and goddesses, as much as by grown men and women. To safely journey to a place in which she can be everything she truly is, Aristotle's daughter will need every ounce of wit she possesses, but also grace and the capacity to love.

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce
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Publisher: Bond Street Books  

(July 24 2012)

ISBN-10: 0385677693

ISBN-13: 978-0385677691

Literary Fiction
Recently retired, sweet, emotionally numb Harold Fry is jolted out of his passivity by a letter from Queenie Hennessy, an old friend, who he hasn't heard from in twenty years. She has written to say she is in hospice and wanted to say goodbye. Leaving his tense, bitter wife Maureen to her chores, Harold intends a quick walk to the corner mailbox to post his reply but instead, inspired by a chance encounter, he becomes convinced he must deliver his message in person to Queenie--who is 600 miles away--because as long as he keeps walking, Harold believes that Queenie will not die. So without hiking boots, rain gear, map or cell phone, one of the most endearing characters in current fiction begins his unlikely pilgrimage across the English countryside. Along the way, strangers stir up memories--flashbacks, often painful, from when his marriage was filled with promise and then not, of his inadequacy as a father, and of his shortcomings as a husband. Ironically, his wife Maureen, shocked by her husband's sudden absence, begins to long for his presence. Is it possible for Harold and Maureen to bridge the distance between them? And will Queenie be alive to see Harold arrive at her door?

In One Person by John Irving
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Publisher: Knopf Canada

(May 8 2012)

ISBN-10: 0307361780

ISBN-13: 978-0307361783

Literary Fiction

Told with the panache and assurance of a master storyteller, In One Person takes the reader along a dizzying path: from a private school in Vermont in the 1950s to the gay bars of Madrid's Chueca district, from the Vienna State Opera to the wrestling mat at the New York Athletic Club. It takes in the ways that cross-dressing passes from one generation to the next in a family, the trouble with amateur performances of Ibsen, and what happens if you fall in love at first sight while reading Madame Bovary on a troop transport ship, in the middle of an Atlantic storm.
 
This is a heartfelt, intimate book about one person, a novelist named William Francis Dean. By his side as he tells his own story, we follow Billy on a fifty-year journey toward himself, meeting some uniquely unconventional characters along the way. For all his long and short relationships with both men and women, Billy remains somehow alone, never quite able to fit into society's neat categories. And as Billy searches for the truth about himself, In One Person grows into an unforgettable call for compassion in a world marked by failures of love and failures of understanding.

 

Standing in Another Man's Grave by Ian Rankin
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Publisher: Orion Publishing  

(Nov 6 2012)

ISBN-10: 1409144712

ISBN-13: 978-1409144717

Mystery
It's twenty-five years since John Rebus appeared on the scene, and five years since he retired. But 2012 sees his return in Standing in Another Man's Grave.

Not only is Rebus as stubborn and anarchic as ever, but he finds himself in trouble with Rankin's latest creation, Malcolm Fox of Edinburgh's internal affairs unit. Added to which, Rebus may be about to derail the career of his ex-colleague Siobhan Clarke, while himself being permanently derailed by mob boss and old adversary Big Ger Cafferty. But all Rebus wants to do is discover the truth about a series of seemingly unconnected disappearances stretching back to the millennium. The problem being, no one else wants to go there - and that includes Rebus's fellow officers. Not that any of that is going to stop Rebus. Not even when his own life and the careers of those around him are on the line.

Astray by Emma Donoghue
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Publisher: Harper Collins  

(Sep 11 2012)

ISBN-10: 1443410799

ISBN-13: 978-1443410793

Literary Fiction

Goldminer. Counterfeiter. Slave. Dishwasher. Prostitute. Attorney. Sculptor. Mercenary. Elephant. Corpse. The colourful, fascinating characters that roam the pages of Emma Donoghue's stories have all gone astray: they are emigrants, runaways, drifters, lovers old and new. They cross other borders, too: those of race, law, sex and sanity. They travel for love or money, incognito or under duress.

  

With rich detail, the celebrated author of Room takes us from puritan Massachusetts to the Yukon gold rush, antebellum Louisiana to a 1960s Toronto highway. Astray offers us a surprising and moving history for restless times. 


Stray Bullets by Robert Rotenberg
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Publisher: Touchstone

(May 1 2012)

ISBN-10: 1451642369

ISBN-13: 978-1451642360

Mystery

In Stray Bullets, Rotenberg takes the reader to a snowy November evening. Outside a busy downtown doughnut shop, gunshots ring out and a young boy is critically hurt. Soon Detective Ari Greene is on scene. How many shots were fired? How many guns? How many witnesses?

 

With grieving parents and a city hungry for justice, the pressure is on to convict the man accused of this horrible crime. Against this tidal wave of indignation, defense counsel Nancy Parish finds herself defending her oldest and most difficult client.

 

But does anyone know the whole story?

 

This is Robert Rotenberg's third intricate mystery set on the streets and in the courtrooms of Toronto. 

 

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
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Publisher: Ecco  

(Aug 20 2012)

ISBN-10: 0062060627

ISBN-13: 978-0062060617

Historical Fiction

Achilles, "the best of all the Greeks," son of the cruel sea goddess Thetis and the legendary king Peleus, is strong, swift, and beautiful- irresistible to all who meet him. Patroclus is an awkward young prince, exiled from his homeland after an act of shocking violence. Brought together by chance, they forge an inseparable bond, despite risking the gods' wrath.

 

They are trained by the centaur Chiron in the arts of war and medicine, but when word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, all the heroes of Greece are called upon to lay siege to Troy in her name. Seduced by the promise of a glorious destiny, Achilles joins their cause, and torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus follows. Little do they know that the cruel Fates will test them both as never before and demand a terrible sacrifice.