Christy Ann Conlin’s short fiction collection of 11 mesmerizing stories returns to characters in her previous gothic novels Heave (2002) and The Memento (2016), and to Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley and the communities between two mountains on the Bay of Fundy. Its rural, isolated location is familiar to Conlin who lives there with her husband (Wolfville’s Conundrum press owner) and three sons, and has grown out of challenges as foreboding as her titles – “Full Bleed,” “Dead Time,” and “Beyond All Things Is the Sea.” Her own experience with divorce, multiple family deaths, a bout with cancer, contrast her inventions – teen murderers, runaway brides, single and absent parents, devilish…


    The opening of “Outside,” a story about a museum that houses selections from all of human history, is an example of the abstract nature of Johanna Skibsrud’s short story collection, Tiger, Tiger. Skibsrud, winner of the 2010 Scotiabank Giller Prize for her novel The Sentimentalists, conjures up narratives each more speculative than the last.


    The Boat People by Sharon Bala examines the ways in which a single act can connect and impact many people in various ways. Inspired by true events, the novel begins with a large boat containing 500 refugees from Sri Lanka landing illegally on the shores of Canada. While there had been rumours of this ship and the turmoil of war in Sri Lanka, the Canadian government was unprepared for such a large number of refugees, and thus had to figure out how to strike a balance between opening their arms to those in need and protecting their land from potential threat.


    Becky Blake’s debut novel Proof I Was Here is a new take on the expat abroad story that focuses on Niki, a 20-something Torontonian who has just moved to Barcelona with her fiancé Peter. The story is divided into three parts. In the first, Peter ends the relationship soon after they arrive, and she walks out of her apartment and leaves her wallet and keys behind. She is struggling to deal with the loss of her old life by living penniless, listless and aimless, a stranger in a foreign land: “I rode the trains back and forth for hours, noticing the unloved people. They were suddenly everywhere. A thin woman…


    Mark Laba’s Inflatable Life is a collection of 35 poems pondering everything from Edgar Allan Poe to skeet shooting to TV variety shows he watched as a child, most now forgotten in the vault of broadcast history. Consequently, The Inflatable Life, features singing, dancing, drama, comedy, and commentary on gritty pulp fiction, “Borscht Belt” humour, ventriloquism, and comic books, so that the poems collectively present a kind of Jewish vaudeville both surreal and lyrical.