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Add These Canadian Authors to Your Reading List 

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Wilfrid Laurier chapter.

I’m constantly looking for books to rave about. As I’ve gotten back into the habit of reading for pleasure, I’ve recently picked up both old and new novels written by Canadian authors (thanks for the recommendations, Mom).  

If you also call this fabulous land of politeness and maple syrup your home, go and do your country proud by reading works by these notable writers. 

Miriam Toews 

With a complex Mennonite heritage inspiring her work, Toews has written several beloved Canadian novels over the past 25 years of her career. More recently, she has come out with All My Puny Sorrows (2014), Women Talking (2018) and Fight Night (2021), with the second book likely sounding familiar to domestic audiences: this past year, it was adapted into a quiet but striking Oscar-nominated movie starring Claire Foy.  

Like Toews’ other novels, Women Talking is centred around the complicated dynamics and relationships of Mennonite communities. This work responds to the true story of over a hundred girls being drugged and sexually assaulted in a Bolivian Mennonite colony between 2005 and 2009. Although the book is emotionally intense at times, it’s also an important read, especially bringing into a mainstream discussion the possible realities of a rarely discussed Christian denomination. 

Margaret Atwood 

I couldn’t have made this list without adding the queen herself. I’d hope that most of you have heard of Margaret Atwood before and if you haven’t, go outside! Now 83, she has released a huge number of various writings, including poetry, non-fiction and novels, especially known for internationally celebrated classics such as The Handmaid’s Tale (1985) and Alias Grace (1996).  

The Handmaid’s Tale is set in a terrifying dystopian world of restricted female autonomy and forced reproduction, and since its release, has been widely received as an important comment on the politics of gender and the ways it could go wrong. Alias Grace, set around Toronto and based on the 19th-century life of servant and murderess, Grace Marks, is a notable nod to Atwood’s own Canadian roots. 

Omar El Akkad 

An Egyptian-Canadian journalist, El Akkad has recently tried his hand at fiction and won the 2021 Giller Prize for it. His deeply moving and highly acclaimed novel, What Strange Paradise, describes a young Syrian refugee’s journey before and after being the sole survivor of a sunken ship’s unaccomplished journey. I’m currently halfway through the book, but even only this far, it’s obvious why it’s won so much critical adoration, especially being written by someone who’s witnessed many similar crises firsthand (El Akkad covered the war in Afghanistan as well as the Guantanamo Bay military trials).  

What Strange Paradise offers a visceral glimpse into the experience of a young boy leaving his home and the traumas often endured by refugees Like my other recommendations, I wouldn’t call this novel light-hearted, but El Akkad addresses an over-sensationalized international issue with careful humanization and tenderness. 

Ann-Marie MacDonald 

At the end of 2022, I finished Canadian author MacDonald’s very long novel, Fall on Your Knees (1996). It did take me several months of on-and-off reading, but I’m happy to say that it was worth the wait. MacDonald is also known for her work as a playwright and actress, but it was this book, her first, that won the Commonwealth Writers Prize and was selected for Oprah’s Book Club in 2002. 

Fall on Your Knees is a dramatic tale full of morally misguided individuals and vastly uncomfortable familial relationships, taking place in 19th and 20th century Nova Scotia. I’m very sorry for that unpleasant description, but you should know that, spoiler alert, incest aside, the writing itself is so poetic, especially set in the similarly tumultuous atmosphere of the windy Cape Breton coastline. 

Well, if you make it through this list of recommendations, I’d also advise going to therapy for the emotional damage these books will cause (again, I’m very sorry – I didn’t realize Canadian authors could be so intense). But, you do get to support your local heroes, and in the end, I often believe that the most valuable takeaways and heart-warming morals come in the toughest packages.  

Natasha Shantz

Wilfrid Laurier '25

Hi! My name is Natasha and I'm a writer for Her Campus Laurier. Writing had been a home for me since I was in elementary school, typing up fantasy and fairytale novels. I like to write about a broad variety of topics, such as self-improvement, social issues, literature and pop culture. When I'm not writing or studying, you can find me dancing to music in my room, sipping coffee in a cafe, or reading a book.