10 books we’re excited to read in 2020

Including Desmond Cole's debut book, a Silicon Valley memoir and new novels by Louise Erdrich, Ottessa Moshfegh and Yaa Gyasi


Uncanny Valley: A Memoir

By Anna Wiener (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)

A behind-the-scenes look into the tech industry, technology journalist Wiener recounts her experience working at various start-ups in San Francisco, where the offices doubled as theme parks and power-hungry 20-something entrepreneurs became millionaires overnight. In her debut memoir, Wiener writes about the omnipresent misogyny in the Silicon Valley bubble, the increasing rates of poverty in San Francisco and her own growing disillusionment. January 14

Little Gods

By Meng Jin (HarperCollins)

This debut novel follows the story of Liya, a young Chinese American woman born on the day of the Tiananmen Square massacre. When her mother dies suddenly, Liya returns to China to better understand her mother and find her biological father. Shifting in points of view and spanning generations, Jin’s Little Gods explores love, memory and the aftermath of tragedy. January 14

The Skin We’re In: A Year Of Black Resistance And Power

By Desmond Cole (Doubleday)

In activist and journalist Cole’s long-awaited debut, he explores Canada’s widespread systemic racism, from police brutality and discriminatory immigration laws, to education and the child welfare system. Part memoir and part reportage, The Skin We’re In promises to be as provocative and eye-opening as Cole’s breakthrough 2015 Toronto Life cover story, in which he exposed the controversial practice of carding. January 28

The Night Watchman

By Louise Erdrich (HarperCollins)

Based on the life of Erdrich’s grandfather, who fought against Native dispossession in rural North Dakota, The Night Watchman follows the story Pixie Paranteau, a young Chippewa woman, and her uncle Thomas Wazhashk, ho travel to Washington, D.C., to testify against a bill that would appeal the government treaties made with Native Americans. Set in the 1950s, the National Book Award-winning author explores the resilience of the Chippewa community through a cast of characters, including a young boxer named Wood Mountain, the white high school teacher Stack Barnes and the ghost of Thomas’s childhood friend, Roderick. March 3

No More Nice Girls: Gender, Power, And Why It’s Time To Stop Playing By The Rules

By Lauren McKeon (House of Anansi/The Walrus Books)

The follow-up to F-Bomb: Dispatches From The War On Feminism, McKeon dives deep into how our institutions are designed to discriminate against women and other marginalized genders, and why we need to radically re-think our political and economic systems. Through her expansive reporting, she meets lawyers fighting for gender-neutral change rooms in courthouses, entrepreneurs creating trauma-informed offices and young girls learning mixed martial arts as a form of empowerment, and proposes a path forward for a more equitable world. March 3

They Said This Would Be Fun: Race, Campus Life, And Growing Up

By Eternity Martis (McClelland & Stewart)

In her debut memoir, Martis chronicles what it’s like to be a student of colour in the very white college town of London, Ontario. A poignant exploration of race and gender on campus, Martis writes about white girls trying to stroke her hair, encountering blackface at parties, overhearing racial slurs at downtown bars, all the while trying to adjust to student life. March 31

Ottessa Moshfegh

Jake Belcher

Ottessa Moshfegh’s Death In Her Hands: A Novel is a metaphysical mystery.

Death In Her Hands: A Novel

By Ottessa Moshfegh (Penguin Press)

The follow-up to 2018’s My Year Of Rest And Relaxation, the story of a depressed woman who drugs herself asleep for a year, Moshfegh’s forthcoming novel is a metaphysical mystery about an elderly woman who stumbles upon a cryptic note detailing a murder. As the woman begins to investigate the murder, the victim’s former life begins to consume her. April 21

How To Pronounce Knife

By Souvankham Thammavongsa (McClelland & Stewart)

Toronto writer and poet Thammavongsa’s debut collection of short stories vividly captures the everyday hopes and struggles of Lao immigrants and refugees, like a young man who gets a job painting nails at his sister’s salon, a woman who plucks feathers from chickens at a factory and a 70-year-old woman who falls in love with a much younger neighbour. April 7

Breasts And Eggs

By Mieko Kawakami (Europa Editions)

One of Japan’s biggest literary stars – and Haruki Murakami’s favourite new writer – Kawakami is releasing her 2008 novel Breasts And Eggs in English for the first time this year. The novel details the lives of three women: the 30-year-old unmarried narrator, her older sister Makiko, who’s obsessed with getting breast implants and her daughter, Midoriko. With humour and compassion, Kawakami explores female oppression in Japan, reproduction rights and motherhood. April 17

Transcendent Kingdom

By Yaa Gyasi (Bond Street Books)

In 2016, Gyasi released her stunning debut novel, Homegoing, a multi-generational saga following the lives of two half-sisters and their descendants spanning 18th-century Ghana to 20th-century Harlem. Her highly anticipated follow-up, The Transcendent Kingdom, is an intimate portrait of a Ghanaian family in Alabama reeling from a family tragedy. September 15

@SamEdwardsTO

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