Thoughts on culture, education, and having been a Canadian in the US
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The Literary Landscapes of Canada

Here’s a list of 40 books or so that I mentioned in a talk given today on Canada’s Literary Landscape. This is anything but a complete list, but it’s not a bad start for anyone looking to learn more about Canadian literature.

Canada’s Literary Landscape:

A list of suggestions to help you read your way across Canada

Paul Martin, February 16, 2009


Donna Morrissey, Kit’s Law (2001)

Wayne Johnston, The Colony of Unrequited Dreams (1998)

Lisa Moore, Alligator (2005)


L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables (1908)


Alistair MacLeod, No Great Mischief (1999)

Alistair Macleod, Island: collected stories

George Elliott Clarke, George and Rue (2005)

Lynn Coady, Strange Heaven (2002)


David Adams Richards, Mercy Among the Children (2000)

Antonine Maillet, Pélagie: The Return to Acadie


Jacques Poulin, Volkswagen Blues (1983)

Mordecai Richler, Barney’s Version (1997)

Anne Hébert, Kamouraska (1970)

Marie-Claire Blais, A Season in the Life of Emmanuel (1964)


Margaret Atwood, Alias Grace (1996), The Handmaid’s Tale (1985), The Blind Assassin (2001), Cat’s Eye (1988)

Dionne Brand, What We All Long For (2005)

Anything at all by Alice Munro

Michael Ondaatje, In the Skin of a Lion (1983)

Timothy Findley, The Pianoman’s Daughter (1995)

Joseph Boyden, Three Day Road (1995)


Margaret Laurence, The Diviners (1974)

Gabrielle Roy, Street of Riches (1957)

Tomson Highway, Kiss of the Fur Queen (1998)

Miriam Toews, A Complicated Kindness (2005)


Guy Vanderhaeghe, The Englishman’s Boy (1997); The Last Crossing (2004)

W.O. Mitchell, Who Has Seen the Wind (1947)

Sharon Butala, The Perfection of the Morning (1995)

Wallace Stegner, Wolf Willow (1955)


Thomas Wharton, Icefields (1995)

Robert Kroetsch, The Studhorse Man (1970)

Rudy Wiebe, A Discovery of Strangers (1994)

Richard Harrison, Hero of the Play (1997)


Eden Robinson, Monkey Beach (2000)

Joy Kogawa, Obasan (1981)

Ethel Wilson, Swamp Angel (1954)

Emily Carr, Klee Wyck (1941)

Douglas Coupland, The Gum Thief (2006)

Yukon, NWT, & Nunavut

Richard Van Camp, The Lesser Blessed (1996)

Robert Arthur Alexie, Pale Indian (2005)

Alootook Ipellie, Arctic Dreams and Nightmares (1993)


1 plentyspace { 02.23.09 at 1:45 pm }

This is a great list. As a Canadian raised in the UK who studied English Lit my knowledge of CDN literature is sadly pretty poor. Consider this article bookmarked.

2 Paul Martin { 02.23.09 at 2:15 pm }

Glad you liked it!
This was a fun talk to give. Someday (post-tenure?) I’ll expand this list with many more books and some annotations. It’s a good start, though. I’ve been meaning to do this for years as something to pass along to my students at the end of my Can lit courses.

3 laura { 03.26.09 at 9:48 pm }

Glad to see Highway made the list!

4 warbler { 10.11.09 at 1:36 pm }

Hey there, Great list of texts, and literary landscapes of Canada would be a great talk. I think George and Rue takes place in NB (Fredericton) rather than NS. Some of Clarke’s other works (Whylah Falls, Beatrice Chancey, for example) are set in NS. Unless, perhaps, I’m forgetting/missing something.