By Julie Kish
Staying local this summer could also include reading books by authors who are close to home. I’ve picked new and classic books by Toronto authors for this summer reading list, with some also set here.
If you like a good murder mystery and are a Canadian history fan, you’ll enjoy “Celtic Knot” (2018).Torontonian Ann Shortell refers to her novel as “History with a mystery.” This book is a fictional murder mystery based on the first real-life political assassination in Canada. Set in 1868 Ottawa, just eight months after Confederation, the story is narrated by a young Irish immigrant housemaid as she unravels the mystery of Thomas D’Arcy McGee’s murder.
If you enjoy reading novels set in Toronto, you should start with “In the Skin of a Lion” (1987) by Michael Ondaatje, Toronto resident and author of “The English Patient”. The novel brings 1930s Toronto to life and integrates actual historical events into the lives of fictional working-class immigrants. As the personal stories unfold, the reader can follow the construction of Toronto’s infrastructure, including the Bloor Street Viaduct.
“That Time I Loved You” (2018) is set even closer to home. Author Carrianne Leung was born in Hong Kong and grew up in Scarborough. This collection of short stories explores the tumultuous lives hidden behind the tidy front gardens in a 1970s Scarborough subdivision populated by newcomers. The book’s subtitle describes the stories succinctly. “Life is never as perfect as it seems.”
Also set in the 1970s, “Letters From Johnny” (2021) by Wayne Ngis a compact novel about an 11-year-old Chinese-Canadian boy growing up here. Through his letters, the reader learns how Johnny grapples with betrayal, murder and the FLQ crisis while living in a neighbourhood of immigrants and draft dodgers.
If you prefer non-fiction, a new autobiography has just hit the bookshelves. Dwayne DeRosario, 43, a fiercely proud Scarborough native, has written about his illustrious professional soccer career. “DeRo: My Life” was written with Brendan Dunlop and covers his childhood in Scarborough and the 18-year professional career that took him around the world.