Celebrate Alberta arts and culture by reading the work of our home-grown authors. The ABLit Book Club strives to promote books by local writers through readership and lively discussion. A new book will be announced every five weeks during the online book club meeting (via Zoom) and posted here. Registration is required.
Special thanks to Owl’s Nest Books for offering a 10% discount on all ABLit Book Club books.
Book #1 – Meeting Oct. 7, 2021 (7pm MST)
Life at the Complex Arms is just one disaster after another. Adeen is the resident manager of the Complex Arms, an apartment building in the Mill Woods neighbourhood of Edmonton. With no help from her deadbeat husband, Frosty, who sees himself as the next big thing in Nashville, she struggles to maintain the building while coping with the needs of a daughter with disabilities.
As a distraction from her problems, Adeen grows more and more involved in the lives of her tenants, forming relationships and building a community. But when a natural disaster hits, the lives of the Complex Arms’s residents will never be the same.
Book #2 – Meeting Nov. 2, 2021 (7pm MST)
Set in a dark near-future where overconsumption and the climate crisis have come to a chaotic head, Ali Bryan’s young adult novel The Hill tells the story of Wren, the newly chosen leader of a secret clan of girls taught to survive by their own wits. Their home? A reclaimed garbage dump in the middle of the ocean called the Hill. Their bible? The Manual, which tells the girls everything they need to know about the world—or so they think. The gospel? Men and boys are dangerous.
When Wren makes the fateful decision to leave the Hill in search of a missing girl, she encounters boys for the first time in her life. What’s worse, they’ve been living on the other side of the island this whole time. Is it a coincidence, then, that the Hill is attacked while she’s gone?
As it turns out, they’re not the only ones under attack. Forced to question everything she’s ever been taught, Wren must sort fact from fiction, ally from enemy, and opportunity from threat in order to survive and lead the girls to safety—even if safety is an illusion.
In a pulse-racing story, The Hill explores gender, power, and access to truth in a world defined by scarcity and distrust. The book outlines the consequences of consumerism and environmental neglect, while reminding us just what it takes to be a girl in this world.
2021/22 Meeting Schedule:
The Empress of Idaho by Todd Babiak
A story about a boy, his mom, and the woman who moves in next door and changes their lives.
Join us on Zoom Oct. 22 to chat about this book and its Alberta roots.
Vermin by Lori Hahnel
The stories in Vermin are linked by themes of loss, longing and music. Stories in this collection have appeared in Joyland, The Saturday Evening Post, Room, The Antigonish Review and other journals and anthologies.
Rough by Robin van Eck
It is 2013 and Calgary’s Bow River is beginning to rise.
Two homeless men stand by the bank and contemplate the death of another friend-an accident?
Taking cover downtown that night, Shermeto intervenes in the attack on a bar patron, and finds himself laid up in the hospital. Outside, as the city reels from an unthinkable disaster, Shermeto finds himself away from the swelling river and face-to-face with a part of his past he is trying to hide from: his daughter Kendra.
I Am Herod by Richard Kelly Kemick
Shortlisted, Wilfrid Eggleston Award for Nonfiction
On a whim, armchair-atheist Richard Kelly Kemick joins the 100-plus cast of The Canadian Badlands Passion Play, North America’s largest production of its kind and one of the main tourist attractions in Alberta. By the time closing night is over, Kemick has a story to tell. From the controversial choice of casting to the bizarre life in rehearsal, this glorious behind-the-scenes look at one of Canada’s strangest theatrical spectacles also confronts the role of religion in contemporary life and the void left by its absence for non-believers.
Monoceros by Suzette Mayr
Winner of the 2012 ReLit Award and the City of Calgary W.O. Mitchell Award; long listed for the 2011 Scotiabank Giller Prize; nominated for the Ferro-Grumley Award for LGBT Fiction and the Georges Bugnet Award for Fiction.
A seventeen-year-old boy, bullied and heartbroken, hangs himself. And although he felt terribly alone, his suicide changes everyone around him.
His parents are devastated. His secret boyfriend’s girlfriend is relieved. His unicorn- and virginity-obsessed classmate, Faraday, is shattered; she wishes she had made friends with him that time she sold him an Iced Cappuccino at Tim Hortons. His English teacher, mid-divorce and mid-menopause, wishes she could remember the dead student’s name, that she could care more about her students than her ex’s new girlfriend. Who happens to be her cousin. The school guidance counsellor, Walter, feels guilty – maybe he should have made an effort when the kid asked for help. Max, the principal, is worried about how it will reflect on the very Catholic school. And Walter, who’s been secretly in a relationship with Max for years, thinks that’s a little callous. He’s also tired of Max’s obsession with some sci-fi show on TV. And Max wishes Walter would lose some weight and remember to use a coaster.
And then Max meets a drag queen named Crepe Suzette. And everything changes.
Molly of the Mall by Heidi L.M. Jacobs
Winner of the 2020 Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour
Aspiring novelist Molly MacGregor’s life is strikingly different from a literary heroine’s. Named for one of literature’s least romantic protagonists, Moll Flanders, Molly lives in Edmonton, a city she finds irredeemably unromantic, where she writes university term papers instead of novels, and sells shoes in the Largest Mall on Earth. There she seeks the other half of her young life’s own matched pair. Delightfully whimsical, Heidi L.M. Jacobs’s Molly of the Mall: Literary Lass and Purveyor of Fine Footwear explores its namesake’s love for the written word, love for the wrong men (and the right one), and her complicated love for her city.
The Sweetest One by Melanie Mah
Winner of the 2017 Trillium Book Award
Cosmopolitan and curious seventeen-year-old Chrysler Wong suffers from a debilitating fear brought on by belief in a family curse. Three of her siblings have died after turning eighteen and venturing beyond the borders of their tiny rural Alberta town, and the fourth, her favourite, has recently left and is incommunicado. Is she destined to share their fate – or worse, doomed to live a circumscribed life?