Trillium Book Award Author Readings June 16

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Focus On: Durham Region - The Recommended Reads

Pickering Farmers' Market (photo credit: City of Pickering)

By Ginger Pharand

The Durham Region boasts poets, novelists, fiction and nonfiction writers, filmmakers, songwriters — if it involves words, you can find someone writing it here! Home to the WCDR (Writer?s Community of Durham Region), which hosts the annual Ontario Writers Conference and Blue Heron Books, where artists, readers, even dogs are welcome!

Durham Region authors include Trillium Award-winning poet Jeramy Dodds and Trillium Award and Toronto Book Award winner Rabindranath Maharaj. But the region is also home to Ingrid Ruthig's textworks, the young adult writer Wesley King with his topsy turvy universe of villains and heroes and Allison Baggio tuning readers in to the body as barometer of the soul.

Somewhere among the 14 books below, every reader can find the next must-read selection for December. And any one of these titles would look great wrapped for the holidays!

Follow Open Book: Ontario's Focus On: Durham Region throughout the month of December to find out more about the talented, diverse and supportive writers who make their homes here.

With special thanks to the City of Pickering for permission to publish the photos in this series.

In the Body (ECW Press) by Allison Baggio

In her short story collection In the Body, Allison Baggio explores some of the many incarnations of the life of a body. In 12 short stories and the novella "As She Was," in subjects as diverse as childhood fears to divorce and paranoia after organ transplant, In the Body refocuses the reader?s eye on the physical world as the visible extension of the spiritual, continuing the themes she introduced in her coming-of-age novel, Girl in Shades (ECW Press).

Learn more about Allison in her Open Book features Ten Questions with Allison Baggio and The Proust Questionnaire, with Allison Baggio.

Living Underground (Seraphim Editions) by Ruth E. Walker

Childhood mysteries lead to adult revelations in Ruth E. Walker?s novel Living Underground (Seraphim Editions). Sigmund Maier is a German tenant who brings the arts into young Sheila Martin?s life. He then vanishes, only to reappear again years later in her orderly adult world. His request for immigration assistance leads to questions and difficult answers about her family?s involvement in the Second World War 30 years before.

Get to Know Literary Ontario and Ruth Walker in Open Book's feature interview about Writescape.

A Siege of Bitterns (Dundurn Press) by Steve Burrows

Steve Burrows introduces UK Police Inspector Domenic Jejeune, a bird-watching detective, in the first in his upcoming series of Birder Murder Mysteries, A Siege of Bitterns (Dundurn Press). As an avid birder himself, Steve brings his hobby to his art in the forthcoming novel as Inspector Jejeune investigates the death of an ecological activist. Jejeune must negotiate the worlds of birdwatching lists and his own colleagues to find justice for the victims and endangered, both human and feathered.

Soft Kiss, Hard Death (Abattoir Press) by Tobin Elliott

Soft Kiss, Hard Death (Abattoir Press) is the third in the Sam Truman Mystery series, in which each installment is written by a different author, providing a fresh perspective on the life of Private Eye Sam Truman. Tobin Elliott picks up the series with Sam chasing a dead girl?s doppleganger around the city, a woman who seduces and destroys men by depositing a sinister substance inside them during their liaisons. The Sam Truman Mysteries are supernatural detective novels published by Abbattoir Press and available on Kindle every six weeks.

Haze (Orca Sports) by Erin Thomas

A Canadian Children?s Book Centre ?Best Books for Kids & Teens 2012? selection, Whitby author Erin Thomas?s Haze (Orca Sports) tackles the world of sports hazing. A hazing-related student death leads to another student's decision to go public about what he knows, but the student is injured before he can talk. This leaves Bram on an adventure to uncover what is behind both the incidents, with the swim coach as the lead suspect.

The Tower Treasure (Penguin Group), ghostwritten by Leslie McFarlane

Leslie McFarlane was a prolific ghostwriter for the Stratemeyer Syndicate, including 33 manuscripts for the Dave Fearless and Hardy Boys series. He wrote hundreds of articles for Canadian periodicals and worked on over 50 films for the National Canadian Film Board. In addition, he published 14 of his own books, including adult mysteries, a play about his Ontario childhood and a memoir, Ghost of the Hardy Boys, in 1976.

The Amazing Absorbing Boy (Knopf Canada), by Rabindranath Maharaj

Winner of the 2010 Trillium Award and of the 2011 Toronto Book Award, Rabindranath Maharaj?s national bestseller The Amazing Absorbing Boy (Knopf Canada) is a vivid re-imagining of the immigrant experience. The novel is told through the eyes and words of Samuel, who joins his father at age 17 in Toronto after his mother?s death in Trinidad. Readers drop easily in among the super heroes and comic books that populate the inner landscape of Samuel?s world, even as the new urban environment surrounding him challenges every notion he has of home.

Want to know more about this amazing author? Find out Rabindranath Maharaj?s Trillium Ten.

Convicted for Being Mi'kmaq: The Story of Donald Marshall Jr., (Lorimer) by Bill Swan

Bill Swan won the 2013 Red Maple Non Fiction Award for one of his Real Justice titles, on Steven Truscott: Fourteen and Sentenced to Death (Lorimer). He now returns with his latest Real Justice book, Convicted for Being Mi'kmaq: The Story of Donald Marshall Jr. (Lorimer). The book chronicles the false conviction of Donald Marshall Jr., the eldest son of the grand chief of the Mi?kmaq Nation, for the murder of Sandy Seale in 1971. Bill Swan uses careful research into court documents from the investigation and trial to reveal the level of corruption employed to falsely convict the young man, who would not be given a retrial for 11 years.

The Vindico (Penguin Canada), by Wesley King

Billed as ?X-Men meets The Breakfast Club,? Wesley King?s young adult novel The Vindico (Penguin Canada) follows a group of aging super-villains who plan to kidnap teenagers to train them to take over in their battles against the League of Heroes. Five teens learn to use powers they could not have imagined against enemies they never knew existed. And in the process, the lines between good and evil converge.

Crabwise to the Hounds (Coach House Books), by Jeramy Dodds

Winner of the Trillium Book Award for Poetry,?shortlisted for the Griffin Poetry Prize and? the Gerald Lampert Award, Jeramy Dodds?s stunning poetry collection Crabwise to the Hounds (Coach House Books) celebrates language in a debut that gambols and twists and then invites the reader closer, to hear the whispers. A rhythmic stone-stepping through just a single poem from the collection, ?Lions of the Work Week,? reveals phrases that tickle the brain and tongue like ?the shimmy-shackle of claws? and ?bed-lamp-bright wounds.? Poetry that awakens the reader with its thrumming, a collection to be read and read aloud and read again.

And don't miss Five Things Literary with Jeramy Dodds.

The Patternmaker's Crumpled Plan (Piquant Press), by Barbara E. Hunt

Former president of The Writers? Circle of Durham Region and current president of the Ontario Writers' Conference, Port Perry author Barbara Hunt is involved in every aspect of writing in the Durham region. Her debut poetry collection is The Patternmaker's Crumpled Plan (Piquant Press). Focusing on grief, joy, abandonment and salvaging — the poet carves the experiences of loss and love with stark language and reflects the steady hand of a poet who is comfortable in her voice and vision.

Click here to Get to Know Literary Ontario with Barbra Hunt and the Ontario Writers Conference.

Slipstream (ARKITEXWERKS, 2011), by Ingrid Ruthig

In Slipstream (ARKITEXWERKS), Ingrid Ruthig brings to life the passage of 18 hours from a 19th-century manor-house window overlooking Lake Ontario. The artist calls the pieces ?textwork,? which combines language with images to deepen the expression of the 18 hours represented in the book. Poet, editor, artist and architect, Ingrid Ruthig?s work has won a Petra Kenney International Poetry Prize and the Eden Mills Writers? Festival literary competition, and has appeared across Canada as well as internationally in numerous publications including The Best Canadian Poetry in English 2012 (Tightrope Books), Poet to Poet (Guernica Editions), The Malahat Review, Descant, The Fiddlehead and The New Quarterly among others.

And for more on Ingrid Ruthig, click here for her Open book feature, Five Things Literary.

The Firebird (Simon & Schuster), by Susanna Kearsley

Susanna Kearsley?s latest novel, Firebird (Simon & Schuster) follows Nicola Marter, a young woman who can see the previous owners of an object when she touches it. When she holds a wooden carving and realizes it once belonged to Russia?s Empress Catherine, she teams up with a clairvoyant who helps her investigate the past using their unusual gifts. Susanna has previously won the prestigious Catherine Cookson Fiction Award for her novel Mariana and was a finalist for the Arthur Ellis Award for Best Novel from the Canadian Crime Writer?s Association for Every Secret Thing (Allison & Busby).

Susanna was previously featured in our WAR: Writers as Readers Series. See what books have influenced her by reading that feature here.

The Great Escape: A Canadian Story (Dundurn Press), by Ted Barris

Uxbridge resident Ted Barris is the author of 16 works of nonfiction. In his latest, The Great Escape (Dundurn Press), he tells the story of the night of March 24, 1944, when 80 Commonwealth airmen crawled through a 336-foot-long tunnel to escape the Stalag Luft III, a German POW compound near Sagan, Poland. Three days later, all but three had been recaptured. On the eve of the 70th anniversary, and using firsthand account of the events, Ted Barris reconstructed the escape and the fates of those involved in an attempt to bring to life one of the most daring episodes of World War II.

Ginger is the Editorial Intern for Open Book: Ontario. She lives in Kingston, where she writes short stories, frightens squirrels with her bad banjo playing, and cross trains by running downtown then carrying home her body weight in books.


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