Best Fiction of 2021

The fifteen fiction selections below are based on the recommendations of The Miramichi Reader’s team of contributors. Congratulations to all the fine authors and publishers represented in the following list! The Best Fiction of 2021 can be found here.

(The following titles are in no particular order.)

Son of the House by Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia (Dundurn Press)

The Son of the House is also an inspiring story of two indomitable women who find ways to rise above the limitations imposed by a repressive society. We cheer Julie and Nwabulu on, through their pain, torment and hardship. The risk they take is a spirited refusal to remain silent and invisible in a world dominated by men.” (Ian Colford)

Last Hummingbird West of Chile by Nicholas Ruddock (Breakwater Books)

“Without a doubt, Last Hummingbird West of Chile was one of the best books I’ve read this year. It was absolutely delightful, and I was gripped to the very last line (which came too soon).” (Alison Manley)

A Canoer of Shorelines by Anne M. Smith-Nochasak (Friesen Press)

“Every once in a while, you come across a novel whose characters and stories enfold you into the pages so effortlessly that you find it difficult to extract yourself even after you turn the final page. A Canoer of Shorelines is one of those books.” (James M. Fisher)

Chemical Valley by David Huebert (Biblioasis)

“In Chemical Valley, as in his previous volume of stories, Peninsula Sinking, David Huebert’s knack for creating engaging characters and finding interesting things for them to say, do and think is on abundant, boisterous display.” (Ian Colford)

Birdspell by Valerie Sherrard (DCB)

“An extremely good middle-grader read, Birdspell truly had me engrossed from page one. A serious mental health issue, a single-parent household and a young boy called upon to live by his wits during his mother’s ups and downs, there is no shortage of drama in Corbin’s life.” (James M. Fisher)

The Blue Moth Motel by Olivia Robinson (Breakwater Books)

“The one comparison that came to mind repeatedly as I read The Blue Moth Motel by Olivia Robinson was how it reminded me of Miriam Toews, which is high praise! But also because it had very similar themes: two sisters, unconventional childhood, a strained relationship in adulthood. The Blue Moth Motel is a delightful book, and though it’s not entirely happy or conclusive, it’s a cozy, complicated story about family and the dysfunctions even the most loving ones have.” (Alison Manley)

Polar Vortex by Shani Mootoo (Book*hug Press)

“The emotional chill and chilling truths revealed in Shani Mootoo’s latest novel, Polar Vortex, are delivered with late at night, eyes-burning, can’t put down this book feels. One can spend hours analyzing the emotional brokenness of each character and how they contribute to the swirling vortex of mistrust, deception, and jangled nerve anxiety. What we see on every page is a failure between people to openly and honestly communicate.” (Mala Rai)

The Sound Of Fire By Renée Belliveau (Nimbus Publishing)

“In her splendidly engrossing and poignant novel, The Sound of Fire, Renée Belliveau recalls a true event that brought tragedy to a small town in the Maritimes. In December 1941, with WWII spreading devastation across Europe and fear across the rest of the world, a fire gutted the men’s residence at Mount Allison University in Sackville, New Brunswick. Many were injured. Four young men died.” (Ian Colford)

Instructor by Beth Follett (Breakwater Books)

Instructor is a book that will resonate with you long after you put it down. Highly recommended for a good immersive read.” (James M. Fisher)

Constant Nobody By Michelle Butler Hallett (Goose Lane Editions)

“Without a doubt, Constant Nobody is a difficult, sprawling, challenging novel, but its power is undeniable. It represents a clear triumph of the imagination. The sheer artistry that has gone into shaping and writing this story is nothing short of spectacular.” (Ian Coldford)

Breaking Right: Stories by D. A. Lockhart (Porcupine’s Quill)

“What these stories and others in the collection have is a working-class mentality and rootedness. It is not known whether some characters are white or black or Indigenous, and it doesn’t really matter in these stories as everyone is struggling together in the midwest USA.” (James M. Fisher)

Even So By Lauren B. Davis (Dundurn Press)

“Davis is first and foremost a storyteller, primarily concerned with immersing her reader in an engaging drama. She is not interested in preaching or moralizing. Even So is another example of her consummate art.” (Ian Colford)

We Two Alone By Jack Wang (House of Anansi)

“Jack Wang’s first collection of short fiction…is a superior example of the form, beautifully crafted, emotionally resonant, and dramatically satisfying.” (Ian Colford)

Fight Night by Miriam (Knopf Canada)

Fight Night, penned by acclaimed Canadian author Miriam Toews, provides the perspectives of three generations of women in the same family in a bitingly funny story about love, courage, and acceptance.” (Lisa Timpf)

Open Your Heart by Alexie Morin, Translated by Aimee Wall (Esplanade Books)

Open Your Heart is a very different kind of read. It takes patience, but once you are used to the writing style, Ms. Morin just keeps you fascinated from start to finish. Her introspection made me pause and think of my own memories and the emotions tied to them. In short, Open Your Heart will open your own, and whether this was Ms. Morin’s intention or not, it was successful.” (James M. Fisher)